Dublin are lacking flow, but they retain a puncher’s chance
Dublin aren’t what they were. Nothing close to it. But what dynamite they retain, they are still able to deploy at enough of the right moments to keep them dangerous. They did it three times in particular in the second half against Roscommon and it was enough to grab them a point in a game where they were second best.
The first was John Small’s goal after Roscommon had quelled the early heat of the Dubs’ more aggressive approach after half-time. With Dublin four points behind on 43 minutes, Niall Scully crept up behind Ben O’Carroll in midfield and picked his pocket. Twelve seconds later, the ball was in the net. Four players touched the ball - Con O’Callaghan (twice), Paul Mannion, James McCarthy and Small. Old dogs sniffing out a morsel, chomping it down without mercy.
The other two came within a minute of bad misses from Donie Smith at the Canal End. On 58 minutes, Enda Smith ripped a turnover from O’Callaghan in front of the Hill and Roscommon broke en masse, going the length of the pitch with the crowd baying. The sides were level and a Rossie point off a turnover at that stage would have been huge. But Smith’s shot was weak and never looked like curling in. Cormac Costello potted a regulation free 40 seconds later.
And when Smith missed again 10 minutes later, it took just 38 seconds for Dublin to raise a flag at the other end. This time it was Seán Bugler who did the needful. Roscommon did so much right in Croke Park - all it took was one lax turnover and two bad wides to keep Dublin afloat.
It’s to Dublin’s credit that they punished those mental mistakes with such extreme prejudice. Depending on other teams to keep making them doesn’t feel like the kind of plan that will win an All-Ireland though. – Malachy Clerkin
Limerick drown out the yapping by cranking up the music
Standing in the tunnel outside the Limerick dressing room, in his bare feet and with his long hair still tied up in combat mode, Tom Morrissey was asked a general question about the noise outside the camp in recent weeks. Rumours of this and that. No specifics. You know yourself. Tell us Tom. This won’t go any further.
“We’ve been around the block a long time,” he started, telling us something that we already knew was the answer to everything. “We’ve a lot of experience in that. Maybe each player might be different, I don’t delve into it that much [outside talk], I don’t really come across it that much.
“I talk to Richie English and he’s a man who tells me you can block all words on social media so you can be sure I have ‘Limerick’, I have ‘hurling’, I have all other opposition teams blocked on Twitter and stuff, so I don’t really see much of it, to be honest. There are ways to shelter yourself from it. You can talk about what you want to talk about, we have business to do and that’s what we do.”
The players ate in the stadium after the match, and about two hours after the final whistle a dozen of them set up a circle of chairs at the side of the pitch and cranked up some music on a speaker at the bottom of the Mackey Stand. Within an hour the congregation had swollen to nearly 30, sitting in the warm evening sunshine, chatting and laughing and messing, luxuriating in the familiar comfort of each other’s company, like a crowd of boy scouts around a camp fire, giddy from the goodness of the day.
Worthless material for a rumour. – Denis Walsh
If a huge historical tree falls in Wexford, and it’s not televised, does it make a sound?
There was general surprise that Wexford’s High Noon with Kilkenny on Sunday wasn’t to be broadcast live. After all, what could be more consequential than a county losing its place in Tier 1 hurling for the first time since the 1920s?
Despite their dire season, especially in Chadwicks Wexford Park, the home side had the lifeline of a good record against Kilkenny in recent championships to nurture the hope that they might get something out of the fixture.
That explains Wexford’s stake holding but the television audience at large has never been short changed by these matches, which have generally been one-score contests.
The dramatic 2021 encounter was decided by eight in the end but had gone to extra time and had it not occurred during the pandemic, would have counted as a draw. Last year’s surprising victory in Nowlan Park, which kept Wexford afloat, was won by four.
All of these were available on television, typically on Saturday evenings on Sky Sports, including the delirious finale in 2019 when no one appeared sure after the group stage draw who had advanced to what before realising that both teams would contest the Leinster final.
RTÉ opted for Dublin-Galway and whereas there were no other 2pm matches broadcast, three fixtures at 4pm were shown in conjunction with GAAGO. The hurling draw in Croke Park between Dublin and Galway was exciting but given all that was hanging on the Wexford match and its track record of delivery, not being there was curious.
The outside chance of the Leinster finalists changing didn’t look – even in advance – as important as the prospect of a top hurling county sliding out of that bracket.
Choices have to be made and we move on but in this age of constant exposure for sports there is no doubt that the absence of a fixture like Wexford-Kilkenny from the live screen considerably lightens its footprint in the public consciousness.
When it turns out to be such a memorable event, that’s a pity. – Seán Moran
Beggan shows all his roams and some serious road
The evolution of the roaming goalie continued over the weekend. Davy Fitzgerald’s decision to name Billy Nolan as a sweeper for the Waterford hurlers garnered plenty of attention, but Rory Beggan’s performance for the Monaghan footballers against Derry deserves as much focus.
Beggan, one of Gaelic football’s trailblazers in terms of stripping away the limitations on the role of a goalkeeper, was a key outfield player for large parts of Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC round-robin game.
Beggan regularly got himself out around the middle third to give Monaghan an extra body on Derry’s kick-outs, and the press by the visitors caused the Ulster champions problems. However, it was Beggan’s interplay and availability during Monaghan attacks that really elevated his performance. The Monaghan goalkeeper seemed to spend as much time linking attacking plays as he did standing between the posts.
Monaghan scored seven points in the second half, and in the first six of those Beggan had direct outfield involvement. He scored two of them, the second of which was an outrageous 45 from way out near the sideline. He was involved three times in the move that led to Conor McCarthy’s point, twice for scores by Conor Boyle and Shane Carey, and twice in the build-up play that resulted in a converted Michael Bannigan free.
In the 76th minute of the game, Karl O’Connell scored a brilliant equalising score from just inside the 45-metre line after the ball was worked back out from the corner by the Monaghan players. And the closest teammate to O’Connell as he eyed the posts, just off his right shoulder, was the Monaghan goalkeeper. – Gordon Manning
‘Some of the crap that I’d to listen to the last few weeks is absolutely disgraceful’
Who said Davy Fitzgerald was playing for his job as Waterford hurling manager at Semple Stadium on Sunday?
Memories can be short in this game, the margins too, and whatever about Fitzgerald scoring a first, and ultimately facile, victory with his team in the Munster championship, the six-point win over Tipperary was utterly convincing. It was Waterford’s best game this summer, and their last one.
Only Tipp had something to play for, the chance to contest the Munster final; instead they’ll play Offaly in the preliminary quarter-final, with the hope and promise of something more after that.
Fitzgerald couldn’t leave Semple Stadium without making clear his thoughts on those who were already questioning his future with Waterford: “Some of the crap that I’d to listen to the last few weeks is absolutely disgraceful,” he said.
“I’m in the job five months, you’d swear I was there five years. There’s other managers there three or four years and have won zero and are not getting half the hassle. What is that about?
“If we beat Limerick in the first round, we’re probably through. That’s how it goes. It’s that close, so it is.”
That much is certainly true, and for long periods of that opening game against Limerick, Waterford looked well capable of taking down the All-Ireland champions. A result there would unquestionably have changed things.
Just ask Cork, who at the same time on Sunday evening also exited the championship, losing to Limerick by a point. Unlike Waterford, they came close to winning all their matches, drawing one, and losing two by a single point, and it’s clear they had plenty more to offer the championship.
Perhaps Waterford did too, even if their list of injured players unquestionably contributed to their demise; Wexford are only coming into form now too, which again highlights the cruel and unusual end to their summer of hurling, still in the month of May.
Fitzgerald will be feeling that more than anyone. Only five months into the Waterford job, he’ll have to wait another eight months before his next competitive game. Had he been asked his thoughts on that, Fitzgerald might well have recycled some earlier words. – Ian O’Riordan