Take a bow Dublin!

Four in a row. The elusive five in a row is nearly in reach for Dublin’s senior footballers. Credit to Tyrone yesterday, they threw everything at Dublin and into the contest but once Paul Mannion slotted home an emphatic penalty in the opening period, this fixture had taken flight and predictable course. Hawkeye Sidekick pays tribute to this side who look destined to be considered the best Gaelic Football side ever if they win Sam Maguire next season! 

The record of Dublin under Jim Gavin is extraordinary. One championship loss since 2013 out of twenty-eight fixtures managed.

Another clean sweep of the key football titles this season. NFL triumph over Galway then saw a routine Leinster SFC success and any doubters will have being quietened by the performances in the Super Eights. Their road trip win in Omagh was one of the keynote performances this season; a potential banana skin fixture dealt with in efficient fashion.

Gavin’s backroom staff is exceptional; their scouting network identifying the next Dublin stars (when to be brought in and contribute) is working superbly well right now and the team who look at upcoming opposition have being on point throughout consistently.

Jim Gavin is an incredible manager and his resume with Dublin footballers is unparalleled in the modern era.

This four in row side has seen evolution in the starting lineup. The likes of Scully, Howard, Murchan emerged this season. Con O’Callaghan for his age has two All Ireland Senior football titles to his name; a testament to Jim Gavin and management’s confidence in the youth emerging from the setup. When you consider the likes of Bernard Brogan and Paul Flynn were not part of the subs bench, you start to see the strength in depth in this panel. 

The playing squad contains massive leadership. Stephen Cluxton in goal has revolutionized the position; his distribution from the restarts is his trademark and only Rory Beggan can consider himself to be on a par with the Dublin netminder this season. 

Pundits lazily pointed at the full back line as an area of weakness. Nope. The full back line has evolved over time. Different players evolving into different roles. McMahon, Cooper, Fitzsimons, Murchan have all impressed this season and when you consider the nous and game reading of Cian O’Sullivan in front of the full back line, the goal threat of opposition teams have being quickly nullified. 

The half back line has provided stellar support defensively as well as attacking options. McCafferey and Small started yesterday but is the versatility in the squad that the likes of Howard could slot into the wing back position to provide defensive stability if required. McCafferey’s pace and ability to break opposition defenses with his searing runs have being exceptional this season. 

The midfield of Brian Fenton (yet to lose a championship game) and James McCarthy who yet again shows player versatility moving to the middle of the park from the half back line. Their ability to defend while chipping in with several scores from play was evident throughout the year, the same again yesterday and Tyrone had no answer for the midfield duo when Dublin exploded into action in the second quarter on. 

Diarmuid Connolly went to Boston for the summer. A massive loss but Dublin’s forward line unit filled the void well. Ciaran Kilkenny elevated his game to the next level; his game management, his ability to distribute and look to burst past his opponent were hallmarks this season. Niall Scully’s runs from deep saw key goals in the championship including yesterday. 

Every forward on the Dublin side has the composure and ability to do the right thing. The inside full forward line yesterday was full of life; the movement of O’Callaghan and Mannion was at times incredible. Dean Rock has being superb in these past two seasons both from play and placed balls. When you consider the likes of Andrews, McManamon in reserve; enough said.

There is no weak link in this Dublin side. Their ability to adapt to the opposition game plan a key trait. Damien Comer for Galway had an encouraging opening quarter in the All Ireland Semi-Final (1-1 scored) but Dublin then cut out the supply and defensively switched deeper to counteract the long ball in. Colm Cavanagh was moved into full forward yesterday; a penalty ensued but the next high ball in was emphatically caught by Howard. 

A team for the ages. Mayo will be back next season. Kerry if they can address the clear defensive and middle third issues may threaten. Galway, Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan will look for another opportunity to challenge Dublin but do any of these sides have all the parts and belief to get past Dublin?

Serious doubts right now unless Dublin suffer an injury crisis but even then, squad depth is so strong and who is to say that more underage talent will be introduced to Jim Gavin’s side next season. A scary thought! The standard that all other inter-county football teams have to aspire to and surpass. Daunting. Congratulations Dublin!

European Rugby Champions Cup: Leinster Rugby vs. Scarlets Preview

Dublin. Aviva Stadium. A city and stadium where Scarlets have very fond memories of after last season’s Guinness Pro 12 final triumph. A week before this final triumph, Scarlets had dumped Leinster Rugby out of the Pro 12 competition with an emphatic defensive and attacking performance with fourteen men! Will any of those memories spook Leinster Rugby ahead of this tussle? Hawkeye Sidekick previews the action.

Gibson-Park Effect

This game will be decided by the performance of Gibson-Park. The New Zealander comes into the side as Luke McGrath is ruled out due to injury. Gibson-Park will look to right a few wrongs facing the Scarlets this weekend. The scrum-half was exposed in his defensive play and general game management in that playoff loss. Leinster Rugby looked very one dimensional on that night. Gibson-Park needs to zip the ball from the ruck and his kicking game needs to be on point, a facet of play at times that can be a little inconsistent. The inclusion of Gibson-Park has meant that James Lowe sits out the weekend. Double blow for Leinster Rugby. Gibson-Park needs to deliver this weekend. If he does, Leinster Rugby will advance to the final.

Breakdown Battle

A marvelous battle at the breakdown beckons. Dan Leavy vs. James Davies. Two players who will look to disrupt and secure ruck ball. Both players are fine exponents of this facet of play. Davies” pace and mobility evident last season; he was a major cog in the Guinness Pro 12 title winning side. A constant menace but facing him is Dan Leavy who is playing sublime rugby this season. Leavy has being a wrecking ball in the ruck area and his ability to pinch ball was to the fore against Saracens in the quarter final. Both players have good supporting back row units as well. Murphy vs. Shingler is another meaty tussle in the breakdown but also in the ball carrying duties.

Scarlets Half-Back Switch

Wayne Pivac has thrown a curve ball to some with the inclusion of Dan Jones at ten, meaning that Rhys Patchell moves to full back and Leigh Halfpenny to the wing. Jones was superb in the 30-27 win over Toulon in the final pool game last January. His ability to link up play and execute the right pass on the gain line to Parkes and Williams is to the fore. Jones also has an effective kicking game. Leinster Rugby need to put pressure on the half-back early doors, otherwise it could be a long afternoon for the Irish province. A gamble for some but you can see the logic. Jones will throw the ball with intent early doors.

Back Three Battle

Leinster Rugby are coming into this fixture as marginal favorite. The back three units for either side look good on skill set. Leinster’s back three has vast experience but Scarlets look to have the speed advantage here and if this game gets fractured, I would fear for Leinster Rugby’s back three given the pace of Evans, Halfpenny and Patchell who will look to set Evans free with deft kicks in behind. Scarlets by virtue of their selection of Jones at ten is quite clear; look to test Leinster’s back three defensively early door to build a platform and scoreboard advantage. A dry track for this pacy Scarlets side is another bonus; this side will take beating.

Beirne vs. Ryan Battle

What a contest beckons! Tadhg Beirne has being outstanding for Scarlets in recent seasons. The second row who joins Munster Rugby next season has an enormous work rate in set piece and maul exchanges. It will require James Ryan to continue his upward performance curve to stem the influence of Beirne. Failure to do so and Scarlets are going to the final. Beirne is a wrecking ball with ball in hand. His performances this season have being nothing short of sensational. Devin Toner will also need to play his part; line out solidity is required and his ability to support Ryan to stifle Beirne will be required at certain junctures.

Henshaw Return

Robbie Henshaw coming into the Leinster Rugby is a timely boost. The Athlone man is defensively excellent, cleans up defensively for colleagues consistently. His attacking threat with ball in hand will pose an issue for Williams and Parkes as well. He complements Ringrose perfectly. His physicality is on point and allows Ringrose to be creative with ball in hand. Solid three quarter partnership for Leinster Rugby tomorrow; definitely required given the absence of Lowe from the squad.

Verdict

Extra time looms for me in this contest. Both sides will have good moments and I think Leinster Rugby will just get over the line. Leinster Rugby will have to absorb some nervy moments from a Scarlets side who will throw different looks. The scrum-half performance for Leinster Rugby is a massive factor here; giving Gibson-Park the benefit of the doubt but if he struggles, the side will struggle for continuity. No pressure. Expect tries at regular intervals, cannot wait for this fixture!

All Ireland Senior Football Final Preview

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Dublin third in a row or Mayo’s elusive All Ireland win?

Third Sunday in September can only mean one thing. Sam Maguire is either staying in the nation’s capital or heading out West to Mayo for the first time since 1951. Hawkeye Sidekick evaluates both sides and wonders if Mayo can produce a performance to get over the line?

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Jim Gavin continues to excel

Dublin enter this All Ireland Football final as firm warm favorites based on their dominant performances in the championship this season so far. Carlow provided resistance in the opening Dublin championship appearance but the reigning All Ireland Champions went through the gears in the final quarter to run out comfortable winners. Westmeath were no match to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final; one sided contest but one that introduced the GAA world to the talents of Con O’Callaghan. The Cuala clubman has excelled in hurling with his club but decisively focused on football this season with devastating effects. His scores from play, his movement and ability to hit off either left or right have caused opponent back lines with massive headaches.

It has being a season where new Dublin leaders have emerged. Jim Gavin has provided Jon Small, Con O’Callaghan and Paul Mannion with key roles and they have flourished allowing Dublin management with the great luxury of leaving the caliber of Paul Flynn, Diarmuid Connolly, Bernard Brogan, Kevin McManamon, Michael Darragh McAuley in reserve. It is a scary prospect that if Dublin flounder this weekend, Jim Gavin can bring on this experience and winning mentality of these players to proceedings.

The Leinster SFC final against Kildare was reported as a game effort from the Lilywhites; obvious most of the rat pack forgot the first quarter when Kildare were blown away. They never hit a meaningful shot at Dublin throughout and only for a quick 1-1 at the finish, the scoreline would have being more accurate than the nine point margin at the final whistle.

Monaghan were meant to provide aggression, defensive nous and bite but none materialized as Dublin brushed past the challenge with contempt. 1-19 scored against a team who pride themselves on strong defense. Pundits thought Tyrone would cause the upset but it was as remote as Frank De Boer getting a fifth league game with Crystal Palace. Dublin’s pace, power and movement caused Tyrone massive problems and the star performers shone once more. O’Callaghan, Rock scored at regular intervals and Tyrone were routed in the middle third. 2-17 scored against a Tyrone side who looked impeccable in defensive work this season.

All lines are working in a cohesive fashion. The forward line are scoring on average 24.5 points this season in the championship. The back line are conceding a misery 12 points per game this season where Cian O’Sullivan has provided leadership and organization in the sweeper role. The midfield area has seen dominant performances from Fenton and McCarthy who have provided attacking support along with the McCaffrey from the wing back position. No genuine weaks and then you have the distribution of Stephen Cluxton, the template in which all intercounty goalkeepers must evaluate against. Do Mayo push up on the kick-out or surrender possession to Dublin deep in their half? Intriguing stuff.

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O’Shea performance key

Mayo have had an epic passage to the All Ireland Senior Football final. A regulation win against Sligo then resulted in a disappointing reversal to Galway in the Connacht SFC semi-final raising alarm bells in the county; the team were lackluster and not helped by the red card issued to Keith Higgins. Mayo had chances to not only get a replay from Salthill but also could have won only for questionable shot selection in the closing stages.

It was not to be and Mayo were again dealt the hand of going through the treacherous qualifier route. A banana skin was averted as Mayo overcame the challenge of Derry at home after extra time; a performance which was a mixed bag. Defensively at sea dealing with the long ball. Forward line failing to fire as a cohesive unit until extra time when Mayo’s conditioning and squad depth kicked onto secure victory.

A tricky trip to Cusack Park, Ennis then followed. Clare were seen as a team who would provide a stiff test and so it proved for forty-five minutes of the contest. Clare’s lack of scoring power to reward a dominant opening period was decisive as Mayo dusted themselves down at the break to go through the gears and beat the hosts by seven points. Cillian O’Connor was pivotal to the victory scoring 1-5.

Next round was a game against a Cork side pretty much written off by everyone. Mayo were dominant heading in the final quarter and management trying to save players hauled off the likes of Boyle. Moran. The move nearly backfired as Cork regained impetus and could have won the game in regular time. Mayo were again forced into a corner but their composure and resiliency were to the fore as the side won by the solitary point in the proverbial nail-biter. Question marks surfaced on Mayo management and their substitution policy, improved performances were now expected heading into the All Ireland Series.

Roscommon were next in the All Ireland Quarter Finals. Mayo underwhelmed in the opening exchanges as Roscommon had two goals on the board early doors. Mayo were again looking vulnerable but Lee Keegan (1-3) and Cillian O’Connor (0-3) rescued the result. Andy Moran work rate and scores (0-2) from play ensured a replay for Mayo who then made no mistake in the replay. Dominant middle third performance and the replay was over in the first quarter as Mayo struck goals at will. Superb running lines from deep causing Roscommon endless issues whose kick-out strategy was devastatingly exposed. 4-19 was a superb return for Mayo on the day and the likes of Jason Doherty, Tom Parsons and Kevin McLaughlin shone.

Kerry in the All Ireland Semi-Final, a much fancied Kingdom struggled to compete in the work rate and middle third departments over the two games. Aidan O’Shea was sacrificed in the full back role to contend with the threat of Kieran Donaghy, a player who has haunted Mayo in past seasons. O’Shea did as well as he could but his full back role robbed Mayo of their talisman in the middle third. Mayo again were left to rue defensive lapses to allow Kerry back into the opening contest and another replay loomed large on the horizon. Mayo were excellent and made no mistake dominating the middle third and striking goals early to keep Kerry at distance. The result was never in doubt as Kerry flagged under the pressure exerted by Mayo in the middle third; starving quick ball into the full forward line. It was a controlled performance. Andy Moran continued his superb performances with a cameo full of leadership and scoring threat.

The question though now for Mayo is attrition. Have Mayo enough in the tank to produce a performance to topple Dublin? Mayo’s tenth game in the championship, momentum has being built but at what cost. Mayo have to be on point from the first whistle; their resiliency has being truly tested but this is Dublin and their ability to kill off games is at a different level to anything that Mayo have faced this season. Work rate needs to be manic on Sunday, just wonder on the effects of the past games this season?

Who wins Sam Maguire?

Familiarity breeds contempt. Mayo are well aware of the Dublin threats having faced them last season but there are new threats to consider. Can Mayo management spring new threats for Dublin management to consider during the final this weekend? O’Shea positioning aside, what else can they throw up which will cause Jim Gavin to take stock. I am struggling for answers to that question.

The squad depth in the final quarter looks heavily weighed in Dublin’s favor with Flynn, Brogan, Connolly in the ranks. Mayo potentially have Patrick Durcan in the ranks to make an impact. Coen and Loftus will need to bring ‘A’ game to the mix to make the required impact.

Dublin have shown their versatility in defeating opposition in different manners. Man to man or blanket defense, Dublin will make the necessary adjustments. Mayo to be fair have improved their kick game, distribution to the inside forward line but on Sunday they are faced with a total entirely different proposition.

Dublin will keep their defensive shape; sweepers in O’Sullivan and Cooper will look to repel Mayo’s attacking intentions early. Can Mayo’s running lines consistently create the chances to score goals at regular intervals? They need to score a couple of goals personally to win Sam Maguire. I have my doubts.

Dublin enter this final contest looking to write a few wrongs from last season’s final games. A sense that perhaps Dublin just about got over the line last year. A bit disingenuous to Mayo but Dublin will look to impose their will early on this final; a repeat of last year’s opening final performance will not be tolerated by Jim Gavin and management even though they had scored two goals in this time (albeit Mayo own goals). Dublin looking for three in a row are looking to put on a show and early middle third dominance may setup this cameo. If this happens, this contest could be over early.

Where do Mayo win this game? Until they get over the line, they will be asked the wrenching question whether they have the mental and physical fortitude to get over the line. A touch harsh, their resiliency is beyond reproach. Mayo need to involve Aidan O’Shea early; get their key player into the game, supplying incisive ball to the deep runs of Boyle and Keegan.

Mayo have to provide an intensity in work rate throughout; they will go for the full seventy minutes. The issue is defensively. The full back position sticks out like a sore thumb. The kick-out strategy is a concern, cannot see Dublin letting Clarke take quick short kick-outs like Kerry did. Clarke may have to go long and distribution has being critiqued last season by Mayo management. Dublin work rate in the tackle will be a considerable threat this weekend; quick turnover could spell trouble for Mayo.

Mayo’s half-forward line also needs to provide a scoring platform as well like they did against Kerry last time out. Diarmuid O’Connor needs to be a goal scoring threat; making selfless runs from deep to keep Dublin’s half back line on their toes. Cillian O’Connor, Andy Moran and Jason Doherty need quick ball to assert influence inside. Kevin McLaughlin needs to be the player to win that dirty second ball. Mayo have excellent facets of play which Dublin will need to pay close attention to but also they have vulnerabilities which should be exposed early doors.

For Mayo to win this game, they have to be almost pitch perfect in back, midfield and forward lines while nullifying Dublin in the middle third for long periods. It is a tall order and one that I do not see happening on Sunday unfortunately; it would be a superb story if Mayo get over the line but Dublin look the more polished side on paper and the squad impact in the final quarter could break Mayo hearts again.

The officiating will play a factor; interesting to see how Joe McQuillan plays this contest. Does he let the game flow or does he go selective in officiating the tackle? Mayo’s work rate to win possession has being a hallmark this season; officiating has ruled that their tackling was on point. Interesting subplots.

Verdict: Dublin

Dublin to win based on an excellent opening quarter, expect a fast start from the reigning champions. Mayo to grow into the contest but a lack of goal threat in the final will be their undoing due to the well structured Dublin back line. Dublin by four / five points. Dublin’s forward line have the better long range shooters as well as the inside threat to seriously put a score on a Mayo back line who will be under pressure throughout. Dean Rock potentially could be key player in this regard with his free taking prowess and potential goal scoring threat despite the best efforts of Andy Moran and Cillian O’Connor.

GAA – Weekend Reflections

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Hurling classic but football was all a bit one sided

August Bank Holiday 2017. A weekend which will be remembered for one sided senior football encounters. A weekend where Joe Canning down the stretch was incredible to lead Galway to a nail biting one point win over reigning All Ireland Champions Tipperary. Hawkeye Sidekick reflects on the action.

Galway advance to the All Ireland Hurling Final

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Hail Hail Joe Canning!

With the scores level at 0-21 to 1-18, Joe Canning stood over a free deep in Galway territory. The subsequent free was short and many thought that was that and a replay was on the card. James Barry subsequent clearance was retrieved by the ever industrious Johnny Coen who had the presence of mind to pick out Joe Canning who from the sideline and under immense Tipperary pressure slotted a beautiful score over the bar.

It was a very ESPN classic moment. Galway supporters were in delirium but Tipperary had one more chance to level but O’Dwyer hit a difficult chance wide. The game ending was in fitting with a tenacious encounter. Both sides did not give an inch with both forward lines having work extremely hard for scores.

Galway’s back line were heroic all day. The full back of Tuohy, Burke and Hansbury set the tone with tenacious defending and team work. Tipperary’s inside forward line did pose a threat at times but in the vital moments, the Galway full back line stood up and won decisive ball.

The catch from Daithi Burke in the closing stages was imperious. Tuohy had an excellent second half, a shaky first half at times particularly on the John McGrath goal where he dwelled too long on the sliothar, was dispossessed and punished. Hansbury has being an unsung hero this season. The Rahoon / Newcastle club man reveled as the game progressed and his distribution out of defense was on point.

I have had asked questions of the center back position in this Galway team but Gearoid McInerney ticked all the boxes yesterday. Physically dominant, he won his duel with the ever willing Bonnar Maher. McInerney set the tone and won several key aerial tussles in the closing stages to setup the attacking platform. Aidan Harte and Padraic Mannion produced stellar displays as well. Their distribution on point and quietened the influence of the likes of O’Dwyer and Noel McGrath for long periods.

Galway advance but for the last twenty minutes of this contest, it was the Joe Canning show. Canning had a nervy start to proceedings but once he hit his stride and started to come out the field for ball, his influence was match winning. Canning hitting a couple of superb scores from distance in the closing quarter.

Tipperary management then decided to put Padraic Maher on Canning, a switch which was too little too late. It was fitting that Canning won this contest for Galway; the mercurial talisman for so many years. The match winning score was pure sheer class.

Conor Whelan in the full forward line had an impressive afternoon. His physicality and power for such a young man is unbelievable, kept Donagh Maher and James Barry busy throughout.

Whelan and Joseph Cooney moved deeper down the field in the closing stages and were prominent in winning critical ball. Glynn as an impact bench did what he had to do. Disrupt in the air and be a nuisance for Tipperary to clear the ball.

Tipperary will be devastated after this result. There were a couple of talking points during the contest. The free count was interesting. Galway won fifteen frees while Tipperary only eight during the contest. A disparity perhaps to some?

Galway free count was a combination of factors; indiscipline in the Tipperary tackling — going high but there were one or two frees where the Galway player went to ground easy and got a free. Some days, you get those decisions but there were a couple of frees on another day would not be given.

Further debate will ensue on the helmet pull on Bonnar Maher in the coming days. When I saw it first, it looked like genuine Tipperary claims considering the recent officiating of this offense in the All Ireland Quarter Finals. No action. The linesman could not run away from the incident fast enough.

The goal chances created by Tipperary were spurned. Callanan’s chance in the opening half was a key turning point. Galway’s full back line had a shaky five minutes immediately after McGrath’s goal and another goal then could have swung the game in Tipperary’s favor.

Noel McGrath’s goal chance was a tough chance, the pass was overcooked but the shot required a smart save from Callanan in the Galway goals. Two chances which on another day could have gone in.

Tipperary will rue a couple of point misses as well. Seamus Callanan received a head knock early in the second half, did not look right thereafter and the free taking was a mixed bag for the Drom / Inch club man. Brendan Maher and John McGrath had good opportunities wasted in either half. Fine margins.

The much maligned Tipperary back line had their best outing of the season but came up just short. The decision to move McCormick further down the field had the desired effect, the player won second ball throughout but the half-forward line suffered as a result, something that was articulated perfectly by the Sunday Game last night.

Maher, Barry and Cahill stuck to their task well. Padraic Maher was immense for Tipperary; his possession count and point taking was superb. Ronan Maher at half-back had his moments of brilliance but in the closing stages, his influence waned particularly when Canning moved out the field and Glynn was causing issues with his height on the aerial balls. Seamus Kennedy was good throughout. All players left everything on the pitch. A superb advertisement for hurling.

Galway advance to the All Ireland final. The goal for the season has not yet being accomplished and there are areas of improvement for the Tribesmen. David Burke was industrious throughout but will be disappointed with some scoring opportunities that got away. Cathal Mannion was out of sorts from the first whistle but is a player that should come good in the All Ireland final.

The forward line was all Joe Canning in the final quarter. Galway’s potent attackers such as Flynn, Conor Cooney and Niall Burke need to provide more leadership in the scoring duties for the All Ireland final as Cork and Waterford will look to mark Joe Canning (best of luck) out of the game. Conor Whelan was superb.

Johnny Coen’s performance yesterday needs to be highlighted; had my doubts about the Loughrea clubman in the midfield engine room but he was superb yesterday. Breen, Forde were taken off due to the work rate of Coen yesterday. He was selfless in his passing and distribution, assisted his colleagues defensively and was pivotal for the game winning score. Kudos where it is deserved. Roll on September!

Football Snooze-fest

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Bad day for Armagh

I type this blog posting as Mayo are twenty-two points up on a hapless Roscommon. The three senior football fixtures this past weekend lacked any bite or competition. Tyrone swept aside the Armagh challenge with minimum of fuss.

Peter Harte outstanding but you cannot rate Tyrone as a team given how poor Armagh were who struggled in all facets of play. The kick outs so good against Kildare was snuffed out and caused Armagh issues defensively. Mulgrew hit a nice quick brace of goals but will the Ardboe club man get the same space against Dublin? I don’t think so.

The only thing you can say about Tyrone is that they were defensively superb at present; the discipline of defending is a joy to watch. They put the pressure on the ball carrier who either fouls the ball or coughs up possession. Officiating will be interesting in the All Ireland semi-final on this facet of play. Colm Cavanagh’s injury and a red card (two yellow cards) to McCarron will be negative points for Tyrone on a stress free afternoon.

Dublin had little trouble getting past a disappointing, unambitious Monaghan outfit. McManus had minimal influence and Dublin were out of sight after fifteen minutes. Monaghan’s full forward line threat was non-existent; opening period saw no Monaghan inside forward thirty meters from the Dublin goal.

The usual suspects were to the fore for Dublin. McCarthy and McCaffrey were stellar in their runs from deep, caused Monaghan endless problems. Rory Beggan in the Monaghan goals was superb and only for him, Dublin would have scored more goals than the one goal scored by Dean Rock. The good news for Dublin was the squad bench that came on. Flynn, McAuley, Brogan all looking the part when coming on to create selection posers for Dublin management.

The All Ireland football semi-finals will be immense affairs. Mayo are the only team in the top four that have being battle hardened and will cause Kerry issues defensively. Their performance today was encouraging; they went for the throat and Roscommon were killed off in the opening twenty minutes. Mayo’s middle third was impressive; did not give the young Roscommon side a chance to settle.

Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor inside were constant menaces. Parsons, Vaughan, Doherty, Boyle and Higgins were critical in the middle third superiority. The running lines of Mayo were excellent but did expose massive issues in Roscommon defensively. The kick out strategy was a disaster for Roscommon as well. No general movement for the Roscommon keeper to launch kick outs.

Super Eight format next season looks a bit precarious on the basis of this year’s All Ireland quarter-finals. Super Four in a couple of weeks hopefully will provide better footballing entertainment. The GAA demands it from the two semi-finals. A nation holds it breathe!