Thank God for football's big two!
THANK GOD for Dublin and Kerry!
A year of football games that should be banished from the memory bank forever was rejuvenated by a pulsating and energy-sapping game of total commitment.
You can only admire the conditioning, the skill, the determination, the bravery and the self-belief of both groups of players last Sunday. People will pick holes in this game to find fault.
Yes, there were mistakes, but in a game of such intensity and importance mistakes actually add to the drama. Short kick-outs were the order of the day for both sides, but who could blame them?
With possession so important why kick the ball long and give your opponent the advantage? Stephen Cluxton’s mini crisis could have proved costly but he showed great courage in sticking to his well-rehearsed tactics, and drove his team on to victory.
Some of the score-taking was just brilliant as players backed their individual skills at vital moments in the game. Paul Geaney was in superb form for Kerry but he was as surprised as the rest of us when he was replaced at such a vital time in the game.
Dean Rock was almost faultless from the dead ball but the score of the game was the last point by the enigmatic Diarmuid Connolly. It had class, style and brilliant execution at a highly pressurised stage of the game and showed how good he really is.
The strength and youth of Dublin’s bench swung the game in their favour, but the game will be remembered as a classic in a long line of memorable duels between these counties.
Unfortunately, it may be the last time some of the Kerry greats will line out for the county, as it will be a major surprise if ‘Gooch’, Donaghy, Sheehan, O’Shea and possibly O’Sullivan ever wear the famous green and gold again.
For the boys in blue the future looks bright as they bid to establish themselves as the greatest Dublin team of all time. Unfortunately for the rest of the country it looks like they could stay at the top for another few years if the hunger remains amongst the squad.
This weekend the domestic quarter-finals in all grades will take place. That well-known Gael Willie Wickham has told me to get off the fence and start making some proper predictions. I can’t do any worse than he did last time, so here goes.
St. Anne’s v. Gusserane would have been a definite win for St. Anne’s two weeks ago but they have lost Liam Og and Kenny Cloney to long-term injury. Despite these losses I would expect St. Anne’s to win but in a very close contest.
A repeat of last year’s final will see St. Martin’s v. St. James’ in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday. I would expect the Piercestown men to come through this time, despite the recent hectic schedule for many of their young players.
The first game in Bellefield on Saturday will see Shelmaliers play last year’s promoted team Glynn-Barntown. The Killurin men are flying at the moment in both codes but I expect Shelmaliers to win this tie.
Adamstown and Starlights will contest the relegation final on Friday night. Adamstown have been rocked by injury and illness lately but never underestimate the spirit in the Ross District side. Starlights would have to be considered favourites for this one.
In Intermediate, Kilanerin are in flying form and should be too strong for Ferns. Bunclody should win against Ballyhogue, while I expect St. Mary’s (Maudlintown) to cause a bit of a surprise by beating Taghmon-Camross. The last tie between St. Fintan’s and Bannow-Ballymitty is a tough one to call and I’ll go for the Bannow men in this case.