Time to take spring stock

Weekend talking points: Our reporters tackle the issues of note from the Allianz Football League

There were plenty of early arrivals at Austin Stack Park on Saturday. Picture: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Cork confidence at a low ebb

Eoin O’Neill spoke during the week of Cork’s difficulties in working their way through the rough patch of a game.

Early in the second half of the defeat to Clare, Cork offered very little by way of resistance when their opponents got a run on them.

It was the exact same story at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday as Cork didn’t just wobble when the tide began to turn, they collapsed.

They conceded 1-6 without reply and not alone did they fail to score for 19 minutes, they hardly had a shot at goal during this period.

This all comes back to confidence. When Cork are motoring well, confidence isn’t an issue.

But when teams begin to ask searching questions of the Rebels as the clock ticks into the final quarter, their body language screams of a side very low on belief.

Back-to-back victories in the next fortnight and holding on to their Division 2 status would go some way to taking the fragile look off this team.

Monaghan’s demise exaggerated

It was tempting to suggest the Monaghan project under Malachy O’Rourke was over after last year’s shock Championship defeat to Longford.

They leaned way too heavily on Conor McManus for scores all year — he hit 49% of their 2016 league tally — but have found a reliable partner to lighten the load in Jack McCarron, who struck 1-7 against Roscommon yesterday.

That’s freed up Kieran Hughes to stay at midfield full-time beside Darren Hughes, which is a powerful axis that matches up to anything in Ireland.

Monaghan play Dublin in Round 7 and possibly again in the final, ties that will give them the opportunity to prove the Longford game was a blip and not the end of an era.

Mayo on the brink

In the wake of yesterday’s shock defeat to Cavan, Mayo’s continuing goal drought is likely to be back in the spotlight.

Stephen Rochford’s team have failed to hit the net now in four of their last five matches, while their only goal of this campaign came from a Cillian O’Connor penalty against Roscommon.

For one reason or another, Mayo are creating very few goalscoring opportunities and taking none of them.

The poor form of O’Connor in recent weeks is certainly a contributory factor, as is the continued absence of the likes of injured forwards Aidan O’Shea and Jason Doherty.

But unless Mayo’s attackers can rediscover their goalscoring touch against Tyrone and Donegal in the coming weeks, they may find their long stay in Division 1 coming to an end.

Rugby-talk

Éamonn Fitzmaurice on Kerry’s tackling after Saturday’s game: “I think you always have to look in the mirror and we did after the performance against Mayo and it was one we had improved on but we weren’t good enough at times in the tackle again tonight and it’s something we’ll work on.”

Jim Gavin on Dublin’s finale to secure a draw: “All credit to the Dublin players they stuck with our game- plan and went through the phases as they have demonstrated; their strength is the sum of their parts and they all had a part to play in those scores.”

The phrase “game-time” has long been adopted by Gaelic games from rugby but now the two best managers in the country are indulging in more oval jargon.

Gavin is also inclined to adopt his fondness for American football into his language but any manager who mentions the paddock will have us to answer to.

Lights fail to shine

The floodlights in Austin Stack Park are only over a year old having been debuted in February 2016 when Kerry played Tipperary in the Munster U21 FC last March.

However, there is little improvement from the previous set, which came in for strong criticism for the lack of illumination in some corners.

In last month’s Mayo game and again on Saturday, it was difficult to make out what was happening on the uncovered terrace side of the pitch from the press box.

One umpire known to the Irish Examiner, well under 60 years of age we might add, admits he loathes officiating at games there so weak are the lights.

Maybe it’s just as well so few evening hurling matches are played there when the smaller ball game is far less suited to floodlights than football.

Galway’s strength unknown

The remaining two games, away to Down and at home to Kildare, will ultimately decide whether Galway can rejoin the top flight after six seasons, but their championship pedigree is still uncertain.

When they move the ball at pace and the likes of newcomer Michael Daly — son of former Galway star Val — is in full flow, the Connacht champions look like a side which could explode this summer.

But then their defence, especially the full-back line, can be exposed far too easily, while sleepy periods around the middle of the field will be more clinically exploited at a higher grade.

Kevin Walsh has assembled an exciting squad and with players like Damien Comer — and, dare we say it, Michael Meehan — to return, who knows what this summer will hold for the Tribesmen. Any team that scores 5-15 is worth watching, but what about conceding 2-15 in your own backyard?


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