Peter McNamara looks at what we learned from this weekend’s Allianz League fixtures.
1 Tipperary’s tweaking
During their Allianz NHL Division 1A campaign thus far, Tipperary have managed to increase their scoring output with each passing round.
Against Dublin, initially, the Premier County managed a miserly 0-14 in Parnell Park.
However, their subsequent returns while pitted in opposition to Galway, Clare and Kilkenny were 2-18, 2-19 and 2-22 yesterday.
Those statistics represent a barometer of their steady progression so far this term.
In each of those four outings Tipp have displayed a capacity to minimise their error count more and more each time.
Eamon O’Shea’s men are presently favourites to lift the league trophy and are clear second-favourites to be kings of September.
The form of corner-back Cathal Barrett has been excellent while Pádraic Maher has arguably been the best player in the top-flight.
Tipp have lived in Kilkenny’s shadow in recent years.
However, O’Shea’s subtle tweaking is beginning to have the desired impact.
Limerick’s Seanie Tobin.
2 Limerick’s unlimited heartbreak
The absence of the Kilmallock contingent who contest the All-Ireland Club SHC final against Ballyhale Shamrocks tomorrow has not helped their cause, obviously, but Limerick’s latest failure to fashion a route out of Division 1B will have dented their confidence.
Self-belief among their group has grown in the last two years as Limerick’s championship adventures have yielded dividends in terms of progression.
However, a three-point loss to Offaly on Saturday means the Treaty men are now back to square one in relation to the secondary competition and that will surely not sit well with them.
Seanie Tobin, performing effectively, was their go-to man at the Gaelic Grounds with the corner-forward scoring 0-9 (0-5 frees).
Nevertheless, this setback might be an indication TJ Ryan’s outfit still lack the required strength in depth to ensure mixing it at the business end of the championship will not be beyond them.
Dessie Mone in action for Monaghan.
3 Farney Army March on
This month, Monaghan have shown themselves to be a formidable unit in the Allianz NFL Division 1.
On the first day of the month Mayo hammered them in Castlebar however the northerners had two players dismissed on that occasion and therefore we cannot read too much into that reversal – though that is not to take away from the westerners’ excellence on the day, either.
More realistically, Monaghan’s character has since been apparent as Malachy O’Rourke’s unit suffocated Donegal in Letterkenny conceding merely 1-4 and just 0-10 to Derry yesterday.
The acid test of their potential credentials will be how they try to negate Kerry in Austin Stack Park next Sunday week.
Yet, Monaghan are showing the traits – including organisation, aggression, swift counter-attacking and shrewder levels of decision-making in attack than they were noted for previously – of a side on the verge of joining the code’s elite.
Dublin full-back Eoin Culligan.
4 Dublin’s full-back line
The world and its mother are aware of Dublin’s travails in the full-back line department for some time but to cough up 0-10 against Mayo on Saturday and 0-12 to Tyrone the previous weekend suggests the necessary improvements in that sector are being made by the All-Ireland favourites.
Rory O’Carroll and Philly McMahon manned the corner-back berths in Elverys MacHale Park while Eoin Culligan operated at full-back and for Mayo to be contained to that degree in scoring terms cannot be dismissed.
Mayo have been an absolute scoring machine so Jim Gavin will be extremely pleased with the performance levels of his defenders, especially those aforementioned with Culligan, in particular, clearly a player highly thought of by their boss.
Were Dublin to meet Kerry in a crunch championship tie Gavin will need a full-back line he can rely on and he might just have stumbled across one.