This week, Peter McNamara has his say on the annihilation of Kilkenny's minor footballers, considers the defeat of the county's senior hurlers to Clare, and praises the Banner County's midfielder Colm Galvin and Mayo's U21 footballers.
If I were a Kilkenny supporter, I would scratch last Sunday’s trip to Semple Stadium off as merely a bad day at the office and little more.
At the beginning of this year both Kilkenny and Clare were touted as the two most likely victors of the All-Ireland SHC this year.
The Banner County, of course, are enhancing their claims to a place on such a shortlist with each passing outing.
All the same, people on Noreside would be wasting their time fretting one iota over a nine-point loss to Clare at this juncture.
On an extremely basic level, were we to take out Eoin Murphy’s three uncharacteristic errors in judgement which afforded Clare three goals, you could argue the game would have ended level.
‘If only it were that simplistic,’ you’re heard saying. And that’s a fair response to such a statement.
Still, Clare, in general play, were not nine points superior to Kilkenny in Thurles.
And it would be naïve for anybody to take that deficit at face value.
Granted, Clare’s fourth major was wonderfully executed by Conor McGrath.
Yet, their first three goals were not directly engineered.
And that theory has to be taken into consideration.
Colm Galvin’s worth
Clare midfielder Colm Galvin was a best-price of 80/1 with the odds-compilers to be GAA/GPA Hurler of the Year before tormenting Kilkenny in the Allianz NHL Division 1 semi-final last Sunday.
The Clonlara clubman is now no greater than 28/1 following another outrageous performance that even yielded 0-5 in open play.
As was written here as Davy Fitz’s side won the All-Ireland SHC title in 2013, despite Tony Kelly being selected as Hurler of the Year that season, strong arguments were made that the contributions of both Podge Collins, shortlisted for the award that year, and Galvin were actually more instrumental as Clare landed the Liam McCarthy Cup.
And Galvin’s current form suggests he’s on the same path to being recognised as their most vital asset this term.
True, Conor McGrath is producing excellence on a regular basis too.
Nevertheless, without Galvin’s presence within the middle-third Clare would simply not be half as efficient and effective as Fitzgerald’s side currently are.
Dynamic link players that roam in the middle sector of the field are arguably more important than attackers nowadays.
And dynamic link players that can also contribute to the scoreboard, such as Galvin, are invaluable commodities.
Minor football, bloody hell
Advocating any semblance of sentiment at the highest levels of sport would never be encouraged.
In fact, if totally honest, there’s a warped sense of enjoyment watching a team being annihilated, particularly in professional sports as well as senior levels in the GAA.
The reason being: At those grades, if you can’t stand the heat…
However, while the baffling shortage of effort being put in throughout Kilkenny to improve football has been well-documented and rightfully criticised in the last number of days again, you couldn’t help but feel for those that represented the county against Wexford in the Electric Ireland Leinster MFC.
Yet, while Kilkenny’s dedication to the big-ball code has been questioned once more, has anybody queried why Wexford’s players were not encouraged to raise white flags rather than so many green ones?
Surely the Wexford management, without sounding condescending, may have even suggested to their players to fist the ball over the bar instead of billowing the net after, say, the sixth goal?
Obviously, it’s not Wexford’s fault the opposition was so limited.
Nevertheless, it seemed harsh that their operators went for and scored so many goals.
That must have been soul-destroying for Kilkenny.
Diarmuid O’Connor was selected as TG4 Man of the Match last Saturday as Mayo roared into the EirGrid All-Ireland U21 FC final.
The Young Footballer of the Year scored 1-1 and duly exerted a massive overall influence on the tie as Dublin were denied when Conor Loftus fired over an additional-time winner for the westerners.
However, wing-back Shairoze Akram’s tour de force, even more so than O’Connor’s contribution, went somewhat oddly under-appreciated.
Akram was absolutely exceptional in O’Connor Park and caused Dessie Farrell’s side constant problems by supplementing attack after attack.
Akram even pilfered a neat point and assisted in countless other scores.
His menacing approach, one that means he burns up ground and pops up practically everywhere, should be an element of Mayo’s arsenal Seán Hayes and Cork will need to be acutely mindful of when the teams meet in the final.
Defensively, Akram was extremely tigerish and even though Cork’s half-forward line has excelled thus far they will find Mayo’s half-back line to be less forgiving.
Michael Plunkett and Michael Hall were beside Akram and were impressive throughout their last-four encounter.
Mayo’s classy performance was to be admired.