Allianz League talking points: Kerry's change strip, corporate soirees and refs on the rise

Kerry's change strip, corporate soirees, refs on the rise and other league talking points. Our writers wrap up a packed Allianz League weekend.

Golden years?

Once the small matter of securing two valuable league points in Mayo

with 13 men had run its road, it was back to the matter at hand. What

about the Kingdom’s new away kit?

If creating a diverse debate was among designer Paul Galvin’s goals -

and let me point out Paul loves a good debate - he achieved that with

something to spare. For those in the thumbs up category it was a

return to Kerry’s golden years. For those walking around shaking their

head and muttering mustard, it was, well, mank.

Kerry attacker Darran O’Sullivan had us all imagining a royal blue hue

when he tweeted last week: “If you like the home one, you’ll love the

away one! #Unreal”.

And perhaps it was the fact that the new colour came out of the blue

(geddit?), that so many watchers were throw. Or maybe it was those

Castlebar floodlight. The Kerryman sports editor Paul Brennan summed

up the reaction, tweeting: “Methinks the new away Kerry GAA jersey is

going to be a 'love it or hate it' item. I'm still on the fence until

I get a proper gander at it, but let's just say I don't love it.”

Those within the camp were clearly (and understandably) smitted

though. Kieran Donaghy said it was “tasty”, Marc Ó Sé adding “pure

class”.

Kerry GAA itself wasn’t lying either when it called the strip

‘amazing’ “Nothing like we’ve seen before!” Quite.

(Tony Leen)

***

Jersey swaps?

The rites of spring tend to come with a health warning - Saturday

night’s Thurles fare came with a hypothermia warning - but both

managers left Semple Stadium with food for thought in terms of their

number six jerseys.

Tipp boss Michael Ryan switched Ronan Maher to midfield in a late

change and was repaid with a fine performance which included four

points. Maher’s striking has always been sweet, and Saturday it was

near flawless. Having auditioned Cathal Barrett in that area, is there

now an argument for swapping Maher’s number six jersey for number

eight?

Waterford have the flip side of that question. Austin Gleeson spent

the game as a relatively orthodox No. 6 until forced off with a quad

injury: if the Mount Sion man misses a couple of games it removes

manager Derek McGrath’s chances of seeing him settle into a position,

and the position traditionally left to the most influential player on

the pitch.

Tadhg de Burca slots in there naturally in the short term, but what

about the summer?

(Michael Moynihan)

***

Food for thought in Omagh

THE gentrification of the GAA continued apace in Omagh on Saturday

night, as host club Omagh St Enda's hosted something of a corporate

soiree in their club rooms before, during and after the game against

All-Ireland champions Dublin.

'The GA' in the '80s was the place to be for a young one looking a

court, and their extensive premises have been sitting there waiting

for a more modern use. And so, for £80 a head, you could have a ticket

for the match, a four-course meal prepared on the premises, tea and

biscuits at half time, and some expert pre-match analysis from Bernard

Brogan Snr and Joe McMahon.

Six full tables were sold and plans are afoot to repeat the experiment

in the remaining home league games against Donegal and Kerry, the

latter who know a thing or two about fundraising, having brought Peter

Canavan to America to assist them in a bucket-rattling exercise last

summer for the Currans Centre of Excellence complex.

(Declan Bogue)

***

Something for all

Both Wexford and Cork took positives out of today’s game, but there

were challenges for both also.

For instance, a consensus is building that Wexford are benefiting from

intense training and competitive early-season games. Davy Fitzgerald

is on the record as saying he’ll let his players back to their clubs

in April - will he be tempted to keep them and build on that fitness

base, though?

Winning is a good habit, as he said yesterday, and managers all over

Ireland will be nervous about letting their charges back to club

training regimes of variable quality.

John Meyler provided an exact diagnosis of his Cork side’s ills,

particularly in the closing stages when the game was there to be won.

They’d created the goal chances that would have given them the two

points but couldn’t convert them.

As Meyler pointed out, you have to learn from your mistakes: it’ll be

interesting to see if Cork are more clinical near goal in their next

outing against Clare.

(Michael Moynihan)

***

Ref on the up

Obviously, there weren’t as many TV cameras in Páirc Esler for Down

and Cork  today, it being a double weekend and the game in question

being a Division 2 clash. That being said, there were plenty of the

leading referees in the country in attendance. David Gough was the

stand-by referee and Maggie Farrelly, who must be close to taking

charge of an Allianz League game soon, was acting as the sideline

official. The man in the middle was Longford’s Fergal Kelly, who has

been on the national referees panel for some time now but, by our

reckoning, has yet to referee anything beyond a Leinster final. If he

continues to deliver diligent and controlled performance like the one

he provided in Newry he can expect to be picking up bigger

appointments. The game wasn’t without its share of niggle and frees on

and off the ball but his application of the advantage rule was

excellent as well as his understanding of what did and didn’t

constitute frees.

(John Fogarty)

***

‘Ricey’ watch

This was one of those days when you were reminded that Division Three

football can be a pain, not a pleasure.

It wasn't pretty at times in Enniskillen, which made the effervescent

Ryan McMenamin a joy to watch.

Tyrone's three-time All-Ireland winner has been a bundle of energy

since he joined Rory Gallagher's sideline in Fermanagh a few months

ago, running endlessly and spending as much time on the pitch as any

Erne player.

However he found himself cut adrift in the stand yesterday, it emerged

he was serving a one-match touchline ban after being dismissed from

the dugout towards the end of last week's home win over Wexford.

By the looks of things, he didn't enjoy his stint in the stands.

At least the low wire fence in Brewster Park allowed him easy and

immediate access to Gallagher, before haring back up the steps –

usually to a different seat to the one he left. 'Ricey watch' might be

fun this year.

(Orla Bannon)

***

No free pass here..

Free-takers make for an easy narrative. Do a Dean Rock or a Stephen

Cluxton by kicking the winning point in an All-Ireland final and

you’re everyone’s hero. Miss a few, like Kildare’s Kevin Feely did

against Monaghan yesterday, and you’re a convenient scapegoat.

Feely missed three dead ball attempts in the first 20 minutes in

Newbridge yesterday as his team lost by a point and it led to

inevitable murmurs: how he doesn’t kick them for his club and how he

only stepped up to the plate in 2017 in the absence of other

candidates.

“Everyone was lauding Kevin last year when he was kicking them with

both feet,” said his manager Cian O’Neill afterwards. “It doesn’t

matter what he is doing for his club and his percentages were

incredibly high last year. Top 5-8% in the country. He had an off day

today and it is easy to focus on that.” O’Neill was keen to spread the

responsibility for defeat over the team as a whole - and Feely was

excellent at times in open play - but his dead ball problems

emphasized yet again the inordinate responsibility that this team game

places on one man’s shoulders.

(Brendan O'Brien)

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