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
Kerry GAA itself wasn’t lying either when it called the strip
‘amazing’ “Nothing like we’ve seen before!” Quite.
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
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
Tadhg de Burca slots in there naturally in the short term, but what
about the summer?
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
“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.