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.

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

Golden years?

By Tony Leen

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.

Jersey swaps?

By Michael Moynihan

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?

Food for thought in Omagh

By Declan Bogue

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

By Michael Moynihan

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.

Ref on the up

By John Fogarty

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.

‘Ricey’ watch

By Orla Bannon

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.

No free pass here..

By Brendan O'Brien

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.

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