Talking Points: Debate and Discussion from the Allianz Football League

Tony Leen looks at all major talking points from the weekend's GAA action
Talking Points: Debate and Discussion from the Allianz Football League

1. Room still for luxury players

The number of players auditioned in the League by new Cork manager Peadar Healy has now risen to 34, but some experiments throw a shaft of light on their need for something different, an X-Factor.

Luke Connolly for instance.

In an environment where graft overrides everything, Connolly fits neatly into the 'luxury option' label. He's helped create that impression himself, by the way. But Healy's management sees him as a project player, one who has an abundance of natural football skills to thrive - if only he can be coaxed to work a lot harder at the ugly stuff (i.e. when the ball isn't served up on a plate). For anyone who hasn't seen the Nemo man's range of passing and imagination with the ball at his feet, Sunday's grind against Down was a further (if somewhat false) example of what he can do. Games against better quality opposition will inform Healy's thinking a lot more - like next Sunday in Tralee. Cork should persevere with Connolly and see how he fares when everybody in an opposition shirt is thinking and moving that second or two quicker.

2. Mayo don't need anywhere to Hyde

Anyone without boots required a four-wheel drive to get moving on Sunday at the Hyde, but Stephen Rochford's finally found his forward gears with Mayo. The one thing new management brings is momentum, and with Rochford's All-Star backroom team, one certainly didn't anticipate such a sparkless spring.

However, there's been some quiet successes along the way, primarily without the ball, in the first six games of the League. Dublin were restricted to (for them) a modest nine points, and the likes of Monaghan and Roscommon yesterday went over and just under half an hour each respectively without a score. With the spectre of relegation awaiting them, Sunday in the Hyde was the ideal moment to throw their hands up and play victim, but Seamus O'Shea and skipper Tom Parsons hoovered up eight of the first nine kick-outs. Point made, points gathered.

Next Sunday's win over Down in Castlebar will see them safe in the division.

3. So Eamonn, when Sheehan and Maher return...?

It's seven years since Darragh O Sé suited up with Kerry. When Mike Quirke went and Seamus Scanlon was let go a couple of years later, the wailing was audible. Where have all the Kerry midfielders gone? A man of the match display in Clones yesterday from Kieran Donaghy was augmented by an impressive return from injury for his midfield partner David Moran. Kudos to the pair, by the by, for a pair of outrageous long distance points (Donaghy claimed a pair in fact). Bryan Sheehan might be looking for that wrist injury to heal rather quickly now. Ditto Anthony Maher, who's gradually getting back to fitness after hip surgery. God knows where Tommy Walsh reckons he fits into things now. Probably not in midfield. Oh, and Johnny Buckley doesn't half mind a shift in the team's engine room. Nice problems for Eamonn Fitzmaurice to have. Six into two?

4. A Mourneful sight

That Down are not genuine Allianz Football League Division 1 quality is manifestly evident. Even with the gift of a three-point lead from an insipid Cork on Sunday, the visitors to Páirc Ui Rinn never smelt like an outfit that had the self-belief, much less the wherewithal, to carry that through to their first league points of the campaign. These are bleak times for Down football, a county which must have thought it had turned a corner of sorts with promotion to the top flight last year. Next Sunday's clash with Mayo may be academic in the context of salvation, but it's the last competitive game Eamonn Burns has before the June 5th Ulster Championship visit to Monaghan. The recovery has to start somewhere, but it's hard to see where they Mourne men - certainly the version that showed up in Cork - begin in terms of stopping the rot.

5. Calculators at the ready?

The final day of the Allianz Football League invariably throws up some mathematical oddity that either secures promotion or staves off relegation. The formbook suggests otherwise but it wouldn't take an outrageous turn of events to throw the Division One relegation picture into abacus mode once more, with four teams possibly finishing on 6 pts. With Down already, eh, down, the tea leaves indicate Monaghan (on 4 pts) will join them, even though they entertain Donegal in Castleblaney. If they get to 6, they may have company in Mayo (for certain, as they play host to already relegated Down in Castlebar), Donegal (if the Farney can drag them into the mire) and Cork (if Kerry play nasty neighbours). Then we are into points difference, which is where Cork will be hoping that ass-whupping they got at home to Roscommon doesn't come back to bite.

Unusually for Eamonn Fitzmaurice's Kerry, there are no last-day relegation permutations to sweat over, but how much tummy-tickling will be on display between Cork and Kerry in Tralee next Sunday? Both sidelines will be using the 70 minutes as much for reconnaissance as league points with the first Sunday in July in mind. Yes, we know, some other counties in Munster have a thing or two to say about such presumption - two of them in reality, Clare and Tipperary. The Banner will be looking for the draw against Kildare next Sunday to secure their passage to Division 2, and with that out of the road, they'll turn focus to meeting Limerick (relegated to Division 4 yesterday) at the end of May in the Munster Championship. The same weekend Tipp should see off Waterford to set up a provincial semi with Cork. Clare would meet Kerry in the other semi if the former sees off Limerick.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.