The value of patience
Nothing sums up quality in modern Gaelic football like patience, and Clare gave a good display of that on Saturday night.
The Banner’s composure in the middle third was the key to their victory, and in particular the Keelan Sexton point in the second half, when Clare retained the ball and recycled it through possession after possession until Sexton became available in a shooting position.
Cork will not be happy with their inability to press the opposition — or maybe to flood back players further up the field to come at the play from a different angle — but that doesn’t take away from Clare’s ability to do the right thing at the right time last weekend. That’s always been a key quality in every sport, but in Gaelic football it has become more and more important.
More Mayo misery
Avoidance of injuries in the white heat of championship has been vital for Mayo in recent years. Lacking the squad depth of their rivals, Mayo have managed, by and large, to have their best players available when needed most. The exceptions were Andy Moran’s cruciate tear in 2012 and Cillian O’Connor’s shoulder the following year.
This league Mayo have been missing a host of players who had issues addressed over the winter but losing Lee Keegan and Cillian O’Connor to what looked like serious shoulder and hamstring injuries respectively yesterday is more worrying for them.
Their Connacht championship clash with in-form Galway on May 13 is coming fast and Mayo might be going into that game more in hope than expectation if they’re missing key personnel like Keegan and O’Connor.
Snow causes fixture chaos
There were games called off late and games called off early, and obviously if you had plans for today as an inter-county player it wouldn’t have suited you to look out and see the snow in general all over Ireland yesterday, with all the implications that had for fixtures
But Derek McGrath’s sketch of Conor Gleeson’s efforts to get to yesterday’s Cork-Waterford clash, which involved a tractor, a 4x4 and no food, points up the common sense involved in these deferments and cancellations
Because we don’t get snow that often we probably undervalue its threat, though that may have changed with the onslaught in recent weeks.
However, the account of Gleeson’s travails served to underline that however discommoding it may be to see a game postponed, you’ve got to be safe rather than sorry. At the end of the day it’s still only a game.
Higgins gets hurling reward
The county footballers might have flopped against Tyrone, with four of their senior stars sidelined through disciplinary or injury problems. But another of their footballing stalwarts had a rather better afternoon; Keith Higgins played a key role as the Mayo hurlers were confirmed as Division 2B champions with a 1-15 to 0-14 win over Down in the divisional final at Breffni Park. Kenny Feeney was the Mayo hero with 11 points, but Higgins got his reward for devoting his spring to the hurlers, who now take their place in Division 2A.
Galway put on a show
Those spectators who braved the perishing cold, and found their seats early, were in for a real treat at Pearse Stadium, as the University of Illinois marching band treated them to a spectacular show.
An estimated 300 musicians, conductors, and dancers went through their routine, after arriving at the venue following Saturday’s appearance at Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade. A long way from home, the logistics involved in transporting this massive group to Ireland were complex, but their early arrival in Salthill certainly warmed up the pre-game action.
Fermanagh losing at cards
Fermanagh have played ten games under Rory Gallagher, losing twice and drawing once. In all the games they haven’t won, they have had men sent off: Kane Connor in the Dr McKenna Cup semi-final loss to Tyrone; Cian McManus in the league loss to Westmeath. In yesterday’s draw, Aidan Breen walked for a second yellow card, five minutes after his first.
He followed Danny Teague, who was on the pitch 14 minutes before he lost the ball, in a tackle against Gregory McCabe, and reacted by giving the Camlough man a kick. Teague got a red card.
Get with the programme
Donegal lined out a completely different team to the one contained in yesterday’s match programme (which had only 21 players listed). The Donegal PRO insisted that the team submitted by the county for the programme was not used. Spare a thought for spectators who bought the programme, which was rendered almost completely useless. This has been a trend throughout the league with the makeup of starting teams not being revealed until minutes before the throw-in.