GAA Championship: Three talking points from the weekend

Peter McNamara takes a look back at the weekend's GAA action.

GAA Championship: Three talking points from the weekend

1 Dublin’s attack

Much-maligned, Dublin’s forward division has the potential to light up in their forthcoming All-Ireland SHC quarter-final irrespective of Waterford’s defensive stability.

Ger Cunningham has an array of offensive power and experience at his disposal but it is imperative ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan starts for them in the last-six tie.

Earlier this year, the vast significance of Paul Ryan’s and O’Callaghan’s presence within Dublin’s attacking unit was illustrated here.

Oddly, though, both players have not nailed down borderline automatic starting slots since.

That fact is mystifying.

However, Ryan, certainly, will begin against Derek McGrath’s men while O’Callaghan must surely have reiterated his craft and deftness of touch when he flicked the sliothar past Nickie Quaid for Dublin’s essentially season-saving goal.

Conal Keaney was expected to flourish at full-forward, but that never really materialised.

And Cunningham, over the next few days, will be pondering how best to counteract Tadhg de Búrca, who was, once again, a defensive nuisance, this time to Tipperary, yesterday.

Dublin will be written off again prior to that encounter.

However, it is possible that the most efficient means of negating de Búrca is actually by pushing a player up to simply spoil his defensive fun. Man-mark him!

2 Sweepers are a buzz-kill

There was a common trend apparent as people took to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms throughout Sunday evening.

Over 210-plus minutes of Championship fare across the Dublin-Limerick, Cork-Clare and Tipperary-Waterford games, only Declan Hannon and ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan managed to raise green flags.

Two goals in three senior inter-county matches? That statistic did not go down well at all with the public.

In fact, a huge number of people are growing increasingly concerned by the impact sweepers are having in hurling.

Of course, these could simply be total over-reactions because goals have been in plentiful supply before last weekend – umpires all over the country probably have a touch of RSI due to the high tally of majors!

Yet, the presence of an extra defender guarding their goalkeeper’s net is really beginning to irk supporters of the code.

Nevertheless, the figures accrued so far may allay people’s fears.

In the Leinster SHC proper, there were 21 goals in seven games, an obvious average of three per game.

The Munster SHC also generated an average of three goals per tie with 12 registered in four matches while 16 majors were scored in the six All-Ireland SHC qualifiers contested.

3 The penny drops with Cork

During The Sunday Game, Donal Óg Cusack said Cork were brought “kicking and screaming” into the realities of how the game is played nowadays and it was an ironic point.

Word on the street on Leeside is the players put it to the management after their loss to Waterford in the Munster semi-final that their approach had to be altered in order to truly compete.

Whether that is true or not, we will probably only find out for certain post-season.

Either way, the Rebels are operating with greater defensive structure.

Scratch that, Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side actually has a rearguard structure now!

As is highlighted, sweepers are putting the frighteners on patrons.

However, the folk of the People’s Republic are definitely not complaining as a more systematic approach has yielded victories over Wexford and Clare.

Davy Fitzgerald’s outfit were evidently the classier side in possession on Saturday night but nobody on Leeside will be losing any sleep about that right now.

Rebels are revelling in the fact JBM and co have been implementing a modern-day outlook with Mark Ellis evolving into a shrewd defensive screen.

And well they might as it was an overdue development.

*Side-note: How was Bill Cooper not named Sky Sports’ Man of the Match by Nicky English?

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