Our reporters look at all the talking points from the weekend's GAA action.
Can Kerry retool defence in three weeks?
Perhaps the Stephen O’Brien black card controversy may provide a neat distraction for Kerry from the defensive work they must squeeze into the next three weeks.
If two Tyrone forwards – though really one in Cathal McShane – can cause them that much of a problem in Croke Park, it is scary to think what the Dublin attack may inflict on September 1 if they’re given large tracts of real estate to get their head up and play in.
Presumably Peter Keane and his management group are realistic enough to accept that the situation demands something different, a change to current thinking.
They do not possess enough tight man-markers, and the one-v-one match-ups won’t work in their favour either against the reigning champions. They can push up, which places a huge burden on their scoring forwards, or drop deep, which they toyed with in the early stages of the Allianz League this season.
Whatever defensive shape Kerry adopt, it will have a decisive impact on their bid to foil Dublin’s match to history.
Time for change in Tyrone?
Back in 2008, Tyrone showed up in Croke Park for a round three qualifier game against Mayo. Oh yeah, back then Croke Park was so popular among the general populace that it could host round three qualifiers.
In any event, Wexford shocked Down in the curtain-raiser and Tyrone just about did enough to squeeze by Mayo in what was seen as a routine win for that team.
Sean Cavanagh scored three from play but his performance did not impress Nudie Hughes who questioned Harte on his deployment on RTÉ Radio afterwards.
After that, Tyrone walloped Dublin in the quarter-final, edged past Wexford in the semi, before beating Kerry with shock and awe in the final. And yet, and yet, Tyrone have not beaten any of Mayo, Dublin or Kerry in championship football since.
It’s a fact that is starting to grate on football people within the county and there is a sense that Tyrone are returning to their status before Harte assumed control of the county senior team in late 2002.
2020 is the final year of Harte’s current arrangement with the board.
He has achieved wonders in keeping them competitive, but that record stands against them like a black mark.
Time to put doctors in the picture
It’s a pity the Mayo medics didn’t have access to video Fionn McDonagh’s reaction to the foul by Ciarán Kilkenny in the second half of Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final.
It was clear the Mayo forward went limp as he took that late blow and it had suspected concussion written all over it.
One Dublin player was so alarmed by McDonagh’s lack of response that he called for medical attention immediately.
McDonagh was assessed afterwards and given the green light to continue to play before he was replaced in the 50th minute, but had the doctor seen the severity of the impact he might have been more reluctant for McDonagh to carry on.
Up to managers to sell a dummy team
The word is the Dublin camp are furious with the GAA about how their match programme line-up was leaked on Friday night.
It’s not the first time this has happened. However, it has already been confirmed that nothing in rule stops the GAA from revealing the 26-man panels as soon as they are confirmed on Thursday mornings prior to Championship matches.
So it appears to be up to managers not to reveal their true hand when they send in their team and subs.
Provincial champions tumble
Provincial success in this year’s minor championships ultimately counted for nought in the grander scheme of the All-Ireland race.
Intriguingly, none of the four teams that will contest this year’s underage finals are provincial champions.
Galway, of course, don’t have a provincial hurling championship to play in but final opponents Kilkenny, as well as football finalists Cork and Galway, all lost their respective provincial finals.
In the case of the Cork footballers, it’s hard to know what it all means for them.
They began their summer with a comprehensive 16-point defeat to Kerry and lost to Kerry again by three points in the Munster final. Yet it’s Cork that have survived longest in the All-Ireland series
The end of the Kerry minor odyssey
It began on April 16, 2014, at Cusack Park, Ennis, a Munster quarter-final against Clare which Kerry won by 15 points, and would morph into the longest unbeaten run ever recorded at minor level, incorporating three different managers, as well as the small matter of five Munster and All-Ireland crowns.
Its value could be seen in yesterday’s senior game as nine of the Kerry players to feature — Shane Ryan, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan, Gavin White, Brian Ó Beaglaioch, Seán O’Shea, David Clifford, Killian Spillane, and Dara Moynihan — were graduates of those minor winning teams. ”