Our writers look ahead to the major talking points ahead of the weekend's Allianz League action.
Tyrone's bogey team, Kerry, up for another humdinger
If a competitive game is the equivalent of two or three training sessions, what value must Peter Keane place on the two humdingers his players have been involved in these past couple of weekends?
The hits should continue to come in Omagh on Sunday where they face a Tyrone team hurting from their first defeat of the year in Castleblayney last weekend but interestingly a county that have beaten the Kingdom just one since 2011. That came a couple of years ago in the League in Healy Park but other than that it’s been seven Kerry wins and one share of the spoils.
There’s a strong argument for Kerry now being Tyrone’s bogey team after what happened in the previous decade (although Mayo still seem to upset the Red Hand County more than any other team).
Without Mattie Donnelly and Cathal McShane, Tyrone host Kerry at a venue that isn’t exactly a fortress and where the visitors have often gone in the past on the final day of the competition and picked up a result. Recalling forwards who didn’t feel wanted doesn’t exactly bode well either. The same might be said of Tommy Walsh but then he is but one of several attacking options Kerry have.
Cork must win to make Páirc a fortress
Cork’s victory over Leitrim last weekend was notable in that it was the first time since February of 2018 that the county had managed to string together back-to-back league wins.
The task this Sunday is to bridge the four-year gap to the last time Cork secured back-to-back league wins on home soil.
Cork’s home record under Ronan McCarthy has been pretty dire - the man himself is the first to admit as such. The opening round seven-point triumph over Offaly was just the third time Cork had won at home, in either league or championship, under McCarthy.
That’s a record that immediately requires improving - starting with Sunday’s visit of third-placed Down.
“We want to build on the positive performance we had at home against Offaly. Our home record over the last couple of years has been very poor so it is important from our point of view to get points on the board but also, let’s try and get a run of wins at home so that we gain in confidence from having Páirc Uí Chaoimh as our home venue. There is a good team coming down to play us, but we should really be up and ready for it,” McCarthy told this paper in recent days.
If the Cork footballers want to make Páirc Uí Chaoimh a "fortress", as the manager outlined following the Offaly victory, then they must be coming out on top in games like the one on Sunday.
Hints of relegation battle as Meath welcome Mayo
Although it included the by now what seems customary defeats to Dublin and Galway, it was a fine spring had by Mayo in 2019. Although those losses came back to back, they had enough good work done before them and recovered well after to seal a final place where they were too good for Kerry.
Now with one point from two games there is no cushion for James Horan. He’s not going to push the panic button and send in the tried and trusted for the trip to Navan but last Saturday’s performance against Dublin was a letdown irrespective of the early sending off.
It’s not as if there will be much benefit from defending the Division 1 title and it’s just as well because already there is a hint of relegation battle between themselves and Meath this weekend.
The character shown to take something from Ballybofey in Round 1 was encouraging. Mind you, before each of their goals they were the poorer team. Top flight survival will do Horan thank you very much but what’s he’s finding out about his younger players thus far isn’t exactly suggesting they are genuine All-Ireland contenders.
Pádraic Joyce building on Kevin Walsh's Galway foundations
Painted as the big bad wolf of Galway football, Kevin Walsh did plenty good whatever people think of the way the senior team played under him.
Mayo might have beaten them in Limerick last summer but thanks in no small part to Walsh they have developed something of a complex about their neighbours. Retaining their Division 1 status was a success too.
Walsh, remember, was cursed last year by the amount of injuries his panel picked up and ensuring top class medical support was something Pádraic Joyce insisted on before he was appointed as his successor.
Walsh made Galway hard to beat, he insisted on players being more conscionable about their on-field duties and just like now defenders in his time were popping up for goals. However, he didn’t evolve their style enough whereas there is already a joie de vivre in how Galway play because Joyce has given his footballers a licence. And to think he still has to bring in more of the Corofin players who will find the county environment much more to their liking than before.
It’s not that Joyce is an all-out attack merchant but there appears to be more trust placed in the player to do the right thing.