Our writers chat through the main talking points from the weekend’s Allianz League action.
Cork and Limerick exasperated by high free count
Kieran Kingston and John Kiely are mild-mannered men but their frustration with Seán Cleere’s refereeing filled the auditorium under Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s South Stand.
"I think there was over 40 frees awarded today," bemoaned Kingston before providing some sarcasm. "I think we conceded 20-something of them and we’re ‘the softest team in Ireland’, as everybody knows.
"For us to concede that number of frees, you have to question it.
"The last five or six frees went against us, and we have to look at that and see if it was deserved – if so, so be it, but that’s frustrating when the game is in the melting pot."
Kiely’s disgruntlement was more with the three frees Limerick gave up for throwing the ball - Cork were penalised for one.
"There was obviously a clear emphasis on the striking action in the handpass. That was one thing that came from both fixtures, last night (in Croke Park) and today, which is obviously a challenge to us in a coaching capacity to try and re-emphasise the need for that.
"It doesn’t help the game when it’s being blown as frequently as it is for that particular skill.
"At the end of the day, the handpass is there to allow the player to move the ball on in circumstances where they can’t use the hurley. And for what reason? To keep the game flowing.
"Now that fellas are handpassing the ball off, it’s very hard to tell if fellas are making a clear striking action with the ball or not. It’s probably the technique the modern player uses right across the country. They’re all using a more fluent movement.
"It's challenging to referee that aspect of the game but at the same time sometimes you need to err on the side of caution. For example, if a player hasn’t anybody making physical contact with him he has the time to make a clear striking action.
"The player would only throw the ball if he was in a situation where he is under severe pressure and needed to throw the ball because he couldn’t get a striking action."
- Limerick survive Cork fightback to record third win in a row
Kerry none the wiser over full-back line make-up
Kerry’s defensive frailties reared their head again on Sunday. Meath got in for two goals and but for two fine saves from Brian Kelly in the closing stages, the visitors to Killarney would have doubled their goal count.
It was the ease at which Meath players waltzed through the Kerry defence that will have most irritated management.
While Paul Murphy, Shane Enright, and Gavin White are likely to be the Championship half-back line, it's not yet clear which three individuals will patrol the full-back line. Certainly, no one who played there on Sunday much enhanced their prospects.
“We don't want to be conceding goals. That is something we are obviously going to work on,” said Kingdom manager Peter Keane.
Kerry’s case for the defence remains unconvincing.
- David Clifford helps Kerry hold off Meath challenge
Cathal McShane injury overshadows record Tyrone loss
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has resigned himself to being without star forward Cathal McShane for a lengthy period just a couple of weeks after the All-Star turned down a move to Aussie Rules.
The 24-year old was stretchered off the field early in the second-half of Tyrone’s record 2-25 to 0-12 hammering by Galway and Harte fears it could be some time before McShane is back.
“It is not any time soon, I will put it like that,” said Harte when asked how long McShane faces on the sideline.
The Owen Roe O’Neill’s clubman, who is believed to have suffered a serious ankle injury, turned down a lucrative move to the professional game in Australia just a couple of weeks ago but now faces a lengthy spell in recovery.
“You don’t like losing matches,” added Harte. “League points come and go. But a man of his stature and his ability, to lose him again so soon after being able to keep him to play Gaelic football here is the most disappointing thing about today.
“I am not a medical man but it sounds bad and didn’t look good either. He was in great pain coming off. That is where our thoughts are today. I know the importance of football and not to diminish that but there are more important things. And we have to keep that in perspective.”
- 'I can’t ever remember a day like it': Galway produce record 19-point hammering on dismal day for Tyrone
Sublime spectacle far from Division 3 standard
Football must be in rude health if there are 20 counties higher up the League ladder than Tipperary right now. David Power's side played some sublime football against Cork on Saturday night and yet they sit fifth in Division 3 and looking down, rather than up, with three rounds to play.
What Saturday evening's game in Thurles showed yet again was that it takes two to tango. Both sides committed to an attacking brand of football and the result was a spectacle light years ahead of anything the Premier county took part in against Down, Louth, or Derry.
“People don’t realise the previous three teams we played were very defensive teams,” said Power. “You have to look at each opposition and that is the way it goes. That is one thing about Cork... For a neutral, what a game of football.
“And for Division 3! That was Division 2 standard there.”
Tipp should be far too good to slip back into the bottom tier but Power knows that doesn't mean it can't happen. Everyone said the same about Cork being relegated to Division 3 last term and yet here they are.
Tipp will need to mix fight with fancy to push on from here.
- Ronan McCarthy demands more 'courage' from unbeaten Cork
Richie English a major loss to Limerick
What a blow it will be to Limerick being without 2018 All-Star Richie English for the remainder of the season.
John Kiely confirmed following the game that the 25-year-old suffered an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear in the win over Galway earlier this month.
"He had good stability after the injury but unfortunately, the nature of his injury is that it won’t heal on its own and it can’t be rehabbed so the best advice we got is that he is best to go away and get the operation done," said John Kiely.
English was in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and has yet to undergo surgery.
Kiely continued: "Richie is a real solid guy and he will bounce back from this and will work real hard to get back to where he was before he got the injury. It's one of those things that you can’t legislate for - we have had Richie McCarthy, Paul Browne, Seán Finn in the past. Every group of players over time will have a number of those injuries and there is no rationale for why it happens."
When is a handpass…
More than once on Sunday at Walsh Park Galway and Waterford players gave handpasses on the stand side to colleagues steaming upfield - pop passes off the shoulder, you might say.
More than once, those looked less like handpasses and more like... throws, is the technical term. None were punished.
This is not to criticise referee James Owens and his team of officials, who had a very good game, but given the rucks developing, it was obvious at times that no official could see whether a legal handpass had been made.
In that case, is the benefit of the doubt appropriate? If you can’t actually see the handpass being made but the ball shoots to another player, should you call it?
As I say, this is not criticising referees for not doing yet another job, and it may be that it was more obvious Sunday than at previous games, but in this viewer’s opinion, quite a few fouls went unpunished in Walsh Park.
- Wasteful Galway lose by a point in Waterford
McCarthy magic gives Monaghan hope of spreading scoring burden
Many columns have been filled in the past discussing Monaghan’s over-reliance on their three-time All-Star Conor McManus, but the performance of Conor McCarthy on Sunday will have left plenty of Monaghan folk optimistic.
McCarthy returned 1-3 from centre-forward, looking lively, sharp, and hungry throughout. He led the line in the first half when Conor McManus was having difficulties shaking off the close attention of 20-year-old Oisin Mullin, before hitting two excellent points from play when the game was in the melting pot in the early stages of the second half.
Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney will also be encouraged by the display of Jack McCarron, after springing him from the bench in the 41st minute, scoring from play three minutes later and also landing a free for his efforts. McCarron brought even more energy to the Monaghan attack when he came on and hit an absolutely stunning bullet-like pass to the chest of McManus before turning and splitting the posts four minutes from time.
If Monaghan are to push on and challenge for a National League Final appearance in 2020, they’ll be hoping the form of their attackers can be much more evenly spread than in the past.
- Monaghan ease to victory over 13-man Mayo