Our writers chat through the main talking points from the weekend’s Allianz League action.
Sheedy: Three reds proof 'we've enough cards in hurling'
It was never a proposal of Liam Sheedy’s Hurling 2020 committee to increase the number of cards in hurling so he was pleased the black card motion at Congress was rejected.
“We have enough cards in hurling,” he said after his 14-man team just about saw off 13-man Waterford. “We saw it there today. There are yellows and reds and if they have to use them they can.
“I would say it's a great game, it's in a really good place, and you see the level of competition and the conditioning of teams right throughout the League, every match we've played has been nip and tuck.
“Hurling is in the best place it's been in a long time - we certainly don't need to be tinkering with the rules. We just need to get every child in the country playing it.”
Sheedy suggested Tipperary are likely to contest Cathal Barrett’s red card for reacting to Dessie Hutchinson in the first half in Thurles.
“I spoke to Cathal after the match and he did feel there was nothing in it so I take his word for it," he said of the dismissal, which will rule him out of the Galway game.
"That’s what he said to me. The umpire picked it out from 80 yards away. He (Barrett) didn’t think there was anything in it. If there was anything in it we absolutely would be looking for it to be rescinded. If there was, he will have to serve his time but he is confident there was nothing in his tackle.”
- Three see red as Tipp see off wasteful Waterford
'Frightening' Powter getting closer to his potential
Sean Powter’s all-action display caught the eye in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and his manager fully acknowledged his importance to the team.
“People talk about Cathal McShane and Mattie Donnelly being out for Tyrone, but the likes of Sean and Brian Hurley have been massive, massive misses for us,” said Ronan McCarthy.
“Sean, you could play anywhere. He’s so dynamic, he’s a line-breaker, he punches holes in a defence, and his tackling was first class... he’s a top-class inter-county player we’ve had to do without for the last two years.
“And he ain’t there yet, lads. That’s the frightening thing.” McCarthy stressed the importance of managing Powter, who missed those last two seasons with leg injuries.
“We took him off today, and we have to manage him properly, but it’s brilliant to have him back.
“He’s played five games and he hasn’t finished too many of them. If we can keep him playing throughout the League, manage him properly - the medical team have done a great job - and if he doesn’t have any setbacks by the time we get to May, he should be motoring well.”
- Late goals make it a nervy finish for Cork
Weather the cause of 'topsy-turvy' Division 2?
Division Two of the Football League continues to confound and fascinate.
The peloton had shown belated signs of stringing out until wins for Kildare and Clare on the road bunched the whole thing up again. Just three points separate first from seventh with two rounds to go.
Fermanagh may be rooted to the bottom but they could make it all tighter again if their game against Armagh, postponed on Sunday, produces a win for the Ernesiders and leaves them level on points with Kildare and Clare.
"It's hard to know what's in your own hands in this division because it is a very topsy-turvy division," said Kildare manager Jack O'Connor after their defeat of Laois. "It is incredible to think that Armagh beat us well, Laois beat Armagh well, and it's very hard to put a finger on it.
"It's difficult conditions and unless your mindset is spot on in those conditions... Some fellas maybe the conditions don't suit them. I think the weather has a lot to do with the topsy-turvy nature of the results.
"Every point is going to be very hard-fought for."
- Jack O'Connor's Kildare boost survival hopes against abject Laois
How many Cork forwards can be satisfied with their spring?
Is it highlighting the obvious to state that Cork have a Patrick Horgan dependency issue in attack?
Across their five League games this season, Cork have struck 11-90 (123). Horgan accounted for 47% of this total, notching 3-49. Leaving aside the fact that all but 0-2 of his total came from dead-ball efforts, Horgan is the player shouldering the burden of responsibility in the scoring department each and every time Cork step on the field.
To frame it another way, how many Cork forwards, outside of Horgan, would be even remotely satisfied with their League endeavours. Besides Shane Kingston, one doesn't envisage too many hands flying into the air.
Cork's starting front six managed 0-4 from play during 70-plus minutes of hurling at Salthill on Sunday. That's simply not good enough and will need to be rectified during the 10 weeks between now and the county's Championship opener.
- Loss to Galway knocks Cork out of League contention
Mayo’s long-standing Division 1 record on the line
Few teams are more familiar with relegation battles than Mayo but James Horan’s men are in a real scrap to save their Division 1 status this year.
Sunday’s one-point defeat to Kerry means the reigning League champions are firmly in the bottom two and their fate is no longer in their own hands.
Mayo travel to Galway next time out and then host Tyrone in their final game. Two wins will not guarantee them safety but it looks like anything less considerably lengthens their odds of survival. They sit on three points with Donegal and Monaghan on five points, Tyrone and Dublin on six, and Kerry on seven.
Mayo have been in Division 1 since the 1998/99 season and relegation would represent a major blow to the current team. It would be some turnaround from this time last year when Mayo beat Kerry in the League final in Croke Park.
They will need all their experience and know-how to excavate themselves from the bottom two. James Horan will certainly be hoping players currently out of action like Cillian O’Connor, Fionn McDonagh, and Donie Vaughan can feature in the crucial final two games.
- 'We had a bit of karaoke and we were flying': How Keane's Kerry managed Mayo delay
Donegal make a statement after lost leads
Donegal were smarting from their inability to see out games. Aside from the 3-8 to 0-7 win over Meath in their second outing, Declan Bonner’s side had picked up just one point from a possible six.
This came having conceded a 78th-minute equalizing goal against Mayo in a 0-19 to 2-13 draw on the opening night and then losing by a point against both Galway and Dublin, despite respective leads of seven and five points.
Against Monaghan on Sunday, they came out against the breeze 1-5 to 0-2 up with intent and points from Michael Langan and Peadar Mogan effectively killed off the challenge of Seamus McEnaney’s team inside six second-half minutes. Ryan Wylie’s dismissal just compounded the grief for the visitors, who had their poorest outing of 2020 yet.
- Michael Langan stars as Donegal record comfortable victory over Monaghan
Regardless of relegation, Meath need a win from this League
With relegation to Division 2 now confirmed for Meath, it's tempting to suggest their remaining ties against Dublin and Monaghan are of the dead rubber variety.
In reality, nothing should change for the Royal County who still badly need to collect at least one win before the Championship rolls around. That won't mean anything in League terms at this stage but when you haven't beaten a Division 1 team since 2014, every opportunity to do so is vital.
For the record, Meath's Leinster semi-final defeat of Kildare six years ago was the last time they beat a team from the top-flight. They've had five attempts to correct that statistic this year but lost the lot, bringing to eight the number of consecutive games they've now lost when you include last year's Super 8s defeats.
Add in the Leinster final loss to Dublin and that's nine losses from Meath's last 10 League and Championship games. For no other reason than to simply prove to themselves that they can actually beat a marquee outfit, Meath need to finish the campaign with at least one win.
- Ten-point turnaround as Galway relegate Meath