Three things to talk about from the weekend’s action...
MAYO MUST PERFORM
No shucks Sherlock, but it’s a point that needs stressing. From the ridiculous to the sublime and back again, Mayo have reached an All-Ireland final having failed to put together 35 minutes of solid football. For all the drivel we hear about every team enjoying a purple patch, Mayo really can’t make any excuses about how opposition have dictated the play to the extent they almost lose their way and the game.
That much hasn’t changed - go back to the defeat to Galway - when they looked in control only to surrender the final quarter. At least they know there is something in them. They have looked incredible in stages and they have the blend of experience and youth - not to mention hurt - to win an All-Ireland. But the ingredients don’t cook themselves. Few will give them a chance of beating Kerry; even fewer will predict they can match Dublin but it’s all within reason. Mayo have yet to reveal themselves. At least that’s what they will hope.
IF ONLY FOR A FULL DECK...
What must Steven O’Brien have been thinking yesterday? With things in the balance around the hour mark, it was easy to imagine the Ballina midfielder making his presence felt in the middle, reaching balls from the heavens to inspire Tipperary. Instead, O’Brien may be an unused substitute in Sunday week’s All-Ireland SHC final. Failing that, he could be one of those who travels to Croke Park but doesn’t tog out.
Colin O’Riordan is out of reach now as is Seamus Kennedy. O’Brien is one player Tipp footballers can’t do without in 2017. Liam Kearns knows it too. If Peter Acheson is lost to emigration, O’Brien will be needed all the more. Also, Kearns must receive commitments from both county board and panel ensuring nobody disappears next year. Tipperary have a bye into the Munster semi-final. Should Cork be drawn on the same side as Kerry, they are all but guaranteed a last 16 place. But this year should be more than enough incentive for all the relevant stakeholders to get behind Tipperary football.
We normally associate Galway football with dash, panache and impudent skill. In one delicious cameo moment yesterday in the All-Ireland MFC semi, Robert Finnerty displayed all of those traits. This fella could be the one that got away from a Mayo perspective as the Galway minor is son of former green and red great Anthony. Robert’s chip-lift was poetry in motion as he profited from Donegal full-back Aaron McCrea’s slip and the eventual result was Desmond Conneely’s killer goal for Galway.
This is a classy Galway outfit and having lost to Tipperary at the quarter-final stage last year, reaching a final for the first time in nine years is a sign of genuine progress. Finnerty and Conneely are the star men up front but from a Kerry or Kildare viewpoint, forewarned is surely forearmed ahead of the September 18 decider.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved