“No, it’s just that these shorts are very tight.”
We’ve reached that stage in the Championship where the wheat has been well and truly separated from the chaff. Well, to be honest, there’s still a good bit of chaff, but a lot less than before. It’s not as if we have to pretend Monaghan are actually quite good.The GAA have kindly split the quarter-finals into two themed batches.
They’ve stopped short of calling Saturday ‘Foregone Conclusion Day’ at Croke Park, but you can see what they were getting at in their match scheduling. Kerry have been unimpressive and plagued by trouble throughout the summer which is pretty much what we expect from them every time they look set to get their hands on Sam. Paul Galvin’s impromptu dental examination of Eoin Cadagon has left the Kingdom without a key player for much of the Championship, but it says a lot that they’ve been able to progress with minimal fuss even without his combination of skill and trouble-making. Down will provide the defending champions with a tough examination anyway, but they’ve got history on their side as the Mournemen have beaten Kerry in all four of their previous championship meetings. Seemingly offended that statistics would have the cheek to slight his beloved county, former Kerry player and current snazzy shirt wearing pundit Pat Spillane has hit out at facts. "That is more a creation of the media. Sure Kerry have never beaten Fermanagh,€ he said, which would be difficult because they’ve never played in the Championship. He probably also went on to lament the Kingdom’s dreadful record against the Empire.
Every Championship season begins with Dublin fans saying this year will be different and for once they’re right €“ they’re not as good. Pat Gilroy seemed determined to consign Dublin’s old guard to the Jackeens Retirement Home €“ or the Evening Herald to give it its proper name €“ but some back-tracking of the highest order was in order when the new brigade made Wexford look like the Harlem Globetrotters for the 1st half of their Leinster quarter-final. Since giving the Meath forwards the freedom of Croke Park, the Dubs have gradually improved to the point where they’re now just poor as opposed to mediocre. Tyrone have done little wrong in their march to the quarter-final to the point that we’ve got very few sly zings to aim at them. The noises coming from their camp have been surprisingly cautious and the general sense is that facing a Dublin side with few expectations and little to lose is worse than facing a Dublin side who think they’re God’s gift to overly tight GAA shorts and the Sam Maguire is something Heffo stole from the Last Supper and is rightfully theirs. ‘Stop Bernard Brogan, stop Dublin’ has been the blueprint for stifling the Dubs, but Eoghan O’Gara announced himself with a couple of goals last weekend. He won’t be able to steamroll the Tyrone defenders in the way he did to the lithe Louth defenders, but he could still unsettle them in the same way telling Mickey Harte that wearing baseball cap all the time isn’t fooling anyone – a la the Edge. Zing.
Sunday hasn’t been dubbed ‘In The Melting Pot Sunday’, but that’s effectively what it is. Taking a leaf out of ‘local resident’, Ivor Callely’s book, Cork’s road to Dublin has been unnecessarily long and drawn-out. History is on the Rebels’ side as they look to beat Roscommon, but last Saturday isn’t. With the finish line in sight they folded like the nation’s head shops and were forced to go through an extra time period. Admittedly Limerick looked about as dangerous as a bout of the tickles during the extra twenty minutes, but letting comfortable leads slip isn’t a habit the Rebels will want to encourage at this stage of the season. True enough the Connacht Championship threw up all the quality you’d associate with Leitrim’s Got Talent, but this is the biggest game the Sheepstealers have had in many a year and they'll be enthusiastic if nothing else. There’s not a whole lot going on in Roscommon [as anyone who’s driven through it in a hurry will know] so we can expect a sizeable crowd to make the trip down to cheer on their heroes. It may not be enough to actually swing the tie in their favour, but getting a few players to chip in with some help for Donie Shine could be. We’re not big fans of numbers, data or even the truth, but it’s incredible to think Shine has notched up an incredible 68% of the Rossies’ tally so far in the Championship. If they had some other players they’d be dangerous. There is a chance that Cork may underestimate their opponents and be overly confident, but when’s the last time anyone heard of an overly confident Corkman?
Meath’s policy for this campaign has been ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t refix it’ and that’s had them in good stead up to this point. We haven’t seen much of them since the Louth game and that absence can partially be explained by their hiding behind the rule book. They’ve been busy in the meantime and their back and forth with the GAA gave the Royals a chance to work on their passing €“ their buck-passing. Since losing out to Louth, Kildare have composed themselves and made ever more impressive progress through the qualifiers. Although trouncing a beaten provincial finalist is easier than a girl with big boobs getting Johnny Ronan to take her on an overseas trip, Kildare’s forwards looked very classy in beating Monaghan. That may be the first time the words ‘classy’ and ‘Kildare’ have been in such close proximity of each other, but it’s true. If Kavanagh, Doyle and Sweeney repeat the performance, they’ll ask serious questions of a Meath defence that looks about as flimsy as Joe Sheridan insisting he was pushed over the line.
All Ireland Quarter-Finals – All Ireland Football Outright