I was out and about quite a bit at the weekend and saw a fair amount of football. I also recorded and watched later the two National Football League semi-finals in Croke Park.
And I have to say I have come to the conclusion after watching Mayo and Kerry and Cork and Down, that we are not too far away.
I’m really buoyed up after the weekend and I honestly think we have as good a chance as any of the top teams at making an impact in the championship.
If you take that four of the top teams were in action on Sunday. And along with Dublin, Tyrone and Kildare, they are the movers and shakers when it comes to the championship, I don’t think we would be out of our depth among most of the them.
As I see it Mayo are the best side in Connacht, but knowing them, Galway and possibly, to a lesser extent, Roscommon are more than capable of taking tea with them.
Dublin and Kildare are the big two in Leinster, though I have to say I still have lingering doubts about Kildare. But they are the only other Leinster outfit other than Dublin that come into the reckoning. And then of course you have Cork and Kerry in Munster and I believe Ulster is down to ourselves or Tyrone.
It would be nice to retain the Ulster title. It is something we have never done and it would be a good achievement to put Ulsters back to back.
But even if we don’t, I still feel we should be looking forward to a long and fruitful summer. It is a matter of getting everybody that is out injured back and in good health again. If we do there is no reason why we cannot still be playing football in August.
When it comes down to it Cork and Kerry are probably going to be the teams to beat. Cork are big and strong and physical and they have a few men back from injury while Jack O’Connor has unearthed a number of good young players over the league. If they play Kieran Donaghy on the edge of the square they will take talking too. But I must say my mood is upbeat.
Before I leave the National League semi-finals, I have to say it was a crazy decision to play the league semi-finals in Croke Park on Sunday. With a crowd of just over 11,000, the Association must have been down a small fortune on the decision.
I took in Bundoran’s two games against Naomh Brid on Bank Holiday Monday and MacCumhaill’s on Sunday. And after watching both those games it reminded me once again the importance of county men to a club team.
David Walsh, on Monday, for Naomh Brid and Marty O’Reilly, on Sunday, for MacCumhaill’s brought it home to me again. They both stood out and really were the difference.
A big congratulations to Ray Durack and the county hurlers. They did the business on Sunday when it mattered against Sligo and retained their league status with young Lee Henderson stepping up to the plate in a big way.
It was good to see the minors finish the Ulster Minor Football League on a winning note with their victory over Antrim. They may be disappointed at not qualifying for the last four in the league, but they have the Shield to look forward to and a game against Down, who are good quality opposition.
Also congratulations to the Minor ladies who also won at weekend and to Declan Bonner and the Co. U-16 team who beat Tyrone in a challenge game. It is good to see Declan involved with the U-16s.
Finally, this week, all the best to new GAA president Liam O’Neill who took office at the weekend.
Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack