It was a long time coming. Mayo and Kerry played out a thrilling draw in a game that set this year’s Championship alight. It’s such a pity that we had to endure a lot of mediocre football up to last Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final.
The two sides will do battle this Saturday again and most of the country hopes that Mayo will have the energy to match and even out run Kerry. This will be Mayo’s ninth championship game. With only a six-day turnaround, fatigue certainly will be a factor for both teams, especially Mayo.
Given that last Sunday was a wet day at Croke Park, it made for a more level playing field. The match-ups were interesting. The major talking point was the moving of Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea to full-back to mark Kieran Donaghy. It worked and it didn’t work. O’Shea was successful in thwarting Donaghy’s aerial threat but, at times, O’Shea lost Donaghy and failed to mark him on critical occasions. By taking O’Shea out of their attack, Mayo sacrificed a lot of their firepower up front.
Still, Mayo were superb in that sector with Andy Moran playing one of his finest games ever. It was a truly brilliant game with end to end football. I thought that the fitness levels of both teams were magnificent and neither team deserved to lose.
This may not Kerry’s best ever team but, they have a great attitude in that they never know when they are beaten. They are such a great example for any team. The team that learns most from the drawn game will be the one who wins. The was a full blooded but a tactical encounter. There was a lot of ‘needle’ in the game which is par for the course and I like to see an edge on championship teams. There was no love lost between the two sets of players and this is the way it should be.
Dublin and Tyrone square up this Sunday and I’m sure the O’Neill men will get into The Dublin players faces in what promises to be another war of attrition. Dublin have been hot favourites since the outset of the Championship. For the first time in this All-Ireland series, Dublin will be put to the test. It will be difficult to see Tyrone beat Dublin unless they meet fire with fire and not concede any ground to them.
We know that Dublin like to build from defence, so Tyrone will have to pressurise them high up the field. Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is a master tactician and he will no doubt, have a plan in place for Dublin. My main concern is that Tyrone may lack a scoring threat up front. We don’t know really how good Tyrone are or indeed Dublin for that matter, given the quality of opposition both teams have played thus far in the championship.
Tyrone’s victory over Donegal was a facile one since Donegal’s poor performance against Galway. The latter too, meekly slipped by the wayside. Tyrone’s opponents so far have been Derry, Donegal, Down and Armagh. Dublin have beaten Carlow, Westmeath, Kildare and Monaghan. As you can see, neither Tyrone or Dublin haven’t been seriously tested. We do know that they will test each other. I hope that we have another ding-dong battle at Croker and I also hope that our neighbours Tyrone can upset the odds.
It's that time of year again when schools reopen, drawing the summer to a close. It can be an anxious and traumatic time for both children and parents. I met a few youngsters who were going for their induction to their new secondary school the other day. They were terrified. Such is the pressure nowadays to be successful and be the best that we lose focus of life itself.
I attended a local underage Gaelic football match last week. I was taken aback by the intense atmosphere. These were U-14s. The players were fine but the parents and coaches were in a state of hysteria. Where has the fun and enjoyment gone Changed times, I’m afraid. Growing up in today’s culture is difficult for our children. Everybody’s in a rush. For parents who have young teenage children, they are rushing from one discipline to another after school hours; lessons for this this and that and training for such a team. We are overwhelmed with trying to do what’s best for our kids. A happy medium is best and let our children be children.
I was in Pieta House in Letterkenny last week handing over the proceeds from my autobiography ‘Confessions of a Gaelic Footballer’. Danny Devlin gave me a brief tour of the facility. It is serenely calm and welcoming. If you don’t know about Pieta House, this is an extract from their website “As it has been from day one, everything is free of charge and our staff are fully qualified and provide a professional one-to-one therapeutic service for people who are experiencing suicidal ideation, people who have attempted suicide and people who are engaging in self-harm. A doctor’s referral or a psychiatric report is not required”.
They provide a much-needed service for the Northwest. It is a sad fact of life. Mental Health Ireland says “Around 1 in 6 people in Ireland will experience a mental health problem like anxiety each year, which has steadily increased over the past 20 years. It is also likely that individuals do not seek help for significant levels of anxiety, meaning many remain without diagnosis or treatment.” The Independent.co.uk published an article on 27th February 2016 with the heading ‘Teenage mental health crisis: rates of depression have soared in past 25 years’. It is worth a read. We like to ignore such difficult facts but, it is there and we need to talk about it and raise awareness.
On a lighter note, I would like to wish my neighbours in Tyrone all the best for Sunday and for Tommy Moss in Aghyaran I want to say “choinneáil ar an creideamh”!