Sports Editor Peter Campbell
Edmund’s draw double looks a good bet now
“That game is going to end in a draw. The two semi-finals will be draws.” It was said with conviction by none other than Edmund Brennan as we chatted in Aras Aoidh Ruadh during the first half of the Aodh Ruadh v Naomh Ultan Intermediate Championship game on Sunday last, some ten minutes before the throw-in between Kerry and Mayo in Croke Park.
The first part of his double always looked on the cards, and it would have been worth a wee wager ahead of the second semi-final between Dublin and Tyrone on Sunday next.
Most of the chat, though, was about the Donegal managerial post. When Gary McDaid’s name was mentioned, someone questioned his county experience. “He won a Buncrana Cup,” interjects Brennan. “1998. They beat Cavan in the semi-final and Tyrone in the final,” says Brennan, just to make sure our arguments were fully informed!
Who does he want as the next boss? That’s when he becomes cagey. But ask him about any Buncrana Cup team from the first ever running until the present day and he could name you every team manager, every captain and probably nearly every team member!
Going back to the All-Ireland semi-finals, we were treated to a great spectacle on Sunday last by Mayo and Kerry. It is hard not to feel for Mayo, especially for some of their players, such as Andy Moran, Keith Higgins and Colm Boyle. They have visited the Last Chance Saloon on so many occasions now it seems almost inevitable that they are destined for failure once again.
But they still come back and go through the torture. I always felt that they were deprived of an All-Ireland in 2014 when they were the best team in Ireland that year. But they seem to hit the self-destruct button when things are looking good. The experiment of using Aidan O’Shea at full-back was an extraordinary one. Granted, they need someone who can match Kieran Donaghy in the air when the high ball is launched, but it would make more sense to put a strong marker on him to stop him using the ball when he gets back to the ground. Poor O’Shea was all at sea in the position when it came to the marking side of the arrangement.
Mayo were the better team on Sunday last but still needed to draw on all their reserves to get a draw. The game was really exciting but it was short on quality at times. Kerry have plenty of room for improvement but unless they can shore up their defence, Mayo could give their supporters another trip to Croke Park.
Looking at Sunday’s game, I doubt if Tyrone or Dublin would be scared by what they saw. This will be another huge battle and I’m beginning to think that Edmund Brennan may be onto something - it could be another draw!
Talking of doubles, my colleague Diarmaid Doherty came up with a few interesting facts from the Donegal Senior Championship last weekend: Players with the same name on opposition teams.
In Malin on Saturday night, there was a Brendan McLaughlin on the Malin and MacCumhaill’s teams.
In Magheragallon on Sunday evening, Gary McFadden was a member of both teams, while in O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny, Caolan Ward featured for both Dungloe and St. Eunan’s.
Were there others? Let us know.
Line . . . what line
Had a comical story related to me about the game in Ardara on Sunday between the home side and Kilcar. Towards the end of the game Kilcar midfielder, Ciaran McGinley, was penalised for pushing/hooshing an Ardara player over the sideline, but he pointed out to the referee (and the crowd) that he was mistaken by another blurred line some four or five metres closer to the sideline.
It seems the pitch had been narrowed by a significant margin ahead of the clash and McGinley was making the point in one of those comical moments in games.
Harps on the cup trail
Speaking of sidelines, and making pitches slightly narrower, it’s a ploy that has been used in the recent past at Finn Park.
This Saturday evening, Harps put their battle for survival on hold and head to Limerick for their second round tie in the FAI Cup. The following weekend, they make the return journey for their league meeting and given the fact that Harps have slipped into the relegation places since last weekend, the league game in Limerick will take on huge importance.
Harps fans however, would dearly love to see their team win this weekend too. Remember, the tie has to be finished on the night and while Ollie Horgan is likely to rest some of his big players, he still has plenty of quality and experience in the ranks to keep this cup run going.
A win on Saturday night and suddenly Harps are in the last eight of the competition. And that would mean they’d be only two wins away from a cup final appearnce at the Aviva Stadium.