Newbridge or Nowhere! The senior inter-county footballers from Kildare had the last laugh when they stood up for their right to play their Round 3 qualifier game at home last Saturday instead of Croke Park, the preferred venue for our administrators.
The GAA were obviously looking at the income which could have been gained by bringing the game to headquarters. Although St. Conleth’s Park in Newbridge only holds 8,200 people, Kildare insisted on adhering to the rules and getting home advantage. The whole saga was crowned off with a superb win over a very fancied Mayo team.
Still, I am not convinced that Kildare are a good team. By the same token, I didn’t rate Mayo at the beginning of the championship, though I did believe that they would reach the last eight. The game itself was scrappy. Mayo had the better players technically on the field, however this counts for little when pride and passion are absent.
This was an embarrassing defeat for the men from the west and surely it will signal the end for manager Stephen Rochford and a number of their players. I appreciate that Mayo were without Seamus O’Shea and Tom Parsons. Perhaps, James Horan will come back as team manager. He seems to know quite a lot more about football since joining Sky TV as a pundit!
It’s such a pity that this squad of players were unable to win an All-Ireland title. Some may yet but that’s more out of hope than expectation. As for Kildare, they played above their form and will be delighted to have taken the scalp of one of the hottest teams in the country. It’s always great to see the underdog prevail and it’s exactly what this year’s football championship needed. It’s all too predictable. The only other shock was Fermanagh’s victory over Monaghan.
We now know the draw for Round 4 of the qualifiers which sees some interesting clashes this weekend. Croke Park is unavailable because some guy called Michael Bublé is having a concert there! I wonder how many of his tickets will be burned in protest for coming to Ireland. It is being widely publicised that tickets for the Pope’s visit in August are being burned by some disgruntled people. I’d say the Pope would be happy to go to Newbridge or anywhere rather than keep Gaelic games out of Croke Park. Bublé’s tickets cost €89.50 while the Pope’s are offered ‘free’.
Last week’s heroes Kildare will play beaten Ulster finalists Fermanagh. Monaghan have drawn Laois. Tyrone will play Cork while Roscommon and Armagh will go head to head. I believe that Kildare, Monaghan, Tyrone and Roscommon will make it through to the Super 8’s. Kildare are on a high after defeating Mayo and will be delighted to have been teamed up with Fermanagh. The latter will need a vast improvement on their Ulster final performance if they are to stand any chance of progressing. Monaghan are back on track again after their shock defeat to the Erne county and I cannot see them slipping against a very poor Laois outfit. Tyrone are still struggling to find form but, they will have too much in the tank for a sorry Cork team who capitulated completely in the Munster final to Kerry. Roscommon are quite a good team and I feel that they can compete with the best teams around. They may prove the dark horses in the Super 8’s. This is not being disrespectful to Armagh who have done really well to reach this stage. I still feel that they will come up quite a bit short against Roscommon.
In respect to Donegal, it is likely then that we will have Tyrone and Roscommon and of course Dublin in our group of four in the Super 8’s. It could all come down to a home game against Tyrone to qualify for the All-Ireland semi-final. What a prospect.
Keep the faith!