Saturday, 28 March 2015

Championship Watch with Mike McCartney

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over 

Monaghan had a nine-point lead in normal time during the opening half of the Ulster senior football championship. What odds would you have be given towards a Down win, if the opportunity arose at half time?

  Monaghan looked to have weathered the storm when Tommy Freeman found the net in the 57th minute. Darren O’Hagan fisted the winning point and it was left to Monaghan’s Dick Clerkin to find the late equaliser, but he would have nightmares Sunday night, after the opportunity was wasted even though there were men available inside. 

  Having covered games for RTE Radio 1 involving Monaghan twice during the league, I would have expected them to tighten up their act by the time the championship came around. 

  I was in Navan when they lost out to Meath in the league opener, mainly due to the amount of wides they compiled. Weeks later they took on Galway in Longford and again went home with the stats man recording fifteen wides and another defeat for the Farney men. 

  That was after I had watched Down defeat Mayo in Castlebar in the league, despite the huge underdogs tag. The Mourne men now have every reason to believe they can take home another Ulster title. 

Tipp tops on Leeside

It was close in more ways than one in Cork on Sunday as Declan Ryan’s side came out on top with just the minimum separating the sides by full time. 

  32,500 went along. The ambition in the Premier County has always been ‘to have the hay saved and Cork beaten.’ Cork will argue they should have been given the disallowed goal. Tipp will argue with John O’Brien’s sending off. 

  Having been in Thurles for the Tipp v Limerick game, it was plain to see the Premier boys had learned from their mistakes. 

  Declan Ryan was strongly criticised after Lar Corbett left the panel earlier in the year, but the Clonoulty Rossmore man knows his way around a hurling pitch, having won All-Ireland medals in three decades, 1989, 1991, and 2001. By now he is making preparations for the game with Waterford in the Munster final.  Still who would want to face Cork in the qualifiers?

  As expected Limerick strolled through to the next round of the qualifiers, after they hammered Laois scoring 6-21 in the process. Where now for Teddy McCarthy and Co?

  The Shannonsiders are very young in general, backboned by players from na Piarsaigh. The County hasn’t tasted All-Ireland glory since 1973.

Mayo as expected through to Connacht final

Gone are the days when managers no longer take the league seriously, or so it seems. The meeting of Mayo and Leitrim was rated as a division one versus division four encounter and that’s the way it panned out. 

  In Mayo the wait goes on for an All-Ireland title that extends over 60 years, prompting Taoiseach Enda Kenny to joke that he will introduce legislation if they don’t win one soon.

  Still one can’t write off Sligo’s chances and James Horan will not be looking past the Connacht final in a few weeks time. Sunday’s game was well over as a contest as the second half got underway. 

Hurling draw Phase II

The senior hurling championship draw took place on Monday morning and Anthony Daly will have to plan for a Clare downfall, after Dublin were drawn to travel to Ennis to play the Banner men. 

  It was the draw the former Clare captain and manager wouldn’t have wanted as he will have to face not just his native county but his long-time friend Davy Fitzgerald. That game is on Saturday July 7th as is the meeting of Offaly and Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Next weekend

The football qualifiers get underway this Saturday evening with seven games down for decision. 

Roscommon v Armagh (Sunday)

Des Newton will be hoping the Connacht championship outing against Galway was just a bad day at the office. Since then Roscommon have come out on top in the challenge games against, Donegal, Offaly, Leitrim and Laois last Thursday night. 

  Michael Finneran came on in that game, which suggests the Dominic’s midfielder, may well be passed fit to start and more than likely partner Karol Mannion on Sunday in the middle of the field. (See full preview on Page 48). 

  Having seen Armagh in Ballybofey against Donegal in a relegation dogfight (which they lost and were relegated), and bearing in mind Roscommon have home advantage, one would be hopeful travelling to Dr Hyde Park. The bookmakers disagree but they have been wrong before. 

  Still the Orchard County will have other ideas so expect a dogfight at the last chance saloon. Best of luck Des. 

Match Odds: Roscommon 10/3 Armagh 3/10, Draw 8/1.

Prediction:  Roscommon 

London v Antrim

One would have thought that with the amount of talent that is leaving these shores, London would be formidable opponents for any side by now. However they find themselves in the qualifiers after losing out to a Leitrim side that took quite a hammering at the hands of Mayo last Sunday. 

  Despite being in Ruislip, the safe money is on the Glens men.  

Match Odds: London 3/1 Antrim 2/7 Draw 9/1. 

Prediction:  Antrim

Wicklow v Waterford 

Sports journalist and broadcaster Damian Lawlor wrote a very interesting book on the fortunes of the Waterford senior football team a couple of years ago. 

  John Kiely was in charge and the book dealt with the daily struggles of a team in division four of the National Football league. 

  The book had just been published when Kiely was relieved of his duties and Waterford were promoted to division three. 

  However it’s the Garden County that will play in the third tier next season. They defeated a progressing Clare side, when push came to shove and one can’t argue with the odds. 

Match odds: Wicklow 1/3 Waterford 11/4 Draw 8/1.

Prediction:  Wicklow

Laois v Carlow

Laois are 1/10 to win this one but after watching Carlow give an impressive performance against Meath in Tullamore in the drawn game, regardless of the result in the replay, Luke Dempsey’s side will have regrouped and after all this one is more than a local derby. 

  The River Barrow separates the counties with an area in Carlow Town on the west bank known as Graiguecullen. They now play their football Laois despite having won 13 senior football titles in Carlow, the last in 1925. 

  Times have change in recent years but there is nothing like a ding-dong derby to set the pulses racing. It wouldn’t come as a shock to me if Luke Dempsey pulled a rabbit out of the hat.  

  However home advantage may swing it in the O’Moore’s direction.  

Match Odds: Laois 1/10 Carlow 7/1 Draw 16/1       

Prediction:  Carlow

Westmeath v Louth

It’s a case of seconds out, round two as the Lake men and the Wee County locks horns once again. Pat Flanagan’s side looked impressive in the Leinster championship opener, and Peter Fitzpatrick’s outfit needed late scores to see them across the line. 

 This time the venue is Mullingar and it’s not often Westmeath go into battle with odds of 8/15 hanging around their necks. One wonders how much damage the defeat to Dublin has done to Louth, we will just have to wait and see. 

Match Odds: Westmeath 8/15 Louth 15/8 Draw 15/2

Prediction:  Westmeath

Longford v Derry

For long periods in Tullamore Longford looked to be edging closer to being home and dry in their Leinster championship outing with Wexford. However it wasn’t to be as the Slaneysiders finished stronger and to say Glen Ryan’s side were disappointed was an understatement. 

  Derry have been disappointing this year and were off colour in the Ulster championship before going under to Donegal. 

Expect Longford to triumph. 

Match odds:  Longford 5/6 Derry 6/5 Draw 15/2

Prediction:  Longford

Tipperary v Offaly 

What has happened to football at inter county level in Offaly. There is a story told in the Faithful County of a player who had joined the panel. He met one night with a neighbour who had asked where he had been. When the neighbour was informed of his call up, the young players was asked: Have you nothing better to do? 

  It may well have been a touch of the green eyed monster but thing aren’t going too well in the Premier County either. After losing all of their games in the League with one to play, manager Johnny Owens stepped down. It’s doubtful either side will go much further in the championship, but despite this, it’s a game that could go down to the wire. 

  Tipp’s winning of the All-Ireland minor title may not be bearing fruit yet at senior level, however Tipp may be the ones who will have at least one more day out in the sun. 

Match odds: Tipperary 4/7 Offaly 7/4 Draw 15/2

Prediction:  Tipperary

Fermanagh v Cavan

Peter Canavan’s side looked very impressive in the league but now his side are facing into the qualifiers against neighbours Cavan who will have a number of U21s in the side.  

  The home venue at Enniskillen may well shade it for the Ernesiders. 

Match Odds: Fermanagh 10/11 Cavan 6/5 Draw 13/2

Prediction:   Fermanagh

Leinster senior football semi-final Kildare v Meath

Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney has been under tremendous pressure even before a ball was kicked in the National league, and a draw with Carlow would have added fuel to the fire of the critics. 

  Still the Royals produced it in the replay but meeting up with Kildare is a horse of a different colour. The sides met in Navan last year and it was the Lilywhites that went to the winners enclosure at full time. 

  Many believe it to be Kildare’s year in Leinster, and the defeat of Tyrone in the league final will have given Kieran McGeeney’s side a timely boost. 

Match Odds: Kildare 1/3 Meath 3/1 Draw 8/1

Prediction:   Kildare

Dublin v Wexford

Dublin completely destroyed Louth, eating them up and spitting them out and continued to do so for the entire 70 minutes in Croke Park. Who’s to say they won’t do the same to Wexford?

  However Jason Ryan’s outfit are a tougher bunch and will have benefited from their marathon struggle with Longford. Still it will be hard to see past a Dublin win. 

Match odds: Dublin 1/10 Wexford 7/1 Draw 12/1

Prediction: Dublin.

Issue dated: 29 June 2012
© Roscommon People