No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

The best and worst of the GAA was on show this week

Michael Darragh Macauley, Dublin, in action against Peter Crowley, Kerry.

Michael Darragh Macauley, Dublin, in action against Peter Crowley, Kerry.

WE saw the best and the worst of Gaelic football this week…

THE BEST
Sometimes – well, all of the time actually – we feel that Dublin are over-hyped in the media. But we saw the swashbuckling Dubs at their entertaining best on Sunday. A full house in Croke Park with the Dubs playing and Hill 16 in full sway is a fabulous advert for the GAA, no matter how much we love to loath the boys in blue.
People had written Kerry off and a good few of their stellar names will call time on their inter-county careers now.
What a match they gave Dublin, though. In the first half we saw probably one of the best individual 35 minutes of Championship football by any player ever. Colm Cooper was just genial. ‘Gooch’ was exceptional. He is exceptional, of course. He can see a pass before anyone else can; he can make a pass before anyone else sees that it’s on.
His pass for Kerry’s second goal was just magic.
We were told that Kerry were finished but, not for the first nor, dare I say it, the last, the Kingdom turned up and were ignited by the sight of Croke Park. Their forward division is one of the best about. ‘Gooch’ is one of the game’s greats and they have found a gem in James O’Donoghue – he terrorised Dublin.
We knew that the Dublin full-back line was suspect and they were shown up last weekend again. That will be their big worry for Mayo, but I still feel that Mayo wouldn’t have the same clinical touch that the Dubs possess.
The crucial score was Paul Mannion’s that kept Dublin just in touch in the first half.
Dublin, I feel, are the only team that could have staged last weekend’s comeback. They are just relentless, utterly relentless. Mayo have an attacking style that is devastating, but I don’t think even they can match the swagger, the confidence, the panache and the sheer ruthless and determined edge of the Dublin sword.
I’ve heard it said this year that Bernard Brogan is ‘off form’ or that Bernard Brogan has ‘lost his touch’. That’s nonsense. If you’re a half-back driving forward you always want your attackers to be showing. Bernard Brogan shows every time. He doesn’t hide. He continues to come for ball. Maybe his finishing has been a bit awry, but what he has brought to Dublin have still been performances of real influence.
Dublin’s strength in depth really showed on Sunday. They took Philly McMahon, Denis Bastick, Dean Rock, Eoghan O’Gara and Kevin McManamaon off the bench – they all contributed something serious to the game.
McManamon does it every time he comes on and he must be so frustrated at having to sit on the bench all the time. But, there are people and players who are just better as so-called ‘impact’ players. Go back to the days of David Fairclough playing for Liverpool. Any game he started he did nothing, but he was the ‘super sub’ when he was taken on. It’s brilliant for a manager to have a player like that sitting beside him.
Sunday’s was an exceptional game of football and a real image of what this great sport of ours can be.
I think the final can be a classic, too.
Both Dublin and Mayo will go at it – we could be set for a shoot-out in a couple of weeks’ time.

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AND THE WORST…
TWO of the modern day greats, Peter Canavan and Kieran McGeeney vacated their managerial posts in Fermanagh and Kildare this week – in very different circumstances.
Peter called time himself in Fermanagh. It seems he had a number of issues, including players’ expenses. It’s a shame to see Peter leaving the Fermanagh job, but he’ll be back and we’ll keep an eye on his destination. Could we see him join the Tyrone backroom team, I wonder?
The big talking point of the week was in Newbridge. Kieran McGeeney’s six-year tenure as the Kildare senior football team manager was ended by a vote of the county’s clubs on Tuesday night. The players wanted him and the county chairman said the following day that he felt the Armagh man should have been given another year.
None of that mattered to the Kildare clubs. McGeeney was voted out, losing by a single vote, 29-28.
There could be a backlash there because the Kildare players have met on the matter and they’re really angry. Emmet Bolton tweeted following the meeting: “58 club delegates who have never seen us train went into a room tonight and decided what was best for us. They totally disregarded our opinions over the last couple of weeks. A disgraceful way to treat a man who put so much heart and effort into Kildare football.”
Kieran has taken Kildare to a new level and you can understand the feelings of the players, given where McGeeney took them – back to being competitive. That said, this is a results business. In six years, all he has to show is a Division 2 League title.
But he was unlucky in a couple of games: in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final against Down and in the 2011 All-Ireland quarter-final against Donegal, in particular.
When you had a county board and a panel of players almost unwavering in their support of a man, you wonder how the guillotine can still be allowed fall upon that man. It is one of the great mysteries of Gaelic Games and McGeeney’s incident draws echoes to that night in 2008 when Brian McIver walked out of a Donegal county committee meeting in Ballybofey.

JIM MEETING THE CLUBS
THIS week’s happenings in Kildare have given us a nervous feeling in Donegal with the clubs of this county to meet Jim McGuinness on the matter of club fixtures. A number of proposals will be on the table and it’ll be interesting to hear clubs’ opinions on the various scenarios.
It is vital that Jim stays with Donegal and it is vital that Jim is retained.
The clubs’ opinions must be respected, of course they must. Clubs are an integral part of the association, but they must do their homework and have serious discussions about their thoughts on the matter of the club championships – particularly those clubs who have players on the Donegal panel.

TYRONE MINORS
ON May 26th, the Tyrone minors defeated Donegal in Ballybofey in the Ulster Minor Championship. It was a day on which Donegal kicked 19 wides. What might have been…
Tyrone minors have reached the All-Ireland final – again. They are a real benchmark for minor teams and their battle with Mayo in the All-Ireland final will be one worth watching.

CREDIT WHERE ITS DUE
CONGRATULATIONS to Naomh Columba and Buncrana on winning their minor titles last Sunday and also to the Milford ladies and Termon ladies teams on winning their Championships.
I thought Sunday worked well. It was a good idea by the minor board to play the finals as a double header on Sunday evening under the MacCumhaill Park lights. The only downside was the very late finish and maybe it would have been better to play it a small bit earlier or even a Saturday. By and large, though, it worked and with a little tweaking here or there it’s something we’ll look forward to again in the future.
Credit to Paul Melaugh and the rest of the committee. They did a professional job, they had a really good match programme and they deserve a ‘well done’ for their efforts.
It was great to be able to pick up the papers on Monday morning and read the reports of the games – even if there were a few fingers and thumbs working overtime in the press box on Sunday night! The media and the minor board worked together with this in that the local journalists helped contribute to the programme and that relationship is very important.
There has been difficulty between GAA officialdom and the local media of late. Hopefully that can be resolved. There has been a bit of a stand off lately in terms of what can and can’t be reported at county committee level. I have sort of a foot in both camps in a way and I can see the importance of a resolution from the view of both sides.

SUPPORT CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
ANTHONY Molloy launched the next fund-raising drive for the Centre of Excellence on Monday.
This is so important for Donegal football. This summer I was in both Garvaghey and Owenbeg. We need to get one of our own in Donegal. We have two pitches in Convoy now and they’re in good use. It’s important now that we get the dressing rooms built. It’s vital that ALL gaels in Donegal support this.
It would give us all a lift to see some physical work starting out at the site.
Cieran Kelly, the Club Tir Chonaill Chairman, has done a lot of work with his committee this year.
Let’s keep supporting Cieran and his crew. This is too good a chance for Gaelic Games in Donegal to miss.

Have you a comment to make on any of the above or would you like Declan to raise an issue in this column? Get in touch by email d.bonner@donegalnews.com

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