No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

DECLAN BONNER: Huge weekend of club action

We have a cracking weekend of club action in store, with something at stake in each of the eight Senior Football Championship games.

It will be a topsy-turvy weekend, especially on Sunday, when three of the groups will be decided.

There will be twists and turns, and I’m sure people will be tuning into Highland Radio, or checking Twitter to see how things are going.

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There’s a lot of interest in the club championship and there will be big gates at all those matches this week.

There are plenty of do-or-die encounters no more so than at the Bridge, where St Michael’s and St Eunan’s will go head-to-head.

Kilcar should have too much for Killybegs, so that means that either St Michael’s or St Eunan’s won’t make it through.

Kilcar's Ciaran Mc Ginley  against Hugh McFadden of Killybegs

Kilcar’s Ciaran Mc Ginley against Hugh McFadden of Killybegs

A draw would be enough for St Eunan’s, and it could go right down to the wire.

St Michael’s will be reeling from that big defeat against Kilcar, and they will have to perform this Sunday.

They have home advantage and no team likes visiting the Bridge, but St Eunan’s are getting stronger with every passing week and they won’t fear making the trip to Dunfanaghy on Sunday.

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It wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if St Michael’s came out on top, but St Eunan’s are fancied, and if they can get over this weekend, they will be a big force in the remainder of the championship.

The big result of last week was Termon’s triumph over Gaoth Dobhair, and they were full value for their victory.

Termon have no fear of Gaoth Dobhair, and they are prepared to stand up to the physical battle.

However, with the likes of Daire and Caolan McDaid, and Enda McCormick, they also have quality footballers who can land big scores.

Michael Boyle was back between the sticks and he showed his worth to the team with three outstanding stops.

Francie Friel has Termon well drilled and you’d have to fancy them to get a result at home to Four Masters this Saturday.

The pressure is on Gaoth Dobhair now and they need to step up and deliver a performance against Naomh Conaill in Davy Brennan Memorial Park.

There’s been a lot of talk about Gaoth Dobhair this year, and we all know they have plenty of talented youngsters.

Their backs are to the wall this weekend. If they fail to win, it will be the third year in-a-row that they will have not made it to the quarter-finals. That’s not good enough.

Conal Sheridan will be demanding a big display from his side, but it’s hard to envisage them getting the better of Naomh Conaill.

Group A is also very exciting with four teams still able to get through to the last eight.

There’s a lot to be sorted, between who will go through, and top the group, and who will have to play in the relegation play-off.

But for the four teams, it will just be a matter of winning the game and getting though to the knockout stages.

Big Neil Gallagher was back for Glenswilly last week against Dungloe and while he was maybe only operating at 50%, his presence on the field alone was significant.

Gallagher played the full game, so you would have to imagine he will be available again this Sunday in Bundoran.

It’s not an easy place for Glenswilly to go, and I said it last year that I felt Bundoran were probably in the top five or six teams in the county.

They put on a decent showing against Ardara last week, and they won’t fear Glenswilly.

Jamie Brennan is on fire at the moment and is starting to fulfil his potential. I’d imagine either Cormac Callaghan or Aiden McDevitt will be tasked with following Brennan this week and Glenswilly will need to keep the corner-forward quiet.

The Glen men have huge experience and they know how to win championship games, but I just feel Bundoran are a hungry, up-and-coming team and I thin they will get over the line this week.

There’s no love lost between Dungloe and Ardara and they will meet in Rosses Park on Sunday.

All hell broke loose when they met earlier this year in the league, and it could be lively again.

It’s a match that both teams will think they can win, and it will be tight, but I just feel that home advantage will probably sway it in favour of Dungloe.

Group C was always going to be tight with four Division 2 teams in it, and there is still plenty to play for going into the final group games.

Malin entertain Glenfin at home, and the Pairc Tabhoige men have nothing to play for this weekend, and they will also be without Frank McGlynn.

Everything seems to be going in Malin’s favour and they should win comfortably and top the group.

MacCumhaills had a big victory against a disappointing Glenfin and they will take plenty of confidence from that.

In contrast, Naomh Muire’s game with Naomh Muire was low-scoring and went right down to the wire, with Eamon O’Boyle’s side holding out for a draw in the end up.

They were quite defensive in that game, and I’m sure they will employ the same tactics on Sunday, and try and hit the Twin Towns men on the counter.

I think the game will go the distance, but I expect MacCumhaills to have a few more points on the board by the end of the match.


Dublin v Kerry

In terms of quality and excitement, the inter county season hasn’t been wonderful this year, but it really came alive last week with the meeting between Dublin and Kerry.

It was a tight, close match, and Dublin just got the breaks on the day.

The referee David Gough let the game go, and that added to the match and a real thriller developed.

There were a few marginal decisions that went against Kerry and you could understand why they were frustrated at the end of the match.

The big call was the decision not to award Kerry a foul in injury-time when Kevin McManamon mistimed his shoulder on Peter Crowley.

He was only slightly off, but it was a foul. The referee should have given Kerry a placed ball, and it was very much in Bryan Sheehan’s range.

He probably would have equalised, but instead, Dublin worked the ball down the field, and Diarmuid Connolly – who was unmarked as Crowley struggled to get back down the field – fired over the insurance point.

It was a huge moment not only in the game but in the championship in general.

It was a split-second decision, and Gough wasn’t able to rewind the tape back and look at it again. The ref was probably reliant on his linesman, who had a better view of the tackle.

The reality is that Kerry have only got themselves to blame. On a couple of occasions now, they have seen the finish line against Dublin, but just haven’t been able to get over it.

28 August 2016; Ciarán Kilkenny of Dublin in action against Kieran Donaghy of Kerry during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

28 August 2016; Ciarán Kilkenny of Dublin in action against Kieran Donaghy of Kerry during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

I don’t know if it’s a mental block or what, but they just can’t get the business done against the Dubs.

They could have been blown away in the first half and they got back into the game thanks to errors from Stephen Cluxton.

It’s strange that we have talked so much about Cluxton’s quality over the years, but he is also their weakness.

Dublin are mentally very strong, but Cluxton is not, and that may haunt them yet.

Jim Gavin’s team regrouped at half-time and outscored Kerry by 13 points to five in the second half.

Dublin were brave in the closing exchanges, while the Kingdom got scared. The decision to take off the best player on the field, Paul Geaney, and replace him with a corner-back was ludicrous.

Fitzmaurice and Kerry lost their bottle, and they will be kicking themselves.

The Dubs have had two good tests against Dublin and Kerry and that will stand to them in the final against Mayo.

I have said over the last couple of weeks that I think it could be Mayo’s year, and to be honest, there’s very little to back that statement up with.

One thing I would say is that Mayo pushed Dublin very close twice last year, and while they are maybe not at the same level in 2016, I don’t think Dublin are either.

Mayo haven’t really clicked yet this year, but they have a couple of weeks to get things right.

However, it’s not just on the training field, where they need to do the work.

Their team meetings will be just as important as Stephen Rochford tries to instill that belief in his team that can be victorious and land the Sam Maguire.

PETER Witherow excelled in a green and gold shirt last Sunday, but not in Clones.

Odhran McFadden gave us an insight into the St Michael's dressing room