Kevin looks at some of the GAA talking points this week.Dubs impressive in victory, but rue Kilkenny injury
Dublin were very impressive on Saturday night. They had the more fire power and proved how difficult it is for a side to defend an attacker running directly at goal. The Dubs had that in spades through Davy Byrne, Eoghan O’Gara and in particular the excellent Kevin McManamon, who scored 0-8. Breaking from the half back line James McCarthy and the equally brilliant Johnny Cooper contributed to an all-round positive display, barring Kilkenny’s injury.
The worst has happened and Kilkenny faces a long spell on the sideline, but at least the Dubs can solace that the mercurial Alan Brogan has left the physio table behind him and returned to the field.
It’s important not to come to conclusions on Jason Ryan’s managerial ability after three rounds of the league, but equally it’s hard not to assume that Kieran McGeeney was hard done by when he was dismissed last September. McGeeney took over a Kildare team accustomed to early championship exits and turned them into perennial challengers for a couple of seasons.
After a disappointing 2012, he dismantled the team and introduced a number of youngsters into senior action for the first time. He managed these players to the U-21 All-Ireland final last year, the same guys that were edged out by All Ireland semi-finalists Tyrone. Kildare rapidly improved with every game, and with another year of development they would have improved no end. Alex Ferguson was lauded for his uncanny ability to take apart successful Manchester United sides at the right times and build a newer, better model. McGeeney was never given the chance.
Regrettably, another light has gone out on the 2014 championship. We cursed our luck after losing one of the game’s outstanding playmakers in Colm Cooper a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday it was confirmed we’ve lost a second in Ciaran Kilkenny. Best wishes to both.Kerry answer the critics in commanding win
Killarney was abuzz with the sound of football as Kerry crushed Tyrone on Sunday afternoon. All the recent doom and gloom surrounding the Kingdom on the back of Paul Galvin’s retirement, Colm Cooper’s cruciate troubles and three successive defeats in the National League was forgotten as the hosts resurrected their campaign with a thumping win.
A low key first half was noteworthy for the exquisite free taking from Brian Sheehan and Niall Morgan. Kerry threatened with a couple of goal chances but the manner in which they cut loose after the break asks serious questions about the road on which Tyrone are travelling.
In his interview with TG4 before the game, Mickey Harte acknowledged with a grin how fortunate they were to beat Kildare last weekend with two late goals. On Saturday, they had no such luck. It’s difficult to understand quite how they drifted so badly out of it after half time. They couldn’t impose any physically on the game and some poor wides probably eeked into their mindset.
Even stationing Sean Cavanagh at the edge of the square made little different to a Tyrone side bereft of ideas and scoring know-how. In fairness, Morgan and Ronan O’Neill’s first half frees probably glossed over how much Kerry’s defenders had the better of their men. Once the Kingdom cut out the fouls, Tyrone’s scores dried up.
Tyrone went 37 second half minutes without a score. They had plenty of inexperienced players out there and they look very green around the gills after the interval.
Harte should have sent a different defender to deal with James O’Donoghue, as Barry Tierney was given the roasting of his life. No matter. O’Donoghue is one of the country’s best. Tierney will be back, but his confidence will take some rebuilding.
Youngsters like Darren McCurry, Ronan O’Neill and Shay McGuigan are some of the brightest lights in the country and Tryone shouldn’t be written off just yet, especially with messers Conor Gormley, Kyle Coney, Conor McAliskey and the McMahon brothers to come back into the reckoning.
At this stage, though, Tyrone look destined for the drop alongside Westmeath, whom they face next weekend in Healy Park.
There are simply too many good footballers in Kerry to write them off. In the shadow of Cooper, it’s easy to forget how many gifted forwards Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side possess. When Kerry were beginning to assert their dominance around the middle third halfway through the second half, they sprang Kieran O’Leary, Paul Geaney and Darran O’Sullivan off the bench. The switch flipped. The Kingdom were out of sight.
O’Donoghue’s brilliant 3-3 showcased the difference a potent finisher makes. His tour de force was laid on by a marauding half back line of Peter Crowley, Fionn Fitzgerald and Marc O Sé. Fitzgerald, captain of the side, gave an assured, mature display from centre back. Time after time he came galloping up field with ball in hand, looking to release a team-mate. The young Dr Crokes defender is the future.
Let’s not forget the two giants in midfield, Anthony Maher and David Moran, both of whom look like they have finally put their respective injury issues behind them. Both look ready to start living up to their huge potential.
Stephen O’Brien gave another action packed display, and he looks to be the kind of energetic and intelligent half-forward that Kerry are screaming out for in the absence of Galvin and Cooper.
More good news. Word has spread that defender Killian Young is inching closer to a return to the field. What difference a week makes.Real message was lost in Fitzgerald speech
Amid all the furore surrounding Davy Fitzgerald's speech at his Physical and Mental Health Seminar in LIT last week, it's a huge pity the real message was lost as recreational drug use in Clare’s hurling sides dominated the agenda.
It's no doubt that Fitzgerald touched on an important topic when he spoke about the culture of drink and drugs in an inter county dressing room, but it's typical of the sensationalist media culture in this country that we missed the real point he made.
Fitzgerald gave an intimate and revealing insight into the sort of physical and mental torture he was put through in his school days, up to the age of 15. For a man of his stature to come out and speak candidly about bullying is fantastic. That he did so in a society where being a hard man is sometimes considered as important as being talented, he should be commended.
It's a disappointing all of this was missed during the week. Bullying is something that people need to be more aware of, especially considering the rise of social media.
It’s remarkable how the media will latch onto the slightest mention of drugs and run with it. How did Amy Winehouse die? Drugs? Wrong. She died from alcohol intoxication, yet ask anybody you meet today and they will tell you she overdosed on some Class-A drug. That’s not to say she didn’t have a drug problem, but sometimes the media drive the agenda beyond a point where they have the right to.
Davy Fitz was bullied well into his mid-teens, yet he found solitude in the GAA. It gave him a focus. It gave him confidence. It gave him a way out.
“I look back on them few people that bullied. They amounted to nothing.
Did they make me stronger? They did, without a shadow of a doubt
When I was feeling low, when I was at that point asking myself the questions, I just kept thinking: Davy you have a dream.
I used to get my hurley and go out playing hurling.
That’s what I’d encourage anyone that has ever come across being made feel anything like that. Go to that place where you know that you’ve something you love doing.
The most important thing in life is life and to treat people properly. Thankfully my sport helped me out”. – Davy Fitzgerald
That’s the real message.