Rory Gallagher and Donegal have been getting the best out of Michael Murphy by playing him in the middle of the park. Photograph: Inpho

We can talk about systems all we like but football is about players. The whole point of any system is to make the players you have more effective and (...)

Galway’s Michael Lundy and Mayo’s Lee Keegan wrestle before the ball is thrown in. “The distance between club and county is light years. You never realise it until it happens to you.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

There comes a point in every player’s life when you realise that you aren’t just the superstar you thought you were. It isn’t that you don’t have the (...)

Galway’s Greg Higgins and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea: Mayo beat Galway by 17 points two years ago, but the gap has been narrowing. Photograph: Inpho

For the first time in a long time, I think Mayo really need to win the Connacht championship. In each of the last few years, they arrived at this week(...)

Being congratulated by Páidí Ó Sé after the 2002 All-Ireland semi-final. When Páidí managed Kerry, he knew exactly what to do to me. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

We talk a lot about managers in football. We look at Eamonn Fitzmaurice bringing an All-Ireland to Kerry when nobody expected one and wonder how he di(...)

Monaghan’s Karl O’Connell, seen here battling for possession with James McEnroe, showed a brilliant burst of power and pace to break through the Cavan defence and score a point. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

So that’s it, I suppose? No more sledging. All sorted. The Cavan v Monaghan game on Sunday passed by without any incident. Nothing on camera, no compl(...)

Tempers flare between Donegal and Tyrone players during Sunday’s intense Ulster Championship match. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

In Ventry last weekend, they had a big crowd down to unveil a statue of P Ó Sé himself. A rake of his old teammates were there, plenty of locals, p(...)

Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony clashes with Donegal’s Michael Murphy during last Sunday’s All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

First things first. Our man up the tree. I’ve been talking to everyone I can about it and we’ve all reached a theory that we’re happy enough with. We (...)

Donegal’s Michael Murphy and Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony in the GAA Senior Championship quarter final at Croke Park in 2012. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho 4:39

In Kerry this week, it feels a bit unusual to be building up to an All-Ireland final. I think it’s because nobody really expected this, so people have(...)

Management is crucial around now. These players are in the shape of their life. Some of them are like a prize racehorse bursting for the stalls to open. Others are standing in the stable, waiting for the day itself to arrive before they rise themselves. Photograph: Inpho

This weekend is all about preparation for the Donegal and Kerry players. Eamonn Fitzmaurice will have his team down in Fota Island, Jim McGuinness is (...)

Jim McGuinness picked his players up after getting a hiding at the end of last year and has brought them to another All_Ireland final. “Think about what that takes. It’s about moulding minds over a long period of time, making fellas believe it’s possible,” says Darragh Ó Sé.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

I was sitting beside a true-blue Dub in Croke Park on Sunday. No more than the rest of us, he didn’t end up seeing the game he thought he was coming t(...)