Subscriber OnlyGaelic GamesFive Things We Learned

Five things we learned from the GAA weekend: A sobering seven weeks for Derry

Waterford conceding too many goal chances; Monaghan at lowest ebb; Tipp bottom out; Kilkenny work in progress

Sobering seven weeks for Derry

Within the space of seven weeks, Derry’s world has changed and not for the better. From the mountain top of defeating Dublin in a Croke Park final, the team has tumbled through the loss of their Ulster title at the first hurdle to defeat in the next match.

There was never going to be certainty about a trip to Salthill to take on a resurgent Galway but for a side with widely shared All-Ireland credentials, it was not unachievable target for an experienced team playing well.

The reality was a subdued and at times, almost fatalistic performance, reflecting both adversity and a lack of depth. No team can legislate for injuries and Mickey Harte lost an entire half-back line plus the most obvious replacement.

Pádraig McGrogan’s cruciate ligament went and even if he mightn’t have been picked ahead of Gareth McKinless, the impact on depth was obvious. Losing Conor Doherty and Eoin McEvoy ripped out a sizeable piece of the Derry counter-attacking unit that had been so dangerous during the successful league campaign.


So, when McKinless got himself red carded after 20 minutes, the burden on the team became unbearable. By the looks of things, he’ll hardly be back for any of the remaining group matches.

The Conor Glass-Brendan Rogers centrefield combination, rated as the best in the game, was undermined by Glass having been unwell for a few days and Rogers having to relocate to the half backs.

They will obviously progress but in what sort of shape? Afterwards Harte sounded as if he was trying to convince himself.

“We’ve been hit badly by injuries at a critical point of the season. That is life. You can’t do much about it. You have to suck it up and go on. I suppose, to lose a man so early in that game was always going to be a fight to the end. I thought we did well to stay in the game ... A real quality performance in terms of the energy our players brought to it.”

In the press box, the ambient mood of the visiting media was best summarised by a voice saying, “that’s us done for this year.” – Seán Moran

Waterford simply can’t keep allowing the opposition so many goal chances

If Waterford don’t make it through to the next round, it won’t be because an umpire guessed at a 65 at the end of the Clare game on Sunday. For all their fury afterwards and the ballyragging they gave the officials walking off the pitch, ultimately the correct decision was made. True, Liam Gordon’s umpire was probably lucky to arrive at it right call but this was no scandal.

No, if and when Waterford go out – and only a win or a draw in the Gaelic Grounds will avoid that fate – they’ll have to look closer to home for the reason. The simple truth is they have given away far too many goal chances in this championship and it has killed them. They were home and dry – or, to borrow from Douglas Adams, at least home and vigorously towelling off – against Tipp, only to do the one thing they couldn’t afford to by letting in an injury-time goal.

And on Sunday, they were blessed not to concede more than the four Clare put up against them. David Fitzgerald and Mark Rodgers got in for a goal apiece but both could have had a hat-trick. Shaun O’Brien made big saves from them both, Kevin Bennett pulled off a diving block from Rodgers and Shane O’Donnell laid one on a plate for Fitzgerald that he lofted over the bar when it seemed easier to find the net.

Paul Kinnerk was sitting in front of the press box in Ennis and left just as the injury-time drama approached fever pitch. If Waterford allow his Limerick team in for eight goal chances next Sunday, there’s unlikely to be much mystery attached to the outcome. – Malachy Clerkin

Tipp bottom out

It is the nature of hurling now, with access-all-areas shooting, that when a team snaps the other crowd are liable to run amok. Tipperary suffered that experience in Thurles on Sunday, just as they had done against Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds in their opening game.

Tipp’s 15-point loss against Limerick was their heaviest defeat against those opponents since 1947. It is trickier to put an historical context on Tipp’s 18-point defeat to Cork because the scoring system was materially different in 1898 when Tipp lost by 4-16 to 0-2. At that time, games were decided on goals and points were essentially only tiebreakers.

In an important sense, though, Tipp’s collapse on Sunday doesn’t need an historical context. Including the league semi-final against Clare, it was the third time in four games that this group of Tipp players have fallen over or laid down. The minor, under-20 and under-21 All-Irelands that Tipp won towards the end of the last decade under Liam Cahill’s leadership are gutted of relevance now.

Cahill seems determined to initiate the rebuild and it would be foolish for the Tipp county board to look elsewhere. For this job they will need somebody with his stamina and steel. How long will it take? In his post-match comments Cahill couldn’t help wondering if the next management will reap the benefit of whatever his management team does next. Either way, Tipp have bottomed out. – Denis Walsh

Something very unMonaghan about sorry display in Killarney

Losing on the road to Kerry need not have been a disaster for Monaghan over the weekend. Nobody expected them to get anything out of their trip to Killarney anyway and ever since the draw was made, it has been assumed that the fortunes of Vinny Corey’s side will be dictated by the matches against Meath and Louth. That hasn’t changed.

But there was something so deeply unMonaghan about the hiding they took on Saturday. Corey called the first period “the worst half of football” he could remember from a Monaghan team – trailing 0-15 to 0-2 at the break will do that. They outscored Kerry in the second half but only because the home side stopped thumping them.

The 10-point margin in the end was the first double-digit defeat Monaghan had experienced in a championship game since the 2017. It’s their eighth defeat in a row in 2024 – they haven’t won since the opening round of the league in January. It’s their fifth time this season conceding over 20 points – two of the others were 19.

All in all, it’s been a desperate season for a team that was in an All-Ireland semi-final last year. They have the look of a crew that is dying for their year to be over. Louth will surely fancy their chances of hastening their end in Clones in a fortnight. – Malachy Clerkin

Kilkenny with work to do

Kilkenny’s season hung in the balance after the concession of a 55th-minute goal at Parnell Park, which left them three points adrift of Dublin. It was the first time they had trialled all evening and as soon as the sliotar bulged the net, it appeared Dublin had all the momentum as they had been the better team in the third quarter of the game. To Kilkenny’s credit, they displayed incredible character to outscore the Dubs 1-5 to 0-3 coming down the straight.

However, Kilkenny were vulnerable last Saturday. And not to take away from a strong performance by Dublin, but are Kilkenny the main threat to Limerick’s dominance? Not on what we have seen in recent weeks.

At this stage last year (league and championship), Kilkenny had played 11 games, won eight, lost two, drawn one. After 11 games this season, Kilkenny have notched up six wins, lost two and drawn three matches.

Eoin Cody snatched the result for Kilkenny last Saturday with a 70th-minute goal, but most of those in attendance would say Dublin deserved at least a draw. The Cats entered the match on the back of a disappointing draw against Carlow but at no point did they look like making Saturday look like a statement response. They got over the line with some typical Kilkenny resilience and a refusal to be beaten, but the overall display was largely unconvincing. It’s hard to believe Kilkenny, who lost the last two All-Ireland finals to Limerick, have closed the gap to John Kiely’s side. In fact, if anything, right now they seem further away. – Gordon Manning