July Road: Derry have a bit of catching up to do on Donegal in Ulster

Weekend must have boasted the most overwhelming favourites in one round

Donegal’s dominance in Ulster

Derry’s win over Tyrone yesterday marked the 2021 champions’ first Ulster defeat since 2020 but the Red Hands have a bit to do to catch up with the recent Ulster record of Donegal.

It’s easy to forget that Donegal had won the Anglo-Celt Cup just five times and reached just 14 finals in their history prior to Jim McGuinness taking over as senior team manager in late 2010.

Since then, they have played in a further nine Ulster finals (2017 and last year are the only two they have failed to qualify for since 2011), winning it five times.

Most remarkably, though, Donegal have won 32 Ulster Championship matches in those 12 campaigns, including the current ongoing one. To put that in context, Monaghan are next on 17, with Tyrone third on 13 wins.


For the record, Cavan are next on 10. Down are in fifth place with seven wins, Armagh won five, Fermanagh and Derry have four and Antrim get the wooden spoon with one.

Brolly’s bluffing

July Road always likes to keep tabs on the erudite Joe Brolly. This week, the columnist, in praising Tyrone, remarked that they “came to Croke Park as underdogs in 2003” and that “Armagh were universally favoured to do the two in a row”.

In actual fact, the bookies could not split them for that final – it was even money each side – and many in the media tipped Tyrone.

While Brolly and his fellow Sunday Game analysts Colm O’Rourke and Pat Spillane (“a hesitant vote”) predicted an Armagh win, the majority of national print journos and pundits went for Tyrone, including Seán Moran and John O’Mahony of this parish, Jim O’Sullivan in the Irish Examiner, Martin Breheny and Mikey Sheehy in the Irish Independent and Kevin Kimmage in the Sunday Independent.

Bookies not taking chances

Speaking of betting odds, the weekend just gone by must have boasted the most overwhelming favourites in one round of matches.

For example, in hurling, Kerry were 1/16 to beat Meath as were Wexford against Laois; Antrim were priced at 1/14 against Carlow, Offaly 1/8 against Down and Dublin 1/50 against Westmeath. And football wasn’t much better, with the Dubs 1/100 to beat Wexford, Meath 1/16 against Wicklow and Tipperary 1/8 versus Waterford.

A fiver accumulator on those eight matches would return a whopping profit of €3.38.

The bookies are certainly taking no chances on the favourites but the most remarkable price of them all is next weekend when Kerry are priced as 1/20 shots to beat Cork – unthinkable a few years ago.

What a difference 22 years makes

Who would have thought, 22 years ago next month when Brian Cody handed Henry Shefflin his championship debut that the pair would meet again yesterday.

That game (Kilkenny won by 6-21 to 1-14) took place on June 20th. On the same afternoon, June 20th, Offaly hurlers beat Wexford (3-17 to 0-15) while Cork beat Limerick (4-13 to 1-6) and Kerry beat Clare (3-17 to 0-12) in the Munster SFC and up north, Derry beat Cavan (2-14 to 0-5).


Congratulations to @sligogaa who overcame @roscommonGAA 0-23 to 0-11 to progress to the @connachtGAA Football Championship Final. - The official SuperValu Ireland Twitter got this one super wrong.

Number: 4/4

Limerick footballers were flawless from the spot in their shoot-out win over Clare