Pádraic Joyce furious Monaghan ‘rewarded for breaking a Covid curfew’
Dublin and Kerry made to work for wins out west as no league finals looks likely
Galway’s Matthew Tierney scores a goal during his team’s league defeat to Dublin. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
That escalated quickly, that sense of being thankful for just having games back to play, to giving out about where the next one is being played.
At least in the case of Galway football, manager Pádraic Joyce by no means impressed after being told their relegation play-off against Monaghan in Division One of the Allianz Football League will be played up in Monaghan.
That’s because Monaghan only got one home game in the three rounds thus far, the same one home game that was played at a neutral venue as punishment for breaking the Covid-19 training ban as well as Government pandemic restrictions.
For Joyce, his Galway team falling short of the semi-finals after going down to Dublin at home in Tuam Stadium, 2-16 to 1-15, that made little or no sense in terms of Monaghan being properly punished in terms of breaking the Covid-19 ban.
“We’ve just been told that, which I can’t understand,” said Joyce, his team contesting well with the All-Ireland champions, before Dublin replacement Aaron Byrne decided the matter with his injury time goal.
“They’re telling us it’s away because we had two home games, and they had no home games, and now they’re being rewarded for breaking a Covid curfew. I find that unbelievable, to be honest. It’s a joke if you ask me. I don’t know how Croke Park came with that solution of playing in Monaghan.
“We’ll play where it’s on, but it just disrespects the whole system, the whole Allianz League. If you’re going to get a home vital game, when you broke the rules. If it’s in Monaghan, that’s just unbelievable to me.”
Joyce does get a two-week break to get his head around that, and the knowledge that Monaghan have been highly competitive in the northern side of Division One: Ryan McAnespie’s late leveller just wasn’t enough to steer them clear of the relegation play-offs at the end of a frantic Ulster derby against Tyrone at Healy Park.
After Kerry ground down Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park, they will face Tyrone in the other division one semi-final, with Armagh facing Roscommon in the other relegation play-off. Given they both only had “one” home game (Dublin also lost theirs to a neutral venue over a Covid training breach), there will be a coin toss to decide the venue between Donegal and Dublin and also Kerry and Tyrone.
Kerry didn’t have it easy though, before producing a rousing final quarter, despite being down to 14 men, when Tadgh Morley was shown a harsh red card; to win by 2-15 to 1-12.
Played out in possibly one of the last virtually fully empty GAA stadiums of the summer, Galway will still come away from the test against the All-Ireland champions in good spirits: the ultimate different was that goal-scoring machine that Dublin has now become, adding two more here to the five in their opening two matches, Con O’Callaghan helping himself to the first here.
Normally the old ground would have been buzzing to its full 12,000 capacity approaching half time, as the sides went in locked together on eight points apiece: then the second half started with an incredible display of possession from Dublin, who denied Galway a single play in seven minutes, racking up 1-1 in the process.
“You can’t switch off for 10 seconds against Dublin, or they’ll send a ball in over the top, that’s why they’re six-time All-Ireland champions,” conceded Joyce. “We said at half-time it was important we don’t concede scores in the first six or seven minutes of the second half, so that’s disappointing, that was probably the swing of the game. Plus we had a great goal chance in the first half, which might have brought us in three of four points up.
“Peter Cooke was also outstanding for us in the first half, ran out of a bit of steam in the second, and still kicked a great score for us. He’s missed football for a year and this is a game that will stand to them all.”
Also now confirmed are the Division Two football league promotion play-offs, with Mayo facing the rising Clare, while Meath will face Kildare; there the relegation play-offs will see Down play Laois, and Westmeath play Cork.
With eight of the teams involved in football league semi-finals across the four divisions set to play their championship openers on June 26/27th, there is the prospect of no league finals being played this year, after it was agreed that the league final would not take place should that team be out in the championship the following week.
In the only big hurling interest of the day, Kilkenny took care of Leinster rivals Wexford at Nowlan Park, postponed from last Sunday, 2-17 to 0-23, with TJ Reid making a quite startling return to the Kilkenny team after shaking off a muscle injury, helping himself to a 1-18. Brian Cody’s team are still unbeaten in Division 1B.