September Road: Joe Brolly off the mark with ‘bit player’ tag on McCurry

Landmark days; Mayo dominate Leitrim; by the numbers; quote of the weekend and more

Tyrone’s Darren McCurry celebrates at the final whistle after they beat Cavan in the Ulster championship. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Tyrone’s Darren McCurry celebrates at the final whistle after they beat Cavan in the Ulster championship. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Columnist Joe Brolly used Darren McCurry’s stellar performance against Cavan on Saturday as a chance to throw more shade at Mickey Harte.

“For three years under Harte, the Dazzler didn’t get a championship start,” Brolly wrote.

The Edendork man did not start in the championship in 2016 or 2017 but could not have got a start in 2018 as he had opted out of the panel due to work commitments that March.

Tyrone played 10 championship matches in 2016 and 2017, McCurry featuring off the bench in them all. Tyrone won the Ulster SFC title in both of those seasons, reaching the All-Ireland final in his absence in 2018.

Brolly’s description of McCurry as a “bit player” under Harte seems strange; starting in 2013, McCurry featured in 38 successive championship matches for Tyrone (aside from his year out in 2018), the vast majority as a starter.

Tyrone played 10 championship matches in 2019; McCurry featured in them all, including six starts. He also started their sole outing in 2010.

Harte handed McCurry his debut as a 19-year-old in 2012, describing him as “a revelation”.

By the numbers

6: Counties Rory Gallagher has either managed, played for or played club football in - Fermanagh, Donegal, Derry, Antrim, Dublin and Cavan.

Quote of the weekend

“Your question, Joanne, is how can we stop this. Can we stop this? Communism…” - Pat Spillane trails off at half-time in the Mayo v Leitrim game.

Nothing new about certain teams dominating

Fourteen of the 19 football championship matches played so far have been decided by margins of eight points or more, which has understandably led to cries for major change in the format of the All-Ireland championships.

Is this anything new? Looking at this weekend, Leitrim have not beaten Mayo in championship since 1994, Tipperary haven’t beaten Kerry since 1928, Cavan are without a win over Tyrone in 12 attempts going back to 1983 while Limerick have not beaten Cork in championship in 18 years.

Clare fell to Kerry in the first round in Munster, extending their winless run to 29 years. Same old, same old…

Landmark days

It was something of a landmark weekend for some of the longest-serving players in intercounty football. Aidan O’Shea made his 150th senior appearance for Mayo while Michael Murphy, who’s on 163, didn’t start a championship game for the first time since the opening round in 2012.

It was a big weekend, too, for Cavan’s Martin Reilly, who brought his tally to 154, making him the most-capped Cavan player of the last 50 years.

Reilly played no underage football with the county as he was on the books of Burnley FC but made the senior team in 2007, playing under six managers in all four divisions, scoring 15-145.

Fine margins in the Joe McDonagh

Rarely have the margins been as fine as they were at the top end of the Joe McDonagh Cup league table.

Down and Kerry were level on two points apiece (Meath were also on two), with the same scoring difference and the same points scored. Kerry advanced to the final against Westmeath, however, because they scored more goals.

To be fair, the Kingdom did beat Down in their head to head in the first round so maybe, justice prevailed.

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