Something from the weekend: Our GAA team’s view from the Press Box

Seán Moran, Malachy Clerkin and Gavin Cummiskey look at the weekend’s action

Five is the magic number

An unusual feature of Dublin’s win over Kildare at Croke Park this weekend is that it marks a rare five-goal championship tally for the county’s footballers.

From examining the records it’s seen that it hasn’t been exceeded since June 18th, 1978 when Carlow were dispatched 6-15 to 2-9. Two summers earlier, en route to the 1976 All-Ireland title, Dublin defeated Longford by 5-16 to 0-7 in the Leinster quarter-final.

Next month’s provincial final against Westmeath is Dublin’s ninth in 10 years – the only gap brought about by the concession of five goals against Meath five years ago – and the county is pushing for a Leinster five-in-a-row for the first time since 2009.


Years ending in five are also significant for Dublin. For the past 60 years, the county has always won the Leinster title at the mid-point of the decade so should they win in two weeks time it would be the seventh year of this sequence.

That aside the omens are more mixed. In only one of these years, 1995, did Dublin lift Sam Maguire. Ten years ago Tyrone defeated them after a quarter-final replay before going on to win the All-Ireland but on all of the other occasions Dublin's season was ended by Kerry – in the finals of 1985, '75 and the famous decider of 1955 as well as the 1965 semi-final.

Given that Kerry are currently champions, the shadow of this history won't be easily lifted. SM

Importance of Gallagher

The counter-intuitively prosperous winter of Neil Gallagher’s career shows no sign of conforming to logic. Once again on Saturday night in Clones, he was the yeast that kept Donegal rising. You would imagine that a team based on hard-running and constant movement would have no place for an old-style midfielder like Gallagher but there he was against Derry, sticking when everyone else was twisting, playing his own game at his own speed.

Gallagher routinely spends the first five minutes of a game now in at full-forward just in case there’s anything going in there. But gradually as the game goes on, he lopes back out around the middle. His job out there is simple – he does the fetching and leaves the carrying to younger legs.

All the while, he acts as a screen in behind, breaking up attacks when Donegal don’t have the ball, doing the right thing at the right time with it when they do. In the harum-scarum world of modern football, there’s a lot to be said for a player who is happy to take a pass in traffic with a couple of men around him.

Gallagher is always an out ball for a teammate in a blind alley. And as he showed with the perfectly-weighted handpass that put Martin O’Reilly in for the game’s crucial goal, his distribution is cool and intelligent.

On the basis that the Ulster final will be a battle of the middle third, it will be interesting to see how Monaghan deal with him. The temptation always is to focus on the dynamic young bucks like Michael Murphy, Patrick McBrearty, Odhrán MacNiallais and the rest. But they will need a plan for Gallagher too. MC

Toughest test of all ahead for Westmeath

Brilliant and all Westmeath were, it was an optical illusion. Or maybe, for a moment, we should take it on face value and celebrate the magnificence of John Heslin, the power and heroism of Kieran Martin, Paul Sharry's beautifully pointed 45s, the dying embers of Dennis Glennon as an inter-county footballer. Or simply the resilience and work ethic of Westmeath. It did feel awfully like 2004.

A genuine football county rustled from sleep but for how long? Dublinin cruise control should obliterate them. There’s an argument that Heslin and Martin could get into Jim Gavin’s team but it’s an argument for those two alone.

The other semi-final was like watching a different sport as Dublin finished with the players they have been threatening to unleash upon 2015. Alan Brogan and James McCarthy arriving, Michael Darragh Macauley and Rory O'Carroll starting. Diarmuid Connolly, Paul Flynn and Ciaran Kilkenny nearing full bloom.

Westmeath cannot possibly get close to them.

And what of Meath? They looked like a top six football county for 50 minutes. Even endeavoured to plug the gaping defensive wounds speared by Wicklow by dropping Kevin reilly deep. Now, can they bottle the positives for Saturday week’s journey to Omagh?

Tyrone have their own problems, just not on the scale Mick O'Dowd witnessed in a 20 minute period that saw his team post a solitary Mickey Newman point to Westmeath's Heslin-Martin inspired 2-8. Darks days for the Royals. GC

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent