We’re looking back on the GAA weekend to see the most prominent stories, results, and plotlines.
Not quite capital punishment
Dublin are trying to unearth new stars to add to their arsenal as they chase a first All-Ireland title in three years. The size profile of some of their less-seasoned players on show against Kildare was noticeably small, and the big games in the summer usually require powerhouses to win. An area to watch.
Kildare fell apart after conceding early goals to the Dubs in last year’s Leinster clash, but on Saturday evening calmly worked their way back into this game after Brian Fenton stretched the net early on.
Glenn Ryan will have been encouraged by that, as he will by the performance of young attacker Jack Robinson. SS
Offaly’s underage hurling rise continues
A golden generation of Offaly hurlers are primed to cash in on recent underage success having booked their place in the Leinster Colleges SH ‘A’ final.
It’s 18 years since a Faithful side competed in a provincial decider at the highest grade but Offaly Schools powered past defending champions Good Counsel, New Ross on Saturday to set up a juicy decider.
With eight of last year’s All-Ireland minor finalists in the starting 15, Leo O’Connor’s side kicked for home in the second half with 2022 Minor Hurler of the Year Adam Screeney unerring from placed balls.
Other 2022 Leinster MHC winners like James Mahon, Dan Ravenhill and Brecon Kavanagh were also to the fore as they coasted home by 10 points, 1-20 to 2-7, to set up a mouthwatering final against the might of Kilkenny giants St Kieran’s College.
Should Offaly Schools prevail and end the county’s 37-year provincial famine, they will not progress to the All-Ireland stages. MV
Power to the people
Donegal hit some nice scores against Kerry in the first half but they will be concerned about how often they coughed up possession. Dara Moynihan hit an early Kerry goal after a defensive spill by the hosts, and he is one of many Kingdom stars who looks in great physical condition. It’s a long year, but it seems an area where the late-appointed Paddy Carr has ground to make up on.
Donegal went from six behind to lead during the second half, with some erratic Kerry shooting playing its part. Paddy McBrearty eventually won the game with a brilliant late score, capping off a frenetic end to proceedings.
Carr handed out a raft of debuts, as Caolan McColgan starred at wing-back with three brilliant points from play. The scenes at the final whistle showed what it meant to the locals, and it provides a huge boost to Carr as he plots a future path without Michael Murphy. SS
Down-end losing streak
Only one game has been played and Down have already improved on their 2022 season after securing a three-point victory over Tipperary despite going down to 14 men.
The Ulster men failed to win any of their nine League, Ulster, and Tailteann Cup games last year, but this league-opening victory over the Premier breaks a winless streak dating back to May 2021.
From Tipp’s perspective, they will be hoping that a knee injury to forward Conor Sweeney wasn’t serious, as without him their Division 3 status may be in trouble. DOF
From pundit to bainisteoir
Colm O’Rourke marked his competitive debut as Meath boss with a fine win in Cork – a familiar enemy from his playing days. Three goals and a brilliant performance from Shane Walsh suggests O’Rourke’s move from Sunday Game couch to sideline could go quite well. SS
Red Hand is not feeding
Tyrone have conceded six goals in their last two games (including the McKenna Cup final loss to Derry) and Roscommon were full value for their win on Sunday.
Davy Burke has hit the ground running with the Rossies, while the 2021 All Ireland champions look a shadow of their former selves just now. Young Ben O’Carroll also looked highly impressive on the inside line for Roscommon. SS
How seriously can we take pre-season competition form?
Further questions will be asked about how seriously we can take pre-season competition form after O’Byrne cup champions Longford were convincingly beaten by Fermanagh 0-15 to 0-8 in their National League Division 3 clash.
With teams pulling out of pre-season competition, is it time for the GAA to pull the plug on these competitions and allow the month of January solely for college competitions and inter-county teams to play their challenges matches? DOF
Changing of the guard in Mayo under McStay
A new era was ushered in by Kevin McStay on Saturday night as the Mayo boss secured a draw in his first Division 1 League game.
Starting without any of the old guard which have gone so close to All-Ireland success in the past decade, McStay went with new faces like goalkeeper Colm Reape, defender Jack Coyne and Bob Tuohy in his selection.
None of the Mayo starters pre-dated 2014, although Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor and Kevin McLoughlin did appear off the bench late on as they sought a share of the spoils with Connacht rivals Galway.
O’Connor kicked an exquisite point to keep them in it but it was Ryan O’Donoghue that came up trumps at the end with a superb score to earn a draw before the MacHale Park pitch was quickly covered in green and red.
“We’d a lot of young lads out there against quite an experienced opposition, and they all stood up to their full height,” McStay beamed.
“No one went hiding. Everyone looking for the ball; everyone trying hard to do the right thing.” MV
All-Ireland champions get their first win of the season.
All-Ireland ladies football champions Meath had to rely on a long-distance strike from full-back Mary Kate Lynch (questions can be asked if she was going for a point or a goal) to secure her side a 1-7 to 0-5 lead over Donegal and first points of the National League campaign.
David Nelson’s side were defeated by Leinster rivals Dublin last weekend. DOF
Complied by Shane Stapleton, Darragh O’Flynn and Michael Verney
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