Score of the Weekend?
Kieran Donaghy may be getting on but every time he pulls on that Kerry jersey these days, Star is turning in some vintage displays. Probably the best aerial operator in the game, his goal on Sunday was top drawer, the high fielding, swivel inside and left foot finish, passing the ball Gooch style into the top corner. The pundits reckon he’s being schooled by Maurice Fitz. Also on the list is Fintan Cregg’s lob for Roscommon in that crazy few minutes of gals yesterday. There’s no doubt he meant the score glancing up before lifting g the ball beyond David Clarke and dropping it in the back of the net. But for us the score of the weekend was Donie Smith’s long range free to level the game. With the freetakers off the field it was a pressure kick to step forward to take. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and on this occasion Donie had the cojones and the nerves to deliver.
Jamie Clarke likes Coffee and Croke Park
Jamie Clarke is an interesting guy and a super footballer, floating about there in his Armagh jersey. He likes travelling, especially to New York by all accounts, he enjoys a cup of decent coffee too. If stories are to believed he isn’t a wild man for the gym sessions. But there’s one thing he clearly relishes and that’s playing at Croke Park. Jamie produces those moments of magic that supporters want to see in football games and on Saturday he drifted about the place, tying up loose ends, creating, delivering and scoring four points as he weaved his magic as the evening descended on Croke Park. Afterwards he told the assembled media that Armagh GAA players were as good as any in the country. He wasn’t talking specifically about himself, but every county should have a Jamie Clarke. Worth the admission fee.
Kieran McGeeney – The Man for All Seasons
Writing after Kildare had been beaten by a team led by their former manager Kieran McGeeney, former star John Doyle described how Geezer went around the Lilywhite players commiserating with them. That is the nature of the man, a player’s player. A player’s manager by all accounts. Methodical, precise and genuinely interested. Since his band, McGeeney has kept out of the limelight. You get the sense that he’s happier with that, focusing on what really matters. Leave the PR work to someone else. It’s a pity in one respect because McGeeney gives journalists good copy when he does speak, he’s forthright and to the point. But his current approach appears to be working for now.
Carlos Alberto and The Monaghan Finishers
Having contributed to one of the shocks of the summer, albeit on the wrong side of it by losing to Down GAA, Malachy O’Rourke’s men appear to have righted the ship and having gained their revenge on Down. They now sail on to meet the might of Dublin. Coming in to a bit of form at the right time will suit the canny O’Rourke. He’s another plain talker and he knows his team have the physicality and the quality to test the Dubs. The Hughes brothers are as good a double act as you’ll get while corner back Fintan Kelly is rapidly turning into the Carlos Alberto of Monaghan GAA with his raids forward to smash home his third goal in three games. Interestingly too, substitutes Owen Duffy, Conor McCarthy and Jack McCarron kicked seven points between them in the last 25 minutes. Monaghan clearly decided that they wanted their A list attackers on the pitch to close out the game. Exempt from that classification is A List extraordinaire Conor McManus who kicked ten points, eight from player. Monaghan wil be no pushovers, and O’Rourke reckons they aren’t playing that well yet.
The Level Playing Field
Players slipping at a crucial moment isn’t what we want to see after preparing for what could be the biggest game of their summer. The TV pundits and managers were querying the usually magnificent Croke Park surface as a few players appeared to lose their footing. The turf was lifted and relaid for two concerts. Lets hope its settled down for next weekend’s Bank holiday bonanza.