by Lár na Pairce
BUT for the failure of Meath to overcome a hitherto lack lustre Laois outfit, this column would have had a 100 per cent success rate last weekend as Cork and Kilkenny obliged in the hurling quarter- finals while Donegal, Kerry and Down also came up trumps in the final round of football qualifiers.
The demise of Meath will ensure that the Seamus McEnaneny debate will reopen and our sources within the Royal county tell us that it is unlikely that ‘Banty’ will be at the helm next year.
Indeed it is rumoured that a return to his native Monaghan is in the offing but that is a matter for another day.
Cork over Waterford hurdle
Meanwhile in Thurles last Sunday, Cork with early and late scoring bursts, that yielded all but six points of their 1-19 final tally, overcame Waterford by a single goal to progress to a semi-final meeting with Galway.
This will be the county’s first Croke Park meeting since the 2005 decider when Cork collected their 30th and so far, last title.
In a game that lacked real intensity, Cork outscored the Deise by 0-7 to 0-1 in the final 10 minutes to turn a three-point deficit into a similar margin.
However they will need to substantially improve if the Tribesmen are to be overcome but such is the enigma that is Galway hurling that any thing is possible.
A notable feature of the second half was the fine performance of Dohenys, Darren Sweetnam which was pivotal in the comeback.
For the first half of the Limerick Kilkenny game it appeared that the Shannonsiders had read this column during the week as they adopted a physical and running game against the Cats.
We advocated such an approach last week and it worked a treat as only a point separated the teams at the break. However when aided by the breeze, Limerick changed their tactics and began hitting hopeful and aimless balls that were gobbled up by the Kilkenny defence.
Allied to this was a productive spell that yielded 2-5 in a 14 minute spell, which saw the All Ireland champions cruise to a semi final meeting with Tipp in three-weeks-time.
Mayo v Down
This weekend will see the four quarter-finals being played in Croke Park which will feature seven teams who will compete in Division 1 next season.
The odd one out is Laois who will ply their trade in Division 2.
The action gets underway on Saturday at 5pm when Connacht champions Mayo face Down.
The latter became the first team to win a qualifier despite losing a provincial final just six days previously when they accounted for Tipp last Saturday.
They face a much greater challenge against Mayo but they seem to blossom in headquarters and may cause an upset.
However Mayo seem much less fragile than of yore and beat Cork at this stage last year. They are given a hesitant vote to reach a second successive semi final.
The second game on the card sees Dublin face Laois and the champions should have too much fire power, especially now that Bernard Brogan is back on song and they are taken to advance with a bit in hand.
Cork v Kildare
Without doubt Sunday’s fare is much more appetising as all four teams have been tipped to lift Sam, by different pundits.
Cork v Kildare opens proceedings and pits the reigning Division 1 and 2 league champions against each other.
Cork have been inactive since their facile Munster final win over Clare and this may be a handicap especially as the Lilywhites have defeated Cavan, Limerick and Sligo in the interim.
However Cork, especially their forwards, look stronger and with Kildare finding it difficult to get scores, especially goals, and notwithstanding the acquisition of Seanie Johnston, the Rebels are taken to advance to the penultimate round.
Donegal v Kerry
Donegal against Kerry will certainly open the debate as to the way Gaelic football should be played. Kerry have always prided themselves on being the custodians of the game and its traditions and generally abhor the negative tactics employed by Ulster teams.
Now they get a chance to put their theories to the test and it will be interesting to see how they cope with massed defences.
Donegal were impressive in Ulster and their 2-18 tally in the final is worthy of respect.
Gooch, the O’Sullivans, Donaghy and Galvin seem to have more scoring power than Murphy McFadden and McHugh and this may be decisive.
My predictions are Mayo, Dublin Cork and Kerry.
Before we leave football we feel compelled to comment on Joe Brolly’s inane comments re Colm Cooper.
To this observer, Cooper has been the best footballer that he has ever seen and his feats and performances are beyond compare.
Brolly by comparison fades into insignificance and to denigrate an outstanding player for cheap publicity is beyond contempt.
Bandon alone of the three Carbery teams remain in contention for the premier intermediate championship following a one point win over Castlelyons.
Unfortunately both Newcestown and Kilbrittain failed in their endeavours, going down to Ballinhassig and Ballyhea respectively.
Within the Carbery division St Marys had nine points to spare over Kilbrittain and now face Dohenys while neighbours Plunketts accounted for Bandon to set up a meeting with Kilbree.
The respective winners will meet in the semi final.
Clonakilty became the first side through to the semis with a local derby win over St James and they now face either D.O’Mathunas or Ballinascarthy.
In the junior football, Gabriels, at the second time of asking, defeated Ballinascarthy and now meet Tadhg McCarthaigh in the quarter final.
Finally, for the first time since the inaugural competition in 1984, Kilmeen have qualified for the county junior B final following their semi-final win over Whites Cross. They await the winners of the O’Mathunas St Catherines tie.