by Lar na Pairce
All Ireland football final
Mayo challenge blunted in 10 minutes
Well following two years of recriminations followed by adulation, Donegal were crowned 2012 All Ireland Football champions with a four-point defeat of Mayo last Sunday.
It may have taken the Tir Chonaill men 20 years to add a second title but in truth it took them just 10 minutes to win this contest as the two early goals tore the heart out of the Mayo challenge and in all honesty there was never going to be any other outcome.
Many commentators have since Sunday commended the Westerners for their determination in not completely folding following those early hammer blows but a more realistic perspective would also have concluded that Donegal never looked like losing the early lead.
Granted Mayo reduced the margin to three points by the break but in reality they never looked like scoring the badly needed goal that would have ignited their hopes.
Their management must also question why they placed Kevin Keane on Michael Murphy as he was conceding height and physique to the Donegal captain.
This disparity was cruelly exposed in the third minute when Murphy collected a high delivery and swatted Keane aside with contemptuous ease to rattle the net with a fierce shot.
The hapless Mayo defender then fumbled the ball that came off the post allowing Colm McFadden to score a second goal and effectively extinguish any Mayo hopes.
Murphy again exposed Keane’s defensive frailties when he collected another long delivery before putting McFadden through for what should have been a third goal only for David Clarke to save the day with a fine stop.
Ger Cafferky was eventually detailed to mark Murphy but this was a classic case of bolting the stable door as the horse was miles away.
Nothing new here
Now that the dust has settled on the football campaign the usual commentators are again avowing that the game has irrevocably changed thanks to the Donegal style of play.
Lar na Pairce does not agree with this nonsense as a quick look at the two Donegal goals from last Sunday clearly shows that they stemmed from long balls into the opposition half where the full forward won the ball before turning and shooting powerfully to the net.
This has been a staple diet of football teams since time began.
Think of Eoin Liston, Jimmy Keaveney, Declan Barron, Ray Cummins and a plethora of legendary full forwards who availed of this tactic.
No my friends nothing new here.
Likewise for the second goal, how many times have we seen alert corner forwards avail of a chance when the ball comes off the post?
These again are too numerous to mention but one that stands out comes from the 1973 final when the legendary JBM goaled when the ball rebounded off the Galway upright.
That was 40 years ago and almost every corner forward since has scored like this. Again nothing new here.
The best team won
We congratulate Donegal because quite simply they were the best team this year and are worthy winners.
They worked hard to get to the top and will wish to remain there for a spell but as Cork last year and Dublin this year found out to their cost retaining the title is much harder than regaining it.
In a final look back at the season Colm Cooper despite not playing in the semi-final or final was the joint top scorer from play, along with Colm McFadden.
Mr Brolly please take note!
All-Ireland hurling final replay
Galway must be ruthless to win
Sunday sees Galway and Kilkenny return to Croke Park for their All-Ireland replay. The question on every one’s lips is have Galway blown their chance and will Kilkenny punish them for failing to press home their advantage the last day?
This really will not be answered until Sunday but again this observer is of the belief that if Galway take the game to Kilkenny then they will win.
Last time out they did just that in the first half and were full value for their five-point interval lead.
However they fell back into a defensive formation for the second period and almost paid the ultimate price.
They must be ruthless on Sunday and keep their attacking formation and expose the lack of genuine pace in Brian Hogan and Jackie Tyrell.
Canning must be kept closer to the goal, a la the first half and this will put huge pressure on the Kilkenny defence.
The Cats will believe that they will get a much better return from their front line on Sunday as only Shefflin and TJ Reid operated the last day.
Cody will also consider playing Richie Hogan in his best position at corner forward bringing Reid to midfield in the process.
Alternatively Killian Buckley could start with Colm Fennelly losing out but whichever 15 lines out rest assured that they will strive might and main to succeed.
Again conventional wisdom says Kilkenny but if Galway have the belief to go for glory when the opportunity presents itself they will win.
The minor final is the curtain raiser and we fancy Tipp to complete the job in a week when the county hurling fortunes got a huge boost with the appointment as Eamonn O’ Shea as senior hurling manager.
Finally on behalf of the GAA Family, Lar Na Parice extends its deepest sympathy to the family of UCC Fitzgibbon manager, Paul O’Connor on his tragic and untimely death this past week Ar dheis Dé a raibh sé.