GAA weekend talking points: Kerry don’t lie down, advantage rule issues, and hurling’s goal drought
What did we learn on the third weekend of intercounty GAA action this year?
Kerry finish with a flourish to lay down an early marker for the summer
When Dublin patiently worked Cormac Costello’s point to open the second-half scoring, they denied the Kingdom a chance to get their hands on the ball for almost five minutes and looked in complete control.
The score opened a seven-point margin, and the All-Ireland champions seemed to be motoring.
However, a second-half fightback spearheaded by David Clifford has ensured there is a different narrative heading into the summer months.
Kerry did not lie down, and although a win eluded Peter Keane’s charges, the fightback was nonetheless a statement of intent.
The two sides cannot meet again before the All-Ireland final this year. But as it stands, they look like the two frontrunners for the Sam Maguire Cup in 2021.
Advantage rule has its flaws, but Moynihan’s goal was not one such instance
Sean Hurson’s decision to disallow Dara Moynihan’s first-half goal was a controversial one. The Spa club man moved along the end-line, was pulled back by Robbie McDaid before shrugging off the challenge and beating Evan Comerford.
The referee did not let advantage develop, and called the free.
This sparked huge frustration among the Kerry players.
Fingers were pointed at the new advantage rule, but the recently-introduced law does allow for goal-scoring opportunities, which was undoubtedly the case in this instance.
“When an aggressive foul is committed, the Referee may allow the play to continue if he considers that this presents the potential of a goal-scoring opportunity or another advantage to the team offended by creating or capitalising on time and space,” the wording reads.
Moynihan and Co could have felt justifiably aggrieved.
Nonetheless, there were several other incidents over the weekend which shone the spotlight on the controversial new rule. But the GAA has committed to it for the summer, and it cannot be changed until the association’s next Congress.
Injury worries grow after truncated preseason
The sight of Michael Murphy limping off after just five minutes in Donegal’s meeting with Monaghan will have caused Declan Bonner significant worry. In recent years, the county have entered the All-Ireland series handicapped, without Paddy McBrearty in 2018 and Eoghan Bán Gallagher in 2019.
Bonner will be hoping that Murphy’s injury was insignificant, as Donegal face a gruelling summer schedule if they are to be successful. They will have four games in the Ulster Championship should they regain the Anglo-Celt Cup, which would set up an All-Ireland semi-final against the Munster champions. Tír Chonaill will need their big names fit and firing.
Meanwhile, Dessie Farrell will be concerned after watching Paddy Small pull up on Sunday. The Ballymun star has become a crucial component of the Dublin defence in recent years, and his absence would undoubtedly weaken the All-Ireland champions.
Are such injuries a symptom of the shortened preseason?
Not time to panic for Limerick, but chasing pack gathering momentum
After their unbeaten run stretching back to July 2019 was ended last week, Limerick have now lost two games in as many weekends.
John Kiely will not be overly concerned at this early juncture, and knows that a Munster semi-final win over Cork on July 3 would offset any amount of league defeats.
The Treaty are building for the summer, and this has been clear in Kiely’s team selection.
Nonetheless, Galway and Waterford will take real confidence from their victories over the All-Ireland champions. The Lee-siders will be looking to lay down a similar marker on Saturday week.
Limerick remain favourites for the Liam MacCarthy Cup, but their air of invincibility has arguably waned in the last two weeks.
Just how important is goal-scoring in hurling right now?
Limerick won the All-Ireland title last year, despite only finding the net in one of their five matches. They have carried that trend into 2021, scoring just one goal in their three National League games so far.
Similarly, Galway have raised green flags in just two of their last six outings. The trend is reflected elsewhere – both Dublin and Tipperary scored their first goals of 2021 this past weekend.
This debate has been well aired since Galway’s 2017 All-Ireland win, but the latest stats are noteworthy.
With striking distances increasing, most players are well able to take points with space inside the opposition half. Teams amassing close to 30 white flags is a frequent occurrence.
However, it is clear that three-pointers still have their place. Cork have put an emphasis on increasing their goal threats, and Kieran Kingston’s charges sit on top of Division 1A after three matches.
Liam Sheedy lamented Tipp’s lack of goal-scoring in the wake of their draw with Cork, and the Premier corrected their short-comings at the weekend.
It will be interesting to observe the trend that develops in the coming weeks as the championship approaches.
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