Dublin, Kerry’s eyes on the prize


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Notwithstanding the variations Covid-19 spits out at us as it tries to play spoilers with leagues and championships, among other more serious stuff, the march of time to another year means we sit down to determine who will lead. roost in the Gaelic world of 2022?

Since football normally includes all of Kilkenny counties, not to mention New York and London, it makes sense to start there rather than the 10 County competition that passes for the All Ireland Hurling Championship.

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After Dublin’s unprecedented dominance to win six successive titles before succumbing to Mayo in the All Ireland semi-final last year, many questions remain unanswered.

For example, can Tyrone kick off and turn Sam Maguire’s fourth win into straight wins, given that they’ve beaten all of Dublin’s big teams by annexing the crown in 2021.

And what about Dublin? Unlike the super team Kerry of the 1970s and 1980s, which aged so long they couldn’t score for 35 minutes in the loss to Cork in 1987, the current Dublin squad have been rejuvenated almost every year. with the advent of new blood to go with established stars like Ciaran Kilkenny, James McCarthy and Brian Fenton.

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Dan Morrissey of Limerick grabs the ball ahead of Robbie O’Flynn and Darragh Fitzgibbon of Cork in the All Ireland hurling final on August 22. INPHO / MORGAN TREACY

Dessie Farrell managed to win a title to add to Jim Gavin’s five, but with Jack Caffrey and Paul Mannion retiring last year, Stephen Cluxton unofficially retired along with a host of other alumni who stepped down. are withdrawn, he faced an upward trajectory to move the team forward.

However, the fact that his team – which suffered many negative reactions in training during Covid – also managed to get the longest rest in seven years in terms of the offseason may be a blessing in disguise.

I expect Farrell to see people like Brian Howard, Con O’Callaghan and Niall Scully refreshed when it comes to running opponents’ legs at Croke Park in the New Year.

That vital energy was lacking against Meath, whom they survived, and again against Mayo, which they did not.

So the warning signs were there; However, it would be foolish to rule Dublin out of these games as they still have arguably the strongest team in the country.

Tyrone’s rejuvenations without Mickey Harte under control were astonishing as co-managers Brian Dooher and Fergal Logan managed to turn bit players under the previous regime into All-Stars in their first year at the helm.

Of course, unlike Kerry or Dublin, Tyrone has to face the Ulster Championship where every match is potentially a trap. Earning this provincial title is similar to other counties winning all over Ireland, such is the level of intensity and rivalry between neighbors in this region.

There was a time when, in the event that counties canceled out in an “ordinary year of standards,” Kerry was inevitably the one to bring Sam home.

As they recently found out, that’s no longer the case as they haven’t been up to Dublin or many of the northern teams when it matters most.

So, in the event of such an emergency and despite the good work done under Peter Keane, the Kingdom County Council has pulled the rug out from under the incumbent for the past three years and installed Jack O’Connor as Head of team for the third time this millennium.

Sean O'Shea is one of the attackers who can deliver for Kerry.  INPHO / LASZLO GECZO

Sean O’Shea is one of the attackers who can deliver for Kerry. INPHO / LASZLO GECZO

In some ways, it’s hard to blame them as O’Connor has always delivered the goods both at the minor level and above when his county came to call them.

O’Connor was ratified alongside former stars Micheál Quirke and Diarmuid Murphy as selectors, with Paddy Tally also on board.

With Jack in charge, Kerry won the All-Irelands in 2004, 2006 and 2009 while losing runners-up in 2005 and 2011.

County President Tim Murphy sued O’Connor while he was still Kildare’s boss, but defended his reasons for getting him back. It was tough for Keane, who got along well with a lot of players, but when you don’t win the All Irelands in Kerry, you’re on a slippery slope, right?

O’Connor doesn’t need to be told about Kerry’s public reaction to failure and success – he’s been through both situations. However, what he arguably knows better than anyone else is how to put together a squad to win an All-Ireland. He had the opportunity to review his loads in training about last month and will test them at the McGrath Cup when they start against Limerick at Austin Stack Park in early January.

It doesn’t take a rocket to realize that Kerry is missing one or two remarkable defenders like the O Se brothers of yore. They could also find a younger version of David Moran in midfield. In most counties you could argue that good players don’t grow on trees, but Kerry is an exception and without a doubt with Austin Stacks coming into their county championship one or two good players can indeed be recruited. .

If so, with Clifford brothers Sean O’Shea and Paul Geaney, they have the caliber of attackers who can deliver.

With O’Connor’s pragmatism and the experience of a vital factor in their corner, Kerry may rightly feel more entitled to enter the 2022 Championship with a better chance of winning this anytime since their Last win there are eight championships against Donegal in 2014.

I think Dublin and Kerry will feel they have something big to prove in 22 as it will be difficult for Tyrone to maintain their form in such a prolonged campaign while for Mayo … they are still doing something. surprising thing but don’t earn an All Ireland, do they?

Galway stands on the 3 row path

The hurling championship feels like it’s in the grip of a team that is there for at least a few years. Limerick has dominated the league and the championships so overwhelmingly over the past two seasons that it’s hard to see who can dismantle them.

Brian Cody has already spoiled them by achieving a lot more with his semi-final loss in 2019 – but for that, they could now aim for four in a row. However, the caliber of the howler in Kilkenny isn’t what it used to be and although Eoin Cody looks like the new TJ Reid or Henry Shefflin back in the day, the problem for his manager is that the harvests black and amber of young howlers are not as abundant as in the early 2000s when Kilkenny sought new levels of excellence in hurling.

It may be that in the end, if John Kiely’s domination of Limerick is to be ended, it will be King Henry who will do it with his new pack in Galway.

A proven winner on the field, he followed with a successful stint as manager of the Ballyhale Shamrocks by winning the All-Ireland club championship.

His arrival in Galway has generated enormous interest among players and supporters and with his skill he is confident he can turn the near-men of the past five years into the winners they were in 2017.

Waterford and Tipperary will cause ripples along the way, but neither appear to have the ability to turn this tide into an unstoppable tsunami as Cork is stuck in the Losers Corner more than they would have liked.

Clare stagnated after winning her All Ireland under Davy, while Dublin also retreated, leaving no one really to attack Treaty domination unless the Tribes managed to do so.

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