Category: Archive

Big 2 look likely again in football

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Already, not that many pundits are looking beyond Kerry and Tyrone – the dominant counties who have shared the last seven All Irelands between them – as prospective champions when the dust settles next September, but as ever, predicting is a dangerous game.
Coming towards the end of last season’s Ulster championship, Tyrone looked down and out, yet Mickey Harte and his players picked themselves up and timed their run to perfection to convincingly see off Kerry in the decider.
The point here is that what happens when the holders of the Sam Maguire Cup and Armagh meet on 31 May might not necessarily have a bearing on the destiny of this year’s title. Tyrone should win as Armagh are not the force of old, but their performance probably won’t be an indicator of things to come.
In fact, with the back door now available to counties who are prepared to gamble on hitting peak form towards the end of the summer, it’s harder than ever to forecast who’ll be in the shake-up for Sam.
But with Jack O’Connor back at Kerry’s helm and with the vastly-experienced Harte once more in the Tyrone corner, there’s every reason to expect the Big Two to be slugging it out again.
In Ulster, Derry who take on Monaghan at Celtic Park on Sunday week, may have something to say about that, and they could be meeting Tyrone in the provincial semi-final. Donegal, meanwhile, have not shown any signs that they will be a force.
As for Kerry’s chances, the biggest threat may come from within Munster as Cork and Graham Canty are surely moving in the right direction. The arch rivals look set to clash in the semi-final in Killarney on 7 June, and the outcome could shed some light on who the summer will pan out. Tipperary have to overcome Limerick and then Clare to reach the Munster decider where they might just cause an upset.
It’s hard to envisage anything other than a Mayo-Galway decider in Connacht, while Dublin and Meath will butt heads in the Leinster quarter-final on 7 June. What can be said about Dublin that hasn’t already been said? They should be there or thereabouts every year, but routinely they aren’t. With a new manager in Pat Gilroy, there will be a different feel about the team, but it probably won’t be enough.
As Wexford have already slid from the giddy heights of last season, Dublin mightn’t even win Leinster if Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare continue to make progress.
So, it’s back to where we started. Either Kerry or Tyrone for the glory, and this time, it should be Kerry’s turn.
Meanwhile, Cork reaffirmed their status as Ireland’s leading ladies football team when they crushed arch-rivals Mayo by 1-20 to 0-11 in the National League Division One final at Kiltoom last weekend.
The current All Ireland and Munster champions secured a fourth league title in five seasons with Nollaig Cleary scoring 0-6 and Rhona Buckley hitting a vital first half goal.
The Division Two title was won by Down who defeated Tipperary by 2-12 to 0-11 and Roscommon took the Division Three trophy with a 1-12 to 1-8 win over Wicklow.

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