I’ve been staying for the last few days in a jolly nice hotel in the Mid-West (Look up: it’s a whinge about Aer Lingus!) with the wife and chisellers but now comes payback, in terms of a week’s hard slog so I’ve little or no time to talk about yesterday’s match. I also have to come clean, lads (as they are wont to say frequently in these here parts), and admit that quality family time yesterday afternoon did not encompass live football action on the telly (llamas, yes, The Sunday Game Live, no – there’s no point trying to elaborate on this one so I won’t bother) but did get to jiyn Pett later on for the highlights on the Sunday Game.
Didn’t I say ages ago that Cork were looking good for Sam dish ear? (I did, I'm sure, but I can't find the damn link at the minute to prove the point). I know, I know, I abandoned them and went over to the Royals for yesterday’s match but it was a well-beaten path and, with James Masters crocked and Cork’s generally poor form in the two matches since the Munster final, you have to acknowledge that it did look the more likely outcome. However, the loss of Anthony Moyles – who has been outstanding all year – hurt Meath arguably far more than did the loss of Masters did to Cork. Moyles has been one of the main engines behind Meath’s revival and they didn’t look the same team without him. I don’t think it was a coincidence that, in his absence, Cork were able to run unchallenged through Meath yesterday.
1-16 is a good score in any game but to rack up a total like that in an All-Ireland semi-final without your star forward was a bit special. In the left-footed maestro’s absence, the other forwards – in particular, Donnacha O’Connor – stepped up to the mark perfectly, to the extent that it didn’t look as if the side missed him at all. The question now for Billy Morgan is whether or not his team has a better balance without Masters which, for a bainisteoir, must be the kind of problem you want to have going into an All-Ireland final.
Cork abandoned the me-too long ball game yesterday and reverted to what they’re good at, which is their fast moving, hard running style. As they’ve done all Summer, Murphy and Kavanagh completely bossed midfield and so Cork had all the possession they needed to run up a winning score, whereas Meath were attempting to survive on the proverbial scraps. Although Meath stuck with them fairly well in the first half, ultimately they were blown away by Cork’s relentless waves of attack. Cork’s goal, when it came, was a bit fortuitous - as Kevin MacMahon’s shot was deflected by Caoimhin King beyond Brendan Murphy and into the net – but it ended the match as a contest with only ten minutes of the second half played. In the end, Meath got completely beaten out the gate.
The main talking point last night (apart from the result) was how well Cork had out-Meathed Meath in the thuggery stakes, in particular the way in which Noel O’Leary poleaxed poor old Graham Geraghty. Now, as Sean Moran in today’s Irish Times points out, GG himself has evaded sanction all Summer – and, indeed, long before that - for landing sly belts (except, notably, when they occurred on the training ground) so it would be ironic were O’Leary to miss the All-Ireland for flooring the same gentleman. He should, of course, but, this being GAA-style discipline, there’s no question of this happening.
And so, we’re down to three – Cork, Kerry and Dublin. Jesus wept: why am I bloody bothering to write about this? As chance would have it, work is calling, nay, bellowing, so, for you Kerry v Dublin junkies, all I can do is refer you to this cogent as ever contribution from my fellow countyman, which, for De Boyz en Blew, makes for some chilling reading.