Analysis: Gaelic football's bright new dawn?

Updated: Tuesday, 04 Feb 2014 11:01 | Comments

Kildare edged out Mayo in a cracking game at St Conleth's Park
Kildare edged out Mayo in a cracking game at St Conleth's Park

By James McMahon

When football is compared to hurling it is an indication that something positive has taken place.

On RTÉ’s League Sunday, Kevin McStay commented that the final score in the Kildare v Mayo Division 1 clash was more akin to the outcome of a small ball game.

The clash in Newbridge was a stirring affair that the Lilywhites shaded on a 2-19 to 2-18 scoreline. Cork were other high scorers in the top flight with a 0-18 to 0-10 success over Westmeath. In Division 2, Meath defeated Galway 3-18 to 4-11, while Donegal kept the scoreboard operator busy with a 2-19 return against Laois.

In Division 4 Tipperary and Wicklow chalked up 2-24 and 3-13 respectively in their opening day victories.

At this time of the year, league matches can often be dour, tentative affairs, but the fare in Navan and Newbridge was, in the main, exhilarating.

All of Meath’s scores came from play, while only two pointed-frees made up Kildare’s impressive tally of 21 scores. Paddy Brophy's last-gasp point from another parish was the winning score. 

It will be interesting to see whether such high-scoring returns will be the norm over the coming weeks, but the weekend just past did give us glimpses of what certain teams are capable of with regard to free-flowing and attacking football.

If more counties can follow suit and bring it to another level then the summer ahead could offer up a fascinating championship.

A scenario where teams would go out to try and outscore each other would surely heighten interest.

Not neglecting the defensive side of the game must also be paramount, with the introduction of the black card in time maybe ensuring that players will improve their tackling.

In all interesting times ahead, with the cut and thrust of promotion and relegation to keep us occupied between now and the end of April.

Off the pitch the main talking point of the weekend was the retirement of Paul Galvin. At times a controversial figure, Galvin was vital part of Kerry's All-Ireland winning teams of the last decade.

He was tried out at centre-half-back in the McGrath, so there was a sense of expectation that we would see him at number six in the more competitive games. Alas, that will not come to pass.

Don't be surprised to see a media outlet employ his services during the year, while Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice sees him as a future manager of the Kingdom.

He said: "He has the personality and the understanding of the game to be a manager.

“He had a fantastic career, winning everything in the game. Paul’s passion for Kerry was obvious to everyone every time he took to the field.

"His best trait is his honesty which meant he was a great team-mate and very important in our dressing room."

The sight of Galvin manning the line would be intriguing, with Kerry more often than not calling on past legends to manage across all age-groups.

Live coverage and updates of all the day’s Allianz Football League action on Sunday Sport from 14:00 on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide). Television highlights on League Sunday from 19:30 on RTÉ Two and RTE.ie (Ireland only).

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