A big gun has fallen in this year's race for Sam Maguire, emphasising yet again what can happen in this las-chance saloon of a winter championship. 

A shock, well not quite

A delighted Cork boss Ronan McCarthy

Cork footballers had 13 months to prepare for their Munster semi-final against Kerry. The Rebels' trajectory has been on the up ever since they ran the Kingdom close in the 2019 provincial decider. They were then competitive in the Super 8s, before, as expected, making short work of their promotion from Division 3. 

Cork are also the reigning All-Ireland U20 champions, so things are stirring again in a county where football is often looked down again.

For the second Sunday in succession, the weather played Puck at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and so we were never going to have a classic. Still, Cork showed the greater tenacity and mopped up most of the breaking ball in midfield. With Kerry 0-12 to 0-10 up as the game neared the 70th minute, Ronan McCarthy's side battled gamely to get the two points to bring the game to extra-time - they would not go away.

The same pattern continued in the extra 20 minutes. As the seconds ticked down on Leeside, Cork probed for a levelling point that would bring us a first-ever penalty shootout in a championship. Their tenacity was awarded when the 'Wizard of Oz' Mark Keane caught a ball with a snow on it and planted it in the corner of the Kerry net. There was no time for any more drama. Guts and bravery won the day.

"They were like a boxer that hung in there - it was a snatch and grab, and they got it", said Ciarán Whelan on The Sunday Game.

He's correct, but this latest renewal involving the Munster kingpins was never going to be a stroll for the Green and Gold. Yes, we expected Peter Keane's side to prevail, but we equally thought Cork would be competitive. And that they were. If the sides meet again in the 2021 Munster championship, there's a good chance that both will be operating in Division 1 of the Allianz League.

A game to savour then with hopefully a high sun in the sky. 

A winter chill in the Kingdom

Kerry players watch on as Mark Keane 

The loss to Cork will not go down well amongst the Kerry faithful. With Dublin on the other side of the All-Ireland draw, the Kingdom were fancied by many to reach the 19 December decider. Time is a healer and 2021 is just around the corner, but Peter Keane and his team will feel the wrath of it between now and Christmas.

Testing conditions aside, Kerry created enough chances to win the game and, more worryingly, dropped six shots on goal short in their quest to put some distance between themselves and Cork.

"Ball-retention and maybe a little bit of game-management," was an area that Keane highlighted on The Sunday Game afterwards.  

What the Kerry boss would have to admit is that at times his side were bullied out of it by Cork in the middle of the field, while also facing questions as to why they set up rather defensively. Where was the Kerry press? Where was the direct style that suits many on the Kingdom panel.

Tomás Ó Sé was far from happy, when speaking on The Sunday Game highlight, labelling Kerry's performance as "shambolic from the word go".

He added: "The one thing you'd hope (is) that no matter what else, the Kerry team would be in a mentally strong place to really go to war with Cork.

"That's a given (but) that wasn't there today.

"It's a question that's going to be thrown at management. The subs they brought on were all defensive.

"I just though it was - on the sideline and on the field - it was shocking from Kerry."

Time will tell whether this reverse is just a blip on the Kerry trajectory under Keane.

Mayo's new wave

Diarmuid O'Connor got Mayo's goal at the Hyde

After seeing off a somewhat disappointing Roscommon, Mayo footballers are back in a Connacht final after a gap of five years. 

Eoghan McLaughlin, Matthew Ruane, Bryan Walsh, Ryan O'Donoghue and Tommy Conroy are just some of the newer name making their alongside the O'Connors, Aidan O'Shea, Lee Keegan and Kevin McLoughlin. There is a nice blend there, with the old guard certainly not done yet, when considering Cilliian O'Connor's scoring contribution and Aidan O'Shea's overriding presence on the edge of the square.

Unlike, Dublin, who put the foot on teams in terms of keeping the scoreboard ticking over, Mayo's wastefulness in front of the posts was evident in stages against the Rossies. Much room for improvement, with Galway to come next weekend.

The Green and Red are progressing nicely and fans will surely have raised a cheer following Kerry's elimination. James Horan, you suspect will not be thinking of possible opponents in an All-Ireland semi-final. It's a case of prepare for battle in Salthill on Sunday next.  

Which point was better? Does it even matter

Conor Sweeney's point from a free that forced extra-time in the Tipperary-Limerick Munster SFC semi-final evoked memories of Maurice Fitzgerald audacious point for Kerry against Dublin in 2001.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Fitzgerald's point had the backdrop of a capacity crowd in Semple Stadium on an August Saturday, while a dreary November day at the Gaelic Grounds bore witness to Sweeney's deft execution. Both scores were equally worthy of praise.

Tipperary have forced extra time against Limerick after this superb free from Conor Sweeney deep into added time.

Tipp can now look forward to a Munster final, where much of the focus will be on Cork after their heroics against Kerry. 

Spare a thought, however, for Limerick, who continue to improve under Billy Lee and for substitute Seamus O'Carroll.

The latter had a chance to bring Saturday's semi-final to penalties, but mishit a close-in free. Hopefully, he won't get too many reminders of that miss.

Meath go goal crazy 

It's not too often a team scores seven goals in a a championship match. Well that's what happened on Sunday, Meath ran riot against against Wicklow in the Leinster quarter-final. It was the Royals' first competitive win since an O'Byrne Cup triumph on 4 January.

Despite more losses than victories in this calendar year. Andy McEntee seems to be getting a tune out of Meath. Jordan Morris showed glimpses of what he can do during the league, and in Aughrim he helped himself to 3-04 .

Next Sunday's provincial semi-final against Kildare should be keenly contested, and with a chance to pit yourselves against the Dubs (sorry Laois) a week later with no vocal cries from the Hill to cheer on the All-Ireland champions.

A clearer path for some

Six weekends to go before Sam will be lifted

One of Mayo, Galway, Cork and Tipperary, will contest the All-Ireland final on the Saturday before Christmas. With Kerry gone, that side of the draw has really opened up. That quarter will become a trio after the Connacht final next Sunday.

Yes, there is something about knockout football, and who knows in this year of years what other shocks lie in store.