GAA Football

Veterans bemoan the slaughter of 'innocent' Longford

Dublin's Bernard Brogan gets away from Longford's Dermot Brady during Sunday's Leinster SFC quarter-final at Croke Park Picture: Philip Walsh
Sen O'Neill

IT WAS a muted day pundit-wise as Dublin and Galway fought out a draw in the Leinster SHC quarter-final and Dublins footballers steamrollered poor Longford in the Leinster SFC quarter-final.

Perhaps we shouldnt have been been surprised. The prospect of either game hardly set the pulse racing.

Just before the throw-in of the first game, analyst Ger Loughnane was asked who was going to win. The Clare man couldnt decide, and after telling us that both teams had dodgy defences and a reputation for inconsistency concluded that he could not rely on logic and declared to the Galway people, I will give you this.

In 2012, the referee was James McGrath, the commentator was Marty Morrissey, the co-commentator was Donal OGrady and they gave their best display ever. Maybe history will repeat itself, declared Loughnane.

It didnt. Ah well.

Onto the football. Are there any more pointless, dispiriting, look at it through your fingers affairs than Dublin versus Longford/Offaly/Westmeath etc in the Leinster SFC? Colm ORourke certainly does not think so and let rip with both barrels as he responded to Pat Spillanes grim reading of statistics from that particular championship.

Dublin have 53 Leinster Championships, Longford have one, said Spillane.

In Dublins last 33 Leinster Championship games - theyve won 31, drawn one and lost one. The average winning margin by Dublin in last years Leinster Championship was 14 points. I think the only team that have come within seven points of them since 2013 was Meath when they lost to Dublin by seven points, so it is a mountain to climb.

ORourke could hardly wait to enter the fray.

All its doing Michael (Lyster) is reflecting that the Leinster Championship is really a farce and its a combination of factors - the fact that Dublin have surged ahead and are really well organised and, I suppose, the fall off in standards - particularly in Meath and Kildare... who should be able to compete against Dublin on a reasonably regular basis, bemoaned ORourke.

Organising football on a provincial basis... is doing nothing for the likes of Longford.

At half-time, Dublin were 12 points to the good. Longford, to their credit, had not played overly defensively and had done their utmost to take the game to their illustrious opponents. Lyster suggested that perhaps they should employ a more cautious approach.

We spend our time here on The Sunday Game complaining about defensive football - putting men back behind the ball - I suppose Pat, in this game - theres an argument for the fact that Longford should be doing that, said the Galway man.

Spillane replied by calling it the slaughter of the innocents. Crikey.

Its men against boys and yes, you have a valid point about the use of the blanket defence. You are damned if you do and youre damned if you dont, reasoned Spillane.

Derry came to Croke Park for the league and it was eight points to four (against Dublin). It was a horror show where they just set up defensively but you knew god damn well - with that system they couldnt win.

At the same time, when you set up pretty much man-to-man and give that amount of space to the fastest, fittest, most athletic team in the country... it was naive in the extreme.

When Longfords ordeal was over, they had lost by 27 points and ORourke was not about to let up.

How would you encourage a young player in Longford to go and sacrifice yourself to play county football to get that?

We dont know anything about Dublin... we wont know anything about them until August. Its just biding time, said the exasperated Meath man.

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