Allianz Football League: Division One half-time review: Galway and Monaghan in the limelight
AS much as Galway and Monaghan have stolen many of the plaudits over the last month, it’s partly out of the desperation to talk about something other than Dublin for a while.
Paddy Tally’s influence on Galway has helped them make the transition from Division Two without a hint of a seam, scoring four wins from four to sit joint-top with the reigning All-Ireland champions.
Dublin travel to Salthill in a fortnight’s time for a game that will be viewed with particular interest but given the recent experiences of Roscommon (2015) and Derry (2014), Galway will know the ides of March can deceive.
The current league table does justice to most but is perhaps roughest on Donegal and Kildare. Declan Bonner’s early weeks have brought Donegal out of their shell and while that’s left them dodging bullets in defence, their attacking displays – led by the league’s top scorer Paddy McBrearty – have been worthy of more than the bare two points.
Kildare’s plight has been held up as symptomatic of Leinster football’s ills but they’ve lost their last three games by a point, a point and two points, the latter having played with 14 men for most of it. It’s as much a lack of experience as anything.
They do seem destined to go down but they’ll have eyes on Mayo next weekend, given that Stephen Rochford’s injury-hit side have yet to pick up any speed. Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle and Andy Moran have been drafted back in over the last fortnight but to take their results at face value doesn’t reflect how poor they’ve been. Kerry beat them by three and Dublin beat them by four, yet the margins ought to have been wider.
Theories that they could do with prioritising the league, if just to learn how to win, have clearly fallen on deaf ears but if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s to believe nothing of Mayo until we see their summer outfit.
Monaghan’s campaign is ticking along beautifully. They’ve been getting Conor McManus some game time but going without a number of regulars, which is perhaps the most promising part of their three consecutive wins with a redeveloped style of play.
Tyrone haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater but the murkiness of last August has been impossible to shift despite all that went before it. Three defeats and only a last-gasp win over Kildare to show so far would carry a different complexion were their attitude Mayo-esque, but Tyrone know no way other than full tilt.
They too are trying to reshape their attacking game and Lee Brennan has made the most of his chance to create one positive attacking story. If their form in Omagh was in any way dependable you’d say they still look a good bet to stay up and even despite that, it would be hard to see them going down.
Who’ll make the final? Dublin and Galway
Who’ll be relegated? Kildare and Donegal
Patrick McBrearty Donegal 0-30 (0-18f)
Lee Brennan Tyrone 1-17 (0-14f)
Seán O’Shea Kerry 0-19 (0-11f, 0-2 45s)
Kevin Feely Kildare 0-17 (0-17f)
Barry McHugh Galway 1-12 (0-7f, 0-2 45s)
Dean Rock Dublin 1-12 (0-10f)
Shane Walsh Galway 0-13
Jack McCarron Monaghan 0-11 (0-7f)
Eamonn Brannigan Galway 1-8
Results and fixtures
January 27: Dublin 2-17 Kildare 2-10
January 28: Kerry 2-18 Donegal 3-14; Monaghan 0-12 Mayo 0-13; Galway 1-9 Tyrone 0-8
February 3: Mayo 2-9 Kerry 1-15; Tyrone 1-11 Dublin 2-13
February 4: Kildare 0-12 Monaghan 1-10; Donegal 0-14 Galway 1-12
February 10: Dublin 0-20 Donegal 0-15
February 11: Galway 1-13 Mayo 0-11; Kildare 0-18 Tyrone 1-16
February 18: Monaghan 1-13 Kerry 0-14
February 24: Mayo 0-12 Dublin 2-10; Monaghan 0-15 Tyrone 0-14
February 25: Donegal 1-15 Kildare 3-7; Kerry 0-14 Galway 1-14
March 10/11: Dublin v Kerry, Tyrone v Donegal, Galway v Monaghan, Kildare v Mayo
March 17: Kerry v Kildare
March 18: Mayo v Tyrone, Galway v Dublin, Monaghan v Donegal
March 25: Dublin v Monaghan, Donegal v Mayo, Kildare v Galway, Tyrone v Kerr