GAA Football

A tale of two subs and a tranquilised cow

Padraig Kelly

IT was a tale of two subs for BBC pundit Oisin McConville as he watched Donegal brush aside Cavan’s challenge in yesterday’s Ulster Championship opener at MacCumhaill Park.

After seeing the home side record a 2-20 to 1-15 win, the former Armagh ace was left scratching his head at Mattie McGleenan’s decision to withdraw Caoimhin O’Reilly in the 44th minute while he also praised the cameo of Cian Mulligan, who scored a goal after coming on for Donegal in the 63rd minute.

“It was inconceivable he was taken off,” McConville said of the Breffni change. “You can see his disappointment; I thought he was their main threat up front at that stage.

“He was causing Donegal serious problems and I think Donegal were very happy with the fact that he had gone off the field at that stage also.”

While perplexed by that move, McConville could totally understand the decision to throw on Gaoth Dobhair youngster Mulligan as the gaps started to appear late on.

“He did really, really well when he came on, (he) added a little bit of pace to that Donegal forward line and stuck his goal chance away really well.”

Co-commentator Martin McHugh was also impressed with Mulligan’s late impact, but he felt it had a lot to do with Cavan’s decision to wave the white flag as the finish line appeared.

“They don’t seem to have enough leaders,” he said as the game petered out.

“It’s a great football county, they’re in Division One. They’re throwing in the towel far too early today.”

Although it was a great day in the sun for Declan Bonner’s emerging side, McConville said that it’s the 1-15 conceded rather than the 2-20 scored that must be most closely analysed.

“They scored 2-20, when was the last time you saw efficiency like that from Donegal?

“They also shipped 1-15 and I think that’s the only worry that Donegal will have going into the latter stages of the Championship.”

While it was a serene affair up in the Hills, it was a more rambunctious occasion down in Castlebar as Joe Brolly, Colm O’Rourke and Tomás Ó Sé pulled apart the horror show that was Galway’s 1-12 to 0-12 win over Mayo.

Before the match, Brolly laid down the gauntlet and asked Mayo ‘have you still got the fight?’

“They were bulled by Galway in the League,” said the Derry pundit.

“Paddy Tally has come in (to Galway) and it’s very much along Tyrone defensive lines.

“Zonal defence has its limitations but they play ferociously.

“It’s much more cynical than any Galway team I’ve ever seen before.

“The sight in that League game of Paul Conroy trailing Aidan O’Shea along the ground out of the melee like a tranquilised cow. If that wouldn’t boil your blood.

“I tell you, he wouldn’t have done it to Brian McGilligan or he wouldn’t have done it to Gerry McEntee or boys like that.

“The big question for Mayo is do they have the fight for this?”

As it turns out, neither side landed many blows with the two boxers circling the ring until Johnny Heaney coiled his fist back and unleashed to knock Mayo out with a goal deep into stoppage time.

A fleeting moment of quality to awaken couch-dozers, and The Sunday Game crew were left scratching their heads afterwards.

“Mayo absolutely parked the bus, they were less than sharp up front,” opined Ó Sé.

“The prevailing theme for me is total disappointment….Dublin will be sitting back thinking there’s nothing there,” said Brolly.

“It’s a Mayo team probably in terminal decline,” was O’Rourke’s summary.

Another trip to the Qualifiers for Mayo then. How did that go over the last two seasons again?

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