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How will Armagh, Cork, Mayo and Clare reflect on the 2022 season?

Four teams bowed out at the weekend in the football quarter-final ties.

Armagh, Cork, Mayo and Clare exited the championship this weekend.
Armagh, Cork, Mayo and Clare exited the championship this weekend.
Image: INPHO

AND THEN THERE were four.

The number of contenders remaining in the All-Ireland senior football championship was whittled down over the weekend with Galway, Derry, Dublin and Kerry the four teams left standing in the pursuit of Sam Maguire.

But what of those sent to the exit door over the weekend? How will they remember their 2022 football year?


From the opening night of the league in late January to the game that lit up the All-Ireland quarter-final weekend, Armagh commanded a share of the spotlight. Their Croke Park outings caught the imagination. Rian O’Neill was in mesmerising form as they defeated Dublin in a game that cast  doubt on the standing of Dessie Farrell’s men and yesterday was a rollercoaster ride of chaos and fun.

The manner in which they lost was heartbreaking as Stefan Campbell and Conor Turbitt were the figures that could not convert their penalties but that pair had been involved in the scoring drive earlier as they launched an improbable comeback in normal time. Considering where they stood in April after a convincing beating in Ballybofey, the year has assumed a different complexion.

O’Neill, Ethan Rafferty, Campbell and Jarly Óg Burns all starred at various stages. The wins over Tyrone and Donegal were landmark ones for this Armagh group. Harnessing the progress is the key now with yesterday’s mammoth support hoping this is a stepping stone to permanent residency at the top table.


If you had informed the Cork footballers in early March that a last eight appearance awaited, they would have gratefully seized it. Just squeezed themselves out of the relegation spots in Division 2 to avoid Tailteann Cup football. Their championship record saw them win the games against opposition of a similar level in Louth and Limerick.

The stiffer tests came against Kerry and Dublin, the positives was the defensive resilience that saw them keep clean sheets against both and not cave in under early pressure. But the last quarter in both games was a reminder of the gulf that exists in conditioning, power and decision-making between Cork and the elite.

The terrific Sean Powter was the cornerstone of their effort while the trio of Hurley, Sherlock and O’Mahony up front had their bright moments in front of goal. Their panel needs more depth, their injury situation needs to improve and their youngsters need more experience. Climbing up the Division 2 rankings is essential now.

aidan-oshea-dejected-after-the-game A dejected Aidan O'Shea after yesterday's game. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


This time there was to be no tale of disappointment before a packed house on All-Ireland final or semi-final day. The 2022 departure of Mayo from the senior stage occurred in a muted setting, yesterday’s second game suffered from the fireworks of the curtain-raiser and there was no sense of jeopardy in the finale as Kerry had flexed their muscles to charge clear. Mayo’s third-quarter shooting inaccuracy crippled their chances of launching a comeback, ultimately their display in defeat was a limp one.

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James Horan spoke afterwards of how tough a year it was, pointing to issues over training venues in particular, while injuries to Tommy Conroy, Ryan O’Donoghue and Michael Plunkett were also on his mind as he considered the regrets. The confirmation of his departure today has an era-ending feel to it and the future of stalwarts in the Mayo camp looks uncertain.

A year that featured league final qualification, a win over Dublin in Croke Park, a loss to Galway in Connacht, qualifier victories over Monaghan and Kildare, and then the reversal to Kerry, was not short on talking points. Their slippage in the rankings may be corrected by the return of those injured lynchpins, but the sense of a team trying to find their way again remains strong.


The team that bowed out with the heaviest defeat at the weekend. Clare’s performance was desperately disappointing as they were submerged by a wave of Derry goals. Rory Gallagher’s team have made vast improvements but given they were playing a fellow Division 2 side, Clare would have hoped for better. Instead they collapsed early on as they shipped goals and even when they raised green flags themselves on the day, they were wounded by the concession of a goal at the other end moments later.

It was a tough blow to absorb for a team who had bounced into Croke Park in a mood of positivity. There was a huge chance there for them to get to a Munster final this year but they lost on penalties to Limerick, yet the recovery was impressive as they defeated Meath and Roscommon, the latter in memorable fashion. But in their second ever quarter-final appearance, they failed to do themselves justice against the Ulster champions.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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