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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 19 January 2021
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6 talking points from the weekend's GAA championship action

Longford, Louth, Laois and Roscommon triumphed on a weekend when Down and Tyrone finished all square.

1. Spotlight falls on the black card

The first day out for the black card in the championship and events in Omagh yesterday meant the new disciplinary system was immediately under the spotlight. Niall Morgan being shown a black card after fouling Jerome Johnston in the second-half provoked plenty debate. The loss of Morgan hit Tyrone hard as they struggled to win kickouts afterwards and Down dominated.

What was particularly galling for Tyrone was that Conor Maginn – who went on to net Down’s third goal – committed a similar foul in the first-half on Mark Donnelly but was not shown a black card despite a penalty being awarded. David Coldrick was inconsistent in his application of the rule and signified how it can create some discontent.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

2. A confusing day in Omagh

Yesterday’s Ulster opener was a difficult game to analyse. A turgid opening-half preceded a thrilling second-half. Tyrone controlled the match for large chunks but needed Sean Cavanagh to bail them out right at the death. Down were a lethargic mess at the start but sprung players from the bench to enact a remarkable second-half transformation.

Tyrone have plenty attacking potential but badly need to plug the gaps in their defence. Down need to spread the zest of their second-half play across 70 minutes. Next Saturday’s replay in Newry will tell a lot.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. A new teenage hero for Louth

We spoke last week about Louth’s new young prospect and Ryan Burns didn’t disappoint on Saturday night. He’ll be back in school today in Ardee CS after a weekend where he was the hero for the county senior footballers. Burns came off the bench in Mullingar for his championship debut at a stage with 13 minutes left when Louth trailed by 1-9 to 0-10 against Westmeath.

But then Burns seized possession and raced through the defence before drilling home a goal. Louth went on from there to claim a five-point win and reach the last eight in Leinster. It’s a dream start in Burns senior career and illustrated his rich potential.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

4. Roscommon maintain momentum from the league

John Evans Roscommon side were one of the big success stories from the spring. They lifted the Division 3 league crown and with the county U21’s having reached the All-Ireland final, there was plenty players coming through form the underage ranks.

They maintained that momentum yesterday in their first summer assignment. Beating Leitrim was one thing, managing to do it by chalking up 1-18 was more admirable. They didn’t falter and while their next challenge is considerable – Mayo in the Connacht semi-final – they are in a good shape.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

5. Laois cope without Begley to start brightly

Not having a key figure like Colm Begley available was a setback for Laois and provided an unwelcome type of outside focus before yesterday’s game in Aughrim. But 12 months after being soundly beaten in their Leinster opener by Louth, they did their business impressively against Wicklow and were not tripped up.

It took them a while to figure out how to prise apart Wicklow but they stepped it up in the second-half. Ross Munnelly and Donie Kingston struck 0-15 between them as Laois chalked up a decent total of 0-21. It’s a positive story for them albeit they now face the gargantuan task of trying to take down Dublin on June 8th.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

6. Longford get a pick-me-up

Longford and Offaly met yesterday in Pearse Park after a spring where they plummeted down to the basement division of league football. Relegation to Division 3 wasn’t the ideal way to enter the championship and both wanted a fillip today.

It was the home side who got it. Niall McNamee may have been in glorious attacking form for Offaly but Longford had a better array of forwards in Seanie McCormack, Brian Kavanagh and Francis McGee. That proved telling as they advanced to take on Wexford.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Laois boss insists that Colm Begley still remains ‘important member’ of panel

Cavanagh rescues Tyrone to force draw with Down in five-goal Ulster opener

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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