6 talking points after the weekend's football league action

Plenty bite in Killarney, Kildare’s struggles continue and Mayo show a goalscoring touch.

Kieran Donaghy tussles with Dublin's Sean Currie and Rory O'Carroll.
Kieran Donaghy tussles with Dublin's Sean Currie and Rory O'Carroll.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

1. Plenty bite on show in Killarney

The first day in March brought little in the way of shadow-boxing in Fitzgerald Stadium. This was a feisty encounter between Kerry and Dublin teams that have grand designs on summer glory but they brought plenty of fire to this league game. Referee Eddie Kinsella was kept busy in brandishing seven yellow cards, four black cards and one red.

Both managers won’t complain about the level of intensity. Kerry won at home to Dublin for the first time in 12 years and stepped it up in the second-half battle. Dublin recovered in the end to ensure the game was still within their reach. Ultimately there was enough spark between the teams to hint that these two could produce a thunderous summer championship collision.

2. Mayo show a goalscoring touch to go top

After the meek display when losing to Tyrone the last time out, Mayo got back today to the form they showed in disposing of Kerry first time out. They displayed a goalscoring touch to go top of the table, cracking home goals through Aidan O’Shea, Alan Freeman and Mikey Sweeney.

They’re the first team to score three goals in a Division 1 game so far this year and with six to date in this campaign, they’re top goalscoring side and have registered as many as Kerry, Donegal, Derry, Monaghan and Tyrone combined. Admittedly Monaghan being cut to 13 men was a contributing factor today but Mayo’s penchant for hitting the net is standing out.

3. Donegal make home advantage count

In an ultra-competitive Division 1, Donegal are making the most of their home comforts. They saw off Derry in the first round in Ballybofey and today moved the action to Ballyshannon where they saw off Cork. Next Sunday they’re in Letterkenny, where they’ll hope to keep their home winning run going against Monaghan.

After a defeat to Dublin, today’s win was significant. They needed to dig in as well after Michael Murphy’s sending-off but a string of scores after the break proved vital in propelling them to honours. Defeating a hitherto unbeaten Cork is a nice boost for Rory Gallagher.

4. Kildare’s struggles continue

Kildare fans would have hoped that 2015 would see a quick return to Division 1 football after the huge disappointment of last year’s relegation. But the slump hasn’t been arrested. They looked on course for victory on their opening afternoon against Down but were shocked by a late burst of scores.

Another defeat followed against Meath and then today they lost a third game on the bounce when Westmeath bettered them. The fixture list offers three more away games to Cavan, Laois and Galway along with a home tie to Roscommon. Finding points and improved form is of critical importance to Jason Ryan and his players.

5. Armagh continue to fly high

Elsewhere Kildare’s former boss is flying high. Armagh’s relegation last year from Division 2 was a setback but they look on course for having a brief stay in Division 3. They needed good fortune early on to prevail against Tipperary but their form has been excellent in despatching Wexford and Limerick.

Today’s win for Limerick in Kilmallock was comprehensive. Next Sunday’s clash with Fermanagh bears the look of a key game given the Ernesiders also have an unblemished record so far. But given Armagh’s current form, they’ll be favourites.

6. Weather messes up Division 2 schedule

Blankets of snow meant the pitches in Salthill and Roscommon were unplayable today, leaving the footballers of Galway, Laois, Roscommon and Meath idle for the afternoon. The two postponed games now need new fixture dates and that will most likely be on the weekend of 21/22 March, the only free weekend last this month in Gaelic football.

That’ll make for a hectic month for the four counties with five consecutive weekends of action in store between next weekend, 7/8 March, up until the Sunday 5 April. It’ll need a skilful management job to keep the players operating at a high pitch and get a string of good results.

Kerry see off 14-man Dublin to win fiery league battle at home in Killarney

Michael Murphy sent-off but Donegal inflict first league defeat on Cork

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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