How the latest 8 counties eliminated from the All-Ireland SFC will remember 2018

These sides dropped out of the hunt for the Sam Maguire at the weekend.

Tom McGlinchey and his back room team celebrate at the final whistle Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

1. Waterford

WATERFORD WILL LOOK back on their season as a major success after they picked up a first championship victory since 2011 in the qualifiers against Wexford.

The ‘South East El Classico’ win was a major boost for the Deise players, the majority of whom had never experienced a championship victory in their senior inter-county careers.

“We don’t do media bans, drink bans and we’re definitely going to enjoy tonight,” delighted manager Tom McGlinchey said afterwards.

McGlinchey spent the earlier part of the year fighting fires, most notably when the GAA decided not to refix Waterford’s Division 4 game against Leitrim which was postponed due to the snow.

Tipperary had earlier beaten them by 11 points in Munster, while Monaghan handed out a 5-21 to 0-9 beating to Waterford in round 2 of the back door system, but the Deise have undoubtedly made progress in 2018.

Michael Quinlivan Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

2. Tipperary

On the face of it, Tipperary shouldn’t be too disheartened about losing big games to Cork and Mayo, but the side who reached the All-Ireland semi-finals in 2016 have won just two championship games since.

Manager Liam Kearns hit headlines at the start of the summer when he called the decision to stage their Munster semi-final with Cork just six days after the quarter-final “an absolute disgrace.”

They were well below par against the Rebels, but did deliver a huge performance against Mayo in Saturday’s Semple Stadium clash.

Tipperary led the All-Ireland finalists by three after 52 minutes, but wilted in the final quarter as James Durcan’s fortuitous goal turned the tide and Mayo powered home.

Kearns has already indicated he’ll return as boss in 2019.

Daniel St Ledger is congratulated by team mates at the end of the game Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

3. Carlow

The Carlow rising continued this year when they sealed promotion from Division 4 for the first time in 33 years.

They lost the league final to Laois in Croke Park and Brendan Murphy announced his decision to leave the squad soon afterwards, but Carlow showed no signs of slowing down with thrilling Leinster SFC victories over Louth and Kildare to reach the last four.

Laois beat the Barrowsiders for a third time this year and denied Carlow a first provincial final since 1944. Tyrone ended their campaign with a 10-point victory in the qualifiers at the weekend.

A feature of Carlow’s season was a long-standing war of words between manager Turlough O’Brien, coach Steven Poacher and outspoken pundit Joe Brolly who was heavily critical of their defensive game-plan.

“Unwatchable dross for no good reason,” Brolly wrote about their defeat to Laois earlier this month.

O’Brien had a playful dig back at the Derryman on Saturday evening, stating: “Some people seem to think that Carlow play a defensive style of football. Joe Brolly has had a right pop at Carlow in the last few weeks.

“There’s a lot of holes in Brolly’s arguments and a Brolly with holes in it isn’t much use.”

He went on:  “Joe Brolly was forwards coach with Antrim in 2008, they were in contention for promotion but I think they scored seven points against Waterford, eight points against Tipperary.

“They lost out on promotion from Division 4. Under Joe Brolly’s brilliant tutelage! So there you go now!”

Down and Cavan players tussle after the game Source: John McVitty/INPHO

4. Down

After making the Ulster final in 2017, Down looked like a team capable of going places.

Unfortunately for the Mournesiders, a poor league campaign means they’re heading to Division 3 in 2019. They beat Antrim in their Ulster opener before falling to a strong Donegal side in the last four.

Lady luck abandoned Down by the time they played Cavan in the qualifiers at the weekend. Donal O’Hare missed the game through injury and they lost experienced pair Connaire Harrison and Kevin McKernan to black cards in the opening half.

To compound matters, Caolan Mooney went off injured in the second period before Ryan Johnston received his marching orders with a red card. Down were involved in some unsavoury scenes with Cavan when a brawl broke out after the full-time whistle and they’re likely looking at suspensions for the start of next year’s championship.

“I’ll let the dust settle for a week or two, speak to people I need to speak to and make a decision,” manager Eamonn Burns said about his future after the game.

Cathal Corey dejected after the final whistle Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

5. Sligo

Cathal Corey’s debut campaign in charge of Sligo was a fairly unremarkable one.

They finished in fifth place in Division 3, then survived a tricky visit to Ruislip to beat London by 10 points in the Connacht quarter-final before receiving a 4-24 to 1-12 beating by Galway in the semis.

Sligo couldn’t live with the firepower of Armagh pair Rory Grugan and Niall Grimley in their round 2 qualifier at the weekend and their season concluded with a 1-19 to 1-13 loss.

“We were going well and then we conceded three points just before half-time and a goal just after the restart,” Corey lamented.

“That left a few scores in it and they (Armagh) were strong in defence and well-organised. That made it hard for us to get in for the major scores that we needed to turn the game.”

Donal McElligott dejected after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

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6. Longford

Longford’s summer exploded into life with a first championship victory over Meath since 1982, which was also their first win in Leinster since 2015.

It set-up a formidable semi-final against Dublin and Longford played most of the game with 14 men after James McGivney’s early red card for a dangerous hit on Stephen Cluxton.

Longford bravely opted not to park the bus but lost by 19 points, despite having some good moments in attack through Robbie Smyth, Dessie Reynolds and Rian Brady.

“We knew what we were facing – one of the greatest teams of this era,” Denis Connerton said afterwards. “I refer to Dublin as the Real Madrid, they’re an absolutely outstanding team.”

A rip-roaring qualifier tie against Kildare saw the Lilywhites take the lead for the first time with 90 seconds of normal-time remaining and secure victory.

In the spring, Longford were denied promotion to Division 2 with a controversial late defeat to Fermanagh on the final day.

Pete McGrath Source: Evan Logan/INPHO

7. Louth

After suffering seven defeats from seven to fall out the Division 2 trapdoor, things didn’t improve much for Louth in the championship.

Pete McGrath’s outfit received an 11-point clipping by Carlow in the Leinster preliminary round, beat London by 10 points and then fell to Leitrim by 10 in Carrick-on-Shannon.

McGrath’s first season in charge is probably his last but his job wasn’t made any easier by the failure of several key players to commit to the cause, others departing during the season while injury struck key forwards Jim McEneaney and Ryan Burns in the summer.

McGrath came out swinging after the Carlow defeat, questioning a lack of leadership in his squad. After Leitrim ended their season, he said he’d “take a bit it of time to look at” his future.

“I’m a year in Louth I’ve had some time to look around and see what the attitudes are and what the players are like.

“We had difficulties, where a lot of players left the squad, we had basically a panel of 24 and that is disappointing.”

Paul Rouse Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

8. Offaly

The Faithful fell by two points to Clare in Tullamore in their round 2 qualifier on Sunday afternoon, drawing an eventful campaign to a close.

Interim manager Paul Rouse managed to restore some pride to the Offaly jersey and led them past Antrim in the opening round of the backdoor system, before they ran Division 2 outfit Clare extremely close at the weekend.

A tumultuous year reached crisis point at the end of May with the removal of Stephen Wallace as manager following a shock defeat to Wicklow in the Leinster SFC preliminary round.

Wallace watched that game from the stand in O’Moore Park due to a suspension he received from Kerry county board for throwing a punch in a melee at a Kerry IFC game involving his home club Ardfert. His messy dismissal was played out over the media, before Rouse was appointed to the hot seat.

The Tullamore native managed to secure the return of several talented players to the county fold, including Johnny Moloney and Brian Darby, and played an attractive brand of football in the process.

Source: Midlands Sport/SoundCloud

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Kevin O'Brien

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