The Rise and Fall

July 1, 2019

By Barry McAllister

What goes up must come down. That’s gravity and that’s a fact. 

And as well as that, all good things must come to an end, nothing lasts forever. 

The run of the great Kerry team of the 1980s eventually withered away and left an 11-year period before another All-Ireland victory. 

The great Down team of the 1960s also fell apart and didn’t compete for Sam at a serious level until the 1990s. 

Even Dublin fell away and were in the doldrums themselves before becoming a serious side in the 1970s. 

We could be seeing the fall of a few teams so far this year.

Monaghan for instance. 

I do believe they’re finished. 

Malachy and Co. have been about now for a good 7 years and have given Monaghan fans many happy memories and provided the county with some of its greatest sporting moments. 

But that team has been through a lot of hard work.

Their Wylies, the Hughes, Vinny Corey, Dermot Malone, they’ve all ran up some serious miles on the clock.

The great specimen that is Conor McManus is starting to fade away too, he seems to have lost a bit of his speed due to a bad hip.

He’s done dogged work to carry Monaghan over the past 7 years and it’s shown on him.

They’re run has been good while it lasted but it’s time for a rebuild. 

Another team that aren’t looking their sharpest is Dublin.

Before you all start the “Ah here come out, sure look at the trashing they gave Meath” and the “Sure they’re not even on full at the minute”, hear me out. 

Yes, there is no doubt that Dublin are the finest team in the country, but look at that game against Meath.

I know there was 17 points in it but the fact of the matter is, Meath created over 15 scoring chances and failed to capitalise. 

You can’t say “Dublin stopped them from scoring”. 

They were more than 15 shots that either went wide or dropped short.

The movement of Meath’s forward line was excellent and their defence wasn’t too bad either, considering the brute force of Dublin’s forwards. 

But when Dublin could have conceded 15 points or a few goals, it is questionable if they’re making as much noise as they have done previously. 

We’ve seen the pressure they can be put under when they’re played man to man, look at the games between Monaghan, Kerry and Tyrone. 

They matched their 15 with 15 of their own that were willing to focus on their own man and keeping him quiet, thus putting a spanner in the works.

Meath did the same. 

Instead of placing a blanket defence in front of them and allowing them the room to make their runs and find gaps, they went and marked up and did a good job. 

They just need to do a few shooting drills.

Will Dublin fall later in the year?

That is a possibility. 

We’ve seen what Kerry can do to them. 

Even though Kerry may not have been firing on all four cylinders against Cork, they could pick up speed over the next few weeks. 

There’s plenty of rising too.

You can’t overlook the capabilities that Armagh possess. 

Rian O’Neill is one of the most exciting, young prospects in the country, as is his midfield counterpart Jarly Og Burns.

Jamar Hall broke a few ankles and jinked about underneath the stand in Clones, selling dummies like there’s no tomorrow. 

Against Monaghan, Armagh’s tackling was excellent and broke from the turnovers rapidly and exposed Monahan’s failure to recede fast enough.

Now, bear in mind that this is being written before the game, but Armagh travelling to face a Mayo team that haven’t reached their heights will be a tidy encounter. 

Armagh’s fresh, young legs could push the Mayo men to the limit and give them a right run for their money.

Mayo were shaky against Down, a team they should have disposed of rather effortlessly. 

I look forward to the Armagh and Mayo game, it could be the making of Armagh and the breaking of Mayo.

Donegal have looked incredible over their past few performances, but I don’t get the impression they’ve been pushed to the limit. 

Regardless, it’s an absolute pleasure to watch the great Michael Murphy playing in full swing. 

Fielding, kicking, movement, strength and immense leadership, he’s the perfect package and has remained one of the most consistent footballers in Ireland over the past 9 years and could prove pivotal this season.

Could they contest the Dubs?

Possibly, they’ve got the perfect mix of youth and skill and the experience needed at the big stage, but they’re still a fresh mix, having really only been brought together last year.

Mayo or Kerry are the ones I believe will do damage, not Tyrone. 

Tyrone fell apart against Donegal when they applied pressure, I doubt they’ll be fit to withstand the pressure of Dublin. 

Perhaps it’s time for a reshuffle in Tyrone.

Mickey Harte has been about a long time. He’s had his good times, and plenty of them. 

With a team that’s not reaching their rightful potential, it will be interesting to see how they handle Kildare that put an end to Mayo last year. 

Kildare in Kildare certainly won’t be easy, and Tyrone will need to improve on their previous performances against Donegal and Longford, especially considering that they only beat Longford by 4 points, which on paper should be a walk in the park for them.

This weekend will bring about a lot of excitement and action, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few upsets waiting to happen.