Friday, May 11, 2007

Gettafeckref! It's the TSA Championship Preview Part 3

If Ireland were the Beatles, Leinster would be Ringo. If the four provinces were brothers, Leinster would be the flaky one that never got on with the father and went off to become an actor. If this country were Bonds, Leinster would be Timothy Dalton.

Lords of Leinster
As French Enlightenment egghead Joseph de Maistre put it, each nation gets the government it deserves. That's why Ireland is ruled by greedy, incompetent chancers. Leinster football too has masters suited to its nature. The province that has made a virtue out of underachievement, that has not sent a team to an All-Ireland final since the death rattle of the Meath dynasty in 2001, is headed by Dublin, the Flatterers-to-Deceive-in-chief.

Of course, poor old Dublin are cursed with those gazillions of seasonal supporters, whose weight of numbers pushes the county's sense of momentum down the All-Ireland hill at juggernaut speed, even though the vehicle in question is often merely a Last of the Summer Wine-style bath-on-wheels.

Hopefully those looking at the capital's prospects this year might exercise restraint then. A disappointing league campaign provided few answers to the questions Paul Caffrey was faced with, namely the lack of superstar forwards, over-dependency on the mercurial Ciaran Whelan in midfield, and question marks over the right man for full-back. Not to suggest that the Dubs won't be one of the heavier hitters later on the year, but the actual winning of an All-Ireland still looks just beyond them.

As does it for the Dubs' likeliest provincial challengers, Laois, Kildare and Meath. At least the province will provide early summer intrigue in that Meath and Kildare meet on May 20th, with the winners facing Dublin two weeks later. Both the former two had good leagues, with Kildare a hair's breadth from making the Division 1 final and Meath coming on strong to win division 2 at a canter.

Kildare boast the type of top class forward that Dublin would love in Johnny Doyle, while Meath's combination of Brian Farrell, Joe Sheridan and point-scoring politico Graham Geraghty also packs potency. The Royal County's return to the top table is surely eventually inevitable, and they appear set fair for the Championship under Colm Coyle's steely stewardship. If they overcome Kildare, they could be a value outsider for the provincial crown.

The two counties, prior to Dublin, to last win Leinster, Laois and Westmeath, are both still in the comedown period after flings with charismatic Kerrymen. The post-Micko Laois have not suggested that they might make the step up they failed to do under the great man, though they have enough talent to expect to challenge in Leinster.

Westmeath scrambled their way to an All-Ireland quarter-final last year, and have retreated to a sort of mid-table respectability since the Paidí O'Sé-inspired highs of 2004. Still heavily reliant on Dessie Dolan, they are dogged and organised, but ultimately limited.

Most of Leinster is like that, in fact; perhaps that is the problem. The likes of Longford, Wexford, Offaly and Louth are all much of a muchness, any of them could beat the other on a given day, although Mattie Forde's scoring ability makes Wexford the best of that bunch. Wicklow might get a bit of Micko bounce, but themselves and Carlow will not trouble finding space for club championship fixtures this summer.

We finish with a whimper, then. Not that there won't be thrills in Leinster. Indeed, often in recent years it has been the most enjoyable province to watch, a little dose of escapism before the hard reality of the serious counties hits in. A shame that, and with the vast majority of the nation's population residing in the east, not a good portent for the health of the game.

So, er, come on the Dubs/Lilywhites/Royals/Laois then, I suppose...

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Blogger The Pillion Passenger said...

yeah leinster is generally the most competative, it's just the competition isn't a very high standard. still we dubs got away with a poor defence last year and you never know as the cliche goes once we get out leinster anything can happen!

8:19 p.m.  
Blogger Tommy77 said...

Fair play PP, blind faith is as big a part of the championship as the Sunday Game and hang sangwiches....

4:41 p.m.  
Blogger The Pillion Passenger said...

this could be our year!!!

9:54 p.m.  

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