BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Cavan put up a fight but Tipperary were very disappointing in All-Ireland semi-finals

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN:  Cavan put up a fight but Tipperary were very disappointing in All-Ireland semi-finals

We will have our GAA Convention on Monday night and it is the first time I can recall it being held on a Monday night. Maybe in the past, there might have been a re-convened Convention on a Monday night.
But it is a sign of the times that we are in. We have yet to hold our own AGM in Bundoran and will will probably arrange it over the Christmas period, again online.
I see there will be a couple of contests at the Donegal Convention for vice-chairman and Ulster Council and there are likely to be some close contests.
On the football field last weekend we had our All-Ireland semi-finals and this time around there were no shocks. Cavan battled gamely against a Dublin team that I feel are not as good as they were. They have a lot of good players and are trying out some new young lads. I'm surprised that they have the likes of Paul Mannion on the bench, as I feel he is well worth his place on the starting line-up. But then the manager might be using it as a tactic, keeping something in reserve. The Dubs have a really strong bench.
But fair play to Cavan, they never threw in the towel. They were turned over too many times, but still they kicked 12 points, which would have been at least two more than I expected them to get.
Dublin didn't seem to want to go for goals. I'm not sure if that was a ploy and maybe they didn't want to show their hand too much before the final.
The second semi-final on Sunday between Mayo and Tipperary was very disappointing from a Tipperary point of view. They had two good goal opportunities in the first seven minutes. If they had taken one of them, it could have been a different story.
Then Mayo go up the field and score a goal and it was lights out for Tipperary. Tipperary fell apart after that, making some very poor decisions. But you have to remember they were playing in Division Three and needed to win their last game against Leitrim to remain in that division.
Mayo emptied the bench in the second half and seemed to lose concentration. And it was plain to see that there is a problem in that Mayo defence. But then again the Dublin full-back line are not playing well, so there will be opportunities for goals for both teams in the All-Ireland final.
Mayo have brought in a number of new lads, at least one in every line, but these lads are quite inexperienced and that might not be helpful to them. Colm Boyle, Seamie O'Shea and Keith Higgins are not being used. And I feel the Westport man Lee Keegan is struggling. He could have got a red on Sunday for the amount of rash tackles and he seems to have lost that burst of pace that he had.
They have problems at full-back also and the goalkeeper's kick-outs in the second half were ropey. I feel if Dublin get nine goalscoring chances, they will take a good number of them.
It was sad watching it and Donegal not there. I feel we would have given Dublin their fill of it.
And talking of Donegal, it would be important that they get together and get the Cavan Ulster final defeat off their chests. With Declan already declaring that he will be back next year, there is a need to talk about the Cavan game.
Players need to stand up and be counted. We were all anticipating an Ulster final victory and the three in-a-row.
There is always the need to look back and maybe the backroom team needs a new voice, which might bring something fresh to the table. The management also have to look at themselves as there were some strange decisions. The substitutions didn't seem to work for Donegal. Patrick McBrearty may not have been fully match fit but he had scored four points while our own Paul Brennan was playing well and he was a physical presence against a very physical Cavan team. Maybe the management had these changes in mind, but they will have to reflect back on that too.
What is really important is that we get everyone back on board for next year. And hopefully we will have some new faces also. There is a need to get fresh blood in every year, look at Mayo and Dublin.
We should have Odhrán McFadden Ferry back after his army duty in the Lebanon and the news on big Kieran Gillespie is also good. I would like to see Naomh Columba's Aaron Doherty back in the squad, we need that sort of talent.
Donegal players and management would have been disappointed watching Cavan in Croke Park on Saturday evening and I think Kerry would be sick after seeing Tipperary representing Munster in the second semi-final. There were rumours of a coup against the Kerry manager Peter Keane but he seems to have rode out the storm. It is always an issue when you lose a big championship game. It happened Paidi (O Se). He lost one and was not forgiven. I know what it feels like, I got the axe three times!
There was plenty of debate over the weekend also about the dominance of Dublin and what can be done to stop them. I would not be in favour of splitting Dublin. However, on the funding issue, I feel there should be a better distribution of funds.
The costs of running county teams in Donegal is very high, much higher than in the big built-up areas and the rural counties deserve a better share of the funds.

CONGRATS
And talking of funds, my congratulations to all involved in the Donegal GAA Draw for a house in Dublin. The organising committee made it a great success. Indeed, I was getting 'phone calls last week looking for tickets with some people leaving it too late.
It was an undoubted success and will go a long way to finishing off the GAA Centre in Convoy, which will be a home for the GAA for the future.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Peter Campbell

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