Cork, Kerry and Tyrone again among favourites for Sam Maguire
The 2010 All Ireland football championship was launched in a blaze of publicity in Tralee yesterday.
The much sought after and coveted Sam Maguire took pride of place at the top table and somehow you sensed he would be reluctant to leave his spiritual home.
Kerry, will fancy their chances of retaining Sam.
But Cork desperately disappointing in the 2009 All Ireland decider are seen by some shrewd judges as the team most likely in 2010.
You write Kerry off at your peril though and they seem to thrive on adversity.
Kerry legend Seamus Moynihan is confident the Kingdom can cope without a number of key players from last September’s All Ireland-winning side.
Aidan O’Mahony’s decision to leave the squad has left another gaping hole for manager Jack O’Connor to fill before facing Tipperary in the Munster champonship quarter-final on Sunday week.
From the team that started the 2009 All Ireland decider against Cork, Diarmuid Murphy and Darragh O Se have retired while Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh have headed off to new careers in Australian Rules.
Mike McCarthy’s decision to come out of retirement will compensate for O’Mahony’s departure, but the versatile Rathmore player would have been a useful man coming off the bench.
Still the O Se brothers, Marc and Tom, McCarthy and Tom Sullivan make for a resolute and uncompromising defence.
And in attack Kieran Donaghy, Colm Cooper, Declan O’Sullivan and Paul Galvin are four of the best forwards in the country.
The biggest threat to both Cork and Kerry will again come from Mickey Harte’s Tyrone.
It may well be the last throw of the dice from this squad of players which makes them an even more formidable force.
Totally disregard their league form. There were extenuating circumstances, principally a rash of injuries to key players.
An added plus for Mickey Harte is the return of midfield dynamo Sean Cavanagh and the emergence of two young players dripping with quality and class.
Midfielder Aidan Cassidy, who missed most of last season through injury, has been a revelation in recent months. The same can also be said of Errigal Ciaran’s Peter Harte, an All Ireland minor winner two seasons ago.
Those players allied to the more seasoned ones offer manager Harte hope for the days ahead after a long, frustrating and unrewarding winter.