I would have to say that I wouldn’t have foreseen the way that Donegal were going to lose but you have to give credit to the way that Mayo played.
I tipped them at the start of the year to win the All-Ireland but now that they are playing Tyrone I’m in a bit of a hard place!
Mayo were superb throughout the field but I was particularly impressive with Aidan O’Shea in midfield, the entire half back line as well as Keith Higgins. They didn’t give Donegal a sniff all afternoon as they gave a master class in defending and it was without doubt the championship performance of the season to date.
I know how Donegal are feeling as we have lost out when we were reigning All-Ireland champions and the big thing is hunger. Dublin had it in 2011 and Donegal had it last season and you could see in Mayo’s display that they had it from the very first ball and that’s vital. When Donegal won the All-Ireland last season they were injury free but they have struggled this year with the likes of Karl Lacey, Mark McHugh and Neil Gallagher and the biggest thing for Jim McGuinness now will be to try and find five or six quality players to bring in next year.
They raised their game for Tyrone in the first round but have failed to get anywhere near that level since and it was clear that they never recovered from the Monaghan defeat although the warning signs were there the way they struggled to get past Down in the Ulster semi-final.
Mayo will go into the All-Ireland semi-final as warm favourites and Mickey Harte will not be unduly worried about that. They will be hyped up but I’ve the feeling that James Horan will get their feet back down on the ground again.
In my opinion Mayo didn’t get the credit that they deserved last season as but for conceding two bad goals they would have won the All-Ireland and I think they are a different side now.
Tyrone on the other hand are steadily improving but they will have to take it to another level or two if they are to win the semi-final. A lot of credit for them getting that far has to go to Sean Cavanagh who was again immense in the middle of the field.
His younger brother Colm had one of his best games in a Tyrone jersey and we will need more of the same it we are going to progress. We have lost Martin Penrose while big Joe (McMahon) is an injury doubt and Tyrone will need a clean bill of health if they are to win. There has been a lot of talk since Saturday night about Sean Cavanagh’s foul on Conor McManus but I would have done the exact same thing and I think if most people were honest they would say the same thing. At the end of the day Tyrone won the match and they may not have done so if Sean hadn’t committed that foul.
Cavan will be disappointed with their display against Kerry particularly in the first half when inexperience cost them dearly.
They improved in the second half but a lot of that could be down to the fact that Kerry eased up. Cavan can reflect on a good year though as they undoubtedly made progress and their aim now will be to get out of division three next season. They will look at what their neighbours Monaghan achieved in the Ulster championship this year and feel that they aren’t that far away.