Meath, Tipp and Monaghan are in a shambles
The Farney county failed to do homework while depleted Tipp need attacking plan
BENJAMIN Franklin was an intellectual giant.
One of the founding fathers of the United States, he helped to draft the American Declaration of Independence and was the country's first Postmaster General.
Even though the GAA wasn't founded for more than 100 years after his death, his much-quoted line - 'Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste' - perfectly illustrates the madness of the 2022 GAA hurling and football championship calendar.
I know I sound like a repeating record, but it is the elephant in the room.
Taking the association's top product out of the shop window between Sunday July 24th and next February is a spectacular own goal by the GAA.
It needs to be rectified sooner rather than later. Let us know there is no chance of it happening again in 2023.
As I said before, the championship is now a sporting version of speed dating.
It is either a feast or a famine. For example, there is only one inter-county football fixture today; the preliminary-round Tailteann Cup tie between Wexford and Offaly.
However, next weekend the four provincial football finals will be played alongside the first round of the Tailteann Cup.
Guess which matches will get minimum coverage with the Champions League Final and rugby's Champions Cup final also on next Saturday.
The losers in the two preliminary-round ties, as well as the eight first-round losers in the second-tier championship, won't play again in a national competition until next February.
How are weaker teams supposed to improve if they are idle for seven months of the year?
Now that I'm up on my hobby horse, can I allude to another issue which drives me insane?
The U-17 provincial championships are now in full swing.
As I have written on numerous occasions, I fail to understand why the minor grade was changed from an U-18 to an U-17 competition.
It is wrong on so many counts. Essentially, we are exposing 16-year-olds, and sometimes immature 15-year players, to the training regime of adult teams.
They are not physically, or mentally, ready for this step up.
We had the ludicrous situation recently of the Munster U-17 hurling final between Tipperary and Clare being decided via a penalty shoot-out.
Just think of the mental stress this placed on young players.
Anyway, back to the action last weekend. Let's reflect on the results from the perspective of the losing teams.
I'll begin with Tipperary, beaten by Limerick in Thurles in the Munster semi-final.
In their defence, they had just four of the players from their 2020 team which won the Munster Championship.
Think of it, just four survivors from a year and a half ago, when they had that famous win over Cork.
They were missing their first-choice half-back line of Bill Maher, Kevin Fahy and Robbie Kiely - all injured - which was the fulcrum of their 2020 side.
Not even the more established football counties could cope with such a high turnover of players.
Their forward failures came back to haunt them - their six forwards scored one point from play, through Sean O'Connor.
Once 2020 All-Star Conor Sweeney fails to deliver, Tipperary footballers struggle up front.
Team manager David Power will point to the fact that their blanket defence helped to secure promotion from Division 4.
But surely a team which contested the All-Ireland semi-final just two years ago ought to have some semblance of an attacking plan.
Last year they lost by 11 points to Kerry in the quarter-final. Again, their forwards scored one point from play.
A number of Kerry players later told me that long after the game was beyond Tipp's reach they were still shouting to each other 'no goal, no goal.' They were still obsessed about their defensive set-up.
Even allowing for all their problems with injuries and absentees, they ought to have more ambitions.
At least Westmeath died with their boots on against Kildare.
They gave it a lash, with all but 0-1 of their 2-15 tally coming from play and they edged the second half 9-8.
It augurs well for their prospects in the Tailteann Cup, if they put their mind to it.
Last weekend's two big losers were Meath and Monaghan.
Meath did win the second half against Dublin by two points- and they kept plugging away, even when the cause was hopeless.
Regardless of what game plan they deployed, it was probably futile.
But this doesn't excuse their woeful first-half performance.
The least one expects from a team in the championship is a bit of spirit and fight - let your opponent know they are in a game.
Unless there is a miraculous turnaround in the qualifiers, I imagine Andy McEntee's tenure as manager is over. Remember the Meath County Board tried to axe him last year.
Over the years we have commended Monaghan for their warrior-like spirit and ability to keep their place in the top flight of the league.
But when I look at Monaghan now, it's a case of 'same old, same old.'
Too many of their players have gone to the well once too often.
Banty McEnaney is adept at recruiting high-profile personalities to his management team; Liam Sheedy is involved this year.
But it is akin to hiring painters to decorate a house where the foundations are crumbling.
Looking at Monaghan's first-half performance, it was tempting to conclude they didn't review how Derry had beaten Tyrone.
They made exactly the same mistakes as Tyrone, getting entangled in Derry's defensive web due to their slow, ponderous build-ups.
The statistics are damning. Monaghan's conversion rate from chances was 50 per cent and they didn't score from play until the 31st minute.
They may rebound in the qualifiers, but this Monaghan squad has the look of needing a real rebuild.
And when you have one of the smallest populations in the country to pick from, that is not at all easy.
The least one expects from a team in the championship is a bit of spirit and fight
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