Dublin captain Bryan Cullen has issued an All-Ireland title defense rallying cry in the wake of his team’s latest Leinster final success.
Cullen led by example as Dublin held off a late Meath revival before sealing their expected 2-13 to 1-13 win over their neighbors at Croke Park on Sunday.
Ahead by 10 points at one stage, Dublin did let the Royals back into it in a poor final quarter, but Cullen believes there is more to come from this team ahead of the All-Ireland quarterfinals.
He said afterwards, “I see it as a stepping stone, to be honest with you. We always said we wanted to be back in the All-Ireland quarterfinal.
“We always wanted to go the most direct route possible so we are happy enough. I don’t really count
Leinster medals. I’d be disappointed not to have more of a return in an All-Ireland level, to be honest with you.”
Cullen was quick to praise Meath for their efforts on the day.
He added, “We would have liked to have closed it out a little bit better but all credit to Meath. It would have been easy for them to put their heads down but they kept at us and showed great spirit.
Meath boss Seamus McEnaney insisted afterwards that his team will be ready to face Laois in the qualifiers on Saturday.
“There’s a myth or fact or whatever about this six-day turnaround, but I can tell you one thing this group of players is going to test that,” he said.
DONGEAL players and management have set their sights on the All-Ireland title after securing back to back Ulster titles with Sunday’s 2-18 to 0-13 win over Down in Clones.
Manager Jim McGuinness said after the emphatic victory, “You have to believe that you can win the All-Ireland title, of course you do. If you didn’t believe it there would be no point even entering the competition.
“So you do believe you can win it, but we’ve never gone for that. We didn’t believe at the start of the year that we were going to win Ulster.”
Down boss James McCartan knows it will be difficult to pick his team up for Saturday’s All-Ireland football qualifier against Tipperary.
He said, “The six-day turnaround is well documented, not too many people agree with it and they’ve agreed to change it for next year. That might come a bit too late for us, but we’ve six days to turn around a disappointed dressing room.”
COLM Gooch Cooper is convinced Kerry are ready to make a real charge at the All-Ireland football title after seeing off the Tyrone challenge in Killarney last Saturday night by a score of 1-16 to 1-6.
The win marked Kerry’s first victory over a Tyrone side managed by Mickey Harte and avenged a series of recent defeats to the Ulstermen.
Clare are next up for the Kingdom in the fourth round of the All-Ireland qualifiers this Saturday night, with Cooper adamant his team have turned their season around after exiting the Munster championship at the hands of Cork.
Cooper said, “I said that six, 10 weeks ago, even before the Cork game. I knew that our season was heating up a little bit.
“It probably took a little bit longer than we thought but to do it at home in front of our own fans against a team like Tyrone, you couldn’t ask for a better script.”
Harte left Killarney fuming with Meath referee David Coldrick, who sent substitute Brian McGuigan off within a minute of his introduction.
“That’s the third game that he did and I said to myself that I don’t feel he benefits our team. Take what you want out of it,” Harte said.
TIPPERARY made it three wins from three games in the All-Ireland qualifiers with a shock 0-10 to 0-8 victory over Antrim on Saturday, but manager Peter Creedon is refusing to get over-excited by their progress,
Ulster finalists Down are next up for the Tipp footballers on Saturday, with Creedon adamant there is no reason to get carried away with their recent run of wins.
He admitted, “We’d be pinching ourselves if you told us that we’d win three qualifiers.
“We’ve beaten three Division 3 teams really -- we should be capable of doing that. And we had a good performance against Kerry as well. We’re doing well, but it’s a big jump next week against a Division 1 team. We’ll take it as it comes now.”
KILDARE had to go to extra-time to see off Limerick in the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday by a score of 0-19 to 0-12, and manager Kieran McGeeney believes the experience will stand to his side as they prepare to play Sligo next.
Speaking after a late Emmet Bolton point rescued the match for Kildare and sent it to added time, McGeeney stated, “It was a great game for us, I think.
“Mentally it helped going forward. We’ve Sligo next week who should have beaten Mayo. We know we’re up against it again, but it’s great to have that there in your back pocket, knowing you can come out of those type of games.”
LEITRIM bosses Barney Breen and George Dugdale will discuss their future with the county board after Saturday night’s 1-13 to 1-11 defeat to Laois in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
Breen confirmed after the game, “What we’ll do now is take a few weeks and see what it brings. We were in for a two-year stint, with a review after one year, so we’ll have to sit down with the county board and see where next year brings us, but there is progress being made.
“We gave it the best shot we had and we just came up short. We’re very disappointed because it was there for the taking. We’ve come so far and we’ve just come up a bit short. We just couldn’t take it due to our mistakes.”
Laois boss Justin McNulty admitted his side were pushed all the way by Leitrim.
McNulty said, “We knew coming up here that it was going to be a tough battle. We had to dig deep to win the game. The result was what mattered. The players had to keep their composure in order to win.”
KILDARE have been ordered to play their fourth round All-Ireland football qualifier against Sligo in Roscommon’s Dr. Hyde Park on Saturday.
The Lilywhites had objected to the fact that the neutral venue is in Connacht, Sligo’s home province.
The GAA have over-ruled the objection, however, and the game will now go ahead in Roscommon town.
In the other round four qualifiers, Meath will play Laois in Tullamore, Kerry meet Clare in Limerick and Down will face Tipperary in Mullingar. All games will be played on Saturday.