Football rankings: how does your county rate?
07 August 2012
Kildare's John Doyle slips as Paudie Kissane of Cork closes in during the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final at Croke Park ©INPHO/James Crombie
And then there were four. We're at the semi-final stage in the race to be crowned 2012 All-Ireland senior football champions. Cork have taken over Donegal in pole position in our weekly football rankings but that could all change when the two sides clash at the penultimate stage on Sunday, August 26.
1. CORK (up 2)
The Rebel County returned to action on Sunday for the first time since their Munster final win over Clare and they showed no signs of ring-rustiness when sauntering to a comprehensive 2-19 to 0-12 success over Kildare. Judging by their performance, Conor Counihan and his team are peaking at the right time and remain on course to pull of a championship/league double.
2. DONEGAL (down 1)
Donegal sent Kerry packing from the Sam Maguire race at Croke Park on Sunday with a display that underlined their growing maturity. Having put Ulster SFC titles back-to-back for the first time in their history, Jim McGuinness' men will be full of confidence as they approach their last four date with Cork. Whoever emerges on top from that game will fancy their chances of outright glory.
3. MAYO (up 2)
The Connacht champions sent out a clear signal against Down on Saturday that they will be no pushovers as the All-Ireland championship enters the final furlong. James Horan's team boasts a disciplined defensive unit and one of the best midfield pairings around in Aidan O'Shea and Barry Moran. They were dealt a blow, however, by the knee injury sustained by captain Andy Moran and his leadership will be missed against Dublin.
4. DUBLIN (down 2)
Major question marks hang over the holders' ability to retain the Sam Maguire following their lack-lustre showing against Laois on Saturday. Their laboured three-point win over the O'Moore County doesn't augur well for their chances as a semi-final against Mayo looms over the horizon. They don't carry the same scoring threat in the absence of Alan Brogan and Pat Gilroy will be hoping last year's 'Footballer of the Year' gets good news when he goes for another scan on his groin injury.
5. KERRY (down 1)
The curtain came down on the Kingdom's championship participation on Sunday and attention now, inevitably, turns to the future of Jack O'Connor as manager and some of the elder statesmen of the team such as Eoin Brosnan, Tomas O Se and Paul Galvin. There is a lot of mileage in the legs of their players. Northern opposition again proved to be their downfall although Cork would have had every reason to be confident of repeating their Munster final victory had Kerry overcame Donegal.
6. KILDARE (no change)
The Lilywhites came up short, once again, at the quarter-final stage. Sunday's 0-12 to 2-19 reversal to Cork was a difficult pill to swallow and may take some time to recover from. They suffered two big defeats at Croke Park this year and the likes of John Doyle and Dermot Earley may call time on their illustrious intercounty careers. Kieran McGeeney's tenure as manager is also up for debate.
7. LAOIS (up 1)
Despite making their exit from the Leinster SFC at the hands of Longford, the O'Moore County can look back on the year content in the knowledge that progress has been made. Although defeat was their lot against Dublin on Saturday, they gave as good as they got for the majority of the seventy minutes and were left to curse the concession of an unfortunate own goal by centre-back John O'Loughlin.
8. DOWN (down 1)
James McCartan and his team succumbed to a heavy 2-9 to 3-18 defeat by Mayo on Saturday. It was an uncharacteristically poor showing from the Mourne men but the warning signs were there following their big loss to Donegal in the Anglo Celt Cup decider. They got back on track with a qualifier win over Tipperary but, overall, it's not a year that Down supporters will recall with any great fondness.
9. TYRONE (no change)
A narrow Ulster semi-final defeat to Donegal was not a disaster for Mickey Harte's troops but the manner of their capitulation in Killarney certainly was. Never has the Red Hands thrown in the towel in such a manner and even allowing for a lengthy injury list, it was a very 'unlike Tyrone' performance.
10. MEATH (no change)
The Leinster semi-final victory over Kildare is a distant memory and, following the Royals tame exit from the qualifiers against Laois, appears to have been a flash in the pan. Relegation to Division 3 and a round 4 qualifier exit falls a long way short of the high expectations within the Royal County. The focus now turns to finding a replacement for Seamus McEnaney as manager.
11.. TIPPERARY (no change)
Put up a brave fight against Kerry in the Munster SFC quarter-final and their confidence was restored following their qualifier wins over Offaly, Wexford and Antrim. They went down fighting against Down in Mullingar on Saturday and Peter Creedon has worked miracles in just three months. With the minors retaining their Munster title, the future looks bright for Premier County football.
12. SLIGO (no change)
The Yeats County delivered one of the performances of the year when defeating Galway by 2-14 to 0-15 in the Connacht semi-final and were so close to claiming the Connacht title against Mayo. Against that backdrop, it's difficult to fathom their no-show against Kildare in the qualifiers. All Kevin Walsh's men could muster in front of the posts was a paltry four points.
13. LIMERICK (no change)
Maurice Horan's charges didn't do themselves justice in the first half of their Munster SFC semi-final defeat by Clare but the qualifier win over Longford gave a better indication of their standing. They should have seen off Kildare's challenge in the round 3 game and need to show more consistency.
14. ANTRIM (no change)
Finished three points behind Monaghan in their Ulster SFC quarter-final clash but got their season back on track with a hard-fought 2-11 to 2-9 qualifier win away to London before a sensational win over Galway. Their defensive set-up didn't work in Thurles and Liam Bradley's men know they need to offer more up front if they wish to progress further in the years ahead.
15. LEITRIM (no change)
Survived a scare against London in the Connacht SFC with a narrow one-point victory before being outclassed by Mayo. The Barney Breen/George Dugdale managed side claimed a first ever qualifier win against Wicklow and had Laois worried in their round 3 encounter. A really promising year for Leitrim.
16. WESTMEATH (no change)
Gained revenge for their Leinster SFC exit at the hands of Louth when knocking the Wee County out in the first round of the qualifiers. However, their display against 13-man Louth in Mullingar did not inspire confidence but Westmeath's year was all about their display against Kerry in Cusack Park. They had the Kingdom beaten at one point until paralysis set in. They future is bright in the Lake County.
17. WEXFORD (no change)
For the second year running it was a case of close but no cigar for the Model County against Dublin. A NFL Division 3 final appearance and a replayed championship win over Longford will stand Jason Ryan's men in goodstead but so much of that promise went out the window with the qualifier loss to Tipperary.
18. LONGFORD (no change)
A NFL Division 3 title and three Leinster championship appearances is a significant return for Glenn Ryan's team and their potential was shown in the 0-17 to 2-8 qualifier first round win over Derry. Losing to Limerick was a setback but it is all new territory for the midlanders and the experience gained will serve them well.
19. MONAGHAN (no change)
Relegated from Division 2, Monaghan were on fire during the first half of their Ulster SFC semi-final against Down but failed to maintain that high level of performance in the second half. Manager Eamonn McEnaney walked after the disappointing display against Laois and after two successive league relegations, the fall in the county's standing is amazing.
20. ROSCOMMON (no change)
The Rossies staged a remarkable second half comeback to send a fancied Armagh side packing from the All-Ireland qualifiers on a scoreline of 1-11 to 1-9. That result went some way towards making up for the 0-10 to 3-15 Connacht SFC quarter-final defeat by Galway. Their subsequent display against Tyrone was disappointing, especially in light of Tyrone's exit at the hands of Kerry.
21. GALWAY (no change)
Galway looked impressive in Division 2 of the Allianz FL but the Conancht semi-final loss to Sligo was compounded by the qualifier exit in Belfast. In the first year of the qualifiers, Galway won the All-Ireland via that route in 2001. Now it seems the Tribesmen can't rise themselves for the backdoor.
22. ARMAGH (no change)
Concern has been expressed about the state of Orchard County football following their surprise qualifier defeat to Roscommon which resulted in Paddy O'Rourke's departure as manager. Where they go from here will depend on who replaces him with some of the 2002 All-Ireland winning team being mention as possible candidates.
23. DERRY (no change)
Captain Paddy Bradley went public with criticism of how football is being run within Derry last week following their 2-8 to 0-17 defeat by Longford on the opening weekend of the qualifiers. They finished third from bottom in the Division 2 table and speculation surrounds the future of John Brennan as manager.
24. CLARE (no change)
As expected, the gulf in class between the top teams and the so-called weaker counties was exposed in the Gaelic Grounds but Clare can be proud of reaching a first provincial decider in 12 years after finishing third in the NFL Division 4 table.
25. CAVAN (no change)
Terry Hyland has assembled a youthful team that appears to be heading in the right direction. A flurry of second half goals saw them overcome Fermanagh in round 1 of the qualifiers following their Ulster SFC defeat by Donegal, but the display against Kildare was worrying. They endured an indifferent NFL Division 3 campaign and finished one place above the relegation zone.
26. WICKLOW (no change)
The Garden County played well against Meath in the Leinster championship but put in two poor qualifier performances against Waterford and Leitrim. Promotion to Division 3 of the NFL for next year is a welcome development.
27. LOUTH (no change)
Consolidated their position in Division 2 of the NFL which, in itself, was a major achievement by Peter Fitzpatrick and his players. A late injury-time goal saw them scrape over Westmeath in their Leinster SFC opener but they were on the receiving end of a lesson by All-Ireland champions Dublin in the quarter-final. A combination of injuries and emigration played a part in their qualifier exit to Westmeath and they are now on the lookout for a new manager following Fitzpatrick's resignation.
28. FERMANAGH (no change)
Promotion to Division 3 of the NFL was the main positive from Peter Canavan's first year as manager of the Ernesiders after disappointing championship displays against Down and Cavan. There was also good news with the Tyrone legend committing to a second year at the helm.
29. CARLOW (no change)
Finished with only three wins to their credit in Division 4 of the NFL, two of which came against London and Kilkenny, yet, inspired by Brendan Murphy, forced Meath to a replay in the Leinster SFC. They were well beaten the second day but will take encouragement from the draw as they plot their future minus the services of manager Luke Dempsey.
30. LONDON (no change)
Narrowly missed out on a first Connacht SFC win since 1977 when being caught on the line by Leitrim, 1-8 to 0-12. Antrim knocked the Exiles out of the qualifier race when finishing with two points to spare but they have every reason to be confident about the future although captain Sean McVeigh - who is due to return home to Antrim - will be a massive loss.
31. OFFALY (no change)
The rebuilding job facing Tom Coffey became apparent when they slumped to a 0-6 to 0-19 Leinster SFC defeat to Kildare and made a tame exit from the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers to Tipperary. The Faithful County managed just one win in Division 3 of the NFL.
32. WATERFORD (no change)
Limerick ended their participation in the Munster SFC when inflicting a 2-12 to 0-7 defeat on John Owens' men. Their qualifier encounter against Wicklow went to extra-time but defeat was to be their lot. Their NFL Division 4 league record reads three wins, one draw and four defeats.
33. NEW YORK (no change)
A first Connacht SFC victory seems as far away as ever after a 24-point trouncing by Sligo at Gaelic Park.
34. KILKENNY (no change)
Finished with a score difference of -241 in Division 4 of the NFL.