It wasn’t so long ago that journalists and pundits were near unanimous in their assertion that Leinster was lagging as a football province. The Dublin side that dominated the province in recent years never made it to an All-Ireland final. There hadn’t been a Leinster team in a Division 1 league final since Wexford in 2005, and a new nadir was reached in 2010 as not a solitary team from Leinster reached any of the four divisional finals. A province in crisis.
If there has been a revolution or a renaissance in the eastern quarter of our island it was executed with remarkable stealth and effect. Here we are, only 12 months on from Leinster’s 2010 league whitewash and we at Ladbrokes can muster odds no bigger than 10/1 for Leinster sides to win each and every one of the four divisional football titles over the weekend. Division 3 is already in the bag as Westmeath and Louth battle it out for, erm, a chance to make a speech.
All the above supposes that such a concept as “Leinster Football” actually exists; that there is a particular ethos, mentality or character within the province that defines and differentiates it from its bordering kingdoms. Maybe (though probably not), once upon a time there was something in Meath’s play that couldn’t be found in Cavan’s, or some trait in Westmeath’s approach that was beyond the comprehension of those across the Shannon. Now though, with Ulstermen managing Leinster sides, Kerrymen in Galway, Dubs in Cavan – is there any such thing as a provincial trait?
Do you know that two teams ending in vowels made it to league finals last year? Mayo and Sligo proudly carried that flag. This year however the consonants have dominated the tail end of the finalists’ names, there’s not a single vowel-ending county to be found. Kildare, Tyrone and Clare among others would want to take a long look at their structures.
As for picking the winners this weekend, well they are all near “pick-ems” as only the pairing of Longford and Roscommon has stretched the handicap line beyond a point. I think Dublin will be well tuned up to reach another milestone in their development and take a league title that they need to win more than Cork at odds of 10/11.