Time to check in on happenings at home, I reckon. I almost feel guilty about having sloped off to the sun ahead of last weekend’s action, resulting in my missing the minors’ stirring extra-time victory and poor old Leitrim ending up on the wrong end of a fairytale result (it sure takes an odd championship structure to come up with an outcome like that), not to mention the double Dubs’ wins and Wicklow’s pitiful two-point total.
Well, at least the debate about where the Connacht final will be held has been settled – I’ll be back in harness a few days ahead of then and I’m planning to be at McHale Park on the 21st – though I can sense that the story about London’s treatment in the championship continues to rumble on. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed, for sure, but the notion that the best way to do so would be by playing the Connacht final in Ruislip is, frankly, ludicrous. If Hyde Park, Markievicz Park or Pairc Sean aren’t deemed suitable venues for the Connacht final then there’s no way on earth that Ruislip is. Maybe an alternative venue – such as Wembley (where, in the old stadium, Gaelic football was often played) or the Emirates or Twickenham or somewhere like that – would open their doors but we all know that’s not going to happen so there’s simply no point raising that particular hare.
More important for London will be whether or not their 2013 heroics will lead to a new relationship for them within the GAA. The existing one is based on the worst kind of pat-on-the-head tokenism, with the lads over there given an annual grand day out altogether where everyone can enjoy themselves, Londain take their beating like men and everyone starts readying themselves for twelve months hence. That worked fine when the London lads didn’t have any uppity ideas about winning but now that they’ve shown they can, things are going to have to change, with London getting the same kind of rights and responsibilities as everyone else. How seriously the GAA views London will be seen in how long it takes for this change to happen.
Anyway, back to the Connacht final itself, the first provincial decider we’re getting to play in McHale Park since 2008 and the first at the venue since 2010. It’s a classic no-win match for us, of course, with the world and Boris Johnson rooting for them but we’ve just got to stick to the knitting and get the job done.
This is where that 2011 near-miss comes in because as we furiously dissemble about how the match might go, we don’t have to reach for the yerra button at all and can instead point to the fact that the Exiles had us all but bet over in Ruislip two summers ago. Even if the wider world doesn’t believe a word of it, we can plausibly state that we ain’t taking nothing for granted in this one.
The world, of course, loves a fairytale and there’ll be plenty of soft-headed support for London the next day on this basis. We’ve just got to go out and display the same kind of ruthless efficiency we showed against both Galway and Roscommon and seek to smash this particular fairytale to pieces. Not because we’re a bunch of mean-hearted spoilsports but because we’re a serious team, one that has genuine All-Ireland ambitions this year and wants to show the world that this is the case.
Right, I needed to get all that off my chest – time to slope off to the sun again now. Thanks for all the kind wishes, by the way, and keep up the lively debate that’s been going on here in my absence. As I keep saying, this site is as much about all of you as it is about me – keep her lit while she’s on auto pilot.