It’s been a few days since I did anything here on the blog so I guess a small bit of a catch-up is in order.
In an odd juxtaposition, I was based on home soil for much of the week but despite my geographical proximity to the main topic here on the blog – I even passed by a mournfully empty MacHale Park one of the days, the sun glistening off the unoccupied blue seats in the stand – I had other priorities to attend to for the last few days.
Plus, like the rest of you, I’m sure, my heart was a bit on the heavy side, contemplating the enormous loss to our hopes this summer that Cillian O’Connor represents. It’s a blow that, I think, we’re only now beginning to process properly, so great is its likely impact on us.
What more can be said about this? Loads. Not a lot. It’s all the one, as we end up back in the same place. So let’s move onto those things to catch up on.
Chief among them are the draws for the various club Championships that took place on Monday night. This resulted in the usual mix of some clubs liking what they ended up with while others found themselves landed into proverbial groups of death.
The club-themed photo at the top, by the way, is a cracking one taken in Aghamore at sundown last night by Ciara Buckley, where Charlestown negotiated a path to victory over the home team in the midsummer dusk.
Next, the opening up of matches to limited spectators has meant a shift in the venues in this year’s Connacht Minor and U20 Championships. The original plan was that these competitions would both be run off behind closed doors at the Connacht Centre of Excellence but now Connacht GAA have decided to shift them to the relevant county grounds – announcement on that is here.
In both cases involving us this means that the matches in question have become away fixtures.
In the U20 Championship we’re up against defending Connacht and All-Ireland champions Galway in the semi-final. That’s down for decision at Tuam Stadium on Tuesday, 13th July. There’s no throw-in time set for that yet but I assume it’ll be in 7-7.30pm territory, not least in light of the fact that a winner has to emerge on the day. Hopefully, as happened last year, not from a stupid penalty shoot-out either.
In the Minor Championship we’ve been drawn against Roscommon in the sole quarter-final tie. That game has been fixed for Dr Hyde Park on Friday, 23rd July. Again, no throw-in time has been announced but it’s got to be an evening one too. The winners of that fixture play Galway in the semi-final the following Friday.
There’s no football involving us on this weekend but at 5pm this evening John Maughan’s Offaly take on Derry in the NFL Division Three final at Croke Park. If I had been a bit better organised myself this week I might have managed to bag a ticket to go to that – imagine, going to a game at Croke Park again! – but by the time I got around to it all 2,500 tickets had been snapped up.
It’s a cracking day here in the capital so perfect conditions for ball a bit later on. If you want to watch it that’s where your GAA GO season pass comes in as the game is live on the platform.
UPDATE: it’s also live on TG4.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Faithful, a county that punched well above their weight all during my formative years when I first developed a love for Gaelic football. This year John Maughan has already led them back to Division Two for the first time since the late Noughties and now he has a chance to guide them to the Division Three title as well. I hope he does and so that’s an Up Offaly from me.
Finally, we’re just a week away now from our opening game in this year’s Connacht Championship. From here on the pace picks up and we’ve quickened our step on the Mayo News football podcast as well.
We’ve two episodes coming out before the lads take the field at Markievicz Park, the first of which is a Championship preview episode while the second previews the Sligo game. I’ve already had a sneak listen to the first one – hosted by Billy Joe Padden, who is joined by Mick Foley and Colin Sheridan – and it’s a great listen. That’ll be online tomorrow, with the Sligo preview show following on Wednesday.