This year’s National Leagues are being launched formally today so it’s time to start thinking about all that. Described several years ago by the previous DG Liam Mulvihill as a competition that starts with a bang and ends in a whimper, we’re heading into it with the usual aims of trying to stay in the top tier while also seeking to unearth some new talent between now and April. We’re also, of course, doing so for the second year in a row under new management, with all of the uncertainties and opportunities inherent in this.
The bumper crowds at the January pre-season games, not just in the west but for the McKenna and O’Byrne Cup matches too, are evidence of fairly strong pent-up demand for live inter-county action. We’re sure to bring a big away following to Páirc Uí Rinn next Sunday, where there’s every likelihood we’ll once again strongly outnumber the Cork support on their home turf.
Next Sunday’s match is the first of three matches involving us that’ll be shown live on TV this spring. TG4 are doing this one as well as the Donegal one on February 28th, while Setanta are covering the Dublin one on Saturday week.
I’m still unsure about what I’m doing for the Cork match but the fact that it’s live on the box allied to the ridiculous colour clash – which obviously won’t be as bad if I’m trying to follow which side has the ball while doing so on TV instead of being there in the midst of the crowd – means that I’m leaning heavily at this stage towards not travelling for it.
I’ve a more pressing reason not to undertake the journey for it, though, one that, to be honest, is also likely to impact fairly significantly on the number of matches I get to this year. This is because two (and maybe, on occasion, all three) of the kids now have matches on Sundays and, you know, they won’t be kids forever so I’d kinda like to see them in action too. As a result, I might be relying on second-hand accounts of the Mayo matches this year more than I’ve done at any time since the blog’s inception. Sure we’ll see how it goes.
With the League’s return, the Allianz/Facetheball prediction mini-league is also set to reappear shortly. I haven’t done the under-the-bonnet stuff on this yet – though I note that Club ’51 have (details here) – but I’ll do so either later on today or tomorrow so you’ll have the chance to join in the fun then.