It’s Wednesday and the nationals have started to turn their gaze towards the football final. From here on in, it’s sure to ramp up all the way.
Kerry may be out of this year’s championship but the best piece to read today is written by Kerry’s Darragh Ó Sé in the Irish Times. Channeling his inner Keith Duggan (as in don’t cry for Mayo as they’ll be back beating you again soon) he does a very effective job demolishing the it’s-this-year-or-never theory about us and finals.
Darragh all too often lapses into his stage Kerryman routine in his column but today he’s absolutely on the money. I won’t spoil a cracking read for you – it’s here.
If you’re hankering after a bit of yerra, though, Darragh’s fellow countyman Mike Quirke slots in neatly to fill this void in today’s Irish Examiner. His piece about jolly japes in the run-up to finals past is here.
As far as I know, Dublin held their press night earlier this week so I guess this piece with Jim Gavin emanates from there. He does a decent job in bigging us up, saying we’re “a very mature team” who have “tightened things up defensively” with a manager who is “a good fit”.
He then opines somewhat underwhelmingly that we’ll “be a good challenge” for them on Sunday week. Well, fancy that. It’s an All-Ireland final, Jimbo, so, yes, I think you can expect us to give your lads bucketloads on the day. And not just for the fun of presenting them with a bit of a test either.
In the same piece, Gavin goes on to poo-paw the notion that we’re arriving into the final “under the radar”. He protests that:
You don’t come into an All-Ireland final under the radar. They have earned all their victories along the way and learned a lot from it.
He has a point there but the way that Dublin were crowned champions by the media after the semi-final has, for sure, helped us to slip in unannounced and unfancied into this year’s decider. The print media, as that Ó Sé article linked above shows, will probably drift back towards the middle ground between now and Sunday week but the Three Stooges on The Sunday Game have pretty much burned their boats where it comes to our chances at this stage.
Staying on that “under the radar” point for a minute, I think Gavin got a bit of undue flak when he said after the semi that we weren’t a consideration for them. Up until then their focus had, of course, to be on Kerry as they knew the Kingdom would throw the proverbial kitchen sink at them in the semi-final. Plus he’s a pilot so analogies about radar and clouds and shit must be two-a-penny in their dressing room.
The Dublin boss confirmed in that interview that his squad is fighting fit (though they don’t fight at all; God no – they’re far too busy stroking kittens, trying to end the mayhem in the Middle East and devising the best line of attack for the State in the Apple tax appeal). That includes James McCarthy – whom some journos were rather comically anointing as Footballer of the Year as far back as April this year – who made his comeback from injury in the semi-final. Gavin is confident the rangy Ballymun half-back will be okay to face our lads. Another piece on that is here.
I could go on and stray into the Mickey Harte story or start talking about the latest twist in the long-running Roscommon sitcom. But I won’t because that’s not of sufficient interest right now, what with this All-Ireland final we need to continue counting down to.
If you’re in or around Castlebar this coming Friday evening, by the way, part of your final countdown could include going along to SportsJOE GAA Roadshow final preview hosted by the Mitchels at An Sportlann. This event throws in at 8pm on Friday, where Colm Parkinson will be joined by James Horan, John Casey, Pillar Caffrey, Ray Cosgrove and others. Tickets for this event are free but you need to have a ticket to get in and can get them here.
Speaking of tickets, there are ten All-Ireland final tickets to be won in next Monday’s Mayo GAA Players Welfare Lotto. Play the Lotto here.