With the seniors’ quarter-final draw leaving us with a week of supposin’ supposin’ before we find out if it’s Meath (for the first time since this happened) or Limerick (for the first time since we beat them in the qualifiers back in 2002) that we’ll be up against in the last eight, it’s appropriate to park all talk about the seniors for now and concentrate instead on the minors, who today saw off the challenge of Roscommon in the Connacht final replay at Hyde Park. Amazingly, despite that long fallow period between 2001 and 2008, it’s our fourth Connacht minor title of the decade and, of course, it’s the second time this decade that we’ve won back-to-back Connacht minor titles. Today’s win also makes it 36 provincial titles at this level for us, well ahead of Galway on 25. And, as if that wasn’t enough to blow about, today’s minor victory means that we’ve completed a clean sweep of all three provincial titles. That’s the first time we’ve done this since 1997.
After that underwhelming performance in the drawn game at Pearse Stadium last Sunday, Ray Dempsey’s charges weren’t exactly unbackable favourites going into today’s replay at Hyde Park but, after a listless enough first half, the lads upped the gas in the second period and won comfortably enough on a 1-8 to 0-5 scoreline. In such a low-scoring game, a goal was always going to go a long way towards deciding the outcome and so it proved with Danny Kirby’s major shortly after the restart effectively putting the tie beyond the home side’s reach. Cillian O’Connor’s regular supply of points – which came both from frees and open play – also contributed significantly to today’s handsome win.
So, after escaping from Pearse Stadium with a draw by the skin of our teeth last Sunday, Aidan Walsh got to lift the Kilcoyne Cup at Hyde Park late this afternoon (with my thanks to The Brother for the photo; on the subject of such photos, it was PJ who sent me the one of Tom Parsons getting the Fahy Cup back in April while I took the one of Trevor hoisting the Nestor myself) and, like the seniors, the minors now head for the All-Ireland series. They’re paired with beaten Munster finalists Tipperary in the quarter-finals and this one is due to take place at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise on Monday week (3rd August) with throw-in set for 2 pm. Roscommon get to play Kerry at the same venue afterwards and, after today’s defeat, it could prove difficult for the young Rossies to lift themselves sufficiently for the challenge of the Kerry princelings. Oh well, we’ll have to kick their holes instead. Just like last year: wouldn’t that be fun were it to happen again, only this time in the final?