The league campaign is over and the championship campaign has yet to begin which means that, for us at least, we’re now facing into the twilight zone that is the challenge match season. This particular season used to be all the rage one time but ever since those sourpusses in Tyrone decided that they weren’t going to play any challenge matches at all at all it’s gone out of fashion a bit. We’re still game for it, though, and this coming Sunday we play our first pre-championship challenge match of the year when we face Donegal at Swinford.
This isn’t any old challenge match, however, as Sunday’s event is primarily being held in order to dedicate the redeveloped all-weather pitch at Swinford to the memory of the late Garda Robert McCallion who tragically lost his life while on duty up in Letterkenny just over three years ago. Robbie was an active member of Swinford GAA club and the community took the enlightened view that naming the club’s pitch in his honour would represent a fitting tribute to him.
One of Swinford’s most famous sons – Dr Padraig Carney, who performed the official opening of the pitch in the town when it was first opened back in 1979 – is returning from California especially for the occasion. The Flying Doctor will once more take charge of proceedings on Sunday for the dedication of the Robert McCallion Memorial Pitch.
Sunday’s action will get underway with a match between Swinford and a Garda selection (there’s one for you now – name your current top Garda selection) which will throw in at 12.30pm. The re-dedication of the pitch will take place at around 2pm and hostilities between Mayo and Donegal will then get underway at 2.30pm. It’s €10 in for adults, €5 for students and OAPs with U16s free.
Unfortunately, I’m stuck in Dublin this weekend and so won’t be able to make it to Swinford for the event. If you’re at a loose end in the west on Sunday yourself, however, it sounds like the place to be, both for the football and more importantly to honour the memory of a young man from the county who so sadly lost his life in the performance of his duties.