A copy of the Sunday World’s magazine on the football Championship fell into my possession yesterday evening – not in exchange for any money I hasten to add, because you’d be correct to surmise that my uppity reading habits of a Sunday don’t include taking a copy of De Wuureld – but, as a result, I am now in possession of Pet Spillane’s thinking as to who will win Sam this year. Kyerrah, of course.
It’s hard to disagree with Pet on that one, with his native county raging hot favourites to complete another wholly unnecessary three-in-a-row come September, though we all must live in hope of a thunderbolt (even if, under the current Championship structure, we now need two those to be sure of getting shut of the hoors). Indeed, as others have already noted, this current Kerry generation have their eyes on more than just a humble three-in-a-row, so the sense of frustration the rest of us feel as the Boy Who Has Everything ends up with even more looks set to mount. The only glimmer of hope I can cling to is that this period of renewed Kerry dominance might fast-track a long overdue shake-up in the Championship structure but, in the same way that I hope for a Kerry defeat, I’m not too optimistic about the other happening either.
So, with Sam apparently heading back to Killarney on the afternoon train come the fourth Monday in September, what does The Man Who Knows Who Will Win the All-Ireland have to say about us Children of a Lesser God in this year’s Championship? Well, he backs Derry for Ulster: I think every county from up there that’s won the league in the past twenty years has been handed that favourites’ tag and while Derry seem better equipped than others to justify the mantle, they could just as easily bomb, quite possibly in their first outing, up in Ballybofey against last year’s NFL winners, Donegal, on the 1st of June. He thinks Cork might win Munster but doesn’t expect them to get past the quarter-finals. I reckon Pet’s half-right there: I can’t see the Donkey Ayters getting past the quarters.
He also reckons that the Dubs will fail to win Leinster but will then advance to the All-Ireland final (where the latest instalment of the Kerry-Dublin “rivalry” will go the same way as evey other episode has done for the last thirty years). That’s a bit arse about face, I reckon. While the glass-jawed Metropolitans are vulnerable to a sucker punch, I cannot see this happening in Leinster. Meath, Pet’s tip for Leinster, have gone backwards since reaching last year’s All-Ireland semi-final (starting with that insipid performance in the semi-final) and if Brian Farrell hasn’t recovered in time for the Leinster final, then they really will be short of attacking options. I think the Dubs are far more susceptible to a knockout blow in the quarters or, more especially, in the semis – as we demonstrated two years ago – but, if they get their act together, the Dubs could finally make it all the way to the final.
In Connacht, Pet backs us to do the business (as do the bookies by the way) and he even elevates us to possible “wild card” contenders for Sam. I think he’s taking the piss there. His backing for us appears purely down to the fact that Johnno is in charge (fair enough) but his curt dismissal of Galway, which appears to be solely based on their recent defeat in the league to Kyerrah, seems unduly harsh.
In summary then, all of Pet’s tips for provincial honours are open to question but his prediction about who’ll end up with Sam appears to be fairly sound. Well, as they used to say about buying IBM, backing Kerry for the All-Ireland is always a safe enough bet to make and this year it seems safer than ever.