Once upon a time, fadó fadó in Éireann, the West metaphorically used to shake in anticipation of a Connacht championship clash between ourselves and Galway. Just four days out from our 2016 meeting, however, it’s (apologies for continually again using this term but once more it’s the most appropriate one) all quiet on the western front.
I’ve just done a scan of today’s nationals and there’s not a proverbial sausage about Saturday evening’s game in any of them. I know, there’s loads of other stuff to fill the papers at the minute – not all of it, sadly, happy-go-lucky sporting news either – but it’s strange to be heading into a Mayo/Galway championship encounter with such little fanfare.
It’s like the radar machine has been switched off. Or that someone forgot to get petrol for the lawnmower and now there’s long grass everywhere – enough for both teams, their backroom staff and all of the expected attendance at MacHale Park the next evening to hide away in.
But, of course, it’s the local papers that have come to the rescue. The Western People hit the streets yesterday, followed by the Mayo News this morning and both papers have supplements on the big game.
I’ve leafed through both of them at this stage and there’s plenty to keep you occupied. There’s loads of back-in-the-day reminiscing but a full quota of up-to-the-minute match analysis too. Something for everyone in the audience, in other words.
Of the lot, the piece that caught my attention most was Jim Carney’s withering assessment of the Tribesmen in the Mayo News. Jim could, I accept, be trying to be clever in playing down his county’s chances but the frustration and sadness that comes through in what he has to say about where Galway stand now doesn’t strike me as dissimulation.
The Western went to print a bit too early for any hard news about Saturday but the Mayo News does have an update on the player injury situation. Chris Barrett is,we know, a definite non-starter and the paper reports (paper and digital versions) that both Barry Moran and Conor Loftus – neither of whom, it should be pointed out, would be guaranteed to start – are still touch-and-go. Everyone else – including Alan Freeman whose year so far has been badly marred by injury but when he’s played has looked fairly perky – appears to be okay.
That’s about it in terms of news. Just a small house-keeping point: I’m away on a short work trip tomorrow and the day after so I’ll be a bit more constrained than normal in terms of posting stuff till I get back on Thursday evening. By then we’ll be less than 48 hours away from throw-in and, quiet build-up or not, the jitters should be starting.
For us of a certain generation, who can recall several painful scutchings at the hands of the Tribesmen, there are always jitters in the lead-up to a championship clash against them. Despite the fact that we head into this one seeking to make it an unprecedented six championship wins on the trot over the neighbours, I don’t expect to feel any more relaxed than usual. That admission might not sound wholly rational, I know, but it’s true nonetheless. After all, and despite our recent dominance over them, it’s Mayo/Galway we’re talking about here.