It’s the day before our All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Cork and a dirty, wet morning it is too up here in the capital. The rain is expected to fall more or less incessantly here today and into tonight but the forecast for tomorrow looks okay. The grass at HQ will certainly be well watered by then but it seems we’re in for dry weather for the match itself, though it might be a touch on the windy side.
The team announcements have all been made and I think the debate about the fifteen we’ve named may now be starting to peter out. This is just as well, I reckon, as much of this debate – in particular the bit about loyalty and/or form – is taking place in a vacuum and I’d question the merit of strongly-held expressions being put forward based on supposition. In any event, we don’t know if the fifteen named will actually start – there are strongish rumours to the contrary but we’ll need to wait until tomorrow afternoon to find out for sure.
In the meantime, there’s more pre-match reading to do and here’s a sample of what’s out there today.
The Irish Times has an overview piece by Keith Duggan on tomorrow’s matches, while the same writer also has feature pieces with Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea. John O’Keeffe previews both of tomorrow’s quarter-finals, and it won’t cause you to fall off your chair to know that he tips his native county and ourselves to advance.
The Irish Independent, meanwhile, has an interview piece by John Fallon with Donal Vaughan and the same writer has a similar piece (which is actually from yesterday’s paper but still worth a look if you haven’t yet seen it) with Barry Moran. The Indo also has an article with ref’s boss of all bosses Pat McEnaney (the piece, by the way, says he’s sailing off into the sunset at the end of this season – thank the Lord for small mercies) who reckons counties are wasting their time, so they are, trying to influence refs in the way that the Cork crowd so transparently attempted to do earlier in the week.
My favourite article of the day, though, is this one in the Indo by Rachel Wyse, who gushes about the Dubs (they’re not playing this weekend but never mind) and then gushes some more about that Kerry/Dublin semi-final last year before concluding that the All-Ireland is Dublin’s to lose. All without giving us a mention, aside from saying we’ll win tomorrow before losing to Kerry. Keith Duggan says in that overview piece mentioned above that Kerry are “hiding in plain sight” this year but the same appears true of us, based on the Sky presenter’s analysis.
With the other two nationals not giving all that much space to the Leesiders (not in their online editions at any rate) it falls to the Irish Examiner to speak to their own audience with their Cork-centric coverage. Former county player Conor McCarthy ponders how Cork might find a way to win tomorrow, while Michael Moynihan has interview pieces with Cork manager Brian Cuthbert and with Daniel Goulding.
It’s not all blood and bandages stuff in de Paper, though, as there’s a feature by Terry Reilly on Cillian O’Connor, a match preview by Brendan O’Brien (they tip us) and the always-great Dara Ó Cinnéide on both of tomorrow’s games, the highlight of which is where he ascribes certain Star Wars character traits to Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
Finally, RTÉ have a preview on the two quarter-finals, with Martin Carney plumping for Kerry and ourselves to advance.
Aside from all the reading, though, there’s all the logistics to sort out ahead of tomorrow’s long day at Croke Park. A long one it’s sure going be but it’ll a relatively easy enough one for me, living as I do no more than half an hour’s walk from the stadium, and I reckon I might even have time for an early morning spin on the bike before getting ready for Croker. For many of you, though, it will, I know, involve significant travel and maybe even an overnight stay in the capital. Safe travelling to all those on the move later today and tomorrow.