Okay, we’re getting there. TGIF and all that. The kids went off to school this morning bedecked in blue (I’d like some of whatever Trevor and Edel’s parents put into their porridge because my fanaticism clearly hasn’t percolated down to my progeny) but there’s still a deathly calmness here even though the weekend is almost upon us. It’ll all go stone mad soon enough, though. (Yes, that photo above is of my young Dub and I tussling for possession of Sam, which dates from September 2011).
With our team announcement yesterday, the focus is now starting to narrow in on Sunday’s contest itself and this will be even more the case when the Dubs finally get around to naming their starting fifteen, which apparently they’re due to do sometime this evening. This delay in naming an All-Ireland final team is now bordering on bad manners – the programme will have been with the printers since Wednesday at the latest – and obviously into this vacuum all manner of stories are swirling around about what their pick will be.
Kevin O’Brien and Ger Brennan are clearly under pressure to hold their places in the backline and there are also some whisperings – denied publicly by the Dublin camp – about the fitness of captain Stephen Cluxton, who has been carrying a hamstring problem all summer. My view, for what it’s worth, is that Philly McMahon will start in place of O’Brien but that Brennan will hold on. Cluxton will, of course, start as well.
I’ve no idea when exactly the Dubs will deign to share details of their starting fifteen with the wider world but I’m out from early in the evening so it could be later on or maybe even tomorrow morning before I post details here. You’ll hear about the team quickly enough I’d say once it’s out there.
The papers. Starting this morning with the Irish Times where Ballyhaunis man Eoin Butler has a wonderfully touching piece (up there with those marvellous guest posts here all week) about growing into manhood as a Mayo supporter with his late father and his uncle. The same paper has features on Colm Boyle and Dublin and St. Vincent’s éminence grise Mickey Whelan and, of course, it also has an article on our team selection for Sunday.
The Irish Examiner has a flood of stuff about the game. There are features on Colm Boyle, the O’Sheas and Dublin’s Kevin McManamon, who, of course, has strong Mayo connections on his father’s side. There’s also a short piece with John Casey and a longer one with former selector John Morrison. There’s also an interesting article – if you avert your eyes from the rather alarming photo that they’ve twinned it with – on the strong connection between the players lining out on Sunday (or, in Dublin’s case, who may do so) and DCU.
There’s a cornucopia of final-related content over at the Irish Independent today. They too have a Colm Boyle feature, a piece on Donie Buckley, a Barney Rock article, a piece with Paul Casey about Dublin’s 2011 win, an article by Martin Breheny on our travails of the last 62 years and one by Vincent Hogan on Heffo’s enduring legacy. There are stabs taken at identifying the best 25 players to have featured for both them and us over the past 25 years and there’s an All-Ireland final quiz.
The same paper also has, as you’d expect, a piece on our pick and it also has an interview with minor manager Enda Gilvarry. There’s been little or nothing said all week about the minors but I’d say that suits Enda and his charges just fine.
The previews have started to appear as well. RTÉ’s Martin Carney goes for us, while the GAA’s own rather gushing one predictably sits on the fence. There’ll be plenty more of them, of course, appearing between now and throw-in.
Finally, for now, you may have caught a bit of Willie McHugh’s open letter to the Mayo team, which was first published earlier this week in the Mayo News All-Ireland supplement, on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme earlier on. RTÉ have now put the full audio of Willie’s letter on their website – here. If this doesn’t make you laugh and cry (maybe both simultaneously) then you’re one hard honcho.