It’s okay for you guys who can roll out of the bed around midday and then tootle a few miles down the Padraig Flynn Highway to get to Castlebar well in time for the throw-in. For those of us marooned up here in the Metropolis (admittedly, in my case, only a nice brisk stroll away from GAA HQ), getting to a “home” match involves haring right across the country. In this regard, the announcement earlier this week by the NRA that another stretch of the new N6 (the bit from Kilbeggan to the Athlone bypass) is now open for business is a welcome one, as it means there’s now motorway all the way from Dubbelin to the other side of Athlone. While this route to the Yew County is a bit longer than the N5, it’s now obviously a far better option, as there’s 85 or so miles of continuous motorway – which means that, in the immortal words of Mammy O’Rourke, you can now “F-U-C-K back across the Shannon” without having to go through a single town on the way – and then the rest of the road through Roscommon isn’t all that bad. On the N5, in contrast, it all goes to pot once you hit Strokestown and only improves again when you finally reach the John Healy Road bit near Carracastle.
The opening of this stretch of new road came just too late for our cross-country jaunt last weekend for the Connacht final. However, all those of you driving in the opposite direction for the All-Ireland quarter-final, semi-final and final in the coming weeks will, of course, be in a position to benefit from the completion of this latest piece of national infrastructure.
3 thoughts on “The road to (and from) the West just got bigger”
Raking the Ashes / Resetting the Fire
I notice from one of your earlier posts that a number of comments recently went astray. Just before the game I commented with a few of my ramblings. The gist of my theory was that we should put our tightest in-your-face style marker (Cunniffe) on Padraig Joyce, the second tightest on Meehan and then match our remaining backs man for man with the most appropriate Galway forward. Having spent a week poking through the ashes of the Connaught Final and taking in the views of all those that have expressed them, I find that most people agreed that this was the way we should have set out our backline. However, we didn’t. And now we have to take the long way to Croker.
Like others I noted that many of the first 15 from the September 2006 game are clearly still our best option and it was the introduction of more of these men that limited Galway to 8 points from the 25th minute on. But if this is the case, what has become of the rebuilding that has been underway for the last 2 years? OK, we have found three good men in Cunniffe, Howley and Parsons – who are all now obvious first starts. We can also point to Boyle and Conroy, and even though they were in difficulty on Sunday they will break through in time. However, no new exciting forward has emerged who is an obvious first choice every time.
So the rebuilding has been a lot less than we had hoped, but what we must not forget is that we are still in the race. We now have a hard game behind us, the group of guys that we have are battle hardened and are not finished yet. However, there are some obvious lessons that we must learn from last Sunday.
1. The teams we meet at different stages of the Championship each have different strengths. For example, Derry’s style is radically different to that of Galway. This requires a different approach to each game. We don’t therefore always need a big full back. Sometimes we need a smaller tighter player (like Aidan Higgins). However, if we do meet Kerry this year, Johnno should seriously consider putting Ronan McGarrity on Donaghy.
2. I don’t care what anyone says – Keith Higgins is not a tight marker. He is therefore better employed in the half back line where his speed in counter-attacking can best be used.
3. We need power in front of goal and Austie does not seem to be the man for the job. Surely a county the size of Mayo has one big strong young fella who can field a ball, has an eye for goal and has no respect for the reputation of any current full back? Failing that maybe David Heaney should be given a run there.
4. Andy is better suited to the half forwards – as he is a good ball winner and a great ball carrier. Killer should be a regular starter in the No 15 shirt.
5. We are missing somebody who can vary the way the ball goes in to the front line. In my opinion, such a player can currently be found in Crossmolina!
With this in mind, my suggested starting 15 would be as follows:
T Mortimer (C McDonald if available)
S O’Shea (or possibly David Heaney)
Food for thought
Keep the Faith!
I’m not sure if one of your comments got accidently zapped but apologies if it did.
I see you’ve joined The Brother’s camp in advocating for Ronan at full-back. Given that Johnno has already tried one midfielder there this year, it’s maybe a bit strange that he didn’t at least give Ronan a run-out there, as he’s not setting the world on fire at midfield where, as you point out, Harte could easily partner Parsons.
Peadar at corner-back? I’m not sure he’s the tightest marker around either but I we’re all struggling to come up with names for the corner-back positions.
Your point about playing horses-for-courses is a very valid one – it’ll be interesting to see who we’ll draw next Sunday night. With Derry and Meath having already taken the hop, that’s two of the four “big beasts” I mentioned the other day. Now it could be the winner of Kildare v Limerick which, with all due respect to both, is not the kind of challenge we need to restart the campaign.
All the best
If those reports about Ronan’s hamstring are correct, then that rules out any hopes of him lining out anywhere the next day …