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.