The west’s still asleep in the Railway Cup

Railway Cup, Interpros: it doesn’t seem to matter. Connacht’s footballers – fielding a team showing three changes from the one named in advance – came off decidedly second-best in yesterday’s interprovincial semi-final against Ulster. The team from the west – comprising five lads from Roscommon, four from Sligo, three of our lot, two Herrin Chokers and one from Leitrim – were utterly outclassed by Ulster at Markievicz Park where they ended up suffering a 3-16 to 0-13 hammering. The defeat means that the gap back to the province’s last win in the competition now stretches to 43 years and you’d have to say that it’s more likely the thing will be abolished before a team from Connacht rouses itself sufficiently to win it again.

I’ve always been a fan of the Railway Cups and would concur completely with Mickey Harte’s vision of where a properly marketed interprovincial series stands in the scheme of things. (I also think that playing the tournament off straight after the All-Ireland and linking provincial representation in some way to the All-Star selection process has some merit, though I’d readily confess that I’m not so sure about how this might best be done in practice). I think it’s great that another shot has been made at reviving the competition and it looks as if some of the other provinces made a bit of an effort yesterday in trying to get plenty of high profile players on show. Looking at the side fielded by Fergie O’Donnell, however, you’d have to conclude that the westerners didn’t do the same. This is a pity because it would have been interesting to see how a team than bore a better resemblance to Connacht’s first string would have fared against the Northerners yesterday.

From a Mayo perspective, it was also disappointing to see that only three of the five county lads selected actually started – Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Dillon and Conor Mortimer all played but Donal Vaughan and Seamus O’Shea didn’t appear. The one bright note for the county was Conor’s haul of nine points (eight from frees) and it’s also noteworthy that Mort stated afterwards that “it’s a privilege to play for your province, always has been, always will be for as long as it goes on”. It’s a pity that this sentiment doesn’t appear to have been shared by some other higher-profile players from west of the Shannon.

13 thoughts on “The west’s still asleep in the Railway Cup

  1. Agree with you Willie, I’ve always been a fan of the Railway Cup, despite obviously never having seen Connacht win it. I do like the notion of linking the All-Star selection process to performances in the Provincials, but I’d like to see the finals return to St. Patrick’s Day, both hurling and Football. I think people will always love and support the Club competition, no matter when it is on, so the big feast day might just be the lifeline the Provincials need. (I suppose one good outcome of playing the Provincials after the All-Irelands, as suggested, would be that guys who are running close to getting an All-Star nod, might just play out of their skin to get over the line. But yes, it would be nice if they just did it for their province anyways, rather than needing the carrot of a personal trophy.)
    Keep up the good work, always enjoy the column, Noel D. Walsh (Rossie!)

  2. A pity to see such a beating. Ulster always used the Railway Cup to give themselves a leg up. I remember the 1969 Connacht win and a hazy recollection of the 1967 one. Both years Mayo won the Connacht title but there were heavy hitters from Galway around to boost the side. Sligo’s Micky Kearns was a peach and add on Dermot Earley and we see what class existed.

    Here’s the 1967 team J Geraghty,E Colleran, N Tierney,JB McDermott, J Donnellan, ( All Galway); J Morley Mayo, R Craven Roscommon,P Donnellan Galway,J Langan Mayo, C Dunne and J Duggan Galway, M Kearns Sligo,J Keenan Galway, J Corcoran Mayo, S Leydon Galway Sub D Earley Roscommon.

    1969; P Brennan Sligo,N Colleran, N Tierney Galway, R Craven Ros, J Morley and J Carey Mayo, L Caffrey Sligo, J Duggan Galway, D Earley ros, H O Carroll Leitrim, J Collery and M Kearns Sligo, J Corcoran and W McGee Mayo, J Keenan Galway. Sub S Leydon.

    Ah ….the good old days….sigh….

  3. i really hoped connacht would win yesterday and push on and win the thing out. Its unbelieveable to think that in a four horse race we havent won the railway cup in over 40 years. its a disgrace really.A pity too that the whole concept has been treated so poorly.Give me railway cup over that internation “rules” rubbish any day.

  4. i can understand why some of the other stars in the province might not have been too bothered by showing up for this. if you had any sort of a niggle at all you’d be inclined not to. Making this some sort of “all star tournament” after the all ireland would be a really good idea. Say they select one player from each province for each position as potential all stars and then play 3 matches (2 semis and one final) made up of those players in place of the charity GOAL match that takes place every year.

  5. I had the immense pleasure of reading David Smith’s biography of John Keane recently (much ado about it on my blog) and it brought home to me why the Railway Cup was a big deal back in the day and why it isn’t any more. Once upon a time, the only chance people would have to see a giant like Keane was playing for Munster, either because Waterford were knocked out early or their county wouldn’t be playing Waterford did make progress – not once, for example, did Keane ever play Kilkenny or Wexford in the championship. So if you wanted to see Keane take on Nicky Rackard, the only place to do it outside of the perenially abused League (some things haven’t changed) was in the Railway Cup. Nowadays, not only do we get to see the top players on a more frequent basis, but can you think of a single contemporary player who you would go out of your way to see were your own county not involved? Time to leave the Railway Cup to the past. These constant reboots will only succeed in making people wonder what the fuss was all about in its heyday.

  6. re John Cuffe’s piece – and thirty two thousand spectators in Croke Park on the second occasion

  7. Interesting to note that the Connacht half-forward line yesterday featured both both Dillon and McLoughlin. I admire them as good grafters around the pitch but it definitely reduces the scoring potential-playing both of them together. They play too deep and as a result tend to drag their markers after them which in turn increases the opposing team’s chances. This was in evidence again yesterday as neither of them scored while the half-backs marking them picked off a point apiece. A total of 1 point was scored from play from the 6 forwards that started the game for Connacht – – enough said.

  8. The Sunday Game only gave the result of the Connacht-Ulster match while having highlights and dressing room interviews from the Leinster-Munster game. Poor old Connacht and Ulster aren’t good enough ratings winners it seems. I see that they’re playing the final in Armagh, must be since Ulster are the only team that takes it serious, they’re pinning their hopes of a half decent crowd on it.

  9. Read Martin Breheny in today’s Indo as he bashes Mayo in particular over their draw in Connacht. his silence over Kerry is admirable.

  10. Im afraid the standard in Connacht has dropped the last few years but lets hope we get back up there.

    Remember going to a Connacht Leinster Railway cup final in Mchale Park (I think it was after the 96 all Ireland) and the craic, the turnout and standard was mighty.

    Then, within a few years I remember going to a Connacht Munster game in the early 2000s in the pouring rain and the turnout was a disgrace even though both teams were very strong. The trend of the low turnouts seems to have continued unfortunately. I think we’d all like to see the competition re marketed and returned to how it was.

  11. It might be because people are overloaded with sports today, from premiership to rugby to golf etc. And are you really going to gloat that Connaught can beat Munster? Or Leinster? Not really I think.
    It’s a nice idea but I think it’s day is well over.
    Though judging on this game Connaught would need to toughen up, just like mayo.

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