The dust has yet to settle (apart from that bloody stuff from the Sahara that’s all over the cars hereabouts) on the Dubs match but already it’s time to start thinking ahead to next Sunday’s clash with Division One table-toppers Derry back on home soil at MacHale Park. All told, I think it’s good that we have another important match so soon after Croke Park, not least as it means that the outcome of that one shouldn’t be left hanging there for weeks on end. Instead, we’ve the fresh challenge next Sunday of trying to nail down a League semi-final place and then if we succeed in doing this, the prospect of a pre-summer return to Croke Park and maybe even a possible League title.
Before moving on, I’d like to acknowledge and thank everyone for the positive messages, words of encouragement and so forth that have flowed onto the site since last night. The problem about the tenor of those post-match comments that I raised in last night’s post is, I know, one created by a small minority of people and I don’t want to see the actions of a few destroy everything for the many who provide insightful and informed opinions and analysis here via the comments. I’m hopeful that a beefed-up comments policy, possibly incorporating time-bans for transgressors, will sort out the problem in a way that won’t impact on the majority who abide fully by the existing rules. I’ll come back to this later in the week.
One further point before moving on and this relates to James and the team and the way in which they’re knuckling down for another shot at glory this year. John Casey was on RTÉ radio on Saturday and he spoke about how the team in 1998 had nothing left in the tank after the two lost All-Irelands. He was full of admiration for the current generation and how, despite the crushing disappointment of the last two Septembers, they’re all back giving their all once again. What he said had, I felt, real merit. Can anyone imagine what a kick in the balls it must have been for the lads last September to lose a second winnable final in twelve months and what enormous effort is involved in putting that to one side and going hell for leather at it all over again? These lads – our county men – deserve all the support we can give them as they endeavour to make their way back up towards the summit again.
Right, moving on to this coming weekend and the first bit of news about Sunday’s match against Derry is that it’ll be reffed by David Coldrick. I used to think he was an okay ref one time but I’ve been far from impressed at his more recent displays. He absolutely rode us against Down up in Newry last year and he did a similar number on Kerry against the Dubs in the first round of this year’s League. The common denominator in both displays was that the home team got all the marginal calls so maybe that’ll work for us on Sunday. Personally, though, I’d prefer an official who gives a fair shake to both sides.
I see that Paddy Power have installed us as unbackable 1/4 favourites to beat the Oak Leafers on Sunday and, interestingly, they’ve also made the Cluxton-less Dubs 10/11 favourites to beat Tyrone up in Omagh. I’m not sure I agree with either of those odds but the ones on us certainly chime with the optimism being demonstrated in the poll on the game’s outcome. In relation to the Tyrone game, I find it hard to see how Dublin – away from the comforts of home (for the final time until next year’s O’Byrne Cup), without such a key player as Cluxton and up against that wily old fox Mickey Harte – will do it but stranger things have, I know, happened.
For what it’s worth, I think we’ll win, Kerry will beat Cork and Tyrone will sort out the Dubs. In case you think I’m talking out of my posterior I’ll have you know that I won the overall prize for March (out of just under 7,000 entries) in the Allianz prediction leagues and currently stand fifth in the overall leaderboard. So now for you. Were that to happen, Tyrone would finish first and then it’d be Derry, ourselves and Cork in that order (all on nine points with points difference deciding placings), which would mean we’d face Derry again in the semis. You heard it here first.