I’ve only in the last few minutes cottoned onto the fact that Our Man in the Oireachtas has, as well as his burdensome political and footballing duties within the county, responsibility for the fortunes of the Connacht interprovincial side. In this role, he has announced his panel for tomorrow evening’s semi-final up in Ballybofey against Ulster. Only three Mayo lads – Keith Higgins, Ronan McGarritty and Andy Moran – are included in the 26-strong panel (full details here), compared to seven places for Galway, six each for Roscommon and Sligo and four for Leitrim.
Maybe Johnno is doing the routine of the teacher (he was a teacher in a previous life, after all) giving his own offspring a harder time than the other lads in the class just to show that there’s no favouritism. Or maybe our lads aren’t too bothered about the quest to end Connacht’s 28-year wait for Railway Cup honours. I dunno but it just seems a bit odd that our representation is lower than that of the other four counties. Still, the best of luck to them – it’s an incredible statistic that Connacht have failed to win the interprovincial title since 1969 and if Johnno manages to engineer the slaying of that particular dragon, it might prove a good omen for other dragon-slaying duties closer to home in 2008. (See: fresh shoots of delusional thinking starting to appear already!)
The football All-Stars were also announced tonight (details here), with Kerry taking the majority of the fifteen places. However, the Kingdom got only six places while beaten semi-finalists Dublin were ridiculously over-rewarded with four spots. Cluxton and Cahill probably deserved theirs but Alan Brogan and Ciaran Whelan – who were both posted missing when it really counted against Kerry – certainly didn’t. All-Ireland finalists Cork – who only got Graham Canty on the team (how the fuck can Whelan have got the nod ahead of Nicholas Murphy?) – can consider themselves hard done by, as can Monaghan who only got Tommie Freeman on the side.
While Derry’s two awards – Kevin McCloy at full-back and Paddy Bradley at full-forward – may be welcome (especially the mercurial Bradley, whose talents we saw in full bloom back in July), they have to be seen in the context of the poor treatment handed out to Cork and Monaghan, not to mention Connacht champions Sligo, who failed to get anyone on the team.
I’m almost certain that this extremely odd and ill-considered All-Star side is the first one that doesn’t have a single representative from Connacht. Now, regardless of Johnno’s own motivational skills, if that little nugget doesn’t provide sufficient incentive to the lads up in Ballybofey tomorrow night, I don’t know what will.