Photo: Vera (@ChelsSince1970 via Twitter)
The fact that the All-Ireland final is on this Sunday is now being reflected in the rising amount of coverage being devoted to it in the papers and elsewhere today. Somebody should really let RTÉ’s Sports Department in on the secret, though – their sports bulletin after the 8.30 headlines on Morning Ireland this morning was dominated by a raft of domestic and overseas soccer stories (yawn) and while they did eventually get around to GAA matters all they mentioned then was that Munster football championship seeding issue (a scandal, for sure, and a story worth getting plenty of coverage but there’s other fish to fry on the Tuesday before the All-Ireland). The best we can expect from RTÉ is, I guess, the usual whimsical gobshitery they roll out year after year in the run-up to the All-Ireland. It’s all they seem capable of and I doubt if we’ll see anything markedly different from them this year.
Okay, rant over. If it’s quality coverage you’re looking for today then your first – and, perhaps, sole – port of call has to be the superb 64-page All-Ireland final supplement from the Mayo News, which hit the streets (actual and virtual) this morning. There’s oodles of final-related stuff (both senior and minor) in it – sure Jaysus I’m even in it myself – and it’s well worth getting your hands on either a paper copy or the digital version. Among the many highlights contained in it, Ed McGreal’s interview with Paddy Prendergast and the feature about the players’ diverse hairstyles stood out for me.
In the nationals, the Irish Examiner leads the charge this morning. Terry Reilly has a very interesting piece about Cillian O’Connor and whether or not we should start him and in it Terry speaks with Dermot Flanagan who, of course, went into the 1997 decider carrying an injury and had to be replaced early on, with calamitous results. Despite this, Dermot thinks we should start Cillian, reckoning as he does that the two injuries aren’t comparable and also that the strength of our squad now is light years ahead of what was available to John Maughan back then.
The same paper has an interview with once would-be Mayo manager Tommy Lyons who, in contrast to Dermot Flanagan, thinks it’s not worth risking Cillian. Tommy, God love him, also thinks we may not win on Sunday ‘cos we don’t have two marquee forwards (you know the law of nature? The one that says you can’t win an All-Ireland without two quality forwards.) I think I’ll go away into a corner and weep – imagine this guy came within a whisker of getting the job the times James Horan was appointed instead.
There’s also a good interview with Conor Mortimer (who is fairly bullish about our chances), a piece about a priest in Foxford who blessed the place where the supposed curse was sworn (I’m heading back into the corner for another howl), another piece by Terry Reilly who reports on some of the comments made by the pundits at that Stephenites’ pre-final bash at the weekend (including Kevin McStay, who makes a fair point about refs effectively deciding the outcome of big matches) and a piece by John Fogarty on Dublin’s Bryan Cullen.
Over at the Irish Independent, there’s another interview with Conor Mortimer, another piece with Bryan Cullen, more wit and wisdom from Tommy Lyons, an interview with Andy Moran and a piece by Colm Keys on what he calls Dublin’s defence dilemma.
The Irish Times, meanwhile, also has an interview with Andy Moran, a piece by Malachy Clerkin on the Dubs’ storied subs bench and a report that the Odeon cinemas around the country will be screening the final live.
Newstalk had an interview on Off The Ball between with James Horan (by Colm Parkinson), which is worth a listen even if it was recorded at last week’s press night and so isn’t exactly hot off the griddle.
Oh look, RTÉ have woken up and now have a piece on their website with Barney Rock who reckons Dean is a great lad altogether. Bless ’em.
Finally, Nathan has asked me to give a plug to the attached video – which features yet another in the lengthening canon of Mayo All-Ireland songs – which I’m more than happy to do: