It feels like we’re marooned in some kind of football-less desert at the minute but, of course, this is far from the case as we have an All-Ireland semi-final at Under-21 level coming up this Saturday afternoon. O’Connor Park in Tullamore – one of my all-time favourite provincial venues, I have to say: nice stand, great pitch – plays host to both semi-finals with our one against Leinster champions Dublin throwing in at 2.45pm. Both semi-finals are also being broadcast live on TG4.
It’s our first appearance in the All-Ireland series at U21 level since 2009 – when we fell to Down at the semi-final stage – and so we’re well overdue to be featuring in the business end of this particular championship. With strong representation within this year’s U21 squad from the all-conquering Class of 2013 at minor level we can have justifiable hopes that Saturday’s outing won’t be the final one of the campaign for Mike Solan’s charges.
U21 championship matches don’t attract anything like the same kind of media attention as senior clashes do but there are a few pieces out there worth drawing to your attention. This week’s Mayo News has a profile by Mike Finnerty of Mike Solan, as seen through the eyes of fellow Ballaghaderreen clubman John O’Mahony, himself an U21 All-Ireland winning manager with the county way back in 1983.
Today’s nationals also carry interviews with Aidan O’Shea, which coincided with the launch at Croke Park yesterday of the Kellogg’s Cúl Camps: Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Irish Independent, Irish Sun, GAA, The 42. Although these wander in scope well beyond Saturday’s U21 game – and are well worth a browse for that reason – they do touch on it and the tribute Aidan pays to Diarmuid O’Connor (pieces in the Indo and The 42) is nicely made. (Note to the usual suspects who like to aim ad hominem barbs at the Big Lad for speaking to the media: Don’t bother, we know your opinion on this topic already).
Back to the nuts and bolts about the match itself, tickets are available to buy online now – here. Price is €15 for adults, free for juveniles. I assume they won’t turn away hard cash at the gate on Saturday either.
Let’s finish up with a poll: the bookies can’t call Saturday’s semi-final – Paddy Power are quoting both of us at evens – but how do you think we’ll do in it?
Will we win our U21 semi-final against Dublin?
- Yes (78%, 185 Votes)
- No (22%, 51 Votes)
Total Voters: 236