I know the rest of you may not be overly exercised about this Saturday’s All-Ireland senior club semi-finals but the excitement is building in this corner of the capital where our local club St Vincents are preparing to do battle with Galway’s Corofin at O’Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday (throw-in 2pm). On the same day, Derry’s Slaughtneil take on Austin Stacks from Kerry at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, in the other penultimate round tie.
Vinnies are, of course, the defending All-Ireland champions and so appearing in another All-Ireland semi shouldn’t exactly faze them. It is, though, uncharted waters for them, in the sense that they’ve never before made it to successive All-Ireland club finals – last December’s Leinster triumph was their first ever back-to-back provincial success – so they’re definitely not approaching this one as just a stepping stone to another Patrick’s Day appearance at HQ.
The quality in Corofin’s ranks hasn’t gone unnoticed up here either. Ballintubber were worthy county champs but the Galway lads comprehensively dismantled their challenge in the Connacht final and they won’t have any inferiority complex either in taking on the holders of the Andy Merrigan Cup on Saturday. And of course they’re not complete strangers to this particular silverware, having tasted All-Ireland success themselves back in 1998.
The bookies are struggling to separate the two clubs heading into Saturday’s showdown, with our lads on offer at evens while Corofin are available at 11/10. The other semi-final is a different story, with Slaughtneil – who are managed, incidentally, by old Mayo bainisteoir Mickey Moran – the clear 4/7 favourites to prevail in that one. For once, then, it would appear that there’s no need for any pre-match self-deprecatory guff from the Kerry fraternity but, that said, any team with Kieran Donaghy in its ranks can’t be written off too lightly.
Time for a poll on this, I reckon. The poll below allows you to pick two out of the four options on offer but it goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that it would make no sense to use this extra latitude to vote for Vincents and Corofin or Slaughtneil and Stacks. But, of course, you knew that already didn’t you? Off now and vote now, let ye.