Photo: Sportsfile/Ramsey Cardy
Eight days out now and at last it’s starting to feel like the build-up is on in earnest. The hit count here on the site went over two million for the year to date last night and this morning sees some coverage in the media about the big game.
James Horan and Dublin’s Ray Cosgrove were at a media launch in Croke Park yesterday and it’s from them that the quotes emanate today. Both incidentally were also down west last night, at the SportsJoe GAA Hour Live bash that was held in An Sportlann, and I’m looking forward to listening to that show when it goes online.
Pieces with James today are in the Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Irish Independent, The 42 and on the GAA’s website. Take your pick – they all cover much the same ground. By the way, there was also a piece with James on the Sky Sports the other day (here) which is worth a shifty as well, as in it he puts forward the argument that Dublin’s much-vaunted cavalry isn’t as game-changing this year as it was in previous seasons.
James certainly can’t be excused of talking down our chances on Sunday week. Instead, he’s positively bullish in his assessment of our prospects, to the extent that (in that Indo piece) he predicts we’ll “pull clear in the last five minutes.” Jeez, it gave me goosebumps reading that.
In a nutshell, James says the way we’re building game-on-game this year – he reckons to a “crescendo” – is a major positive, as is our big match experience and, he suggests, the difficulty Dublin might face in rousing themselves anew after what he reckons was “the huge emotional involvement” of the semi-final against Kerry.
It must be a strange feeling for James, watching what is still largely his team – albeit one with important new additions in personnel and a different tactical approach – facing into the challenge of contesting another All-Ireland final. He clearly still has huge belief in this group of players – why wouldn’t he? – and I don’t think he’s engaging in any kind of mind-games in what he has to say. Did he not get the Kerry-style crib sheet, the one instructing all home-grown pundits to low-ball our chances?
Ray Cosgrove – both of whose parents, incidentally, hail from Mayo (that I did not know) – clearly got the Jacks’ one, as he’s at pains to point out how wary Dublin are of us, what pressure is on them to clinch an historic two-in-a-row and all that kind of stuff. He still reckons the strength of Dublin’s forward line gives the home side the advantage and he’s backing them to do it. The piece with Ray is on the GAA website – here.
Separately, I’ve just read this excellent piece by Keith Duggan in today’s Irish Times. In it he speaks with Andy Moran and selector Seán Carey and it’s an article that’s loaded with some nice gems. For example, Andy says “I don’t really care what our form is like. We are going into a final here and finals are for winning.” Sean remarks that “leaving Croke Park last year, I believed that they could still win it and I believe now that they can win it.” Drop whatever you’re doing and take ten minutes to let this one soak in.
That’s your lot for now. Good luck to the U21 hurlers today – they’re rank outsiders against Meath in this afternoon’s All-Ireland U21 B final at Semple Stadium (throw-in 3pm, live on TG4) but they’re sure to give their all. Back later with some thoughts on that one.
Are you not sorted for tickets for Sunday week yet? If so there are ten tickets to be won in next Monday’s Mayo GAA Players Welfare Lotto. Play the Lotto here.