The seniors have been in the frame over the last few weekends but, having not made it to the FBD final, this one is a gap one ahead of the start of the League season next weekend. Nature abhors a vacuum, so they say, and so into that void come the county’s U21s and ladies footballers, as well as the lads from Westport and Louisburgh.
Taking the action in chronological order, the U21s are in action tomorrow in the North-West Cup final, where they face Sligo at Markievicz Park (throw-in 2pm). It’s €5 at the gate for this one, with all proceeds going to the North West Hospice.
The young Magpies edged out Mike Solan’s charges when they met earlier on in the competition a fortnight ago. No doubt our lads will have done the Kerryman on it since – grinding their teeth and wailing at the pain, counting down the days and hours before they get to lance the boil and exorcise all that hurt – ahead of tomorrow’s rematch. Plus, there’s a nice, shiny cup to be won tomorrow as well.
On Sunday, the ladies start their League campaign with a Round 1 fixture against neighbours Galway. That one throws in at Swinford Amenity Park in Swinford at 2pm.
The Irish Examiner had an informative guide yesterday on the eight teams in Division One of the ladies’ NFL – here. The same paper also had a piece on that significant will-she-won’t-she question in relation to Cora Staunton’s availability this year, an issue which remains to be clarified. An announcement on this is expected ahead of Sunday.
UPDATE: Cora has now announced that she’s back on board for an incredible 23rd season. So too are her long-serving teammates Yvonne Byrne and Martha Carter. Report from RTÉ here.
Down at Cusack Park in Ennis, meanwhile, the footballers of Louisburgh take the field on Sunday in their All-Ireland JFC semi-final against Kerry’s Glenbeigh/Glencar. That match gets underway at 12.30pm and will be followed, at 2.15pm, by the All-Ireland IFC semi-final between Westport and Kenmare of Kerry.
Both Mayo clubs go into their respective penultimate round ties as outsiders: Glenbeigh/Glencar are 1/4 favourites to win the junior semi while Kenmare are priced at 1/5 to prevail in the intermediate one. The prize, though, is a significant one – a big day out for the whole parish at Croke Park in three weeks time.
There’s some stuff of interest in the papers about both games. Today’s Irish Independent has a piece on Austin O’Malley, while the Mayo News this week did a quickfire question piece with Alan Moran. That paper gives the same treatment to Westport’s James Walsh and it also has an interview with current Footballer of the Year and Westport leading light, Lee Keegan – here.
Both club semi-finals will, by the way, be streamed live from Ennis on Sunday by Local Streaming. Full details on that here.