Okay, we’re getting near now. In little more than 24 hours from now Round 2 of the Connacht Croke Park showdown gets underway. Our All-Ireland quarter-final replay clash with Roscommon throws in at HQ tomorrow at 2pm and Wicklow’s Anthony Nolan refs this one.
Yesterday’s two quarter-finals cut the field of remaining challengers for the Sam Maguire this year down to just five. Barring further dramatics at Croke Park tomorrow the race will be reduced to the final four then.
The other quarter-finals all went to form and decisively so. Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone have been the three counties fancied all year by the bookies to make it this far and they’ve all duly obliged, all in emphatic fashion.
The trio who have already made it to the penultimate round haven’t a single competitive match to boast about between them. That’s not their fault, of course, but it does point to a yawning gap between the championship haves and have-nots.
We’ve held down a place in the former camp since 2011 but whether or not we’re still in that cohort tomorrow evening remains to be seen. We’re strong favourites to clinch the last semi-final place on offer but we’ve more than enough evidence so far this year to know that the bookies haven’t always been right about us in this year’s championship.
There’s sure to be another strong turnout from both counties at HQ tomorrow. Roscommon’s supporters, their outlook on life no doubt greatly boosted by their team’s showing the last day, will need little prompting to hit the road once more tomorrow. We know ourselves what it’s like to clamber aboard a bandwagon when your team is on the up. Good luck to them.
For our supporters, it’s a case of turning up for the fifth time in six weeks. The many thousands of you who have got to every game the county has played this summer and will do once again tomorrow deserve special praise. It’s an investment of significant time and money, all to follow a dream, one we all know has no guarantee of a happy ending.
My standing as a fully committed supporter this summer is surely under threat, as once again I’ll be missing in action on the day. My summer plans this year didn’t account for either the back door or replays and so tomorrow I’ll again have to make do with GAA GO to watch the match.
That’s a First World problem, I know, but at least I will get to see the action and do all the normal online stuff around it. Aside from the audio report, that is – that only works properly when I’m there in the moment.
For those of you who will be there tomorrow, safe travelling and don’t forget – as I know you won’t – your crucial role as 16th man at HQ. The same vociferous support that the team has enjoyed all year will, once again, be needed tomorrow. There’s no doubt but that, once again, it’ll be there.
Back tomorrow morning with some final pre-match thoughts.