It’s nice and sunny up here again this morning – following yesterday’s November-like gloom – and there’s only a day to go until we square up to the All-Ireland champions in Croke Park. Isn’t this what summer football is meant to be all about?
The forecast for tomorrow still looks a bit iffy, though, with talk of drizzle or more widespread rain here in the early part of the day which may (or may not) clear off in the afternoon. Given our lads’ penchant for slipping and sliding all over the place in wet conditions, is it too late for one final “correct boots, please!” appeal? One hopes not.
Cian Murphy has a good piece in the Indo this morning with Aidan O’Shea and it’s clear that the young Breaffy man is well fired up for tomorrow’s showdown. On the Croke Park issue, he has this to say:
I have no fear going up to Croke Park. I don’t think it is on my mind going up there that we have to win the game, we just want to go out there and perform. I think this bunch of guys is ambitious enough to do that. We are well prepared and we will perform when we go up there.
On the team’s own viewpoint on their achievements so far this year and what they want now, he says this:
There is a perception out there that the Connacht final was our ultimate goal and that we have achieved it and we’re in bonus territory — but that is not the case in the dressingroom. It was our goal to win the Connacht title, but definitely not our ultimate goal. We have achieved it, parked it, and you knew the Tuesday night after the final at training that fellas were not just happy with a Connacht title. They wanted to push on, go to Croke Park, perform and move on to the All-Ireland semi-final.
That’s good, positive talk from Aidan and I’d say we could see a big performance from the big lad tomorrow. One point that hasn’t really been latched onto by the media (it’s mentioned in that Indo piece but only in passing) is that we have two Kerrymen starting for us in midfield tomorrow. Kerrymen born and raised in Mayo but Kerrymen nonetheless. Given the joy that lads from the Kingdom take in knocking seven shades of shite out of the Langers in Croke Park, can we expect the same kind of approach from our two? And will this infectious mood spread to their thirteen colleagues? We have to hope it will.
The Cork camp have obviously seen enough about all this talk of a Cork-Kerry semi-final repeat and have pressed the “don’t underestimate Mayo” button. Here’s Conor Counihan’s version. And Donncha O’Connor’s.
Keith Duggan has a piece on us in the Irish Times but, apart from the catchy (albeit dismal) headline, this adds little to the debate about tomrrow.
As has already been flagged in the comments, there was a cracking report in the Irish Examiner yesterday by Fintan O’Toole (who should not be confused with the insufferably pompous deputy editor of the Irish Times – this is a different lad altogether) who looks at the Mayo and Cork teams that lined out in the U21 All-Ireland final in 2006. What’s striking about this report is the sheer number of lads from both sides who have progressed through to senior but what grabbed my attention more than that was the fact that this match was the last time we met Cork in the championship at any level. If we could beat them then, there’s no reason we can’t do so again tomorrow.
And, just in case you missed it – here’s An Spailpín’s take on the approach needed to send the Donkey Ayters home crying to their mammies tomorrow evening.
Finally, best of luck today to the Rossies. Tyrone are a tough nut to crack (with Ricey’s nut the toughest one of all) and if Senan Kilbride is operating at less than 100%, it’ll be difficult for them to do it. But there’s one thing about the Rossies and that’s that they relish Croke Park and are sure to give it their all – remember that they led Cork until early in the second half last year. Tyrone may be All-Ireland contenders but they can be caught and it’d be great to see the Sheepstealers do it, both for Connacht in general and for the incentive it’d give our lads to follow suit tomorrow.
Up the West!