One day closer to the day itself and it’s really starting to feel like we’re in the All-Ireland final this weekend. (We are! We are!) I even got to place my paws on the sacred silverware earlier on this morning at Croke Park, when I was at a breakfast bash there (thanks PJ for the invite). Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh was in the chair for this well-attended event, with a panel featuring Conor Mortimer, Kevin Cassidy and Stevie McDonnell.
Mícheál was the perfect gentleman in asking the questions but, in his own quiet manner, didn’t shirk from asking the two lads how they felt to be missing out on this weekend’s action. Fair play to both, they responded to Mícheál’s gentle probings in an open and frank manner and you’d need to have a hard enough heart not to feel for them, regardless of the context for their respective departures from the inter-county scene.
The fact that we’re one day closer to the match means that there’s a noticeable step up in coverage about the final and that’s before you even consider the locals, with the Mayo News and the Western People both out this morning with special All-Ireland final supplements.
The only place to start today, however, is in the Irish Times and this magnificent, lyrical piece by An Spailpín Fánach about what being back in the All-Ireland final means to the county. Wonderful stuff.
The same paper has an article by Sean Moran on his namesake Big Barry, which predictably dwells on The Mitchels’ man’s long-standing battles with injuries and his rebirth as a standout midfielder in this summer’s campaign. Also in the Times, there’s a piece by Keith Duggan (who, in a sense, has a foot in both camps this coming weekend) on Donegal selector Rory Gallagher.
Over at the Irish Independent, meanwhile, there’s a big, long article by Colm Keys on Jimmy McGuinness and his big, long journey to Sunday, which, to be honest, looks a bit big and long to dwell on at the minute. There’s also an interview with Donegal’s teen star Paddy McBrearty who says he wants to have people talking about him in 50 or 60 years time. Paddy should, perhaps, be a bit more careful what he wishes for: Mícheál recounted this morning the story about Armagh’s Bill McCorry who famously missed a penalty in the 1953 decider against Kerry and was, to his dying day, known simply as the man who’d missed the penalty for Armagh in the All-Ireland final.
The Indo also has an interview by Cliona Foley with injured skipper Andy Moran, who, incredibly, has almost become the forgotten man on the panel but who is still an enormous presence behind the scenes. Hopefully he’ll also have front-of-house duties to attend to at around 5pm on Sunday. By the way, an interview covering much the same ground which Andy did with Frank Roche featured in yesterday’s Evening Herald.
The Indo has two ticket-related reports: here and here. The latter one, with a screaming “Donegal fans hit by €60,000 ticket tax” headline is, of course, utter bullshit: like everyone on our side of the fence, all Donegal supporters surely want at this stage is to be guaranteed a ticket for Sunday and whether it’s €80 or €85 is a matter of very minor detail. If it comes to a choice between €85 or not going, it’s easy to see how insignificant this so-called “tax” becomes. That same piece, by the way, also carries the rather alarming assertion that Lee Keegan is unlikely to be fit to start for us on Sunday. I really hope this is bullshit too.
Onto the Irish Examiner, where resident Mayoman Terry Reilly has a big, long piece on us that I haven’t read in detail yet but will do in a bit. Terry also has an interview with Andy Moran and John Fogarty has one with Paddy McBrearty. The same paper also has a piece by Alan Foley on Donegal and their constant evolution (this kind of stuff is starting to constantly bore the tits off me, I have to admit) and an article by John Fogarty containing quotes from both County Board chairman about the number of supporters from the two counties who are likely to descend on the capital this weekend (i.e. rather a lot).
That’s about it but, hey, it is the run-up to the All-Ireland final so, to play us out, here’s the inimitable Ginger Melodeon Experience. Take it away, lads: