First, the U21 All-Ireland semi-final takes place this coming Saturday in Hyde Park. We’re up against Leinster champions Laois, who retained their provincial title at the weekend when they beat Offaly by three points in the Leinster final. Throw-in at the Hyde on Saturday is, according to Mayofans.com, at 3pm. I can't find any official confirmation of this, as the official GAA website still has the incorrect provincial pairings for this weekend's U21 semi-finals and, needless to say, no details about venues or throw-in times for the games that are actually taking place. C'mon lads! Surely if you can allow foreign games into Croker, you can manage the basics of communication about forthcoming matches. You know: correct information on dates for matches, throw-in times and the like. At the moment, the site is like Aertel's ugly sister, only slightly worse.
By the way, fixing the U21 match for Roscommon on Saturday evening is quite clever, I think. Anyone planning a slow march from the West to Croker for Sunday's final could easily take this one in on the way.
Onto the NFL final, where Donegal have a few selection worries to deal with. Full-forward Brendan Devenney , who came off against Kildare after only 20 minutes, is struggling with a knee injury and may not, according to Setanta, be fit to face us. Kevin Cassidy, who was sent off late on last Sunday, is also a doubt. Setanta reports that he may be suspended because it was his second brace of yellow cards this year but Donegal are still apparently appealing one of the earlier ones. I’d expect him to be cleared to play us. Just to be sure, Donegal should hire the GAA's own Frank Murphy to argue their case. He certainly has a good record in getting Cork lads off the hook in such circumstances.
The Indo has an interesting article about Donegal's long record of failure in finals (NFL and Ulster SFC) since their breakthrough All-Ireland success in 1992. They've lost nine on the spin in that time, which makes our run of All-Ireland final losses appear quite healthy in contrast. Now these are the kind of final opponents we've been looking for: lads who'll be planking themselves about losing instead of those Kerry buggers who have the victory speeches all learned off on the train on the way up. At least we've regularly won Connacht and won the NFL itself as recently as 2001 so our run of losses has been interspersed with some success, albeit of the more modest variety.
Finally, I see that the words "Croke Park" and "ice rink" are being used collectively again, with Alan Dillon among those complaining about the slippery surface. The pitch did look rough enough, I thought, the last day and it is due for some serious work between now and the start of the championship but I guess we're stuck with it for this weekend.
That's it. Back tomorrow with more thoughts on the Galway match and what it might mean for world peace and the rest.