Well, that’s what the GAA are still saying but then this report in the Irish Times had me spluttering just a little into my cornflakes this morning. Apparently, according to the Times, the GAA's line is that next weekend’s double header at Croker Park “has not been finalised”. I’m assuming, as I think everyone else is, that if they can play the Junior and Intermediate All-Irelands at HQ (under bloody lights and all), then the two NFL semis should merit a big day out at Croker as well. I’m sure that’s what the four managers and the players would want too, as would that big slob Tom Humphries.
But, of course, there are the supporters to consider and you’d have to agree that it’s a bit of a hike for all the Mayo and Galway supporters to cross the country just to snarl at each other when they could just as easily do so in, say, Hyde Park and still be home in time for the tea. Likewise, Donegal and Tyrone fans could quite happily decamp to Clones (I assume the pitch there has dried out by now!) for their semi-final clash. In addition, with the final on the following Sunday, two sets of supporters (say, just for the craic mind you, those from Mayo and Donegal) might have to traipse across the country twice in two weeks. Hmmm.
I have to declare an interest here. I live a mile or so north of Croker and can, upon leaving the house with a ticket in my hand, be seated in that great amphitheatre in under half an hour. Hyde Park would take slightly longer, McHale Park or Pearse Stadium longer still. But I am, I recognise, in the minority so I can see the merit in the GAA opting for a western venue for the Mayo/Galway semi. I should stress, however, that the GAA have said nowt since before yesterday’s matches about the venue (or venues) for next weekends semi-finals but they’ll need to say something soon, what with getting tickets sorted and the like. I suppose we can expect an official announcement tomorrow or the day after.
In other news Johnno is reported to be “eagerly awaiting” next Sunday’s clash with his former charges. I should think so too, though I’d say that, like the rest of us, he’d have been more than happy to eagerly await meeting the hoors till next month.
Finally, I’ve uploaded a few videos to the YouTube channel from yesterday’s Division 1B clash at Newbridge between Kildare and Laois, which I ended up attending. It was an interesting tussle, one that either side could have won, but Ross Munnelly’s absence probably cost Laois the points. Kildare shouldn’t give Donegal too many problems I’d say, but only providing Donegal remember to play like they did against Kerry. Since then Brian McIver seems to have cast himself as the Rafa Benitez of Division 1A, making wholesale changes for each of Donegal’s final two matches, a tactic which is almost sure to have a negative impact on the team’s rhythm. I’d still fancy Donegal to win, but perhaps not by as much as might be expected.