Monday 26 August 2013

Bravo Mayo!

All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final:

Mayo 1-16; Tyrone 0-13

Mayo came good in the second half to qualify for the All-Ireland senior football final on September 22nd. The weight of favoritism seemed to get to Mayo for a long period in the first half. They seemed nervous and indecisive and kicked a lot of bad wides. Tyrone's grinding play contributed to this. Mayo started to move much more smoothly before half-time and got within one point of Tyrone which was very important for their morale. They played with much greater confidence in the second half and had players getting into space all the time; and were capable of taking their scoring chances when they presented themselves. The loss of Peter Harte and Stephen O'Neill was huge for Tyrone as was the loss of Cillian O'Connor to Mayo. I thought that the Mayo full-back line played very well, as they have being doing all year.

I would have sympathy for Mickey Harte; but I am pleased that a large section of Tyrone supporters will not be in a position to display their boorish ignorance in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day, as they have done in the recent past. What a sad contrast to the days when followers from the six counties arriving in Croke Park following their Ulster final wins (mostly for the first time) were like a breath of fresh air to the place. Many of those present from other counties, who had never spoken to anyone from Northern Ireland before, were fascinated by their accents and expressions.

I was present as a spectator when Down, in their first All-Ireland senior football semi-final, were beaten by Galway in 1959. I was also present for the historic final the following year when Down, led by their captain Kevin Mussen, became the first team from the six counties to win an All-Ireland senior title. On both occasions, from my standing position under the old Cusack Stand, I spoke to a number of Down supporters who would not normally have attended Gaelic Games. They were obviously from a different tradition than mine and the vast majority of those present, but they were wholeheartedly supporting the Down team. I have often considered since what great work could have been done to unite communities, and indeed North and South, if the right approach of responsible people had been supported. Unfortunately, the evil of terrorism intervened and the blight it emitted has left many blotches.

Monday 19 August 2013

Disappointment Again For Limerick

All-Ireland SHC Semi-Final:

Clare 1-22; Limerick 0-18

Once again Croke Park proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for Limerick. Following on their previous bitter disappointments in All-Ireland finals, nobody would begrudge Limerick an All-Ireland win. I had a feeling that Clare's all-round skill would blossom on a fine day in Croke Park. Limerick have some skillful players and great heart drawn from the tradition of "Old Ahane" and the "Great Mick", but they lack scoring forwards.

They had a fine minor team this year who met an even better one in Galway in a great game that could have gone either way. They had a very good under-21 team this year; there is plenty of talent coming and the glory day will come. In the mean time, best of luck Clare!

Thursday 15 August 2013

A Hurler's Prayer

The following are some of the things that Clare manager, Davy Fitzgerald, might say to his players during next Sunday's All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final between Clare and Limerick at Croke Park:

Grant me, O Lord, a hurler's skill,
With strength of arm and speed of limb,
Unerring eye for the flying ball
And courage to match them what'er befall.
May my aim be steady, my stroke be true,
My actions manly, my misses few;
And no matter what way the game may go,
May I rest in friendship with every foe.
When the final whistle for me is blown,
And I stand at last at God's judgement throne,
May the Great Referee when He calls my name,
Say "you hurled like a man, you played the game".

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Ireland's Most Storied Mountain

By W.C. Darmody

O, sweet Slievenamon, you're my darling and pride,
With your soft swelling bosom and mien like a bride,
How oft have I wandered in sunshine and shower,
From dark Kyleavalla to lonely Glenbower;
Or spent with a light heart the long summer's day,
'Twixt Suidhe-Finn and the Clodagh above Kyleatlea.

- Charles J.Kickham.

Monday 12 August 2013

Well Done Waterford!

All-Ireland MHC Semi-Final:

Waterford 2-12; Kilkenny 0-16

Congratulations to Waterford minor hurlers on their two-point victory over Kilkenny in yesterdays All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final played at Croke Park. For more than ten years many people have worked hard at developing hurling at juvenile level in Waterford. During that period Waterford teams have been successful in inter-county competitions at under fourteen and under sixteen level. In post primary school competitions Waterford schools have achieved success at Munster and All-Ireland level; now their minors are one game away from winning the All-Ireland title for the first time since 1948. The winning team then contained players who went on to play leading roles with successful Waterford senior teams in the fifties and early sixties.

In respect to yesterday's team, I liked the way they used a certain amount of first-time striking: this is an essential element to the success of the hurling game which has disappeared for many years. There is a problem with the type of refereeing we have nowadays: if a player pulls first time on the ball and unfortunately makes contact with an opponent, he could get a red card. A transgression which is obviously accidental should not warrant a card of any colour. Another thing I have noticed at the present time is that when a player falls without having contact from an opponent he gets a free. Finally, players should keep the spare arm away from an opponent in both hurling and football—there are other methods to harass and prevent him from playing the ball.