A tale of two finals. On TV on Sunday, former Sligo star Eamonn O’Hara was realistic in his assessment of his county’s chances.
“In terms of us going to try and win one, we’ll always believe that when we’re here, we have a chance, but I’m not too optimistic,” O’Hara said.
Later, he added: “The rumours are that they’re going to drop one of the forwards and introduce an extra defender, the message is obviously we’re here not to [lose] rather than here to win. I think it could be damage limitation.”
What a difference 16 years make. When the sides last met in the Connacht final, an interview with O’Hara, then a player, ran in that morning’s Sunday Tribune.
“At this stage it has to be about winning,” he was quoted.
“Anything else is bulls**t and we will win. Yes, we will win. Say I’m talking through my arse all you like but I’m completely genuine when I say that.”
On both occasions, O’Hara was right.
GAAGO pushing it a little too far
The Schemozzle understands the need to “sex up” a pay-per-view sporting event but GAAGO pushed it a little bit far.
An email landed in midweek hyping the weekend’s hurling. Dublin v Wexford and Cork v Tipp spoke for themselves but the new channel was putting the hard-sell on for Kilkenny v Antrim.
“Kilkenny, who have yet to find the net in championship 2023, have a tough assignment in Belfast on Sunday,” reckoned the blurb.
“Antrim took Dublin for a point in Parnell, so won’t be in any way fearful of Derek Lyng’s group who’ve failed to spark thus far. This will be a ‘match only’ production.”
A quick look at the prematch odds (the Cats were 1/16) confirmed this was quite the leap… and Kilkenny subsequently had 17 points to spare.
The big dogs
To date, Sligo under-20s must be the story of the football season. The Yeats lads have been on a giant-killing run, overcoming injuries and illness along the way.
In the Connacht championship, they beat Roscommon, Mayo and Galway to retain the title for the first time ever. They went in as underdogs against Kerry in Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final but came through to reach the final for the first time. Speaking of canines, in fairness, their captain Canice Mulligan called it in his acceptance speech after the provincial final.
“We’d a tough road to the final,” he said.
“Three away games, all the big dogs. But Sligo are now a f**king big dog so it doesn’t matter… Sorry, apologies.”
Worst defensive record in hurling’s five tiers
After a couple of manic weekends, things were a little quieter, with just the seven hurling matches (three Leinster, one Munster and three Joe McDonagh), two provincial senior football finals, two All-Ireland under-20 football semi-finals and an under-20 All-Ireland B hurling final.
Top scorers were Carlow hurlers, who hit 6-23 against Down in Ballycran, making it 15-99 in four games that the Mourne men have conceded, comfortably the worst defensive record in hurling’s five tiers.
Word of Mouth
“Kerry have hit 5-10 before 5.10pm in the evening. I wonder will they hit 5-30 before 5.30pm,” commentator Pauric Lodge said after a break on Sunday.
By the Numbers: €95
Cost of Louth’s limited edition Leinster Senior Football Championship commemorative jersey (adult size), launched last week.