Gaelic GamesThe Schemozzle

Joanne Cantwell tackles Donal Óg Cusack over sideswipe at Tailteann Cup

Sparks fly in RTÉ studio in advance of incredible Sunday double-bill of hurling classics

Cusack sticks to his guns under fire

Yesterday’s thriller in Ennis was preceded by a blockbuster on the telly. Joanne Cantwell began by asking Donal Óg Cusack about his controversial Tailteann Cup comments and things quickly ignited.

“You decided to talk about the Tailteann Cup and refer to it as a Grand National for non-runners . . . or for also-rans. Why would you do that?” she began.

Cusack hit back, accusing Cantwell of misquoting him.

“Well, you said it’s a Grand National for also-rans, are they happy…” Cantwell attempted to clarify.


“That’s not exactly what I said.”

Cantwell replied that it was; Cusack disagreed.

“Joanne, we’re here to talk about hurling and the next time you come asking me the questions, make sure you quote me correctly,” he said.

For the record, Cusack’s exact quote on Hurling Nation on May 12th was: “The GAA schedule has two provincial football finals and the start of the Tailteann Cup which, if you haven’t heard of, is a sort of Gaelic football Grand National for disappointed also-rans.”

Home-grown talent making their mark with London

After making great strides under manager Michael Maher last year (London-born with Kilkenny, Cork and Kerry roots), the London senior footballers’ progress has stalled in 2023.

They finished bottom of Division 4 with one point, gained in the first round away against Wexford. On Saturday, however, they competed very strongly with a fancied Cavan side at Ruislip and were within four points with a few minutes remaining.

What was perhaps most notable was that of the 2-6 London scored, 1-6 came from home-grown players. Captain Liam Gavaghan contributed four frees and also set up a goal for another Londoner, midfielder Liam Gallagher, with Joshua Obahor and Aidan McLoughlin also on the mark.

This was no outlier, either; the same quartet registered 0-7 of their 0-11 in the previous round against Offaly.

Brolly questions McGeeney’s managerial record

“Kieran hangs over his teams like a ton weight,” wrote Joe Brolly yesterday, in reference to Armagh manager McGeeney. “Fifteen years [Kildare, then Armagh] without a trophy. Maybe management isn’t his forte?”

It’s not strictly true, of course. With Kildare, McGeeney won the O’Byrne Cup twice, the National League Division 2 title in 2012 (beating Tyrone in the final) and the Leinster Under-21 championship in 2013.

With Armagh, McGeeney won the 2018 National League Division 3 title. He also led them to promotion to the top flight in 2020, although there was no final played that year.

So, while it is correct that he has no senior championship title as a manager, McGeeney has won five trophies in the bainisteoir bib.

Westmeath produce remarkable upset

We’re wary of recency bias and all that craic but Westmeath’s win over Wexford must already rank as one of the most extraordinary results in inter-county history.

Some stats might sum it up best. Westmeath (20/1 pre-match) lost their previous matches by a combined 70 points, scoring just 0-7 against Kilkenny and leaking 6-33 against Galway.

They were also 16 points down at half-time against a Wexford side who had beaten Antrim and run Dublin and Galway close. Amazing.

In quotes

“It’s gone all the way over the bar, Clare lead! Oh, where would we be without the GAA on a Sunday?” – RTÉ commentator Pauric Lodge after Diarmuid Ryan’s late point for Clare against Cork.

In numbers

3: Times Lancashire have now qualified for the Lory Meagher Cup final. They will hope to win it for the first time against Monaghan on the weekend after next.