It’s funny the things that you let yourself get annoyed over.
I was on Drivetime Sport on RTÉ Radio One last Monday evening and Des Cahill started questioning me about the standard of football in Connacht and where the province stood in relation to the possibility of even contesting an All-Ireland in the near future.
I answered as honestly as I could and pointed out that apart from Mayo and Galway it was unlikely that any other county from the province would be even close to reaching even a semi-final in the medium term.
And even those two counties were not within an ass’s roar of defeating the likes of Tyrone, Kerry, or Cork in an All-Ireland final or semi-final on the evidence we have seen in the past three seasons.
In fact it would be quite fair and realistic to say that no county in Connacht and we can include Westmeath in this statement too, for our Advertiser readers in Athlone and Mullingar, are in the top 10 counties in Ireland.
You have the aforementioned big three and based on form over the past few years, you’d have to put Meath - they beat Mayo last Sunday and Galway in 2007, Kildare, Derry, Monaghan, Dublin, and perhaps Armagh and Limerick as being more forceful championship sides than we are currently.
Another theme that came up in the radio interview is that Connacht has “in the main” been a two horse race for the past decade between the big two.
Sligo have only won one Connacht title since 1975, Leitrim have only won two ever and the last was in 1994. And Roscommon have not won the JJ Nestor cup since 2001, their first in ten years, and they were subsequently well beaten in the All-Ireland quarter-finals by a Galway team managed by John O’Mahony.
Hence it seems logical to assume that the duopoly that exists with Mayo and Galway is likely to be maintained in the short term.
Admittedly Fergal O’Donnell and KevinWalsh will beg to argue the toss on that matter in 2010.
Anyway, before the show had ended, the texts started coming in from Roscommon supporters criticising me for my “Typical Galway arrogance” - and that considering Roscommon’s population they were performing very well.
Of course demographics play a big role in anything, however population is not the only criteria for assessing how a county is doing or can do.
Roscommon have won the Connacht championship on 19 occasions and they have won it three times since 1980. That averages out about once every decade in the past twenty-nine years.
I wish Roscommon the very best of success and I hope they can bounce back with Fergal O’Donnell to become a genuine and consistent challenger in both the Connacht championship and in the national football league. However to deny the fact that they have not been going well for the last few seasons is unrealistic. The side did bounce back very well from their heavy defeat to Mayo and it was good to see them get a win in the qualifiers, however no more than Galway and Mayo, they have a long road to travel.
All any county can do is maximise their potential and it is reasonable to say that most counties can improve in that regard.
Shooting the messenger never achieves anything, except a short-term sense of satisfaction. Ultimately it does not change the veracity of the message.