Are the Tubber up to the task?

I cannot wait for the Ballintubber and Corofin Connacht senior final on Sunday, it promises to be a real cracker. Corofin are massive favourites at 4/9 while Ballintubber are priced at a very generous 9/4. These odds simply don’t make sense. Ballintubber have beaten a team that played in an All-Ireland club final this year (Castlebar ) and a team that won the All-Ireland the previous year (St Brigid’s ), yet the bookmakers think it is not worth their while turning up. Corofin have shot the lights out against every team they have played winning every game by 10 points or more, their semi-final hammering of Aughawillan more embarrassing on Leitrim club football than complimentary of Galway’s status.

They have won their last three championship matches by a combined total of 77 points; maybe that is why they carry the favourites’ tag. A word of warning to Ballintubber, Corofin play better away from home as I found out to my own expense when they annihilated Charlestown in a Connacht club final in Charlestown in 2009. Ballintubber have a chance against any team with their powerful midfield and much feared forward line. They have come through two tough games and are battle hardened. Will Corofin have the stomach for the fight if the game is tight going into the last 10 minute is the big question? It is up to Ballintubber to get that question answered. Cillian O’Connor is looking a little battle weary of late but his presence strikes fear into his opponents and makes space for his team mates. This could be a memorable year in Ballintubber’s history; they will have to play out of their skins.

A tough day for Achill and a radio analyst

The fairytale All-Island Connacht Junior final did not have a fairytale ending for Mayo representatives; Achill last weekend in Tuam. They were comprehensively beaten by a well drilled, highly skilled, and physically superior Aran Islands. I was amazed at the huge crowd that turned out in Tuam for the double header, the stand half full when I arrived at 11.30am. I always have a look at odds on matches before I attend and was somewhat surprised to see the Aran Islands overwhelming favourites at 4/11 while Achill were what I thought a very generous 5/2. The bookmakers had really no basis to implement such odds as there was really no history to go on. I was informed before throw in by the large media presence from Galway that the Aran Islands had a serious outfit and would win handsomely. Moral of the story, bookmakers are rarely wrong. The Aran Islands were well deserving of their eight point victory. I rarely leave a match without a gripe about something, it was not the referee this time, John Gilmartin from the Curry GAA club in Sligo had a fine game, a real stickler for over carrying I may add, it was not the linesmen, it was not the umpires, but pretty much everything else that could have gone wrong did go wrong, especially if you are trying to do a live broadcast.

For those of you tuned in to the commentary of the game you may have realised the poor sound quality of the first half, that was because the commentary was conducted from a mobile phone being passed around as the phone lines were down in the press box in Tuam, and we could not get a connection to the studio. On top of the hassle of trying to get connected and wires being dragged across people’s faces to try to get a connection as the game was about to start, we realised we had no match programmes as the courier had an accident on his way to the game and the programmes were left in limbo, personally I felt pretty useless. I had a fairly good knowledge (so I thought ) of the Achill team and scribbled their names and numbers on a piece of paper from a printout from another journalist, but I had no knowledge of the Aran Island team and badly needed the match day programme to give me a dig out. I was laying eyes on these guys for the first time. As the first half developed and I struggled for names of the Aran Islands players I noticed that Achill for some reason had changed their free taker from their semi final win over Michael Glavey’s. I wondered why? Pee Sweeney, after all, scored a marvellous levelling point in that semi final win from a placed ball, why was he not on kicking duties for the Connacht final, why was Peter Gallagher taking the frees, was Sweeney injured we wondered? At half time to our embarrassment we found out that the two Achill corner forwards had in fact worn the other’s jersey and it was in fact Sweeney that was taking the frees all along. For the life of me I could not figure out why they changed jerseys, I felt a fool. If it was an accidental mistake so be it, but I somehow think it was done to try to confuse the Aran Islands’ backline, which it did not. Three quarters, or probably a lot more, of the crowd and all the commentators thought Pee Sweeney was Peter Gallagher and vice versa. To make matters worse for our already temperamental situation Achill brought players on that were not even numbered on the programme, I was relieved at the final whistle. It was far from a glamorous day in the press box. Achill will have to dig deep to come back next year to try to win the junior championship in Mayo, their conquerors might just take a bit of beating for the rest of the junior championship, I may have a few euro at them because they were very impressive, they looked better than any junior team I ever watched.

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