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Rebels target comfort inn their 'top-secret' hideout

IT'S an annual event around All-Ireland final weekend. First, you find out which team is staying where the night beforehand. Then you peruse old newspaper files to discover the respective strike rates of the rival hotels. Finally, you put two and two together and get five -- Team X is definitely going to win!

However, this bout of superstitious whimsy has been rendered obsolete for this year's SFC decider. Why so? Well, firstly, Cork are staying at a "top-secret" location in the capital's environs. Secondly, Down are staying in their own beds!

Cork chairman Jerry O'Sullivan explained that Rebel teams "nearly always" stayed in the Burlington Hotel before All-Ireland finals, so much so that it became a tradition for Leeside supporters to gather there on the Saturday night.

"It was like a circus there at times," the county board chief admitted.

And although players would obviously keep away from the crowds, management felt it would be better this year if they were "insulated" from the pre-match hullabaloo.

Can we suggest another possible reason for this change of Saturday night abode?

The fact that Cork footballers stayed at the Burlington prior to the 2007 and 2009 All-Ireland finals!

On the flip side, Tipperary hurlers proved the same hotel can be a pre-match winner last Sunday week, while O'Sullivan stressed that Cork will be back in 'the Burlo' on Sunday night with the players -- and hopefully Sam Maguire -- available to everyone.


Meanwhile, Down will maintain their 50-year-old tradition of travelling south on the morning of the big day itself.

As Down chairman Seamus Walsh recently explained, manager James McCartan "always wants to keep the same pattern. He prefers the boys to stay in their own beds the night before the game."

The team bus will receive a Garda escort from the border all the way to Croke Park, ensuring they aren't ensnared in all the pre-match traffic heading down the M1 towards Jones Road.

Mind you, they can hardly throw in without them ...