At this time of the year I usually launch an attack on the international rules series, mocking its ugliness, self-importance and downright pointlessness. Not this year. It took just four words to change my mind.
Peter Canavan has hit out at the harsh criticism Mayo manager Stephen Rochford received following his decision to deploy Aidan O'Shea at full back to mark Kieran Donaghy in last weekend's All Ireland semi-final draw.
The 2017 football championship is beginning to resemble a very long and boring episode of Liveline. Keeping tabs on it is like being the teacher of a peculiarly fractious infant class. "Miss, Miss, they're after taking Diarmuid's character." "And they're subjecting him to trial by television." "James called me a tit." "He started it Miss, he teased Aidan for taking a selfie." "Pat only told on me because he's from Kerry and he hates Dublin." "I'm not talking to him." "He pulled my hair." "This caffeine gel tastes yucky." "Miss, Miss, freedom of expression is one of the rights in the Republic but it's not absolute."
Mayo players were maintaining a stony silence yesterday, refusing to engage after a damning attack from their former joint management team of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly. Sources close to the camp said that they had no interest in getting involved in a fresh dispute and described the story as "last year's news".
There have been easier weeks to be from Sligo. Particularly if your despair over the Connacht final was profoundly deepened by having to listen to Ger Canning and Tommy 'Tom' Carr as events unfolded. In hell, I am convinced, there will be a never-ending loop of Canning mispronouncing 'Caheragh' and Carr stating the bleeding obvious in his speaking clock voice.
Keynsham sits at the confluence of the rivers Chew and Avon in Somerset, south-west England. The town rose to fame during the late 1950s and early 1960s when it featured in a series of advertisements on Radio Luxembourg for Horace Batchelor's 'Infra-draw' betting system. During the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685, Keynsham was also the site of a violent tussle between royalist forces and the rebel Duke of Monmouth.
The irony of a Crossmaglen man throwing a spanner in the works of the rebel forces will not be lost on students of modern Irish history. The most dangerous referees are those who are drawn to making dramatic decisions. Whether they are wrong or not is of secondary importance. It was an otherwise inexplicable error by Pádraig Hughes last Sunday.
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