Tuesday 23 January 2018

Big ball... small ball: Who said the dual player was dead?

Wicklow players, Stephen Kelly (left) and Ross O'Brien at the Wicklow GAA new jersey sponsor announcement at the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Wicklow players, Stephen Kelly (left) and Ross O'Brien at the Wicklow GAA new jersey sponsor announcement at the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Michael Verney and Donnchadh Boyle

The era of the dual player isn't dead yet, with Wicklow's Stephen Kelly keeping the flag flying this weekend as he plays two big championship games within 24 hours.

Better known as 'Chester', Kelly has been accustomed to going from one training session to another, and is often tempted to rent out a room in Wicklow's Centre of Excellence in Ballinakill given his frequent visits.

The 30-year-old lines out for Seamus Murphy's hurlers tomorrow as they bid to cause an upset away to Carlow in the Christy Ring Cup semi-final before captaining the footballers in their Leinster SFC opener against Louth the following day in Parnell Park.

A dip in the sea and the wearing of recovery leggings will be used to keep fresh between games, but Kelly has been in worse predicaments in the past, having twice played back-to-back League games in recent years.

"I wouldn't recommend it," Kelly told Big Ball… Small Ball. "I had hardly any skin left on my feet after that but this weekend isn't as drastic so hopefully I'll be 100pc for the two of them. I mightn't be able to maintain the two for that much longer so why not do it?"

All in a weekend's work for the busy Greystones clubman, who is also a keen skateboarder.

Wexford's Shane Roche. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Wexford's Shane Roche. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

One hundred not out for Roche

Shane Roche is expected to make his 100th senior appearance for Wexford's footballers when he dons the purple and gold against Carlow this Sunday in the Leinster SFC.

Roche first appeared for the Model men back in 2006 when he featured against Fermanagh in the back door as an outfield player but more recently he has been re-incarnated between the posts for the Slaneysiders.

And that is where Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney is expected to deploy him this weekend, even though the versatile New Ross man played outfield last year against Kildare and Fermanagh and has scored 10-115 in his 99 appearances.

Fancy buying a piece of Aidan O'Shea?

Breaffy GAA have unveiled details of their Monster Auction fundraiser on Saturday, May 27 with Mayo stars Aidan, Seamus and Conor O’Shea as well as Rob Hennelly all making their services available.

Aidan O'Shea. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Aidan O'Shea. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

One-to-one coaching sessions can be purchased with any one of the county contingent, while exclusive behind-the-scenes packages with both RTÉ and Sky Sports for a televised Mayo match are up for grabs to the highest bidder.

Punters are encouraged to dig deep into their pockets, with information on all lots available at www.breaffygaa.ie.

Blast from the past

It's 35 years since Brian Cody had his finest moment in a Kilkenny jersey when leading the Cats to All-Ireland SHC glory against Cork and he’s still going strong as he heads into his 19th Championship season as manager.

Cody’s greatest day as a player was somewhat overshadowed that day, however, and by an apple, no less. Legendary goalkeeper Noel Skehan was searching for a sliotar to puck out towards the end as the Cats eased to a 3-18 to 1-13 success when an apple was thrown his way from Cork fans behind the goal.

The seven-time All-Star duly picked it up and put it beside the goalpost before having second thoughts and taking a bite out of it, waving thanks to the crowd with the grin of someone who knew the game was in the bag.

‘Applegate’ caused uproar among the travelling Cork support.

Quote - unquote

"There were 15-20 kids around, he signed autographs, with the team in a circle about ten yards away. No-one asked him to leave what he was doing, every other player was in a huddle, he was left outside and allowed to do as he wanted,"

- Bernard Flynn describing Aidan O'Shea's activities after a recent challenge game against Meath. Damned if you do, damned if you don't…

Bet of the week

Regular listeners of The Punter's Platform (released each Friday) on independent.ie have been rewarded in recent weeks with some top tipping, and this week's all-star panel have sided with Longford to dump Laois out of the Leinster SFC on Sunday at 15/8 with sponsors Ladbrokes.

Long-term punters might also take interest in exciting Kerry defender Tadhg Morley at 66/1 for Footballer of the Year (via Michael Verney), while if Tipperary are to complete back-to-back titles Noel McGrath is exceptional value at 33/1 for the hurling equivalent.

Irish Independent

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