Saturday 19 October 2019

Billy Keane: Bob Marley Gaels honour the jersey in bishop's field

Carlow’s Sean Murphy gets a great block in on Owen Duffy of Monaghan. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Carlow’s Sean Murphy gets a great block in on Owen Duffy of Monaghan. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

St Patrick was counting sheep to get to sleep when Carlow had their last long run in the All-Ireland championship. There was no nodding off in Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday night. Carlow put it up to Monaghan, who were in mortal danger for over an hour, and if there's glory to be had in defeat, well then this was a glorious defeat.

The game was no place for men who thrive in the shade, and there were times when Monaghan regurgitated puke football, but only at times.

Drew Wylie, the Monaghan full-back, is one of the best tacklers around. He nearly did for Carlow's key player Sean Murphy - himself a man who knows how to herd sheep - with a legal shoulder hit that would jackknife an artic.

Before you start to say I saw that man pulling pints on Saturday evening, well I'm writing this one off the TV. They wouldn't send me to the shop for milk.

I re-watched the game on Sky. I don't have Sky in the pub. I find it hard enough make my own wages every week, never mind Wayne Rooney's.

But Sky has brought back the concept of the people going to the only house with the radio. The emigrants get to see games. Michael Duignan is right. In and ideal world, GAA sports should be free to air.

Sky who have been shipping some criticism for their coverage did a good job in Carlow with excellent camera-work and shrewd if undramatic analysis.

controversial Rachel Wyse is smart and straight down the line. Peter Canavan knows the game inside out and he'd spot the location of the sweeper in a student's flat. He has some street cred. James Horan is the controversial one. He's usually right.

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I wonder if it's PC these days to say Rachel is a beautiful woman. Would I be insulting her like?

This lady came into the pub and she was all dolled up so I say, "You look lovely tonight, Mary."

And do you know what she said to me? And I swear this to be true. She says: "What was wrong with me the last night, Billy?"

Donald Trump told a woman she was "in good shape" and he got into some bother. Maybe the best way of putting it is to say Rachel, Evanne Ní Chuilinn, our own Sinéad Kissane, and a good many more are top-class sports journalists.

I was told there was a great buzz in Carlow. That first few cold pints on a summer's evening after a feisty battle are the sweetest of all. I'd say the Dubs would love a good evening out in Carlow but money talks too much in the GAA.

Here's a plan. The Carlow colours of red, yellow and green are the very same as the Rasta flag. Agreed?

Wouldn't it be nice then if Carlow named a team after Bob Marley? The lads from 1798 and 1916 have loads of clubs called after them. There must surely be 20 Emmets and 30 Pearses, but Bob has none. What about Bob Marley Gaels? I'd be all against the name Ganja Gaels though.

There was a big concert yesterday in 'Marley Park', but we will leave Dr Cullen Park as it is. Dr Cullen was a bishop. And not content with throwing in the ball, the clergy called the field after one of their own.

Carlow's home grounds are now known as Netwatch Cullen Park. Isn't it refreshing to see a big firm sponsoring a county that hasn't won a whole pile but are full of love for both hurling and football?

The Netwatch investment has helped the team considerably. You haven't a hope now at inter-county level unless there's money in the kitty.

Memo to the treasurer of the Carlow County Board: Get those Marley Gaels tops into the shops of Jamaica and beyond. Gather up the money and pay off the Leinster Council for their losses. Maybe some day Carlow will finally get to play a home game against Dublin in Netwatch Cullen Park. Carlow will thrive. The Dubs never bring flasks and they budget very carefully to come home broke.

Monaghan brought a big support from the stony grey soil to the lush tillage lands of Carlow. Monaghan kicked their share of wides but showed some courage to come through at the end.

I watched a game recently with Ryan McAnespie's family. I will be up north before summer's end. Ryan scored the lead point. The McAnespies are represented on the Monaghan men's and women's teams. I know I'm always going on about the sporting sons and daughters of Kerry émigrés. And yes, I admit our claiming the best Dublin forward ever was a bit much. But Jimmy Keaveney has been coming to the Listowel Races every year since 1961.

John Stack was in my class and we played on the same team at school and for the club. John was on the Kerry U-21s and played Sigerson for Maynooth. His sons won Connacht senior medals with Roscommon on Sunday last.

Ronan, who has an All-Ireland club medal, made a crucial interception near the end. I pulled a hamstring when I jumped up as Brian's shot hit the back of the Galway net.


Brian and Ronan have great stamina but then again their grandfather was a postman.

The last time I pulled the hammer was doing the 'hokey pokey' at a wedding. Or was it the waddling-like-a-duck bit in 'The Hucklebuck'?

Last year Roscommon were eaten alive by Galway and look at where they are now. There's hope for Carlow, who are improving, are well-coached and if they do play defensively, it seems to me this style best suits their game.

Monaghan need to take their scores and keep up the intensity. They are an improving team.

Patrick Kavanagh is the Farney poet and every game is an epic poem, but now is surely the time for a Carlow come all ye in praise of the brave young men of Twenty Seventeen.

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