Friday 23 February 2018

GAA Confidential: Kildare coach out to Tipp Croker scales

ONE member of the Tipperary back-room team is dearly hoping for a 50pc return from spending successive Sundays at Croke Park.

Dr Cian O'Neill may be the Tipp senior hurlers' trainer, but he is also a dyed-in-the-wool Kildare man.

He actually coached the Kildare minors this year, steering them to the Leinster semi-final where they lost to Longford.

A PE graduate from the University of Limerick where he got his PhD, he is the course director for the college's BSc in Physical Education

A promising footballer with the Moorefield club, O'Neill's own playing career was prematurely ended by a car crash. However, he has a burgeoning reputation as a GAA coach/trainer.

He helped Mickey Ned O'Sullivan with the Limerick footballers before joining Tipperary hurlers. He was also involved with UL's teams and Cork club, Newtownshandrum.

O'Neill worked on an RTE fitness programme called 'Use It Or Lose It' -- a phrase that will rarely be more appropriate than in the blistering cauldron of Sunday's battle.

Rocky road of prediction

AFTER getting his prediction right in last weekend's football semi-final, there is no chance that 'Rocky the Chicken' will be lured into giving his opinion on Sunday's hurling final.

Kildare's answer to the World Cup's 'Paul the Octopus' has been officially retired from the prediction game. Faced with three different bowls of feed (one for the two teams involved, and a third for a draw), Rocky had racked up a five-out-of-six GAA prediction record, including picking (pecking?) the Mournemen to beat his native Lilies last weekend, much to the chagrin of Kildare fans.

His owners, the McDonald family from Rosetown, Newbridge, have confirmed that Rocky has now officially hung up his divining beak and gone into hiding.

"Even some of our own family want to put him in the pot at this stage!" Elaine McDonald said this week amid internet postings suggesting it was time for Rocky to become 'KFC' -- Kildare Fried Chicken!

Down and out at Nowlan Park

The picture of Henry Shefflin wearing a Down jersey in training on Wednesday night leaves room for musing as to where he actually got it, since Kilkenny v Down clashes haven't exactly been common in recent years.

It wasn't always so. In fact, Down hold the unusual distinction of dispatching Kilkenny down the relegation chute in the National League, while advancing themselves to the quarter-finals and ensuring Division 1 status for a third successive season. What's more, it was in Nowlan Park and Kilkenny were reigning All-Ireland champions at the time.

No, it wasn't in the distant days of Cuchullain, but 17 years ago (March 21, 1993). Kilkenny led by three points with a few minutes remaining, but Down drew level with three points of their own before Chris Mageean shot the winner (1-12 ot 1-11). Antrim also qualified for the NHL quarter-finals that year, making it a double success for Ulster.

Different times, which makes you wonder if the gap between the elite, the main chasing group and the rest is getting wider all the time. Regrettably, it seems to be the case.

Quote of the week

"I think it was, yeah."

Down's Benny Coulter showing remarkable honesty when asked if his goal against Kildare was the result of a square-ball. Most players would have said they didn't know, so may we nominate Benny for the Honest Broker of the Year0 award.

Liam & Sam Say

'Well that's a relief. We spent the last few months in mortal fear of being kidnapped for 'doctoring' by the GAA's SCA (silver craft adjusters) unit as part of decommissioning cups as weapons of mass drinking but we now hear it won't be happening.

Apparently, the motion, which was passed at Congress, calling for cups to be altered to prevent them being used as alcohol dispensers at celebrations, has been found to be impractical and will now be reviewed by a bylaws committee. That's the end of that.

One thing intrigued us about all of this -- the motion came from Cavan, who never win any trophies anyway so why were they so exercised about it?

Irish Independent

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