Talking Points

O'Neills Official Blog

  1. And on the Seventh Day...

    And on the Seventh Day...

    By Declan Bogue

     

    WHAT'S seven days anyway?

    A long time in politics? A natural pause from the adrenalin-filled weekends? A catchy chorus of some classic Dexy's Midnight Runners? A handy time-measuring tool of the Gregorian calendar?

     

    Or a period filled with dread for the footballers of Tyrone, Monaghan and Galway?

    It's a curious situation all three find themselves in, and distinctly different from that of Dublin, who make up the fourth side in this weekend's All-Ireland semi-finals. For Dublin, they will have found the livin' easy over the last fortnight. They were able to give a few fringe players the pleasure of playing in the first-ever dead rubber football Championship game, in front of an adoring crowd that turned up in party mode to watch exhibition stuff by the boys in sky blue.

     

    So the media turned a blind eye to Croke Park. The real juice was in Salthill and Ballybofey, with a

  2. Hurling, Game of the Gods

    Hurling, Game of the Gods

    By: Enda McEvoy

     

     

    “Croke Park will be the only place to be next weekend,” we declared here last week. We meant the only place in Ireland to be. Turned out it was the only place on earth to be.

     

    So (deep breath): two All Ireland semi-finals, two draws, two lots of extra time and an aggregate of 7-123 registered over the course of 180 minutes plus injury time. War and Peace had less incident over the course of its 1,000-plus pages. It was also a lot less fun.

     

    One small qualm. This undoubtedly constitutes carping but it needs to be said. At the end of normal time in the second semi-final Cork and Limerick had hit 1-27 apiece: 56 scores, 54 of them points. At the end of 90 minutes the teams had registered 68 scores and 32 wides between them. That works out as one scoring attempt every 54 seconds or so. Hurling as basketball: is this really a good thing?

     

    An

  3. 8 things to look for in the Super 8s Showdown

    8 things to look for in the Super 8s Showdown

    by Declan Bogue 

     

    1.There's football on this weekend. It might be the most glorious time ever to be a fully paid-up member of the hurling snobbery ranks, but God dammit, FOOTBALL HAS TO HIT BACK!

     

    Or at least, that would be the position of many football people, who feel like the Cuckquean in the 'Distracted Boyfriend' meme, with the casual GAA fan checking out hurling, pursing the lips and saying, 'I fancy me a piece of that.'

     

    2.The Super Saturday vibe to it all. Oh, but if the GAA were not curiously addicted to having a final, or, even worse, a four-team play-off for every competition, then our league competitions could have the thrill of a league trophy to-ing and fro-ing between venues as the destination is being played out.

     

    Unlikely as we are to ever have that situation, this is the first time in GAA Championship that the outcome of one team's fortunes are affected by the performance o

  4. Super 8s Step Aside, It's Hurling Time

    Super 8s Step Aside, It's Hurling Time

    By: Enda McEvoy

     

    One can complain about the logic, such as it was, behind the fixture-making. Hurling has so few red-letter days that the All Ireland semi-finals should always be played on successive weekends in order to maximise publicity.

     

    But no matter. For what we do have, may the Lord make us truly thankful. As the weekend gets ever closer, the anticipation grows. Galway versus Clare on Saturday followed by Cork against Limerick on Sunday. Croke Park will be the only place to be.

     

    Although the reignin

  5. Supers 8s: Between the Idea and the Reality

    Supers 8s: Between the Idea and the Reality

    By Declan Bogue

     

    WASN'T quite what we expected, was it? Not in Tyrone. Or Roscommon. Or Kerry. Or even Dublin. None of the shocks and surprises. No bumper crowd. No breathless excitement and surges of adrenalin from 320 odd minutes of football in Croke Park. No. What we have here, is a failure to communicate. Specifically, from the GAA to their public and anyone else that might be interested in coming to see the sport of Gaelic football.

     

    The action on the pitch mightn't have been great, but let's put that down to the second day being played in conditions that we really thought were a thing of the past in the new, sub-tropical Ireland of 2018.

     

    The Original Super 8s Questions do remain. And the first one is, what do we even call this thing anyway? It has been made known that those that turn up for their day's work on Jones' Road are a bit sniffy about the title, 'Super 8s.' Fair enough. The phrase was first coined by Dick Clerkin and
  6. There Once Were Some Hurlers From Limerick

    There Once Were Some Hurlers From Limerick

    By: Enda McEvoy

     

    John Donnelly, charging through the Limerick defence, could have popped over the equalising point but he chose instead to pick out Richie Hogan with a handpass. Hogan in his turn could have popped over the equalising point but he chose instead to swivel, pick his spot and drill the sliotar under Nickie Quaid.

     

    Eight minutes remained at Semple Stadium and Kilkenny had hit the front for the first time in three quarters of an hour. That, it seemed certain, was going to be that. The old Cats for the hard road.

     

    Except it wasn’t. Limerick responded with the next score to make it a one-point game. Then they levelled matters. Then they went a point ahead.

     

    Limerick Turnaround Six scores were registered between Hogan’s goal and the final whistle in last Sunday’s All Ireland quarter-final. Five of them were scored by a man in a green jersey. It was an astonishing turnaround and it was the moment a you
  7. Galway Show Of Strength

    Galway Show Of Strength
    By Enda McEvoy

     

    Now that’s what you call a show of strength. A bottom line of 1-28 from Galway: serious stuff for a provincial final. A from-play return of 1-22: scary. A first-half tally of 1-16: prodigious. Seven points to spare in the end, and that after conceding one goal that might as easily have been given as a free out and another goal that resulted from the sliotar coming back off the upright.

     

    Last Sunday in Thurles wasn’t merely a case of Galway retaining their Leinster title. It may also have been the afternoon that set them on the road to a second successive MacCarthy Cup triumph.

     

    They were everything they hadn’t been in Croke Park seven days earlier. Determined, focused, hungry, sharp, decisive. In the drawn game they went out to fulfil a fixture. In the replay they went out to win a match. They won it comprehensively and had they been facing anyone but Kilkenny they might well have won it by twice as much as t
  8. Eight To Watch In The Super 8s

    Eight To Watch In The Super 8s

    Now that the Super 8's is about to take off over the next month, we know all the major superstars on each team, but here are some of the more obscure talents who are about to announce their talents on the national stage after doing it over the last number of weeks. Can we look beyond the usual suspects from Kerry and Dublin? Who are the Roscommon and Kildare players that might hit the headlines?

     

    Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh (Galway) It's hard to beat a savage for a full-back and Galway manager Kevin Walsh has one in the Connemara man. Was called up for senior duty at the start of this year after impressing in the role for the under-21 side last year as they lost the final to Dublin. However, his handling of Con O'Callaghan in that game, holding him to a score from play, was the measure of his potential. Loves to play out in front of his man and his aggression has already been checked by referees, he is a huge asset for Galway this season.

     

    Gav
  9. Super 8s Beckon. The Start of the Endgame?

    Super 8s Beckon. The Start of the Endgame?
    By Declan Bogue

     

    AND so, to Round Four and the white line fever that the prospect of entry into the exclusive club the first Super 8s will bring on. What of Laois, Fermanagh, Roscommon et al, how will they fare? Much like Arsene Wenger regressed as a manager in his last half dozen years in charge of Arsenal, he began to refer to qualification for the following season's European competition as the 'first trophy' of the season. But you'd be doing well to pour a mixture of gin, vermouth, Harp and Oul Boys' Slabber into that chalice. You get the sense that getting to the Super 8s will be the saving of some managers. Before, the target for any middle-ranking manager when knocked out of the Championship was to see his side playing in Croke Park over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Now, the dynamic has changed. The aim is to get to the Super 8s, which acts as base camp for those with real tangible hopes of All-Ireland success, or as a destination in itself as some mor
  10. Hurling Plot Thickens on the Road to Thurles

    Hurling Plot Thickens on the Road to Thurles
    By: Enda McEvoy  

     

    It does sound like the punchline to a joke alright. A Connacht team in a Leinster final that’s taking place in Munster. Galway and Kilkenny Take Two.    All very droll. But really, what of it?  

     

       Ignore the noise on social media, and the mock outrage from people claiming that the Galway/Kilkenny replay should have been fixed for Portlaoise or Tullamore, and the complaints over the contradiction between the Munster Council forbidding Waterford using Nowlan Park as a temporary home ground and the Leinster Council happily acting as though provincial borders didn’t exist.  

     

       There’s “no consistency” between the actions of the Munster and Leinster Councils, as the accusation has it? Clearly there isn’t, but these are two separate bodies and each is entitled to do as it sees fit. If the Leinster Council is less precious and parochial than its southern counterpart, so be it.

     

    Wherfore Art the Replay?