Talking Points

O'Neills Official Blog

  1. The Underdogs and The Greatest Underdog of All

    The Underdogs and The Greatest Underdog of All

    There is a symmetry this week with the return of The Underdogs to our screens and the retirement of the biggest and best Underdog of them all. The one and only Kieran Donaghy of Kerry.

     

    Had the programme not returned to our screens, Star’s presence on it and success as its most high profile graduate would perhaps have been a footnote in his retirement story, but the return of the iconic show with the iconic jersey has sparked the curiosity of many GAA viewers too young to remember it the first time around.

     

    Aside from Donaghy a number of other notable GAA figures have featured on the show. Looking back now the Underdogs was an unusual addition to our screens at the time, a reality TV light shone on the GAA we know so well.

     

    There was a certain innocence about them playing the Dubs and then Kerry with both county teams fielding a reasonable number of established stars in games which took place in mid December. Am

  2. All Ireland Final: Hacked Off, Psyched Up

    All Ireland Final: Hacked Off, Psyched Up

    By Declan Bogue

     

    PERHAPS the one thing that amazes sportswriters when people ask about their job - which is quite often because, y'know, it's not accountancy or anything like that - is the most popular inquiry is 'do you get free tickets for all the games?'

    The second most amazing thing comes straight after when you say yes, yes you do and the reaction is always one of open-mouthed disbelief and a declaration that - HOT DAMN! You are one lucky son of a gun. 

    On weeks like this, sure it is. You take a comfortable seat with free wifi, a television screen in front of you for replays and get to watch one of the greatest shows on earth play out. And that's your day's work. 

    Mustn't complain. Mustn't complain. Mustn't complain. 

    Sorry! Complaint: They don't see how we live. Desperately pleading with the ground steward in Celtic Park for another five minutes of the lights kept on while we finish a McKenna

  3. Enda’s Oscars for #Hurling2018

    Enda’s Oscars for #Hurling2018

    By: Enda McEvoy

     

    Hello and welcome to – roll of trumpets! - our Championship 2018 Oscars. Without further ado, here we go.

     

    Man of the Year: John Kiely. Had to be. Couldn’t be anyone else except the messiah who put an end to a 45-year famine and led his county back to the land of milk and honey. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Limerick were also-rans in 2017, departing the championship in the qualifiers. This year they led the white-hot favourites and defending champions by eight points entering the last minute of normal time in the All Ireland final.

     

    Hurler of the Year: Graeme Mulcahy. Obviously this is a judgement call and there are plenty of observers who’ll advance the claims of Declan Hannon, Cian Lynch or Aaron Gillane. There are plenty of other observers who’ll advance the claims of Joe Canning – far more impressive this summ

  4. Limerick. After the Ball Is Over.

    Limerick. After the Ball Is Over.

    By: Enda McEvoy

     

    So it happened at last. Forty-five years of hurt ending at one fell swoop, or rather after eight agonising minutes of injury time. Limerick are All Ireland champions for only the second time since 1940. The nation rejoices. How could it not?

     

    Now for a random question. Who’ll be the Hurler of the Year?

     

    No need to answer. You won’t be able to answer quickly and decisively in any case, and that’s the point. There’s no obvious Limerick candidate for the award because this was a triumph for the collective. 

     

    The defence was solid. The midfield duo worked non-stop. The forwards all weighed in on different days. That’s how a team wins a championship.

     

  5. Gaelic Football’s Golden Age?

    Gaelic Football’s Golden Age?

    By Declan Bogue

     

    BACK in 2010, TeamTalkmag.com, the website that reports everything in Tyrone GAA circles, sat down with the blonde bombshell that is John Lynch for a look back on his career. 

    It turns out he has had quite the journey. With an athletics background, he made his debut in 1980 and decided to pull the curtain down on his county career during the winter break of 1994. 

    But it was in that odd, glorious summer of 1986 that he will be forever known. A peroxide blonde figure at corner-back, on the balls of his feet looking to spring into action in the All-Ireland final against Kerry and his excellent marking job on Mikey Sheehy. 

    Recalling many years l

  6. Limerick No Longer What Might Have Been

    Limerick No Longer What Might Have Been

    By: Enda McEvoy

    The Game, RTE’s gorgeous three-part documentary on the history and development of hurling, received plaudits from all quarters when it concluded last Monday night. Well, maybe not quite (itals) all (close itals) quarters.
    From Shannonside there emerged a low-key but unmistakeable chorus of disapproval. “Not enough Limerick in it,” went the complaints on social media.
    On the one hand you could see the complainants’ point. Limerick are inarguably a leading hurling county – there’s all too few of them, alas – and have been since time immemorial. On the other hand…

    Quick teaser. How many All Irelands have Limerick won since the end of World War Two?
    Answer: one.
    Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? The county of Mick Mackey and Pat Hartigan and Eamonn Cregan and Ciaran Carey and Gary Kirby. Last All Ireland in 1973, the afternoon the heavens opened and nobody of a

  7. Where the Harte Goes Men Will Follow

    Where the Harte Goes Men Will Follow

    By Declan Bogue

     

    RIGHT now, if you laid seven pounds down on Dublin to win the All-Ireland, you would get a pound back on your investment with one popular bookmaker. Someone who knows a lot more about gambling than your correspondent here tells me that if you were to place a bet like that with any significant capital, they would find a way to fob you off and refuse it.

     

    Simply put, in  the minds of those who judge these things professionally there is no chance of Tyrone winning their fourth All-Ireland title on the first Sunday of September.

     

    The first year of the Super 8s has left people unsure of where each team are at. Having lost two games this summer, there is certainly a great deal of suspicion held in reserve for Tyrone. 

     

    Some are even expressing the great pity that Mayo are not in the All-Ireland final. They seem unsure of how a competition works. When the

  8. The Hurling Final, But Not As We Know It?

    The Hurling Final, But Not As We Know It?

    By: Enda McEvoy

     

    So now we know. Galway versus Limerick. It’s like it’s 1980 all over again, with one potentially important difference.

     

    When the counties met in the All Ireland final 38 years ago neither entered the arena as MacCarthy Cup holders, Kilkenny having won the 1979 decider. When they renew hostilities on Sunday week, Galway will be the ones there to be shot down. 

     

    It is not an enviable position. Then again, Micheál Donoghue’s men have been coping with the burden all summer. They coped with it again in Semple Stadium last Sunday.

     

    Shades of the Leinster final: for 50 minutes the Galway/Clare replay was nothing to write home about, upon which it gradually became a gripping struggle. One has to hand it to the champions, who simply refused to be beaten. But Clare folk will return again and again to the might-have-beens over the course of the

  9. 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

  10. 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

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