Tom while lying on his death bed was visited by his best friend Pat, both old men at this stage who had grown up with the game of hurling and loved it. Pat asks Tom: “Tom do you think it would be at all possible if when you get to Heaven you would be able to get a message back down here to me as to whether or not they play Hurling in Heaven”. To which Tom replied that he couldn’t promise anything but would do his best.
Shortly after Tom passes away and a couple of nights after the funeral Pat is awoken during the night by someone calling his name. He jumps up in his bed and asks who’s there. To which the voice replies “It’s me Tom”. Pat, very afraid, says that this is impossible as Tom is dead.
“I am the ghost of Tom and I’m here with the message you asked me to deliver before I died but I must warn you first that I have both good and bad news; which would you like first?” “Give me the Good news first,” replies Pat.
“O.K well the good news is that they do play hurling in heaven; all the old greats of the game are here, as are old friends, the weather is always fantastic so there is never any trouble with fixtures or games being called off, the pitches are all in great condition too so the matches are always played at fast and very entertaining pace”. “Well” says Pat “that’s fantastic but you mentioned something about bad news too”? “Ah yes the bad news is you’re starting corner forward Tuesday evening!”
The Senior Football Championship is underway. The first shot fired in anger was in the U.S. last Sunday when Sligo came from behind to beat a very brave New York team in The Bronx.
With temperatures forecast to cool over this weekend championship temperature will only rise as the business end of the season begins. The Ulster football championship begins on Saturday 20th May when Monaghan take on Fermanagh in a preliminary round game in Clones. Unless miracles happen in Clones, Monaghan will and move into the first round proper where they will meet Cavan on June 11th.
The match that we in Donegal will be focused on is our first-round game against Antrim on Sunday 21st May in Ballybofey. Indeed, Antrim, too, will need a miracle if they are to beat a much superior Donegal team. Undoubtedly, we will have some championship debutants who have been blooded into the Donegal set-up during the National League.
I expect Donegal to play Tyrone in the Ulster semi-final on Sunday 18th June. Tyrone have to overcome Derry before this but again this will be a one-horse race. Don’t be booking any foreign holiday for this time because this will be a cracker. It will be interesting to see how Tyrone respond after their disappointing outing against Donegal in the National League in Ballybofey.
Armagh play Down on June 4th in a local derby but unfortunately for them neither team will have an impact on the Ulster championship. The winner of this game will play either Monaghan or Cavan in the Ulster semi-final. Monaghan are the best team in this side of the draw and I would be really surprised if they didn’t reach the Ulster final.
As I said many weeks ago, if Tyrone are unable to make up a six-point deficit from their defeat to Donegal in the National League, then Donegal will go on to meet Monaghan in the final. I have a great feeling about this Donegal team who performed terrifically in the league. I believe that we can give this year’s championship great rattle.
The big three, Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan are the main contenders as they have been in recent years. All three will fancy their chances with Donegal perceived by most pundits as the least likely to lift the title. In my opinion, Donegal will lift the Ulster title this year. Our new-found enthusiasm has brought a great balance to the team. Young players know no fear. As always, Donegal will not be given the favourites tag for this season Ulster championship. Tyrone and Monaghan will lead the way in this respect. Our opening game against Antrim is a no-win situation. If we hammer Antrim, then this will have been expected. If we just pip them, then we were rubbish. The important thing is to win. I’m sure that the managers of Donegal and Tyrone have the semi-final game in their sights. It’s going to be another long summer for people in the hills.
I watched the All-Ireland senior division 1 ladies league final last Sunday. It was a great game with end to end football. Donegal faced Cork, the most successful ladies team ever in Parnell Park, Dublin. It was heart-breaking to see our ladies lose in the dying moments. I thought that the referee was kind to Cork when the sides were level near the end of the game. He awarded a free to Cork when he should have really given it our way. A decision like this can take the stomach right out of a team especially as the game was so close. A draw would have been a fairer result but Donegal could have won this game. I thought that our ladies were outstanding. This defeat will serve to drive this team on to bigger things as the championship is just around the corner. At least, we know that we can compete with the best which augurs well for the future for Ladies football in the county.
Well done to Donegal ladies, you did us proud!