The GAA thread - part deux


Dundalk IT have given us a walkover as 5 of their players were beaten up in Dundalk during Christmas!

What is happening to our society?!


Were they beaten up as a group or individually? That's bizarre.


Some lads broke into their house, beat them up and tied them up and robbed them I think!

Wexford and Micklow has been moved from Sunday to Saturday for live television coverage on Setanta. Fookin delighted cos I wanted to go to Aughrim but didn't want to miss Celtic-Hearts on Sunday either.

A veritable feast of sport this weekend. I can't fooking wait to see the Purple and Gold in the flesh for the first time this year.


Dublin vs DCU at Clann na nGael's grounds in Ringsend at 7.30pm tonight in the O'Byrne Cup.


Were you over in Fontenoys last night Bandage or were you too busy making lasagne and hoovering? If we beat Wickla on Saturday we're at home to the Dubs or Westmeath.

Just saw the local paper down here, Meyler working with 38, Antony O'Connell described as a 'surprise omission', I'd say there's a little more to that story somehow or other.

Dickie Murphy denies he called off last week's drawn challenge against Tipp early because of abuse from the sideline - eye-witness reports said that Babs and Leahy started whingeing at him so he blew the long whistle and walked off, fair play to him, those two could moan for Ireland.


Didn't go to Clann na nGael after - decided to save my emotional energy for Wexford this weekend.

Give us a bit of background on Anto O'Connell. What happened there? He'd be a starting corner back for us if he was mentally stable.

Any team news for the footballers ahead of the Micklow game?


Micklow - good one. Rory Stafford hamstrung, Shane Roche leg injury, Redmond Barry away, David Fogarty exams, while PJ Banville has to play with WIT in McGrath Cup and Paddy Byrne has to play with UL. Byrne was very good at full-forward in Purple and Gold game.

Masterson will definitely be in goal, I'd say we'll have the usual full-back line of Morris, Wallace and Murphy with David Murphy centre-back, Matty left corner-forward, and who knows after that.

Anto pulled a few sickies over Christmas, on at least one occasion got another family member to ring up with his excuse allegedly and apparently. A gifted hurler but totally unsuited to the inter-county game and the commitment, discipline and decision-making required.


Sounds a bit like what Kris Boyd was at with Rangers - apart from the "gifted hurler" part of course.


They sacked that doctor that was giving Boydy and Fergie sicknotes yesterday!

I've done a little early season GAA article at the front. I felt guilty leaving it all to rocko.


Good work Bandage - legging it for the Home and Away express Dart but I'll peruse it at home.


Do you honestly belive Wexford are going to win Leinster football championship? If that sort of blind optimism was written in the Wexford People you'd be laughed at. Wexford, Leinster champions? For the love of God.


Of course I do. We're in the nice side of the draw and if we don't win it this year we never will.

Obviously we can't take Wicklow or Louth for granted in the first game............but when we win that we'll go on to beat a Laois team that's in transition!

Then bring on the Dubs in the final. The semi of 2005 will stand to us. I often think about how we lost that game still!


Big turnover in Wicklow Bandage and obviously plenty of people coming back to the fold. What about those who aren't featuring this year though? Has anyone left, thinking it's too tough under Micko, or are they simply just dropped for better players? Also what about those lads from Rathnew - Coffeys is it? Are they still about?


I think the Coffeys are now the wrong side of 30 but this could be a question for stalwart of the old forum, the redoubtable humbug.


The Coffeys are indeed the wrong side of 30. Darren Coffey (midfield) no longer plays football at all due to some serious back injuries he picked up over the years.

Ronan Coffey (pacey centre forward well known for his goal against Na Fianna in the Leinster club final) is no longer involved at county level. He may even have quit cub football as well. Ditto Mark Coffey (full back).

Bandage: I note you recycled my Micklow call. On Saturday prepare for renditions of the following:-

Show me the way to County Wicklow
I've been lying here hugging my pillow
Dreaming dreams of county Wicklow
And Mick O'Dwyer who waits for me
Sha la la la la la la la ugggssshhhhh ugggssshhhhh
Sha la la la la la la la ugggssshhhhh ugggssshhhhh
Sha la la la la la la la ugggssshhhhh ugggssshhhhh

In my absence was there a happy birthday humbug thread?

Micko is taking no crap from the players. He is dropping lads left, right and centre for lack of fitness. He has also let a few go who have been on the sauce (notably Ashford's Wayne O'Gorman).


A good laugh down in Aughrim the other day. Best bit was the old guy who reads out the teams and subs over the public address system picking up the microphone when it was 5-5 and Wexford were playing with a monsoon behind him. He shouts, 'The wind's dying down. Get up the field Wicklow!' Sending a message to the whole team. Hilarious. Wexford were rank. I know it's early season and stuff but the fear remains that, like last year, we're 4 or 5 players short.

Wexford Ratings:
1. Anthony Masterson - 6: Good handling and decent kick outs in the conditions. No real saves to make.

  1. David Byrne - 6: Didn't look terribly comfortable but wasn't too troubled either.
  2. Philip Wallace - 6: Did some good covering and made some interceptions but Earls got a few points off him.
  3. Nially Murphy - 5: Found Leighton Glynn a handful. Glynn is a smashing footballer.

  4. Colm Morris - 4: Struggled and was given the hook before half time. Approaching veteran status and might not make first XI this season.

  5. David Murphy - 7: An excellent 70 minutes.
  6. Graeme Molloy - 6: Some good, some bad.

  7. Rory Stafford - 7: A big player for us. Good workrate.

  8. Diarmuid Kinsella - 7: Average enough at midfield in the first half, 2 excellent points from full forward in the 2nd.

  9. Ciaran Deely - 6: Foraged and worked as hard as ever with little reward.

  10. Ger Coleman - 4: Didn't really touch the ball before being hooked in the first half.
  11. Eric Bradley - 7: Superb player is this guy, was doing wonderfully when switched to midfield until injury forced him off in the 2nd half.

  12. Ciaran Lyng - 4: Missed a sitter of a free and didn't really do much else.

  13. Adrian Morrissey - 4: Fannied around and did nothing other than put Forde through for a goal chance he fluffed.
  14. Matty Forde - 4: Rubbish.

Wicklow Ratings:

6 fooks get a 7.
7 fooks get a 6.
1 fook gets a 5.
1 fook gets a 4.


From yesterday's Irish Times. The programme in question is on tv tonight.

Pat Comer's splendid television study on the hAilpn brothers, showing tomorrow night, is not to be missed, writes Tom Humphries

It was 40 degrees in Melbourne yesterday. Carlos and the Zak Dog, as they are known locally, got up early for the usual ding-dong.

The regime starts early and taxes them hard. Unrelentingly the rooster crows with the break of dawn on the six days a week that they train. Three sessions a day usually. Boxing in the mornings from 6.30 to 7.15. A break for an hour or 90 minutes. Get some massage or some food, then training at 9.30 for two-and-a-half hours of skills.

Mainly they do kicking and catching and working on timing but there's a lot of running in between, just getting themselves tired so the fatigue can replicate the conditions of AFL games.

They do a lot of drills, and warm-up work alone takes 40 minutes or so. Stretch, run, sprint, jog, etc. By the time they're really into it an hour has passed and soon it's time for the warm-down and another stretch.

At 12.0 they're away for lunch and then back to the club for conditioning: bounding and bouncing, glutes work, core-stability work. That takes till almost four o'clock. Monday. Wednesday and Friday.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings it's a swim and then on afternoons pilates. Slightly lighter days.

No rest on Saturdays. Up at 7.0 to head to Sandringham for the weekly biathlon work. Up the hilly cliff then running along the dirt track, up hills and down dunes. Then swim out 300 yards, swim back, run the track for 15 minutes, swim again, run again, swim again, run again.

Sometimes the running is replaced with biking. Either way it hurts.

Then finally they fall into the arms of Sunday.

The AFL season is two months away but Setanta and Aisake hAilpn are steaming towards it with the familial trademarks of good grace and heroic determination.

Last night their brother, Sen g, started back training with the Cork hurlers. New year. New coach. The usual rain and muck after a day at work. Sen g threw the kitbag into the car and headed off in the darkness knowing he would have to cope not just with the slog but with the fact of having been described as "babe-allicious" in a Sunday paper this week.

The context was a preview of Pat Comer's splendid documentary about the hAilpns, Tall, Dark and hAilpn , a film which is, strangely for a family who have become such fixtures in the national imagination, a study of constant journeying. Comer's unblinking eye followed Sen g not just through a hurling season but home to the Fijian island of Rotuma.

Often lazily we hang our aspirations about multiculturalism on families like the hAilpns, congratulating ourselves on the miracle of seeing young men with brown skin playing hurling in Croke Park.

Sen g's journey home, after 19 years, into the culture he came from, to a place where his relations are surprised he has runners and where the village has one TV is a study in grace and openness. Every experience and sight is taken and valued with the sincerity we have come to expect of the man. And every story he has of the world he comes from is absorbed with reciprocal interest.

When Sen g departs on the back of a small pick-up truck to the airport and then on a propeller lane into the skies you feel an odd tug of emotion and can't help wondering about the journey the hAilpns made to Ireland all those years ago, their memories of the train journey to Cork in the rain and mist and their first sightings of cows.

Were we ever as engaged by the need to hear about their culture as we were to swaddle them in ours?

The other strand of the film follows Setanta and Aisake in Melbourne as they fight for starting places with Carlton. Setanta was dubious at first about the idea of a documentary. Both brothers are still at various stages of their apprenticeships to a sport that has its own mysterious skills and choreography.

"It is frustrating," says Setanta. "You see people doing things that you think you should do. I'm only in my fourth year. They tell me to play my percentages. Do what I'm good at and do what I've been doing. At times it's good to go outside those boundaries though. I reckon if I keep making mistakes and learning from them I'll get there."

Every conversation with an hAilpn highlights the role of their remarkable mother, Emeli, who spent six months in Australia with her boys last year, supplying them with the alpine ranges of food they grew up accustomed to. In Australia too they are surrounded by their own support network.

For Setanta the first year alone in Australia was the toughest, living away from home and the teeming family quarters in Blarney. He lived with a Melbourne family and he still heads over to Kerryn Banston's home for dinner two or three times a week.

Then Aisake arrived and things improved. Somebody to talk to all the time. They speak Fijian among themselves and Irish the odd day in case it goes rusty. Insulation against the bad days, of which there are still a few.

"There's been a few hard ones all right," says Setanta. "When you're trying to break onto the team there's just days when you think you're miles away or times when you play a couple of games and know you haven't gone well. You're training away and not hitting your targets. You wonder - is this game above me?

"I had a day that sticks out. We played Box Hill last year early on and we were up by 100 points and I was in the back line and my man kicked two goals on me. About the only player that scored for them was my man. He got out and marked three or four balls ahead of me. We were up and I was struggling. I'm thinking, we're up 100 points and I can't mark one guy.

"That was a low but I tell myself if I keep grinding away at the stone it will turn soon. Hope is the big thing. If I have a bad day I reassess what I have to do and work harder. They're telling me they want to play me in the back line. It's a far cry from corner forward. They find the best position to play a guy coming into the game is the back line. You face the ball."

Defence is new to him but on one of his 11 first-team appearances last summer he caused a stir with his play on Barry Hall of Sydney. He'll be a full back or centre back this season.

Tadhg Kennelly has been another support through hard times. They speak several times a week and watch each other's games on tape. Setanta watches out of sheer admiration, Tadhg in a mentoring role. "I admire him so much. From the first day I set foot here, he's been nothing but great help. He flew down here to meet me. I appreciate it very much."

Setanta and Aisake try to pass on what Kennelly has given them by staying in touch with Colm Begley and Martin Clarke.

Aisake and Setanta stayed in Melbourne for the Christmas and were joined there by their siblings, one of whom, Teu, has made the move permanent. It's hard to imagine what reflections and memories they shared of their remarkable lives as a family.

Home though is still Cork.

"If I did finish up here the first thing I'd love to do would be come back and play hurling and football for Cork," says Setanta. "That was the only thing on my mind growing up. As life goes on your priorities change. Now I'm here I'd still love that."

His contract ends at the end of this year and as usual he's philosophical. He had 11 first-team starts last year. His target this year is "as many as possible". Then he'll see.

"If I just concentrate on my football, each week, everything should fall into place. I'll play as many as possible and see where it takes me. Train hard now and let everything else fall into place.

"With Aisake there's a massive improvement. His ball skills have stepped up hugely. It takes a lot of time. You have to be patient."

The journeying goes on. Training in Fermoy. Training in Melbourne. Spanning cultures and representing the best of each.

Tall Dark and hAilpn goes out tonight at 10.15pm on RT One.


That O'hAilpin programme should be good. Pat Comer's documentary on Galway, the year the won the All Ireland, was superb.

I was on the GAA website trying to find the exact dates of championship fixtures and the tools don't even have the draw up yet.

smellthebenjy, can you post up a master list of fixtures (even if it's only for Wexford) please?

Also, what's the story with the National Football League this season. Is it true they're changing it next to 4 distinct divisions as opposed to 2 division 1 groups of an equal standard and 2 div 2 groups also of equal standing? If so, it's pretty important that we get promoted from Div 2 this year.


That was a good programme on the O'hAilpin brothers.

It showed Setanta's goal against Wexford in 2003. I still blame Doc O'Connor for that one.


Without a shadow of a doubt one of the best programs on TV is Laochra Gael on TG4. It is always engaging even when Liam Dunne was featured. They had one on John O'Mahoney on Tuesday night. Superb. A story of a man who is a winner told in an Irish way. Had tears in the eyes reliving 94 again. Joe Reynolds, a neighbour of mine and selctor of O'Mahoney's in 94, was speaking. He has a fair grasp of the native tongue as well. Legends all of them

I hear Lucas Neill is on 50 grand a week