Gaelic GamesThe Schemozzle

The Schemozzle: The unsung Monaghan player who could be called Nick O’Time

And the outspoken Monaghan man who was called every name under the sun over the weekend

A late starter, a stalwart and an unsung hero – all rolled into one

It might seem daft to refer to a former All-Star as an unsung hero but Monaghan’s Karl O’Connell certainly has a low profile nationally given his consistent excellence.

The Tyholland man came up with the late equaliser against Derry on Saturday, which was no surprise. O’Connell, who turns 35 in August, has been a clutch player for a long time, having scored a goal just 30 seconds into his debut in the Ulster Championship against Antrim in 2012 (he hadn’t even previously featured in league or McKenna Cup).

The odd top player makes it at senior despite not playing county minor but, amazingly, O’Connell, who dabbled in rugby but whose main sport was athletics, didn’t play his first game of football until he was 17, despite attending St Macartan’s in Monaghan Town, a footballing hotbed.

It’s sweeping the nation

The sweeper-keeper trend has been, eh, sweeping the nation, with Armagh’s Ethan Rafferty taking it to new levels over the last year or two.


While the Orchard number one didn’t score on Saturday against Westmeath, he has grabbed a goal against them in championship football before, coming off the bench to hit the net in a qualifier back in 2017 in Mullingar.

Of course, what happens in intercounty football inevitably trickles down to club and it is very fashionable at present to position a recognised outfield player in goal. On Saturday in a Donegal Division 1 League match, two former county stars even stood between the sticks, with All-Ireland winner Mark McHugh donning the number one shirt for Kilcar and Odhrán Mac Niallais, who played midfield in the 2014 All-Ireland final, doing likewise for Gaoth Dobhair.

For the record, Gaoth Dobhair won by 1-11 to 0-5. The winners are managed by Ronan Mac Niallais, brother of the new netminder, while Mark’s father, Martin, is part of Kilcar’s back room team.

Smirkin’ Clerkin

Speaking of Monaghan, former midfielder turned columnist Dick Clerkin came in for a serious bashing on Twitter after throwing some shade at Munster following their win in the URC final.

“Munster won the Caraboa [sic] Cup of Rugby after beating Leinster’s B team in the semi-final ... Let’s call it for what it is ... cos the rugby lads certainly won’t ...” Dick tweeted.

Cue predictable foam-mouthed anger and abuse about everything from his hairline, his own playing career, his name and so on. The bould Clerkin went back in for more the next morning.

“Apologies to the tetchy Rugby lads on here,” he posted. “My phone was hacked last night. Had I written it, I would have spelt Carabao correctly!”

Quality trolling from the Farney man.

Bualadh bos for handballers

There was a double celebration for the Irish at the 72nd United States Handball Nationals, which doubled as the World Invitational, in Minneapolis yesterday as Cork’s Catriona Casey and Galway’s Martin Mulkerrins won the Open Singles titles.

Casey defeated Fiona Tully, who also plays senior football for Roscommon, in straight games, with Mulkerrins seeing off American Sean Lenning in the final. Texas-based Moycullen man Mulkerrins edged Tucson’s Lenning in a nail-biting tiebreaker in the final.

Word of mouth

“When the dust settles, we’re in a Leinster final.” – Kilkenny manager Derek Lyng sounding a little like his predecessor on the sideline for the Cats.

By the numbers

4 – Irish players on the pitch at the same time in an AFL game, a first. They were Oisin Mullin, Zach Tuohy, Mark O’Connor and Callum Brown, as Geelong Cats took on GWS Giants.