Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford aim to set the championship alight
In football and hurling, this weekend’s intriguing match-ups hold huge promise
Brian Cody stands above the cityscape of the championship always, a stately Eiffel in the distance. Photograph: Inpho
Now then. In an uncertain world, we usually hold these truths to be self-evident. The Taoiseach will be a middle-aged white man, no different to the middle-aged white man who went before him. The Brits will be run in times of trouble by the boring old Tories with their sensible heads and their safe pairs of hands. The championship will not be worth watching this side of August.
And yet here we are.
After Leo, after MayDayMayDay, we find ourselves heading out on the second weekend in June with four games down for decision that inspire genuine fascination.
In hurling, where would you be only Wexford Park tonight for the visit of Kilkenny? In football, seasons will turn on events in Cork, Salthill and Cavan. All of this and we haven’t even hit the solstice yet. It’s hard to know what to trust anymore.
The delicious prospect of Kilkenny heading to Wexford tonight uncertain of victory has caused a ticket shortage unseen in years. Old soldiers have had to call in favours, men like Martin Storey and Liam Dunne took a while to get sorted. That’s all part of it.
Maybe the most remarkable aspect is that nobody feels robbed of theatre by the fact that Davy Fitzgerald won’t be rutting with Brian Cody on the sideline. The expectation is for ample diversion on the pitch.
Wexford have had plenty of days where they faced Kilkenny like a bum-of-the-month staggering across the ring to catch a Tyson uppercut. They’ve had the odd one too where they came with a fool’s optimism, thinking that maybe this time would be different. But it’s an age since they met a day like this, full sure that they’re competing as equals. It would be just like Kilkenny to disabuse them of the notion too.
Cody stands above the cityscape of the championship always, a stately Eiffel in the distance. Past evidence says a day like this is where he lives, bristling and hot-stepping and hand-rubbing through the 70. One of these days, we’ll say Kilkenny are in decline and we’ll be right. We know too much about him though to be bullish about this being the one.
Down in Páirc Uí Rinn this evening, an unlikely gem of a game in prospect. Cork and Tipp, The footballers. Two sides on different planes, the chance to dent each other’s future in their hands.
A win for Tipp would scupper the grand welcome Cork have planned for themselves in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Munster final day. A win for Cork would remind Tipp of their station. Neither side will bring a crowd so it’s strictly a family thing. like all the best rows.
Out west, Mayo and Galway take to Salthill tomorrow for the Sick Of The Sight Of Each Other derby. It’s their 14th championship meeting in the past 15 years, with the score standing at Mayo 7 Galway 6.
If Galway’s win last year fell out of the clear blue sky, Mayo can’t say they weren’t warned this time around. Kevin Walsh’s team are coming – Division One next year, defending Connacht champions, all that jazz. They haven’t beaten Mayo in Pearse Stadium since 2007. No time like this time.
Fascination of a slightly more grim stripe is the order of the day in Breffni Park, where Monaghan and Cavan face off tomorrow. No two teams in the country have drawn more championship matches than this pair – almost a quarter of their 55 games down the years have ended level. Monaghan’s tails are up just now, which is usually a cue for Cavan to cut them off at the ankles.
But then again, who knows? In a mad world, anything’s possible.