December Road: Sam won’t be heading west even if Mayo end 69-year drought

JJ backs Cody to remain with Kilkenny . . . Waterford sorting out their ratio . . . Coldrick call

Mayo captain Aidan O’Shea lifts the Nestor Cup after the Connacht SFC Final win over Galway at  Pearse Stadium in  Salthill. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Mayo captain Aidan O’Shea lifts the Nestor Cup after the Connacht SFC Final win over Galway at Pearse Stadium in Salthill. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Mayo captain Aidan O’Shea was asked at the county’s remote press conference about the prospect of winning next week’s All-Ireland final for the first time in 69 years and still not getting to bring the Sam Maguire back home.

The GAA has made clear that neither football nor hurling All-Ireland champions will be permitted to pack the trophies into their bags after the upcoming finals – in order to deter homecoming celebrations and their attendant Covid risks.

If that might prove a bit anti-climactic after what would be the most eagerly awaited title in GAA history, O’Shea points out that he’s already been there with the Nestor Cup.

“Yeah, obviously had a bit of experience with it with the Connacht title. The fact that we have to drive to the game by ourselves – I was expecting it to be coming back with me afterwards. Unfortunately that’s not the case.”

Whereas he feels the restrictions are excessive, he accepts that circumstances are far from normal.

“I wasn’t aware until that moment that those restrictions were in place but, yeah, maybe it’s a little bit over the top.

“I think the moment when you walk back into the dressingroom with a cup is something special and I think the GAA can afford both teams, this weekend and next weekend, to allow that. But at the same time, I understand the circumstances so if there’s a justification around why that is the case, fair enough, it’s important to abide by it and follow the restrictions.”

JJ sees no change

Maybe Brian Cody’s favourite defender isn’t an entirely dispassionate voice but Sky pundit and former Kilkenny colossus JJ Delaney doesn’t envisage any disruption to what would be the manager’s 23rd year.

“I think Brian will stay on and give the likes of [selectors] Martin Comerford and DJ Carey a proper crack at it. One year is not enough to put your stamp on this team. The reason being, he has a new management team in with him.

“It would be very hard for them to leave after a year obviously. If Brian goes, I’m presuming his management team will go there as well.

“I haven’t any issue with him staying on. I think he is the best guy to bring Kilkenny forward again and obviously rebuild a team with the few players he has coming back and a few that have gathered experience this year as well.”

Fail again – fail better

Waterford have sharpened up one aspect of their championship progress and that’s the ratio of semi-final victories to defeats. Over the past 23 years, the county has been turning up for All-Ireland semi-finals as often, 13 times, as Tipperary – both well behind Kilkenny on 18. Tipp though have four MacCarthy Cups to show for it.

From 1998 to 2008, Waterford’s ratio was five defeats to one win and that was repeated over the next six outings, 2009-17. Now just three years later they have won successive semi-finals for the first time since 1963.

They might also reflect that last year’s winners Tipperary failed to qualify from Munster the previous summer, something Waterford can also ‘boast’ this year.

Coldrick breaks new ground

David Coldrick from Blackhall Gaels is to take charge of next week’s All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Mayo.

It’s his fourth final and curiously, not alone has the Meath referee not taken charge of any of the counties’ four previous All-Ireland meetings in the past eight years – neither has he officiated at any of their four semi-finals since 2012.

His three finals to date have featured Kerry-Cork in 2007, Cork-Down (2010) and Dublin-Kerry (2015). His umpires are Séamus McCormack (Walterstown), Stephen O’Hare (Syddan), Ronan Garry (Donaghmore-Ashbourne) and Pádraig Coyle (Senechalstown).

Down’s Paul Faloon (Drumgath) will take charge of the EirGrid under-20 football final between Dublin and Galway.

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