All-Ireland SHC final countdown: Mullane ready to go naked

Connacht hopes for first double, GAA goes global, numbers game, team talk and more

Not long into the championship, after Waterford lost the Munster semi-final to Cork, their five-time All Star forward John Mullane merrily declared that "if Waterford win the All-Ireland, I'll jump on a horse in the nude and go down the quays".

When gently reminded on of that on RTE radio yesterday, Mullane without any hesitation stuck to his word: “At the time, it was a bit of fun. It would be out of elation if we did pull it off. If the lads do pull it off, I’m sure we can come to some sort of agreement. We might do something with getting a charity involved and possibly getting a few bob for the lads’ team holiday because the lads have given us a fantastic summer.”

Mullane even suggested someone like Willie Mullins, Aidan O'Brien of Jim Bolger might want to promote their horse, and if they wanted to get their picture taken with him going down the quay with Liam MacCarthy over the course of the next couple of months, get the money out, then he'd talk business.

Now, may the best team win?


Connacht hopes for first double

The novelty of Sunday’s game – a first final showdown between Galway and Waterford – is extended by the fact it’s only the third time two Connacht counties have reached All-Ireland finals in hurling and football in the same year.

Galway and Mayo both reached the All-Ireland finals in 2012 (Galway losing the hurling replay to Kilkenny, while Mayo losing to Donegal in the football); the only other occasion two Connacht counties made it to the finals was in 1980, Galway won the hurling title, Roscommon losing the football final.

Galway have reached the two finals in the same year on two occasions, winning the football title in 1925 and 2001, but losing the hurling deciders on both occasions. Can they make history now and bring the Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire cups back to Connacht for the first time in the same year?

Numbers game

9: The number of All-Ireland finals – combined – that Galway and Waterford have played in and/or lost since winning their last title: Galway have played in seven (losing to Cork in 1990, Kilkenny in 1993, Tipperary in 2001, Cork in 2005, drew with Kilkenny in 2012, lost the replay, then lost again to Kilkenny in 2014); Waterford have played and lost in two, on both occasions to Kilkenny (1963 and 2008).

Team talk

“And you’ll probably get a different song on Up For The Match, which is a bonus.” – Waterford manager Derek McGrath on what making the All-Ireland final will mean to the people of Waterford, amongst many other things.

Horgan no stranger to big stage

Tipperary native Fergal Horgan is the first Munster referee to take charge of an All-Ireland senior final since Waterford's Michael Wadding in 2010, who oversaw the Tipperary-Kilkenny showdown.

At age 38, and only appointed to the national panel as recently as 2013, it’s also the first All-Ireland final for Horgan, completing an impressive rise for the Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams clubman.

Horgan is no stranger to the big stage, however, having refereed the AIB senior club final between Cuala and Ballyea on St Patrick’s Day of this year, the Wexford-Kilkenny Leinster semi-final, and the Munster final clash between Cork and Clare.

He’ll also be familiar to Waterford supporters as the man who sent off Tadhg de Búrca in their All-Ireland senior hurling quarter-final victory over Wexford, which ruled him out of their semi-final win over Cork. No hard feelings though.

GAA go global

In a further roll-out of the GAA’s own content offering, supporters around the world will this evening be able to tune in to GAANOWLive, the first in a series of live social broadcasts on the official GAA Facebook page.

Hosted by Louise Duffy, the hurling final preview will be broadcast from Facebook's European Headquarters in Dublin, featuring Wexford hurler Lee Chin, Ireland and Leinster rugby player Sean Cronin and comedian and broadcaster Colm O' Regan. The broadcast will air from 7pm (Wednesday) and feature panel discussion, an interactive viewer Q&A, and an exclusive competition to win two tickets to Sunday's final.