September Road: Truth of McIlory and Lowry’s GAA links

Mickey Harte to watch on for first time since 2003; Kerry liking things as they are

Rory McIlroy’s uncle Mickey McDonald lined out for Armagh in the 1980s, while Shane Lowry’s Dad Brendan is is an All-Ireland winner for Offaly. File photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Rory McIlroy’s uncle Mickey McDonald lined out for Armagh in the 1980s, while Shane Lowry’s Dad Brendan is is an All-Ireland winner for Offaly. File photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

The true story

Rory McIlroy’s GAA credentials may not be as well-known as those of Shane Lowry - who was in Navan for Offaly v Louth on Sunday - but his links to the O’Neill’s size five are still strong. McIlroy’s uncle Mickey McDonald lined out for Armagh in the 1980s, winning an Ulster SFC medal in 1982.

However, the widely-shared urban legend that McDonald marked Shane’s Dad Brendan is sadly just that. The Faithful did play against Armagh on McDonald’s home turf of Lurgan on October 31st, 1982 but, according to all the contemporaneous press reports, while Lowry played, McDonald didn’t.

While the Lowrys’ Major championship-All-Ireland SFC double may never be repeated by anyone else, the latest Irish superstar, Leona Maguire, could come close. Kind of.

Leona’s family are steeped in football. While she was in action in the third round of the Women’s PGA in Atlanta on Saturday, her Dad Declan was patrolling the sideline as manager of Cavan club Drumlane in a county league Division 2 game against Drumalee.

Could the coveted women’s Major/Cavan Intermediate Championship double ever really happen?! Watch this space.

Kingdom of Munster

One county who won’t be shedding tears if football’s provincial system remains in place is surely Kerry.

Leaving 2020 aside, they won four Munster titles between 2016 and 2019, playing two matches per year, none against Division 1 opposition. Their fixture against Clare on Saturday was their first Munster quarter-final since 2013.

Compare that to, say, Monaghan, who would have needed 13 wins to equal Kerry’s provincial run in those years - with Division 1 opponents in the mix too.

In 2016, they would have had to beat Down, Donegal and Tyrone. In 2017 it would’ve been Fermanagh, Cavan, Down and Tyrone. While in 2018 they would’ve had to beat Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal and in 2019, Cavan, Armagh and Donegal.

Wee involvement

Louth’s defeat against Offaly yesterday created a little bit of history. With no back door for teams beaten in the provincial championship this year, the Wee County are now out and it means that their manager Mickey Harte has no involvement in the All-Ireland race in July for the first time since he took charge of the Tyrone senior team in 2003.

In 18 campaigns, Harte’s Tyrone almost invariably made it through to August but they did suffer four July exits, with the earliest coming in 2006 when they were knocked out by Laois in a round two qualifier at O’Moore Park on July 8th.

Scoring high

Hurling scoring records continue to tumble. Prior to this weekend, there had only ever been three hurling championship matches at any level to produce a cumulative total of 70-plus points.

And suddenly, on Saturday, there were two more - Longford and Louth in the Lory Meagher Cup (8-25 to 3-19) and Wexford and Laois in the Leinster SHC (5-31 to 1-23).

It’s insane to think that the 1998 All-Ireland SHC semi-finals only produced 56 points (2-50) in total! Hat-tip to @GAA_Stats for the number-crunching.

Number’s game

2,577: Days since Wexford had last won a match in the Leinster SFC before beating Wicklow on Sunday. In further good news, Dublin are up next…

Quote of the week

“He’s different gravy at the moment, one of those flawed geniuses.” - We think John Mullane meant to say “flawless” as he showered Tony Kelly with praise on the radio.

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