Preview of the M Donnell Interprovincial Football Semi-Final between Leinster and Munster
It will hardly merit a paragraph in most of the national papers this weekend but the Interprovincial hurling and football championships return after a two year break this weekend. For the record, Ulster are the last team to lift the football title when they saw off Munster in the final three years ago.
Back in its heyday, the Railway Cup was one of the highlights of the GAA year with the finals being played in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day. Of course, that particular date is now reserved for the All-Ireland club finals but nevertheless, a place has been found in an increasingly busy calendar for the inter-pros.
The pick of the weekend’s football ties is probably the clash of Leinster and Munster which throws in at 2pm in Parnell Park on Sunday. The game will not attract the same size attendance as a rugby game between the same provinces but if anyone wants to see some of the best footballers in the country in action, then Parnell Park on Sunday is the place to see them.
Leinster manager, Sean Boylan already caused some controversy during the week when he threatened to step down if the abandoned league clash between Dublin and Mayo went ahead. In fairness to Boylan, he was asked to do a job and then he was being stripped of some of his very best players.
Boylan has picked a very strong squad with several players from Dublin’s All-Ireland winning team selected. Amongst the most noteworthy of the names are, Alan and Bernard Brogan as well as Stephen Cluxton. Perhaps the organisers of the competition are hoping that the seasonal return of the Brogans will add another few hundred to the attendance, especially with the game taking place in the capital.
Other players of national prominence on the Leinster squad include Kildare’s Emmet Bolton and Wicklow’s Leighton Glynn while the competition also gives an opportunity to some less heralded names such as Longford’s Sean McCormack and Kieran Lillis of Laois to make their name on the national stage.
Under Ger O’Sullivan, Munster have also managed to put together a very experienced squad, including All-Ireland winners from both Kerry and Cork! Tomás O’Shea’s suspension for last week’s dismissal against Armagh does not carry into this competition and he is free to play alongside fellow Kerry stars, Aidan O’Mahony, Brendan Kealy and Seamus Scanlon.
Cork are also well represented with Mark Collins, Graham Canty, Alan Quirke, Paddy Kelly, Paul Kerrigan and Paudie Kissane on board.
The selection of Thomas and Maurice O’Gorman from Waterford is extremely interesting as they have yet to play with the Waterford footballers this year, having decided to throw in their lot with the county hurlers this year. However, the rumour over the last few days is that they have left the hurling panel and will be back on board with John Owens’ football team for the remainder of the league.
The result of this game may well depend on how seriously each side takes it. The Munster panel was only finalised on Thursday while the wily Boylan will probably have been thinking about this for quite a while.