By Kieran Murphy
It is hard to believe the battle to win Sam is already over two weeks in progress. In the first week of the month Mayo went over to New York and duly put 1-22 to 0-4 on the Exiles. On the same weekend Galway squeezed past London by 0-16 to 1-9.
The following week in Leinster, Meath beat Offaly (1-13 to 0-14), Kildare beat Wicklow (0-15 to 1-10) and Louth accounted for Wexford (0-22 to 1-14). Previous championship form stood up and the only surprise was the low margin of the wins for Meath and Kildare. Even after last weekend’s action you could say the quest to deny Dublin the five-in-a-row hasn’t quite caught the imagination of the sporting public.
Take Carlow footballer Paul Broderick as an example. He is in full training mode as Carlow prepare for their opening game against Meath on Saturday. He is not engrossed in what is going on outside the county.
“I have seen highlights of the game which concerns us. That is all I have seen,” he admits.
He doesn’t think Meath and Kildare showed their hands in their opening game.
“You never know. Quite often the perceived big teams in Leinster such as Meath and Kildare can be sluggish in the first round and would be hoping to peak later,” the Tinryland footballer suggests.
“They both got through their games and if you talk to people at those games it was comfortable enough. The result might not reflect that because teams can come back in through the back door.”
Meath hit the Faithful County with 1-4 in the closing minutes to clinch victory. Broderick is not going to judge Meath on their form over the previous 50 minutes or so.
“The bit that I saw would suggest they are formidable enough for anyone. They took the foot off the gas for 20 minutes and it almost cost them. When they needed the goods they produced them and it wasn’t any problem to them,” he says.
Now Meath have a game under their belts. Carlow are going in untested.
“It is good to be starting in a quarter-final but it would be nice to have a game and that is a pitfall the way the GAA season is set up. It is as it is and we will prepare the best we can. We have a few days to fine-tune now before we wind down,” Broderick states.
The tradition is long gone now where all championship matches were played on a Sunday. For a venue like Portlaoise, local players would have got up early, went to Mass and counted down the hours where the minor game between the same counties would have acted as a curtain raiser to the day’s senior action.
Not any more. Carlow and Meath throw-in at 5pm this Saturday.
“For previous management teams we would have met quite close to the game and would have looked after ourselves (beforehand). With the current management we meet up earlier. It is get out of bed, maybe make your own breakfast and meet about midday,” explains the Carlow sharp-shooter.
“We meet at least three hours before a game for a number of different reasons. There is video analysis. We get food. It is a social thing too. If there is sport on TV, we get together and watch it whether it be golf, soccer, even GAA. Before you know where you are, it is time to focus and go to the match.”
Carlow want to prove to themselves that some of their league form was not as disappointing as results suggested.
“For us we are coming off the back of a disappointing league and for a few weeks we were feeling sorry for ourselves. Now we are looking forward not back and we are all looking forward to the Meath game,” says Broderick.