Battle for Sam begins

This weekend sees the first throw-in of the 2006 All-Ireland championships, with the Men from the Mournes facing Cavan in Ulster’s curtain-raiser at Casement Park. The run-in to this year’s Championship has been quite difficult for the Ulster heavyweights: Tyrone star Brian McGuigan broke his leg in a club match last weekend, while Ger Cavlan’s participation remains in doubt following the pit bull ‘episode’ at his home last month.
Meanwhile, Armagh were less than spectacular in their league outings this term and Derry have been experiencing some difficulties of their own, with their managerial- and team- walk out/ walk in last week.
BUT this is Championship football, and League memories and difficulties will be cast aside.
Any predictions for Ulster or the All-Ireland, Sluggerites?

  • Brian Boru

    Armagh will win.

  • Keith M

    “Any predictions for Ulster or the All-Ireland, Sluggerites?” More weekends of torture for residents in the Croke Park area.

  • Keith

    Ya know its funny I seem to remember you very vociferiously proclaiming that Croke Park must be opened to soccer and rugby games thus increasing the amount of games to be played at the stadium.

    Is the “torture” for residents fine by you so long as you approve of those doing the torturing?

  • Ciaran

    “Is the “torture” for residents fine by you so long as you approve of those doing the torturing? ”

    Tumbleweed rolls across slugger.

  • Adrian McMenamin

    I predicte this is Antrim’s year 🙂

  • Rory

    That is just so funny (and I suppose, tragic) – your name is KEITH and you live beside CROKE PARK.

    KEITH, man, you should be given an honorary place on “The Simpsons” or maybe even “South Park”. You are way cool, Keith. You should take up gangsta-rap.

  • fakin kant

    With a fit McGuigan, Ulster would be Tyrone’s for the taking or losing. As it is, its a toss up between the Orchard men and the red hands. whoever can get away with the most under the eyes of the ref on the day will win between those 2!

  • Keith M

    November Rain “Ya know its funny I seem to remember you very vociferiously proclaiming that Croke Park must be opened to soccer and rugby games thus increasing the amount of games to be played at the stadium.”.

    Firstly the choice was between Croke Park and playing the games on the UK mainland. It would be a sorry day for this country if we were unable to play top class international sporting fixtures in this country.

    Secondly the total number of football and rugby games being played over the two years that Landsdowne is being re-done is something like 10. That’s less than two months worth of games in Croke Park in the height of the the GAA season.

    It is far too late now, but in my opinion permission should never have been granted to add capacity to Croke Park and a new green field stadium for all sports should have been built away from the city.

    Rory, I think you need to read the dosage on that medicine bottle!

  • My tip for Ulster is Derry
    While for all Ireland glory I tip the team that puts Armagh out of the All Ireland series as it has been in 6 of the last 7 years

  • The Devil

    It’s ridiculous how much air time these non hetrosexual pastimes recieve.

  • iluvni

    My prediction is that no Prod will play for any of the Ulster GAA teams this year.

  • As for the championship itself, its a tough one to call. 2005 was the ultimate “Year of the Big 3”. Tyrone, Armagh and Kerry were the last 3 standing and were a class apart from the rest of the field.

    I have a feeling things will not be so clearcut this year and the gap will have closed somewhat. The perceived wisdom is that Armagh are a team in decline though I’ve been hearing that every year since 2002 and I’ve seen no certain evidence of it yet. Armagh’s NFL has been similar to 2004, later that summer they produced the football of the season in the Ulster final and I firmly believe that only complanecy cost them the all- Ireland. Tyrone were deserved champions but no one has retained the title since 1990 and a lot of their creative spark has gone with the losses of Canavan and McGuigan. Kerry will be more determined than ever but the fact remains that since 02 they’ve squared up to Armagh or Tyrone 3 times in the championship and every time they’ve lost.

    Dublin, Laois, Mayo, Galway and Derry are the teams best placed to close the gap. Galway have the forwards but possibly not the whole package, Mayo seem just a little short on the big day and Laois are a nice side. If Dublin can build on last year and not go backwards as they did after their last Leinster in 02, they could have a real say. All of those 5 are good enough on their day to take out one of the big 3 but to win Sam they’ll probably have to perform the feat at least twice and I’m not sure if any of them has the necessary firepower.

    To sum up, I don’t have a damned clue who’ll win Sam but I’m looking forward to finding out!

    PS – Armagh for Ulster and the All Ireland 🙂

  • Yer Woman

    Did I just read someone predicting Derry for the title!

    Well, that’s good enough for me!

    The Oakleaf boys to win! (please please please!)

  • “My prediction is that no Prod will play for any of the Ulster GAA teams this year.”

    Are you willing to put money on that? 🙂
    And what sad bastard will you get to do the sectarian head count?

  • dantheman

    Lets hope there are no prods playing for down, if this is anything to go by:

    http://media.putfile.com/Peter-Van-Vossen-Sitter-for-Rangers-v-Celtic

  • Tochais Siorai

    Sam will be lifted by a Protestant if, as expected, Leitrim go all the way this year.

  • mikerob

    Keith M: “Firstly the choice was between Croke Park and playing the games on the UK mainland. It would be a sorry day for this country if we were unable to play top class international sporting fixtures in this country.”

    And top class “domestic” fixtures as well?

    Given the use of Croke Park for rugby only covers international fixtures (as I understand) if the Leinster v Munster Heineken Cup semi-final happened next year, it would have to played outside Ireland as I don’t believe there are any other rugby grounds in Ireland that meet the HEC’s capacity requirements (assuming Lansdowne Road is actually unavailable…)

    However my view is that it would never happen as the Dublin-based ERC that run the European competitions would fix the draw so any Ireland province was drawn away and therefore avoid any controversy (and there are occasional mutterings they do that already to give easier home draws to “favoured” teams…)

  • GrassyNoel

    The Kingdom will reign supreme again this year..Armagh & Tyrone look weaker this year than they have done for the last 2-3 years & I reckon Tyrone will be drained this year, more so emotionally than physically, after all the high drama of last year’s crusade to the title, plus they are without their talisman canavan and losing Brian McGuigan is a huge blow. Armagh’s decline, despite those who poo-poo it, is becoming more evident by the month and it is hard to see them lifting Sam again with an aging squad.

    Kerry meanwhile are clicking into gear nicely, they sized up Galway for 35 minutes in the league final before ruthlessly putting them to the sword. The last 3 times Kerry has won the national league, they’ve gone on to lift the SM cup. Mind you I hope they beat Tyrone or Armagh on the way this year, that should put an end to all the ‘Kerry can’t beat a tough Northern Team’ nonsense once and for all.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    This season will be closer than any of the past few.

    I’d expect Kerry to win (I always do!), but expect tough games from the big two from Ulster, aswell as Galway and Dublin. Also New York and London 🙂

    Ciarraí Abú

    p.s this sound clip from a Tipperary Football game might put ye in the mood for the new season…..http://www.iolfree.ie/~eddiemoroney/wavs/moroney.zip

  • November Rain on May 06, 2006 @ 09:11 PM wrote
    “…the last 3 standing and were a class apart from the rest of the field. “ the Dubs ran Tyrone to a replay and I think the penalty awarded against the Dubs was harsh.
    “… Kerry will be more determined than ever but the fact remains that since 02 they’ve squared up to Armagh or Tyrone 3 times in the championship and every time they’ve lost. “…again the Dubs to the fore winning the Battle of Omagh – proving that when Ulster teams are met ‘like with like’ in terms of tough football then Caffery’s men can come out with a win. That’s dependant on Tyrone adopting ‘tough football’ as opposed to being the All Irel Diving Champs of 2003
    ”… If Dublin can build on last year and not go backwards as they did after their last Leinster in 02, they could have a real say.” That was under Tommy Lyons’ management. Presently the Dubs have a new leader and team building is still in progress hopefully to reach fruitful completion on the field at HQ on Sep17th.
    “ …and I’m not sure if any of them has the necessary firepower. “ any of the top eight teams can win.
    PS – Up the Dubs

    GrassyNoel on May 08, 2006 @ 03:07 PM wrote .”…The Kingdom will reign supreme …” possible and they are favourites but they’re also very, very dependant on Gooch and that’s a lot of eggs in one basket.
    “…without their talisman canavan and losing Brian McGuigan is a huge blow” true
    “Armagh’s decline,…” I don’t necessarily agree

    “…Mind you I hope they beat Tyrone or Armagh on the way this year, that should put an end to all the ‘Kerry can’t beat a tough Northern Team’ nonsense once and for all. “ and if they don’t?? What would your opinion be if Armagh / Tyrone wipe Kerry off the field? Changed game? Brain versus brawn and brawn wins? Why do you think in (almost) one-off games in the C’ship a brute force team won’t succeed over competition vis-à-vis league format?

    UP THE DUBS