This Saturday hosts the jewel in the crown of Ireland’s sporting calendar – Round 1B of the All Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers. 8 behemoths from all four provinces of the Emerald Isle enter the Thunderdome – only 4 can emerge.
So which sets of warriors will remain standing when the dust settles on the various battle-grounds at sunset on Saturday evening? One thing is for sure, the sun will be setting on the dreams, aspirations and future hopes of 4 counties for another year. In preview of this epic evening, we have completed an in-depth look at all 4 matches.
Death is listening, and will take the first man that screams.
Louth vs Leitrim
This promises to be spicy affair, and is the closest thing GAA has to an Old Firm Derby – The county with the smallest area versus the county with the smallest population – Two beasts of lore locked in an eternal dance of death. Some would argue that it’s not really a derby at all as the two counties have never met before now in the Championship, and that this match-up is the equivalent of two bald men fighting over a comb.
But people who say this are deluded – The Cattle Raid of Cooley, and the subsequent robbery and death of Louth’s prize bull Donn Cuailnge, by north Connacht raiders in pre-historic times ensures that Louth’s very honour is at stake here.
Leitrim, for their part, will want to prove their dominance by both winning the match, and stealing more bulls on the way home. Not for nothing has the team hired a double decker livestock lorry to travel to the match in, instead of the usual bus.
There Will Be Blood.
The Key Players
Louth: Jim Corr
At this stage it’s very difficult to tell if Corr’s head will be in the game – After the defeat to Westmeath he went on the record to accuse the opposition of making a blood sacrifice to their illumanati lizard-people overlords in the build up to the game, to ensure victory.
Fanciful (but intriguing) thinking perhaps, but there’s no doubt that when Corr is on form there are few that can rival his abilities, as his string of Celtic pop-rock smash hits in the late 90’s demonstrates.
Leitrim: Tom Gannon
He may be getting on a little bit in the tooth, but ever since Declan Darcy went off to play for Dublin, Gannon is the only Connacht Championship winning captain available to Leitrim’s selectors. Don’t be fooled by appearances – Gannon physicality, perceptive smack-talk and downright cheating will be key to Leitrim’s hopes on Saturday.
LOUTH: Louth players are well known throughout the land for liberally using the Vulcan Death Grip to render opposition players unconscious, as can be seen in this photo from last year, when this unfortunate Tyrone player got double teamed.
In addition to this barely legal tactic, Louth’s wing back, Jonny Turnips, has mastered the art of concentrating his ki, and using it for devastatingly powerful energy-based attacks.
LEITRIM: Leitrim’s tactics will be the same as it ever was, and shall forever be: score no more than 12 points and hope for the best.
Its a hard plan to scorn, seeing that they’re the only county to have ever completed the prestigious Connacht Championship – Eurovision double.
LOUTH: As unbelievable as it sounds, legendary crooner Neil Diamond is a big fan of the Boyne-siders
Well, judging by the photos, Diamond deserted Louth sometime in his thirties to support Leitrim, no doubt attracted by the Hollywood glitz of supporting a GAA powerhouse capable of winning back to back FBD titles.
The Corrs are reforming in a few months time, so that’s something for Louth people to look forward to, at least.
Tyrone vs Limerick
Literally nothing good has come out of Tyrone since the Flight of the Earls. Limerick has given us Terry Wogan. Easy choice.
Armagh vs Wicklow
My friend Peter is from Wicklow, and says it’s quite nice. However he also thought The Mechanic was pretty good. Armagh, like a lot of Northern Ireland, seems like a place where there’s very little joy. Or, for that matter, anything that even resembles positivity. I’ll go for Wicklow.
Wexford vs Down
A very exotic match-up this one. In fact I’m not 100% certain that either of these places actually exist. A lot at stake here, as neither county will be looking to compound their shambolic performance in the 1798 Rebellion by losing here. Wexford were slightly less shambolic back then, so I have to back them.