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29 May 1997 Edition

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Sportsview: Running to stand still

By Sean O'Donaile

I'm just back from a 17 mile canvass around Coolock and I feel a bit like a Westmeath footballer, except they've probably run seventeen hundred miles and still aren't past the first round proper.

The Gerry A roadshow was in town last night and we had the makings of two football teams tonight - ``Vote for Larry O'Toole, your only man, a horse of a man, the man to get things done, stand by your man''... ``them politicians abuv in Leinster House sitting on their arses swilling beer and robbing the country blind with their brutal hairstyles and neon ties, the only onisht wan among them is Charlie Haughey''.

I reckon we've got further than Westmeath for our efforts - they've now played four championship matches and haven't reaped many benefits. For the last number of years they've been bobbing up and down the nether regions of the league and got as far as the Leinster semi-finals once, but the ridiculous knockout system means that usually teams such as Westmeath spend all year bursting their gut for one football match and then the GAA scratch their heads as to why football is not prospering in many counties.

Their manager is none other than my boyhood hero, Barney Rock - he was my hero until he stood as a candidate for the Progressive Democrats in Finglas, which would be similar to an Antrim hurler running for the Conservatives in Lower Falls. For all their troubles Westmeath will have played at least four matches this summer, which is more than 90% of the sides will do.

Tyrone managed to stumble past Down by 3-8 to 1-11 but still look stuck in second gear apart from the last ten minutes of the drawn game when the chips were down. This looks like the end of the line for Greg Blayney and co. and Tyrone might yet do a Mid Ulster on it and lift some silverware for their new MP.

Mayo buried their Tuam hoodoo for the first time since their last All Ireland in 1951. This time round they didn't have to kiss the bishop's ring and looked like a team that means business - for the second season running Connacht football has provided exhilarating games and we almost forgot about the election for an hour. Mayo is one of those places where you still only get Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael lardarses running the show so having a half decent team helps to lift the gloom somewhat.

In hurling Waterford got their annual outing against a drug-free Limerick, who must surely be the unluckiest county in Ireland with the three PD TD's in the country - but that still hasn't cured all ``them good for nathin' dolers and mothers living in sin and good lifers sitting on their arses''.

Roll on the summer!

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