I arrived early in Drogheda, walked across the field towards some members of the backroom team and chatted. A pleasant day, sun shining, bright, with not a cloud in the sky.
An ideal day for football.
The stand in Drogheda is very basic, nevertheless it fulfils the primary function of giving the crowd an option of sitting down.
Like many GAA pitches the toilet facilities are disgusting.
There's an undeniable sense that in certain areas of the country, nothing much has changed. It's like a scene from long ago.
This of course, is more to do with the local leadership of the GAA, and uninterested officials, than anything else.
The people coming to the games are quite modern and educated about facilities etc., indeed they've outrun the GAA hierarchy in that sense alone; this leaves many people thinking that the GAA as a body are mired in mediocrity.
There are some regions which have been progressive and operate the finest of grounds.
These are the regions that have, for one reason or another improved greatly.
Outside these regions the fact is that the most abundant quality is mediocrity. Some don't bother much with toilets, proper seating, decent facilities generally and there are GAA officials with little interest in such foolhardy notions. Facilities?
What's that about? Sure they're only here for a short few hours, nobody's bothered with facilities!
Go away, and stop talking about such things.
Before jumping to conclusions, you should try using the ‘toilets’ in Drogheda…..
You'd think you were back in Longford!
Anyone studying the GAA will know very quickly that some within the association are so backward in their way of thinking that it's a wonder any team progresses!
Mind you they're not all backward, it's just that some have no real interest in upgrading anything. That takes too much application, and is plain inconvenient.
Occasionally politics gets in the way. Look at Longford, we’ve wasted a number of years without a stand. Now we're upgrading the stand for more than it should have cost in the first place! Dear oh dear.
Longford went to Drogheda on Saturday. For a strange reason I felt they wouldn't be as poor again, and that they’d win the game.
Although Louth have been one of the best organised sides in recent times, and Drogheda is no easy place to seek a result.
From the outset, right from the throw in, Longford looked like a team who meant business.
The lineout of the team had a solid look, with the excellent Padraig McCormack at full back, flanked by the ageless Dermot Brady, and Diarmuid Masterson. Masterson back in one of his best positions. The half backline looked solid too, with Mickey Quinn at centre back and McElligott and Barry Gilleran either side.
Men first and foremost.
Mickey Quinn may not be orthodox, he misses several rushed shots, is known to kick the ball away, but no matter what, he can be relied on to run forever. He's a powerhouse at centre back. His point early on could easily have been in the net. He absorbed some incredible hits.
Longford looked promising in the melting heat, on a blazing hot summers day.
Exhausting, it was. The game was played at an urgent pace, with Longford edging the scoring until they had reached double scores before halftime. Looking impressive.
Then came one of the scores of the 2017 All Ireland Championship.
The last kick of the first half we witnessed an amazing free, compliments of Robbie Smyth, who, kicking into the cross breeze floated the ball perfectly - just like Maurice Fitzgerald did in Croke Park all those years ago.
Everyone in the crowd applauded, including Louth supporters in my area.
That wonderful score left Longford going in at half time 9 points to 4 in front.
In fairness that was probably less than they could have had, as they missed a few simple scores through over anxiety.
The second half started at a blistering pace, and when Liam Connerton slotted home a deserved penalty, that put Longford seven points clear. A Louth goal on 44 minutes gave little relief as Longford upped the ante scoring four points in a row, including a massive point from Dessie Reynolds who split the defence with a rocketing solo run.
Finally Longford are handling late substitutions very well, with carefully calibrated substitutions as the game wound down. One of the best was Barry Gilleran who was out on his feet but made two massive runs - one ending in a free for Longford, before happily strolling nonchalantly to the sideline. I thought to myself, we’re becoming clever……
Longford supporters went wild at the end. Most of the Longford supporters invaded the pitch after the game to shake hands with their heroes.
Few counties are better supporters than Longford.
Next up Donegal, away.