Donegal drinking stories and the importance of being Alan
In today’s Hospital Pass, Darragh Ó Sé tells how inter-county drinking stories aren’t exclusive to Donegal, while Alan Brogan’s importance to Dublin is underlined.
Donegal drinking stories
If you don’t do so already, you really should read Darragh O’Sé’s 'The Middle Third' column in The Irish Times every Wednesday, particularly now that we’re at the business end of the Championship season because few people know the business end like Darragh O’Sé does.
Today’s column on Donegal’s All-Ireland semi-final victory over Cork is typically insightful stuff, but moving away from the game itself for a moment, one passage that stood out for us was his reference to what the new Donegal represent as opposed to their predecessors from the pre-McGuinness era.
It wouldn’t be stretching it to say that the Donegal footballers had a reputation for enjoying themselves and often putting the pub before the pitch, never more so than when they went drinking in the capital after a drawn game against the Dubs in 2002 and promptly got battered in the replay.
That episode has now gone down in GAA folklore and as a prime example of the hedonism that often cost Donegal dear, but if Ó Sé is to be believed, it wasn’t the discipline they were lacking, just the cuteness to make sure that nobody found out.
“When I was playing, I always had a soft spot for the Donegal players,” Ó Sé writes in this week’s piece.
“I remember the year the stories came out about half of them staying on in Dublin after a drawn All-Ireland quarter-final and going on the beer because the replay wasn’t for another fortnight.
“I’d say if you’d done an honest survey of the rest of the inter-county players in the country back then, we’d have all happily done the same. The difference would have been we’d have denied it to the last.”
Nobody is cuter than a Kerryman after all.
Unfortunately, that’s the only drinking reference in O’Sé’s column but the rest of it is well worth a read. You can read it in full here.
The importance of being Alan
Listen to some people and they’ll have you believe that the fate of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final rests entirely on two people; one who definitely won’t be playing and another who is touch and go to play any part.
Whether Alan Brogan would be as big a loss to Dublin as Andy Moran is to Mayo could be just a moot point as the reigning Footballer of the Year is said to be on track to play on Sunday, but one of his former team-mates believes that if he’s not on the pitch, the Dubs won’t win. Yes, he’s that important.
"It would make a big difference," former Dubs dual star Shane Ryan is quoted as saying in The Irish Examiner about the potential absence of the centre forward.
"He’s so important. Likewise with Andy Moran being out for Mayo, he’s such an important cog for them. He’ll make a big difference to them. For Dublin to at least beat Mayo and go all the way, they need Alan Brogan fully fit.
"He pulls so many strings. Between himself and Bernard, they’re the last two players of the year. Alan just creates so much. He’s such a hard worker, he’s so hard to keep tabs on. When he gets the ball he causes havoc in opposition defences so even by having him on the field you’re already causing a bit of mayhem there for the opposition."
And, when it comes to Mayo, Ryan certainly knows what he’s talking about.
In the famous 2006 All-Ireland semi-final between the sides, Ryan was causing havoc at midfield before Pillar Caffrey surprisingly moved him to wing-back, a baffling decision which backfired spectacularly.
Not only was Ryan badly missed around the middle, but he was the one supposed to be detailing none other than Andy Moran when Moran scored the crucial goal that helped turn the tide in the Westerners’ favour.
Ryan and possibly Brogan won't feature this weekend, but regardless of the absence of Ryan, Moran and possibly Brogan, if it's anything like six years ago we're all in for a treat.