Friday, May 25, 2007

The Championship Weekend - A Family Story

I wonder if the players of Armagh and Donegal were watching Bobby Baccala give Tony Soprano a beating in last night's new episode of the last series from everyone's favourite psychotic New Jersey folk. Surely the omens wouldn't have passed them by if they were; Tony, the ageing, battle-scarred boss, brought to his knees by a sucker-punch from one of his inferiors, the good-natured but flabby and soft-hearted underling.

Time and tide wait for no man, not even Tony Soprano and Armagh footballers. Go back to the early part of the decade - the peak years for New Jersey's answer to Kieran McGeeney - and there would have been no contest. Just watch the brutal demise of Ralphie Cifaretto back in series 4 for evidence of that.

Similarly, until now, seeing Donegal square up to Armagh in the Ulster Championship, you generally expected the north-westerners to endure the fate of Big Pussy Bonpensiero, or worse, the Bevilaqua kid, whose attempts to throw mobster shapes winded up with him being tied to a chair and filled full of lead by Tony and his own Paul McGrane, Silvio Dante.

But, in the dangerous meanstreets of Ulster football, anyone's grip on power is tenuous. Armagh, with 6 out of the last 8 provincial championships laundered through legitimate businesses and stuffed in bags of duck feed, are the undoubted capos of Ulster football - although they only managed to become Capo di Tutti Capi once, in the bloodbath of 2002. Their domination has been challenged by Tyrone, but like our friends in New York when Johnny Sac got locked up, the O'Neill county have lacked leadership since Peter Canavan's been out of the picture.

As far as many observers are concerned, the old man has lost it. Are Donegal about to make their move? Or will they end up like Richie Aprile, whose designs on power foundered on Tony's sister's kitchen floor? Certainly the job has been okayed by the other captains; any one of the All-Ireland contenders would love to see Armagh buried under snow in the Pine Barrens.

Elsewhere Clare hurlers are looking for a bigger piece of the Munster action. Like Philly Leotardo, they've paid their dues and have suffered a few heartbreaking knocks along the way. Remember that 2005 All-Ireland semi-final when they were six points clear, only once Cork took their cut they were left empty handed? Those sorta debts, they gotta get repaid. Just like Phil, Clare won't stop till they've got their vengeance.

Meanwhile, Mick O'Dwyer will remember the fate of Old Man Baccalieri. Some felt he was too old to do that hit for Gigi Cestone, but like the old pro he was he got the job done. Unfortunately the exertion caused him to crash his car on his getaway. Let's hope Micko doesn't meet the same fate against Louth at Parnell Park tomorrow.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

jackie healy rae for taoiseach

1:01 a.m.  

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