GLIST: It’s championship time

The championship is here and Michael McMullan looks at some of the things we’ll see

Anyone got a ticket?

THERE won’t be room to turn a sweet in your mouth at Celtic Park later this month as Derry welcome Donegal. The boom is back in both counties. You have Jim versus Mickey and the recent league wins. With many of the tickets being sold over Ticketmaster, they’ll disappear like snow off a ditch.

It’s different now with people swapping etickets via their phones rather than having a couple stuffed into a pocket. But the problem is still the same. Do the people who have been at all the league games get a ticket? We’ll have to wait and see.

Team news

THE league has always brought an element of shadow boxing and trying out new players with the view of championship weekends. Now it’s time for the all established players to converge on the cusp of the team. The queue at the physio table is nowhere near as long. Players are out early at training and mad for road. Nobody wants to be any further down the management’s pecking order. There is the pride in a club when the league newcomer makes his championship debut. There is a deeper look into teams and the key match ups.

Training camps

JOE Kernan set the trend of taking the entire Armagh squad to La Manga in the lead up to their 2002 tilt at Sam Maguire. Benny Tierney often mentions the jibes from Tyrone fans about the absence of any tan as they walked back from their warm-up in Clones. Now it has become the norm. Teams will have a weekend away to help bond. Being in each other’s company helps finalise game plans and there will be a challenge game thrown in that camps will want to keep away from any prying eyes. Nobody wants to give away any secrets. In recent years, the overseas camps have returned. This year, it would appear all the main contenders have converged on Portugal.

Burgers and ice-cream

ONCE you see the Creighton Hotel in Clones, you can almost smell the wafting aroma of fried onions as you begin the climb up the hill towards St Tiernach’s Park. It’s the same at grounds all over Ireland. Fans are always peckish on championship day. It’s part of the tradition. Then, on the few scorching hot days we get until deep into the competitions, there will be vendors selling choc ices and all sorts of goodies. Don’t forget the hats, flags, scarves and headbands mob. More recently there will be those blow horns.

Bandwagon fans

WE’VE all sat beside one. The person hasn’t been at a game all year and rocks up for the championship. In some cases, they deter a genuine fan from getting a ticket. In most cases, they’ve been busy with their clubs or families during the league. It’s the other sort we remember. The fan who barely knows any of the rules and is roaring away like they are the game’s greatest pundit. They’ll struggle to know any of the new players’ names.

Worse still, they’ll roar obscenities at a player and slate their performance.

The fact they’ve been consistently good in every game before is lost on the bandwagon fan.

The Sunday Game

IN the build-up to the game, we’ll have scanned the column inches and various soundbites to obtain any nugget of information about the big game.

When their team wins, there is often the “them boys all wrote us off” and “themins don’t have a clue” statements. That’s the beauty, our games are all about opinions.


IN many houses, the matchday routine begins long before the car pulls out of the drive. No journey is worth its salt unless there is a picnic to feed a small army in the back. Rounds of sandwiches and with lent over, there is no problem loading in bars of chocolate, sweets, crisps and all sorts.

Flasks of tae and I’ve witnessed flasks stuffed with cocktail sausages. Part of the attraction is pulling up beside a carload of strangers outside the ground who have their own bootful of goodness. It begins the pre-game chatter.

Who’s gonna win?

What about the ref?

Does the wet ball suit our boys?


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