No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

International Rules has no future when players placed in club quandary

Michael Murphy named as Ireland Captain
THE final of the Sligo senior football championship between Tourlestrane and Tubbercurry was due to take place last Sunday, but it was postponed and will now be held this Sunday.

The reason for its postponement? To avoid a clash between the final and the FAI Cup semi-final between Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers, which was being held at the Showgrounds last Sunday.

Pat McGrath, the Chairman of the Sligo CCC, reckoned that ‘sport will be the winner from the rearrangement’.

“The County Final and FAI Cup semi-final are the two biggest sporting occasions in Sligo this year, and it made no sense to have them clashing on the same day,” he said.

“There are many people who wish to attend both games, and I know many people from Sligo and particularly South Sligo who would like to attend the game in the Showgrounds to support Sligo Rovers and Rafael Cretaro.

“With the re-fixture of the County Final to 13th October, they will now be able to go to both games. For sports fans in County Sligo, these are games to savor and remember.”

Sport certainly was the winner and the avoidance of a clash meant that both associations get to enjoy big crowds and their own day in the limelight.

There will surely have been men turning in graves beneath Ben Bulben at the very notion of having a county final changed because of a soccer match, but there you go…

It was good to see common sense prevailing in Sligo, but next weekend Michael Murphy faces the prospect of possibly having to choose between club and country.

On Saturday night the Irish International Rules team, of which he is the captain, takes on Australia, in the first test in Cavan, just a day before his club, Glenswilly, take on Killybegs in the Donegal SFC final.

There will not be a direct clash, of course, but it is an unfortunate scenario that Michael is placed into such an awkward position.

This is not the first time that the International Rules series has impacted on clubs. Michael is not the only one effected here. A lot of players have either pulled out or not gone to the set-up at all because their clubs are involved in club championship action, the likes of Colm Cooper, Stephen Cluxton and Bernard Brogan all being absent – and the vice-captain Aidan Walsh is in the middle of hurling championship at the moment, too.

This is a situation no player, lest of all one of Michael Murphy’s talent, should find himself in.

It is an absolutely fantastic honour for Michael, who has been one of the best players in the country in recent years, to get the chance to lead his country out.

At any level, captaining your country is an honour not to be taken lightly.

There seems to be nothing anyone can do now to alleviate the problem, but the hope is that maybe Michael can lead Ireland out, play a limited part in the first test and be able to line out for Glenswilly fully fit in the final.

Clubs, as we have said in the past, are the bedrock of the GAA, and it is utterly rediculous that some of the marquee players in the game are placed into an either/or type scenario.

It is, in the circumstances, very hard to see where the series is going.

The players love playing in it – but you have to wonder whether or not it has a future.


THERE was a bit of role reversal going on earlier this week.

Jason Ryan was Kieran McGeeney’s number two in Kildare, but he has now been appointed manager of the Lilywhites.

McGeeney had wanted to stay on in Kilkdare, but he left controversially after the powers that be voted him out at a county committee meeting.


This week, it emerged that McGeeney was going back to his native Armagh to work under Paul Grimley, who was previously a part of his Kildare set-up.

McGeeney is professional in everything he does and is one of the real forward-thinking managers. You just wonder: Will he really be the number 2?


THE announcement during the week that Dublin GAA had struck a deal with US Insurance giants AIG worth a reported €5m over the next five years sent the ripples through the GAA world.

Dublin have often been compared to Manchester United and really now that has come home to roost. Dublin’s previous sponsors were Vodafone, Manchester United’s sponsors before their shirts were emblazoned with AIG.

Donegal were last year’s All-Ireland champions, but the figures given to Dublin would not even enter the stratosphere here – or in any other county for that matter.

It was a deal that confirmed that Dublin remain the box office name – and will do so for quite a while by the looks of it. They’re in a different league altogether.



ST Naul’s and Naomh Muire take centre stage in Sunday’s Intermediate final, a couple of weeks after the tragic death of Conor Boyle meant it had to be postponed.

Naomh Muire have had a trying few weeks in their club, but Sunday is a chance for the club and its people to smile again.

St Naul’s have won just one of seven Intermediate finals they’ve played in, but that was just two years ago and in Stephen Griffin they have one of the most prolific forwards in Donegal. Naul’s are not a one-man team either and will take some watching.

Naomh Muire, with the likes of Gary Boyle working tirelessly, have been putting huge effort into underage football and Danny O’Donnell’s seniors are benefitting from that work now. Naomh Muire have been steadily progressing – and on Sunday I think they’ll return to senior football.

CARRICKMORE take on Clonoe in Sunday’s Tyrone SFC final in Omagh – and it promises to be a cracking game.

Carrickmore are still relying on Conor Gormley, who was pivotal in curtailing Sean Cavanagh in their semi-final win over Moy. They’ll also look to Mark Donnelly and Martin Penrose, with their goalkeeper Plunkett McCollum going for a record seventh Tyrone SFC medal.

Clonoe are playing superb football at the moment with the likes of minor Danny McNulty and Tyrone senior Conor McAliskey central. Martin Sludden, who you might remember from the infamous Leinster final between Meath and Louth, is the man in the middle.

As for the game, I think Clonoe will shade it.

Have you a comment to make on any of the above or would you like Declan to raise an issue in this column? Get in touch by email

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