The football championship will kick-off this weekend, much like the hurling championship a couple of weeks ago: to widespread apathy outside of the teams involved.
It's New York and Sligo in the preliminary round of the Connacht football Championship this Sunday, to begin the seven-team competition that takes two months and two days to complete. Sligo will, of course, be favourites, although New York gave Roscommon were given an enormous fright at Gaelic Park a year ago: escaping with the narrowest of victories on a scoreline of 0-17 to 1-15.
The New York this time around features a couple of recognisable faces. Danny Sutcliffe, better known as a Dublin hurler who won an All-Star in 2013, has been selected at right half-forward in his first game in the football championship.
Tom Cunniffe of Mayo is at corner-back, a man who has more Connacht titles than Sligo have in their history: the Yeats county has three; the defender has five.
Elsewhere, Vinny Cadden is in goal against his former team, and the half-forward line also features Wicklow native Conor McGraynor.
So, what odds an upset? New York are priced at 11/4, and Sligo are badly depleted. Manager Niall Carew has criticised the Connacht Council's decision to fix the game during an exam season, meaning Sligo are deprived of Kevin McDonnell, Luke Nicholson, and Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch, along with Niall Murphy, who has a hamstring injury. Carew lamented the timing of the game on the RTE GAA podcast:
In the wisdom of the Connacht Council, they fixed this game right in the middle of exams. It was cast in stone seemingly with no way of shifting it. I can’t ask players to be home in time to sit their exams on Monday morning at 9 o’clock when the game is at half 8 Irish time Sunday night. It’s a bit of a disaster for us. We just have to get on with it.
Here's the New York team in full:
V Cadden; T Cunniffe, D Cunnane, P Witherow; G McCartan, D Culhane, K Quinn; B Gallagher, S Hogan; D Sutcliffe, C McGraynor, R Wherity; D McKenna, S O’Connor, E McVerry.
The game throws in at 8.15pm Irish time on Sunday evening, and commentary of the game is live on RTE Radio One.