As the year draws to a close this is an attempt to beat the bookmakers and predict how the 2018 hurling and football championships will pan out...
Early in the new year, as concerns grow about having to play 4 matches in 5 weeks, the Cork hurling panel continues to expand with more names from the past being added. Having shown good footwork in finishing runner-up on Dancing with the Stars, Tomas O Leary is the latest recruit.
Rumours of discontent among the players with training methods are quickly dispelled when Dancing with the Stars winner, Anna Geary, is also added to the set-up as Yoga Instructor. The mood in the panel is said to have lifted instantly.
After a torturous campaign Cork reach the Munster final but only a handful of the panel are now left standing. The County Board introduces conscription and numerous veteran players are brought out of retirement.
The final, against Tipp, is fixed for Thurles but under a directive from new GAA Director General, Michael O' Leary, it is actually played 9 miles away in Templemore. A tight contest is eventually decided when Gerald McCarthy instinctively pulls overhead on a looping Sean Og O h-Ailpin handpass and JBM finishes the ball to the net. From the premium section in Heaven the departed legends of Cork hurling look on approvingly. "It's high time Cork hurling moves forward together," they agree.
The Munster campaign has taken a severe toll though, and the panel is decimated. A visibly shaken Frank announces that the only option left is to give hurleys to the football team and let them play Galway in the semi-final.
The footballers who have surprisingly reached their own semi-final are withdrawn from the race for Sam, giving Dublin a bye to the final. On hearing this news Jim Gavin coolly states, " It's all part of the process". Meanwhile after 5 replays Mayo see off Kerry by a point in the other semi.
Even though the final is fixed for Croke Park Michael O' Leary orders that it is played 40 miles away in Navan as small, low-cost, provincial venues that are rarely used are the way to go. In a flash sale tickets for the final are sold at €4.99 each which horrifies the GAA hierarchy but O' Leary re-assures them that with add-ons they will eventually cost more than €500 each.
On the day of the final, not knowing where Navan, is the Dublin team gets lost and ends up in the Wicklow Mountains. Minutes before throw-in a Dublin 15 is hastily picked from the crowd present. Following numerous Mayo own-goals and red cards Dublin actually lead at half-time. Colm O' Rourke states, " This is further proof that Dublin needs to be split into at least 100 teams".
However, in the second half an Aidan O' Shea tour-de-force inspires a Mayo comeback and Sam is finally heading west amid ecstatic scenes of sheep, cow and car-painting.
Bernard Flynn chases O' Shea around Navan looking for a selfie.
Joe Brolly claims, " Anyone with an understanding of football could foretell the inevitability of this Mayo team winning Sam. Och, it was self-evident all along, an immutable fact".
Pat Spillane claims," It is actually a victory for Kerry football as the influence of Donie Buckley is obvious all over the field".
However, the joy of the nation turns to shock that night when the Sunday Game begins with Michael Lyster broadcasting from the winners' hotel. While Jack McCaffrey does handstands and somersaults in the background Lyster explains that a after the game it was discovered that a Mayo player had a slight asthma attack at half-time and not wanting to use his inhaler he instead covered himself from head to toe in Vick. Unfortunately the player was unaware that Vick also contains a banned substance and so Sam was now being awarded to Dublin.
Jim Gavin coolly states, "It's all part of the process." Gavin is later seen in celebratory mood having an extra custard cream with his tea.
Bernard Flynn immediately blames Aidan O Shea for the loss claiming he spends too much time taking selfies. Joe Brolly claims, " Anyone with an understanding of football could foretell the inevitability of this Mayo team not winning Sam. Och, it was self-evident all along, an immutable fact".
Pat Spillane claims," This was actually a victory for Kerry football as we ran Mayo closer than Dublin did." Colm O' Rourke cries.
The GPA threatens a player strike over the harsh way Mayo are treated but Michael O' Leary immediately disbands them and the CPA, saying he is fed up with unions, much to the delight of the GAA hierarchy. Colm O' Rourke cheers up.
Meanwhile after a Ciaran Sheehan inspired performance the Cork footballers dethrone Galway in the hurling semi-final. Thankfully, after weeks spent in cryotherapy chambers most of the hurlers have recovered from the Munster campaign and along with some veterans of the 3-in-a-row team they defeat Wexford in the final thanks to a goal from Seanie Leary.
This win, along with events in the Pairc like an open-air Mass celebrated by the Pope and a sell-out concert by the Wolfe Tones make Frank believe that the glory days of the 1970's have returned. As "The Banks" rings out on Pana he duly announces he is postponing his retirement for another 40 years!