MICK HAGAN, bless his generous heart, gave us all a day off on Sunday. For me, and a lot more like me it was a godsend - Manna from heaven.
After racing round the county all week I gladly settled for the armchair in front of the box to watch the action from Croker.
What a treat! - a great battle between Mayo and Derry and while I have nothing against Mayo - in fact some of my best friends are Mayo men, I was delighted to see a brave Derry team survive.
Our association with the Oak Leaf county is mainly hurling but we always found them good sportsmen and it is good to see them making a breakthrough.
The second game is another matter. Straight away I have to confess to being a fan of the Dubs and that fact may have coloured my thinking but I enjoyed that mighty come back.
But where does that leave us in the Leinster Championship? After we beat Laois we will be taking on the Dubs - Oh my God.
Well anyway, that is another day's work, but I did get an email from an old friend and I thought I would pass it on. It comes from Gerald Tallon and reads - 'Dear Peter, I refer to yesterday's second half performance by Dublin. I refer also to my expression, in the Corner, last year, of growing concerns about the state of football. This morning, for me, the alarm bells have become deafening.
What we saw yesterday cannot be maintained or contested.
What we saw was a power driven field basketball game of professional club intensity. This was not inter-county Gaelic football played by amateurs.
In the Corner last summer, I repeatedly questioned whether we are committed to attracting individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds; I asked this because I understand this is a core value of the Association. We cannot have what was on display yesterday and still say we promote this inclusiveness.
Some questions - How do we define 'football'? Do we understand that 'socioeconomic' inclusiveness defines certain parameters within which we must operate? Mise le meas, Gerald Tallon'. Any comments on that one?
Where are they now?
Unfinished business as usual. This email arrived late but it does bring up one interesting point - who was the man standing at the back in the picture of the Bray VS team. This Kilmacannogue man has the answer.
'Re photo of team in your corner 2/04/2014, and named in this week's issue, one name not given is man standing at the back. Although I am a little younger than team members, I think the man at back is Paddy O'Riordan, an old teacher of mine at the school. I would know some of players in photo, Alec Byrne, Kilmacanogue'. Thanks for that Alec. The teacher in question, I am told, came from my own parish, Rathvilly, but I have no background information on him.
Perhaps Tom McCall or some of my Rathvilly friends may come to my aid. I did hear it suggested that his father may have been station master. Over to you Tom.
Last week's picture brought the real experts out of the woodwork. It was an 'Ireland' hurling team from the mid 1950s that played the Combined Universities in the annual exhibition match in Croke Park.
While I was still rubbing the sleep out of me eyes and an old friend from Crossbridge, Eamonn
D'Arcy, was in with the answer; now he did not have all the names but he had most of them and stories about a few but we will come back to that later.
Next in was Edward Carroll of Knockananna and while he had a lot of the names correct, notably the six Wexford men on the team, he thought it was a Leinster team.
Tom Carroll from Coolkenno called and he certainly helped to fill in some of the blanks.
For one thing he was the first one to get the team and the occasion right.
It was an 'Ireland' hurling team that played the Universities he said, he got a lot of the names right and even had a shot at naming the player third from the right in the front row - something no-one else had tried. He said it could Liamie Walsh from Carlow.
Another great hurling man, Jack O'Neill, of Newcastle, was on the phone and he too could rattle off the big names like the Rackards, Ring, Nick O'Donnell, Jim Morrisey, in fact most of them; he thought the mystery man in the front row could by Mick Ryan from Tipp.
We always like calls from outside the jurisdiction and this one, which came from Castledermot in Kildare, was no exception.
It was from a Kilkenny man, John Walsh, who told me he worked and lived in Arklow and played hurling for the Geraldines so Joe McElheron would remember him.
He told me that the Willie Walsh in the picture was his cousin but he was disappointed to find an 'Ireland' hurling team with only one Kilkenny player on it. Changing times.
He knew all the Wexford players and a few more besides.
Then came the real expert, Jackie Napier, and he too had the team, the occasion, the venue and most of the players correct.
Jackie believed the real reason he was in Croke Park that day was because Gerry O'Reilly of Wicklow was on the 'Ireland' football team that was also playing the Universities.
He remembers Jimmy Duggan of Galway as the man that later refereed the All-Ireland 'Home' final between Wicklow and Kerry in 1967, the year that Wicklow went on to win their first All-Ireland title in the grade.
One of his outstanding memories of the 'Hopper' McGrath was a day in Ashford when he was playing for Westmeath against Wicklow in the Hurling League of 1953/54.
Jim Rogers was handed the task of marking him and did a great job - laying the foundation for a Wicklow win over the midlanders.
Could we do that today? We will get that chance next year.
D'Arcy on Stakelum
Eamon D'Arcy sent me a nice little piece on Pat Stakelum but pressure on space means it will have to hold until next week.
Jackie Napier also has special memories of the great Tipperary man in latter years. For one thing he was the manager of the Tipperary team that played Wicklow in the National Hurling League in Ashford in 1983. Wicklow had won the Division 2 of the League the year before and had gained promotion but, not surprisingly, found teams like Tipperary too hot to handle.
However, just to jog the memories of hurling followers and the people involved, Jackie gave us the team that played Tipp that day: Eamonn Dillon (St Pat's); Chris McEntaggart (Kilcoole), Jim Furlong (St Pat's), Tom Lynge (Avondale); Peter Brennan (Carnew), Paul Kelly (Kilcoole), John O'Sullivan (Carnew), Sean Keogh (Kiltegan), Des Heffernan (Avondale); Pat Murphy (Aughrim), Ned Cremin (Kiltegan), Paddy Berkerry (Kilcoole); Tony Kelly (Kiltegan), Batt Kenny Carnew), Paddy Doyle (Carnew).
Subs used: Bernie Byrne, Tom Cremin and Tommy Glynn.
Another expert on times past, David Harrington, also sent an email and we leave the last word on the subject with him.
'Well done Peter, you are starting to whet my 'memory lane' appetite.
'I believe this could be a photo of 'The Rest of Ireland' team that probably played the Combined Universities around 1956. These representative games were fashionable in the 1950s but never really captured the public imagination.
'This photo has Jimmy Duggan, Galway, Jim Morrissey, Bobby and Billy Rackard, Jim English, and Nick O'Donnell, Paudge Kehoe, Tim Flood, Wexford, Christy Ring, Cork.
'I believe the great goalkeeper from Lorrha, Tipperary, Tony Reddan is in the back row. I think Tony's Tipperary colleague, Pat Stakelum, is also in the picture. There are probably a few more players from Cork, Tipperary and Wexford in this photo.
'The guy with the white wavy hair standing on the right in the back row is trainer, Jim Barry from Cork, like Christy Ring, a true legend of Cork hurling.
One might assume that the other Rackard, Nicky was playing with the Combined Universities.
'Nicky became the best-known of the brothers, partly because of his tremendous scoring feats from full-forward. He also was a founder-member of those free-takers who automatically tried for a goal from each 21 yard free, what ever the score line. Of course most of them found the net.
'But my favourite Rackard was Bobby who had some stirring duels with Christy Ring. Technically, I believe he was the most accomplished brother.
'This was a golden era for Wexford who made the break-through at All-Ireland Championship level. Tipperary, Cork and Galway were their main rivals in the 50s.
'In the National League final of 1956 Wexford were losing to Tipperary 2-10to 0-1 at half-time but in one of the greatest comebacks in history, Wexford stormed back to win 5-9 to 2-14. What Nicky Rackard is reputed to have said in the dressingroom at half-time would have made Joe Kernan or Alex Ferguson blush.
'Other Wexford hurlers of this era were Art Foley, Ned Wheeler, Mick Hanlon and Paddy Kehoe. If I remember correctly, Paddy Kehoe was the yachts man who set off from Wexford on a solo voyage across the Atlantic to be never seen again.
'It is said that the Rackards grew up in the same farmhouse as 'Kelly the Boy from Killane' of 1798 fame. It is interesting to know that the Rackards grew up in a household that was only moderately interested in sport. Nicky Rackard was selected on the 'Team of the Century' in 1984 but sensationally was overlooked in the 'Team of the Millennium' for Ray Cummins of Cork.
'It is well known that Nicky Rackard had a problem with alcohol and he was one of the first celebratory sportsmen who openly discussed what had been a taboo subject for such a long time in Irish history. His untimely demise at 53 years of age was a great tragedy.
'To finish off I would l ike to remind you of an event that happened at the end of the 1956 final between Wexford and Cork.
'Wexford won a classic game but Nick O'Donnell and Bobby Rackard carried Christy Ring shoulder high in what was a truly sporting gesture for a player many people regard as the greatest hurler in our time.
'At a crucial stage in the game Ring homed in on goal and struck an awesome shot which had goal written all over it but Art Foley executed a brilliant save.
'Christy was so impressed he ran in to congratulate Art after he dispatched the sliotar upfield. That save by Art Foley denied Christy Ring his ninth All-Ireland medal.
Bobby and Nicky Rackard won two AllIreland medals. Billy held on to win a third medal in 1960.'
Incidentally David, I don't thing Paudge Kehoe was in the picture; I would like to hear more about the Paddy Kehoe you mentioned. I agree with you about the Rackards - Bobby was also my favourite.
The great Men in the Picture
Front Row L to R - Sid Bluett Kilkenny; Jim English, Wexford; Christy Ring, Cork; Willie Walsh Kilkenny; Nick O'Donnell Wexford; Jimmy Smith Clare; AN Other; Dermott Kelly Limerick; Pat Stakelum Tipperary;
Back Row - AN Other; Jimmy Duggan Galway; Jim Morrissey Wexford; Bobby Rackard Wexford; 'Jobber' McGrath Westmeath; Tony Reddan Tipperary; Tim Flood Wexford; Billy Rackard Wexford; and the Coach Jim (Tuff) Barry Cork.
Can anyone come up with the names of the two missing men? On second thoughts, Jackie Napier came up with Eamonn Goulding of Cork as the player third from the right in the front row after looking through pictures of the Cork team of the time.
Josie Dardis Our Sympathy to Martin Doogue of Kadeen Knitware Baltinglass and his family on the death of his sister, Josie Dardis.
Martin is a Carlow man but he has put in a lifetime of work promoting hurling in Wicklow.
He trained Kiltegan to win their first ever hurling title and he has been a strong supporter ever since. Martin was also a Senior football selector in Wicklow back in the 1970s.
We also include another well known GAA family in this. Josie was Dave Murray's aunt and we also sympathise with Dave, Mary and family.
Her funeral to her native Carlow took place on Friday after morning Mass in Kimmage Manor. May Josie rest in Peace. Lil Dwyer R.I.P. Another great old lady to pass away last weekend was Lil Dwyer from Donard. Lil had very strong connections with the great days of Donard football. Her late husband, Eddy, was a great corner back on the Senior team for years, winning SFC medals in 1951 and '57 and died while attending a match in Blessington.
Our sympathy to her sister, Esther, her sons, daughters and extended family.
May she rest in peace.
Some right young buckos in the picture above! Can you identify any or all of the young men with the world at their feet? If so contact Peter on 087 6907589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.