confident of success
year's All-Ireland senior football championship final is an intriguing
affair to say the least as Donegal and Mayo clash for the first
time at this stage of the campaign.
Donegal are looking to end a 20 year barren spell from when they
won their first and only All-Ireland senior title, while for Mayo,
they must go back to the early 50's to remember when Sam Maguire
last resided in the county.
The scramble for tickets has reached fever pitch as not only are
Gaels from both counties seeking tickets at home, but from further
afield as well.
Ryanair and Aer Lingus flights are set to be booked out this weekend
as hundreds of Mayo and Donegal supporters make their way from the
London's airports in particular look set to swell with Irish customers
as exiles return to support their native counties.
One man, who will be on the plane for Dublin is Gweedore native
Joe Sweeney, who will be returning home to shout for the Tir Chonaill
men and indeed his childhood friends including Eamon and Neil McGee.
Joe played with many and against many of the current Donegal squad,
before he left for the U.S. eight years ago. Having spent two years
there, Joe then went to London, where he has now resided for the
past six years.
But, he has not forgotten his roots and travels home on a regular
basis, where he meets up with family and friends including former
Donegal star Kevin Cassidy.
I would have grown up with a lot of the lads and know them
very well. I often go back and train with the team at times and
you can see how fit the county lads are, they really have brought
it to a new level, said Joe.
It will be a very interesting match against Mayo. They are
two physical teams. There has been a lot of talk about Donegal's
homecoming, but I think the media made the most of that and I'm
sure that the players will not believe all the hype.
Jim McGuinness has done an excellent job since coming on board
as manager. He said after the defeat to Dublin last year, that they
would not have gone anywhere near the Dubs without using their defensive
tactics and he stated that it could take a couple of years to get
where they wanted, but in fairness he has done that in just one
Joe believes it has the makings of an enthralling contest, but he
feels that Donegal's fitness levels may just see them over the line.
For amateur sportsmen, their fitness levels are incredible.
When you see Premiership soccer players running around on a Saturday
and then see inter county Gaelic footballers playing, you would
have to say that the footballers look a bit fitter.
I think this will help Donegal in the latter stages and I
just have a feeling that it could be their year, although I'm probably
a bit biased, quipped Joe.
Despite, not being at home for a number of years, Joe's love of
Gaelic football has seen him continue to play and he has the distinction
of playin the big ball game in three different countries, Ireland,
the U.S and the U.K.
I played with the Donegal club in New York before I came to
London, since then I have been playing with North London Shamrocks.
We were actually beaten in the intermediate football final
by St Brendan's recently, which was very disappointing.
Joe admits that the turnover of players in London clubs is huge,
although he stated that NLS are now developing home grown talent.
There were seven English born players on the team this year,
which is great to see. We reached the intermediate final about five
years ago and of the team, there are only five of us still playing,
which gives you an indication of the turnover of players. It is
the same for all clubs.
Away from the football field, Joe is employed by 3D Personnel Ltd,
which specialises in supplying labour and trades to the construction