Big GAA weekend on Radio Ulster

By Thomas NiblockBBC Radio Ulster
Donegal won the Ulster Championship in 2011
Donegal won the Ulster Championship in 2011
All-Ireland qualifiers - Tipperary v Antrim & Kerry v TyroneSaturday 21 July 15:00 BST
Ulster Championship final - Donegal v DownSunday 22 July 11:45 BST

It is a special weekend for GAA followers - there is the Ulster football final, Antrim are two wins away from making it to the All-Ireland quarter-finals...and Tyrone play Kerry. All the action is on BBC Radio Ulster medium wave.

When I think of the Kingdom against Tyrone, I think of first-half stoppage time in the All-Ireland final in 2005. Owen Mulligan's catch and lay-off to Peter Canavan - he just rolled it in superbly. All this after 10 championship games.

In 2008 the power of the beards! Joe McMahon said he wasn't shaving until it was all over "Hopefully the beard won't come off until September."

Tyrone came back from a point behind at the interval and Tommy McGuigan scored a goal 19 seconds after the restart, set up Stephen O'Neill who only joined the panel the week before the final.

What went wrong Daragh O'Se was asked a few months after the 2008 final?

"I don't know- we just bumped into the wrong crowd again!"

That says it all. Kerry entered that year as All-Ireland champions, the best team in the country, but there's just something about Tyrone, especially when they play the kingdom.

Eoin Liston in action for Kerry in the 1984 All-Ireland final
Eoin Liston in action for Kerry against Dublin in the 1984 All-Ireland final

Saturday will be the fifth time the counties have clashed in Championship football and the only time Tyrone lost was on my first visit to Croke Park in 1986.

My father was working in Tyrone at the time, my mum (a devout member of the Pat Spillane church) and I were sitting with Tyrone supporters.

Spillane scored a goal and my mother jumped for joy. My father was affronted as the Edendork faithful gave him 'the look'. Baby Niblock in the back seat had to listen to an argument all the way home. Spillane causing arguments a quarter of a century ago.

Also playing that day was Eoin Liston. The bearded 6'3" giant was part of the Kerry team which came from six points behind during that game to dramatically win Sam.

It was 'bomber' Liston's seventh All-Ireland title. This Sunday Liston will be my co-commentator in Killarney for live uninterrupted coverage on BBC Radio Ulster 1341MW.

This all comes straight after live commentary of Tipperary against Antrim.

Earlier this week Antrim captain Aodhan Gallagher pulled out of the Saffron squad citing personal reasons. He came on after 20 minutes against Galway and will be a huge loss for Liam Bradley's side.

However boss Bradley says: "I have no doubt we'll be coming back up the road on Saturday evening in the next round of the qualifiers."

So a special weekend - the Ulster final in Clones, Antrim in Thurles, and Tyrone play Kerry. Sounds great.