It’s all anybody is talking about really…
The Ulster Football Championship served up yet another cracker this past weekend as Cavan and Armagh fought out a draw in St Tiernach’s Park, Clones with the two having to meet again this Sunday to determine who will face either Donegal or Tyrone in this year’s Ulster final.
Meanwhile, the Munster Hurling Championship offered up yet another double damp squib live on TV that had Gaels around the country reaching for their phones and taking to the Twittersphere to voice their frustrations.
It’s important to note that last year’s Ulster SFC was the damp squib while the Munster SHC of 2018 will go down in memory as one of the best ever. That’s just how sport goes, one minute you’re up, next you’re down. It’s not about comparing the two sports as this is futile and pointless but more about the quality on offer at a given juncture and the truth is that hurling has yet to deliver this year whereas football is thriving.
Instead of taking our frustrations (or need to gloat) out on each other we should be putting the pressure on our national broadcaster to ensure that balance is restored and that both hurling and football get an equal crack of the whip next season.
Anyway… here is our GAA Stock Watch for this week…
Whose Stock Rose?
Can you imagine the esteem Spillane would be held in if he never got in front of a camera? Gaelic football’s most successful ever player has come in for a lot of criticism down through the years due to the harsh nature with which he critiques the game. It’s fair to say some of it is justified but a lot of it isn’t.
However, on this week’s episode of The Sunday Game, Spillane was very complimentary towards Gaelic football and in particular Ulster which he once famously described as ‘puke football’.
Kudos Pat, maybe you are getting soft in your old age!
So often the source for ridicule i.e. ‘puke football’, the Ulster SFC has proven to be a shining light on the main stage so far this year.
Two extra-time games. A shock loss for Monaghan and a Donegal v Tyrone semi-final to look forward to. No complaints here.
Jarly Og Burns
Armagh have found themselves a star! At just 20 years of age, the Silverbridge man has taken to the inter-county game like a duck to water.
He was immense against Down in their thrilling Ulster Championship opener and went one step further on Sunday, scoring 1-2 from midfield against Cavan. It could have been more had he not spurned a goal chance in the opening minute, however, credit to the way he dusted himself off and kept going.
Withdrawn late due to what appeared to be a concussion. If it is, he’ll be a huge loss to Armagh this weekend.
A certain star of the future.
A huge win for Antrim over Offaly has them one game away from a Joe McDonagh Cup final. The Saffron County appear to be carrying a bit of momentum and a return to the Liam MacCarthy Cup could be on the horizon.
In Neil McManus, they have one the best hurlers in the last 15 years according to Michael Duignan. The Cushendall man scored 0-10 against the Faithful County and has been Antrim’s go-to man for many years now.
Joe McDonagh Cup
Sure while we are at it we may as well pay homage to hurling’s second-tier competition which has trumped the showpiece event by a country mile so far this season.
It’s been high-scoring, it’s been tight, tense and full of shocks in the case of Offaly.
Whose Stock Crashed?
It just gets worse and worse for the Faithful County. After unceremoniously dumping their manager, a county legend, to one side in a similar vein to one of Britain’s egotistical soccer clubs. The move seems to have backfired as they fell to yet another defeat and now stare down the barrel of having to compete in the Christy Ring Cup, hurling’s third tier competition.
A huge drop for a county that won the Liam MacCarthy Cup as recently as 1997.
Munster Hurling Championship
For so long it has been the darling of the GAA compared to its ugly cousin, the Ulster Football Championship. Last year was so enthralling that RTÉ decided to overload their Gaelic Games coverage with the Munster round-robin series.
The decision has proven less than popular as fans have been treated to flop after flop. As previously stated, it won’t always be this way but still bad enough to make this week’s list considering that Tipperary had Clare beat by half-time and Waterford’s whimper at home against Limerick.
Armagh’s most experienced campaigner will miss next week’s replay with Cavan after a drop of the knees into a Cavan man’s ribs in the dying embers of Sunday’s game.
It didn’t affect them at the time but it most certainly will next week. Without Donaghy, Armagh’s defence looks very leaky and his role in holding the centre and sweeping up any loose ball has been pivotal to their rise in the last few seasons.
The decision of Armagh to appeal the red card also is worth mentioning as a reason for making our list this week. Do the crime, do the time and all that!
There were plenty of complaints when RTÉ released their broadcasting schedule for May and June as punters realised that hurling was clearly number one in their eyes.
Many agreed though, including myself who viewed it as a necessary evil given the competition in Munster and the fact that July’s Super 8 Series will see football dominate proceedings.
Nonetheless, the decision has back-fired on the national broadcaster given the lack of competition in Munster coupled with the upgrade in Ulster.
A foresight not many would have seen but still a wake-up call to remember that balance is key!