The future of GAA in Ireland in 2020 is uncertain given the current impact Covid-19 has had on sporting events. However, we hope that we will have a smooth-running championship to look forward to this summer.
2019 was certainly filled with plenty of drama, from Waterford’s poor showing to Galway’s early exit to the tense semi-finals that saw Kilkenny and Tipperary through to the decider for the fifth time in the decade. Liam Sheedy’s side emerged victorious quite comprehensively on final day, an admirable achievement considering they failed to progress from the Munster Championship the previous year.
It has set us up for a mouth-watering championship in 2020 as, while it is a cliche, any one of six or seven teams could realistically lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Therefore, we are asking you to get your predictions in early and tell us who you think will be crowned champions in August.
Here are the potential candidates:
Last year’s All-Ireland winners may have had a poor Allianz League showing but Sheedy will be delighted with the players who showed promise throughout the competition, such as Dillon Quirke, Cian Darcy, Paddy Cadell and Craig Morgan, who will boost Tipperary’s squad. Add to that the return of Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher to full training and the fact they still have one of the most potent forward units in the country and Tipperary are one of the strongest contenders. The addition of Eoin Kelly to the backroom team together with Darragh Egan, Tommy Dunne and Eamon O’Shea makes for tough reading for opposing counties.
Many expected the 2018 champions to lift the Liam MacCarthy last August considering how they strolled through the league before winning the Munster Championship. They will be hugely disappointed with their semi-final performance and while it was well below par, they fell just one point short of Kilkenny. A ruthless edge seemed to be returning to their play in this year’s league while John Kiely has also a number of players to his squad. Injuries to the likes of Richie English may hinder them but they are determined to return to the top.
Brian Cody has once again quietly gone about his business in the league and will be pleased with their standing so far, reaching a quarter-final. Many of their victorious Ballyhale Shamrocks contingent have yet to return and they will certainly boost the side as they look towards the Leinster Championship. The loss of Adrian Mullen is a huge blow but his brother has shown great promise as has All-Ireland club winning teammate Evan Shefflin. Many wrote off Kilkenny last year and were surprised by their performances against Cork and Limerick. They won’t make the same mistake in 2020.
As already stated, Galway suffered an early championship exit last year which led to the departure of Micheál Donoghue as manager. His successor Shane O’Neill seems to have made his mark so far, recording an impressive victory over Tipperary in Salthill last week, recovering from a seven-point deficit. He has integrated a number of younger players into the squad in the likes of Fintan Burke and Evan Niland who have shown serious promise so far. They will have Joe Canning back with them for the All-Ireland championship and that will provide a major boost to the Tribesmen.
Having come so close to a place in last year’s final, Wexford will be desperate to return to Croke Park once again this summer. Keeping Davy Fitzgerald on board for another year was crucial for the Model County and he will have learned from last year’s mistakes. They are reigning Leinster champions and fear no one, especially not Kilkenny who they have already beaten in this year’s Allianz League. They recorded just one loss in the competition and will be content with their progression to the quarter-finals.
Vote for your All-Ireland Hurling champions 2020 in the poll below. Think another county will emerge victorious? Let us know in the Facebook comments.