So as the dust settles after an action packed weekend in both the Football and Hurling championships, let’s take a look back at four things we learned from the weekend as we ease into the ummer months.
1) Waterford Can’t be Underestimated
Waterford booked a place in the Munster Final on Sunday with a comprehensive victory over rivals Clare in Thurles.
Waterford came into the game very much under the radar after losing the League Final replay to Clare last month, and it’s safe to say that they learned their lesson. Austin Gleeson was the star of the show, as Waterford announced themselves as All Ireland contenders. They undoubtedly have the talent, confidence and the system to take on any county in Ireland.
2) The divide in Ulster is widening
A nineteen point victory over Down in Clones saw Monaghan stroll into another Ulster Semi-Final on Sunday.
This adds to Tyrone and Cavan defeating Derry and Armagh with considerable ease, and it can’t go unnoticed just how unbalanced Ulster is becoming. Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan lead the way, with perhaps Cavan and Fermanagh the only other teams capable of even competing with those three. The Ulster Championship is renowned for its unpredictable nature, but is becoming ever more predictable in recent years.
3) The Dubs are not untouchable
We love to build them up as invincible, untouchable and unbeatable – of course, they’re the best team in Ireland right now – but lets not get carried away.
Dublin defeated Laois by eleven points in Nowlan Park on Saturday, as two early goals put the match beyond Laois before it even started. Laois deserve credit however, they ddid what Kerry, Mayo, Donegal and co. couldn’t do this year; they exposed a chink in the All Ireland Champions armour. They scored two second half goals, held their own in defence and midfield, and attacked Dublin with great pace and intensity for a solid twenty minutes of the second half. Fitness and the fact they only had 14 men on the field caught up with them in the end, but Laois certainly proved that Jim Gavin’s side are no unstoppable force, and Gavin has a lot of work to do.
4) Galway are back in business
A lot of us forget that Galway were All Ireland Finalists in 2015.
We forget that they held their own in Division 1A and simply had an off day in their relegation play off decider against Cork that saw them get relegated. They progressed to the Leinster Semi Final with a thrashing of Westmeath and are heavy favourites to defeat Offaly and walk into yet another Leinster Final. In many ways the relegation may be a blessing for the tribesmen as nobody is really giving them a chance. One thing is for sure however, they won’t be beaten easily by anyone.