The GAA Championship season stepped up another level with the first weekend of live hurling and football action.
It was a jam-packed weekend, where the season really seemed to take off. All championships are now underway and the summer looks to be gathering momentum.
Here we look at who is making the headlines for the right and wrong reasons, as the post-mortems start all over the country.
There were many names to look out for ahead of this year’s hurling championship and Cian Lynch was one that crept up aplenty. Much was made his genes, in being a nephew of Ciarán Carey. But he has established his own reputation in being one of the best young hurlers in Ireland at minor level over the last few years.
Lynch took Thurles by storm against Clare, scoring three points from play and being a constant threat to the Banner defence. His pace and skill levels were on show throughout the game and he showed plenty of audacity in attempting to carry out some very cheeky pieces of skill. It was a great debut and pressure will now be on for Lynch to produce again.
In a week when ‘sledging’ became a new bone of contention for the much-maligned Ulster Football Championship, Monaghan and Cavan went a long way to putting some of that negativity to bed for a while. Both sides served up a high-scoring and quite entertaining game of football to bring some much-needed positive publicity to Ulster football.
A total of thirty-one scores is good at any level and there was some very high quality on show. Conor McManus continued to show his prowess as one of the best footballers in Ireland.
The likes of Cian Mackey and Dessie Moan also performed well in what was a fantastic game. So, it’s finally a more positive week for Ulster football, but for how long?
Outspoken, over critical, stubborn. These are just three words that can be used to describe Joe Brolly. The Derryman has developed almost a nation-dividing reputation in his years as a football analyst on RTÉ’s The Sunday Game, and this weekend was no different. But this time, he made a comment that nobody really attempted to defend.
Brolly loves controversy, well at least makes it seem that he does, by always being controversial. On Sunday he made a bad remark about an RTÉ colleague, Marty Morrisey when analysing the game between Monaghan and Tyrone.
“Some people have said that Cavan football is as ugly as Marty Morrissey. I should apologise.. . to the people of Cavan for that.”
The comment was very much uncalled for and it will be interesting to see if there are any ramifications for Brolly.
This weekend saw another relegation for the Antrim hurlers and things seems to be getting worse. Their All-Ireland under-21 final appearance in 2013 offered hope but they have had an awful 2015 so far, where they were relegated to Division 2 of the league and they now have been demoted from competing in the Leinster championship for the Liam McCarthy Cup to the Christy Ring Cup.
It is disappointing from a hurling perspective that Antrim appear to be going backwards and it has also led to Donal Óg Cusack speaking on his wishes for ‘Team Ulster’ to be established in an effort to help hurling north of the border.
His proposal has seen a rather negative reaction from those up north, who say it will never work. But nonetheless, it has been a bad few months for Antrim hurlers.
It was another defeat for the Clare hurlers, which means that the Banner are now winless in the championship since the day they lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup back in 2013. It is not necessarily crisis point for Clare but this defeat is a setback. They do have time to put things right and a qualifier run may work out well, but defeat yesterday definitely wasn’t part of their plans.
As always, Davy Fitzgerald was rather bullish, having lost the game against Limerick. He was adamant that Clare did not deserve to lose and was critical of the referee for awarding a point to Shane Dowling from a suspicious free and the amount of added time that was played.
Clare could still have a massive say over the rest of the summer, but for now, it is a poor start in terms of results.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.