Ireland take the giants of European rugby down. Mighty Saracens wave the white flag against Leinster, while Munster take down Toulon with a depleted team. Surely this will be an All-Ireland Champions Cup final?
Another Tipp/Kilkenny final? So much for a hurling revolution! And surely it’s time to move the Dubs from Croke Park? Lets get stuck into the real issues, with The Biggest Talking Points in Irish Sport Right Now.
Will we get an All-Ireland Champions Cup final?
Can it get any better for Irish rugby? Yes it can! Thomond Park is not unlike Fatima or Lourdes; if you want a miracle join the brave and the faithful, to whom nothing is impossible.
Andrew Conway sidestepped his way through a startled Toulan defence to deliver one of the greatest ever wins in the pantheon of this famous province.While they face a difficult away assignment in France, don’t bet against them making it an All-Ireland final of the oval ball variety.
Leinster made Saracens look very ordinary, and this game was nearly a rerun of the Ireland V England Grand Slam decider. Saracens just England relied heavily on muscle and little invention, and Leinster easily swatted them aside. All the rugby and attacking intent came from the Irish Province, and while Scarletts will provide tricky opposition, it is hard to see anyone bar Munster, stopping the Leinster express.
At the moment Irish rugby is head and shoulders above anything in Europe, and the ease with which Leinster dispatched the much-vaunted European champions, is further evidence that Irish rugby is now the standard bearer in the northern hemisphere.
So much for the great hurling revolution.
Talk of a great hurling revolution may be a little premature. Tipperary and Kilkenny have contested ten national finals (All-Ireland and league), in the last ten years. Wexford were strong favorites to progress to the Allianz League Final, at the expense of a new look Kilkenny side, still without the services of Richie Hogan, Colin Fennelly, and Paul Murphy et al. Limerick arrived in Thurles with a swagger after scalping Clare, and securing promotion to the top tier.
Both games were a sobering reminder of how far both sides would have to travel, to contest even one national final in the next few seasons. Tipperary still with an experimental looking outfit were always in control against Limerick, and despite a spirited effort from the Shannonsiders, did what they had set out to do at the start of the campaign and reach the final.
Kilkenny were seriously impressive in puncturing a lot of the optimism, Davy Fitzgerald’s charges had built up over the last 18 months.
Both the Cats and the Premier have a number of star names missing for a variety of different reasons, and will only get stronger as the championship goes on, all bets are off against them contesting another All-Ireland in August.
Is it time to move Dublin out of Croke Park?
Surely it is time for the GAA to stop ceding home advantage to the Dublin football team?
Galway were brave, but the 14 man Dublin dont do panic, and when the need was greatest they hit their stride to ease a four point win, in an enjoyable Allianz Football League Final in Croke Park on Sunday.
For all the progress Galway have made, ultimately they lost because of a lack of ambition, when Dublin were clearly on the ropes. After the dismissal of Niall Scully for a second bookable offense, the Westerners failed to make the most of their numerical advantage.
Kevin Walsh’s charges kept a rigid defensive blanket which invited the Metropolitans to attack, and were not overly compelled to push players forward. It amounted to a pretty tame surrender, and Galway have some issues to address, if they are to continue to build on early season gains.
Dublin still look to have another few gears in them, but surely it is time for teams to look to play them outside Croke Park? It is hard enough to take down one of the greatest sides in GAA history, without handing them home advantage, in nearly every fixture of importance.
Yes, Croke Park is the best venue for championship finals, and must host the All-Ireland Final, but there are other venues capable of hosting big championship games. The lack of ambition from the Leinster counties is nothing short of cowardly.
As long as the Dublin can play in their own backyard, there is virtually no chance of any of the current limp bunch of challengers beating them.