The return of the King?
Henry Shefflin or ‘King Henry’ as he is so well known made his first high scoring return to the Kilkenny side this week. Shefflin scored 0-13 for the Cats as they disposed of Galway in the Walsh Cup semi-final. It was interesting to see Shefflin appearing so early in the year. Over the last few seasons Shefflin has really only featured in the championship but this season is seeing the ‘King’ return right from the off.
The scoring tally shows that he will continue to provide scores. At thirty-five years of age though, questions must still be asked as to how sharp he will be come the summer. Will a full preseason be of benefit or has the enforced breaks been one of the main reasons for his prolonged quality of performance? Kilkenny need to move away from the shadow of Shefflin if they are to move forward, but last weekend does suggest that he could still have something to offer.
Big names in Cork underage structure
Some of Cork’s household names were announced as coaches of their underage teams in the last week to further reflect good work at underage level. The fortunes of Cork colleges, the launch of a new phone app that allows players to log their training and other initiatives are just some examples of Cork’s improvements and they now have some of their former stars involved in their underage teams.
In hurling, former goalkeeper and recent senior coach and selector, Ger Cunningham, will take charge of the Cork under-15 side. Former full-back and three time All-Ireland winner Diarmuid O’Sullivan will take charge of the under-16 hurlers. In football, the under-15 side will be managed by Nemo Rangers man, Derek Kavanagh. People may say ‘it’s only underage’ but as we have seen in the past, good underage structures are vital to the future.
First ever club G.A.A/rugby ground share
The story came to prominence last winter and now the first potential G.A.A/rugby ground share seems to be taking forward steps. Cuala G.A.A and Blackrock College R.F.C have an agreement in place to allow Cuala redevelop part of the rugby grounds for G.A.A purposes. They are awaiting a response from the G.A.A for funding of what would be a ground-breaking event.
When Rule 42 was passed at Congress in 2005 people wondered if a follow on would occur. Croke Park being opened up to soccer and rugby had the potential for clubs and counties to start to share grounds and we finally seem to be seeing something happening. If the deal can work for both parties then there is no reason why it should be held back. If facilities can be used by various parties to improve each other’s fortunes, then so be it.
Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup’s get underway
The 3rd Level Education competitions got underway this week in both hurling and football. It’s always an exciting time of year as these prestigious and very valuable tournaments begin. They have received harsh criticism in recent years, but they are extremely worthwhile competitions that hold all of the core values of the G.A.A. These are clubs, run by students and the community developed in college teams is something that is very hard to replicate anywhere else.
There weren’t any real upsets this week. The Sigerson Cup is a knock-out tournament and there were victories for UUJ, Queen’s, UCD and NUIG during the opening week. In the Fitzgibbon Cup the Round Robin series got underway. UCC began their quest for three-in-a-row with a win at home over WIT. CIT made it a double for the Cork colleges with a home win over Davy Fitzgerald’s LIT. Elsewhere Carlow IT had an opening day victory and DIT had a narrow one-point victory over NUIG in a high scoring affair; 1-15 to 0-17.
Croke Park sells out in record time
This week also saw a record broken in G.A.A headquarters. Ticket sale records were broken as 240,000 tickets were sold in a mere 90 minutes. And no, it wasn’t for the Spring Series, it wasn’t an All-Ireland final nor was it G.A.A season tickets. It was for the Garth Brooks concert. In peak G.A.A season, the 25th, 26th and 27th of July, Croke Park will be closed to G.A.A activity and opened to a music superstar. How things change!!
Pundit Arena, Sean Cremin.