Here are this week’s main talking points in the world of GAA.
Liam Watson transfer
Well an interesting phone call there now. Can something what I have missed as last 2 yrs happen???? #hurlingnews
— liam watson (@liamwatson5) February 18, 2014
These were the words of Antirm’s Liam Watson on Twitter during the week. Possibly the finest hurler in Ulster slashed the rumour mill wide open. He has put himself in self-imposed exile from the Antrim side for the last two years but still showcased his talents at the highest club level with Loughiel Shamrocks, where he was their star man. This tweet started rumours that Watson may be ready to switch allegiances to another county.
“irish star lets some cats out of the bag. #dublinabu”
This tweet followed up a number of days later following the story being printed in the Irish Star. The lead with a story that Watson was wanted by a top county and Watson appeared to let the cat out of the bag himself by by suggesting that a move to Dublin could be on the cards. It’s amazing that a player let so much information out on his Twitter account. It’s very much a case of ‘watch this space’ with this situation. Will we see a new Seanie Johnston transfer saga? Is it all speculation? Is it a move within the ethos of G.A.A? It’s a story there will be definitely be written about again.
The semi-final pairings were decided for the Fitzgibbon Cup this weekend. Some good contests were played out around the country this week as players put club and county commitments aside. U.C.C remain in with a chance of winning the prestigious three-in-a-row. They will probably be the team to beat next weekend having won four Fresher titles in a row and the two previous Fitzgibbon Cup’s. They showed great character to come from behind and beat U.C.D. Captain James Barry played a leading role in defence while Willie Griffin and Alan Cadogan impressed up front.
C.I.T made it an all-Cork semi-final in what should be a fascinating local derby. They made short work of N.U.I.G with Michael O’Sullivan and John O’Dwyer to the fore. They will desperately be seeking revenge for the final defeat in 2012. This should be a cracking semi-final. The other semi-final sees W.I.T face L.I.T. The Limerick outfit upset the star studded U.L in another local derby. Tony Kelly was as impressive as ever. W.I.T beat a strong D.I.T side on Tuesday. It promises to be big weekend in Belfast next week.
The first third-level silverware will be decided in Belfast this weekend. U.U.J, U.C.C, N.U.I.M and U.C.D will all go into the weekend with hopes of lifting the crown. All four teams have impressed on their way to the finals weekend and it promises to be a good weekend. For the first time both final weekends will be held in the same venue as Belfast prepares for a festival of G.A.A over the next two weekends.
All teams will have big game players with intercounty experience to look to. Maynooth will look to All-Ireland medal winners Michael Daragh MacAuley and Paddy McBrearty to use their recent triumphs to bring them over the line. U.U.J are probably the best team on paper, and location could also prove to be an advatange for them. U.C.D have Dublin duo Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion in their ranks, and won a thrille against D.C.U to get to this stage. U.C.C beat rivals C.I.T comfortably with Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan impressing. It will be a big weekend of football.
Verdict : U.U.J to beat NUI Maynooth in the final.
Ballysaggart to appeal against All-Ireland Club final result
Waterford club side Ballysaggart have announced their intention to appeal against the result of last weekend’s All-Ireland Junior Hurling Club Final Replay. Having played out a thrilling 5-12 to 2-21 draw in Croke Park two weekends ago, Antrim’s Creggan Kickhams won the replay 1-11 to 1-07. The story hasn’t ended as Ballysaggart have decided to send an appeal as they are claiming the Kickhams fielded an ineligible player.
The player in question is Conor Small. Small was under-16 last year and therefore ineligible to play for a senior side. While this is a new calendar year, it’s still a 2013 competition and therefore questions must be asked. Ballysaggart’s argument is that they had players in a similar position that they didn’t use as a result of the rule. There has been a mixed reaction to the appeal. Some are saying it’s ‘sour grapes’ others are saying ‘rules are rules’. It will be worth keeping an eye on.
Clock/Hooter System to be tested
The Sigerson Cup will also see the clock/hooter system being tried out for the first time. The Ladies Football uses this system to very good effect. It takes both the pressure and the discretion of time added on out of the hands of the referee. The added time has become a problem in recent years and this system should definitely help in this regard.
Rugby has also used this system quite well. Last year All-Ireland final received criticism because of the time, granted Clare deserved at least a draw but was time up before they equalised. The All-Ireland Football Final of 2011 was another game where time was blown up quite quickly. This new system should definitely be an improvement.
Pundit Arena, Sean Cremin.