Club championships throw up season of 'first-timers'
First-time senior club hurling and football champions in Leinster, new hurling champions in Munster and Connacht (Galway) – it has been a really refreshing season on the AIB provincial club circuit.
It means that irrespective of who wins the hurling semi-finals, at least one club (Thurles Sarsfields or Kilcormac-Killoughey) will be in the Croke Park for the first time on St Patrick's Day. And if new Galway champions St Thomas' beat defending All-Ireland champions Loughgiel Shamrocks, both finalists will be first-timers.
Ballymun Kickhams, first-time Leinster football winners, are in with seasoned campaigners from the other three provinces, plus Tir Chonaill Gaels (London) but look well primed for a big push.
What odds on first-time All-Ireland champions being crowned in both codes, something which last happened in 2006 when Galway duo Portumna and Salthill-Knocknacarra took the titles?