Championship 2014 - Seven wonders for this weekend
1 WELCOME BACK CATHAL - Through the GPA and their various campaigns, we've become more aware of the off-field struggles that can affect some of our top county stars. Cathal McCarron is one of those that has been through the wringer with his off-field problems, but he made a return to action last weekend when featuring as a substitute for for Round Towers in the London SFC clash with St Kiernan's. The 2013 All Star nominee might have finished on the losing side, but it's a personal victory that's worth mentioning for a man who is one of the better defenders around when he's on his game.
2 GARTH FIASCO WILL HIT CLUBS
They've lost the Garth Brooks battle, but there is another lost cause for the GAA which no one is complaining about. It happened in the Gaelic Grounds last summer, in Dr Hyde Park last month, in Wexford Park last Saturday and again in Pairc Ui Chaoimh the next day.
It's like a flashback to the '80s because, yes folks, pitch invasions are back in fashion again. And despite all those health and safety arguments, we haven't heard a word of complaint.
Particularly welcome in Wexford last Saturday night was the invasion of youngsters out pucking about on the pitch during the two main intervals – a glorious sight.
None of this may be possible in Croke Park anymore, but, at provincial level, other administrators are turning a blind eye and reading the public mood wisely.
3 GOLDEN OLDIE
It's not unusual for a club official to help make up the numbers for a game, but they usually aren't pensioners.
Still, 67-year-old Martin Silke proved there's plenty of running left in his legs when he featured in a club game in Roscommon last weekend.
Silke left his administrative duties to one side to appear as a corner-forward in a Tansey Cup game for Strokestown against St Joseph's and helped them to a 2-16 to 3-8 win in the process.
Well done Martin, keep 'er lit.
4 UNWANTED STAT
Kerry's James O'Donoghue won his first All Star last year, but a few days later was brought back to earth at a table quiz of all places.
One of the questions on the night was 'Name the two Kerry footballers who have won an All Star, but not an All-Ireland.'
The Legion man quickly realised he was one along with Connie Murphy, who won his All Star in 1989, but never got his hands on Sam Maguire.
Another Kerry man managed the same feat, but Karl O'Dwyer won his All Star while playing with his adopted Kildare in 1998.
5 ANTRIM IN ANOTHER ULSTER CRUISE
The Saffrons won their sixth consecutive Ulster U-21 title on Wednesday night thanks to a 33-point win over Down in the Athletic Grounds and those crowns go alongside the 13 consecutive senior championships they have won up north.
The minors actually coughed up a title to Down as recently as 2012, but had won 10 on the bounce before that and have since added back-to-back successes as normal service was resumed. And save for last year's ambush of Wexford in the All-Ireland U-21 semi-final, they have struggled to make any sort of significant and consistent impact on the national stage. How much good is such dominance doing for the development of their players?
6 HURLING 2020 COMMITTEES SEEK INPUT
Following from from the success of the Football Review Committee and the introduction of the black card, the GAA have established the the 'Hurling 2020' to ensure the game continues to go from strength to strength.
Chaired by Tipperary All-Ireland-winning manager Liam Sheedy, the group are undertaking a large consultation process and are calling on people to complete a survey on the future of hurling at www.gaa.ie/hurling2020. Further suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or via post to Hurling2020 committee, c/o GAA communications team, GAA, Croke Park, Dublin 3.
7 DUBLIN'S NEXT WAVE WELL ON THE WAY
Their U-21 footballers are All-Ireland champions, the minors and seniors romped to double-figure wins in their respective Leinster finals in Croke Park last weekend and this weekend the Dublin U-16s can ensure the success keeps coming when they contest the popular Gerry Reilly memorial tournament in Oldcastle on Sunday at 7.30. The young Dubs have won the last two renewals of this competition and are in line for three in a row when they take on Cavan at the Millbrook venue in Meath. Tomorrow Louth take on Wicklow in the Plate final at 3.0, while Westmeath and Meath contest the Shield final at 7.30.