Kildare, Kilkenny, Down and Earley
Some thoughts for a mid-January day.
1 Who says there's no pressure in January? If Dublin, who are using a third-string squad in the Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup, beat Kildare in Newbridge next Sunday, it will be a serious setback for the Lilywhites. They have played quite a strong team - 13 of the 21 that played against Mayo in last year's All-Ireland qualifier featured against Offaly last Sunday - so they simply have to beat Dublin to avoid an early-season puncture to their confidence.
2 Kilkenny, who were entitled to home advantage, generously agreed to play Antrim at a halfway house in Abbotstown, Dublin last Sunday. They have foregone home advantage against Antrim before in the pre-season competition too.
Can we take it then that if Kilkenny were drawn against Galway in the Leinster hurling championship, they would have no objections to travelling west to Pearse Stadium - a journey that other Leinster counties steadfastly refuse to take? It hasn't arisen with Kilkenny so far since it only applies to quarter-finals, territory in which they rarely find themselves as defending champions qualify directly for the semi-finals.
3 Enjoy every win - it might be your last for a long time. When Down footballers beat Laois on April 5, 2015, to clinch promotion to Division 1, they never thought that their next victory over a county team was 21 months away. Their win over Derry last Sunday was their first in a dismal period, during which they lost 14 times, a pattern broken only by two victories over college teams in the McKenna Cup.
4 Congratulations to Dermot Earley on taking over as head of the GPA. The diplomatic skills picked up from his late father Dermot Snr will be invaluable in his new role.