Three wins (including a first for Connacht), a bonus-point loss, two home quarter-finals and a home semi-final were achieved on the rugby fields over the weekend.
For sheep farmers, this result was bettered by three wins and four draws on the sheep factory front. Scarcity of supply is the main driving force behind the improving prices.
Three of the factories have increased their quotes by a sizeable margin -- 10c/kg -- since this day last week. Kepak Athleague, claimed the number one spot with its base of 520c/kg plus the 6c/kg bonus for U-grade lambs.
ICM Camolin and ICM Navan also improved their quotes by 10c/kg, putting them on a base price of 510c/kg plus the bonus.
However, they are still trailing Moyvalley Meats and Kildare Chilling. Moyvalley remains on an all-in quote of 520c/kg, while Kildare is on a 510c/kg base plus its two bonuses of 6c/kg and 5c/kg.
Kepak Hacketstown and Dawn Ballyhaunis are offering an unchanged 510c/kg plus the bonus.
Almost all of my factory sources talked about sluggish markets making it difficult to move product but, at the same time, they admitted that supplies remained extremely tight.
IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said lamb prices had moved on, with strong competition between the wholesalers and the processors resulting in farmers securing 535-540c/kg.
On the cull ewe front, five factories increased their quotes by 10c/kg. This improvement puts Kildare Chilling up to 310c/kg and the two ICM plants and Dawn Ballyhunis on 300c/kg. Kepak Athleague is now quoting 280c/kg, closing in on its sister plant in Hacketstown, which is at 285c/kg. Moyvalley is not quoting for the ewes.
Meanwhile, Irish sheep meat exports registered a solid performance last year, where total value rose by 10pc to €180m.
With more than 70pc of our domestic production destined for export markets, just over 40,000t were exported to 24 worldwide markets last year.
France and the UK continue to be our core export markets, representing 76pc of our volume exports. However, strong increases in shipments were recorded in Belgium, Germany and Sweden as exporters continue to secure and grow new and existing business.