Fade-outs threaten double dreams
John Kiely described it as "the biggest result we have had to date", before quickly wrapping the success in the context of a cold March day.
John Kiely described it as "the biggest result we have had to date", before quickly wrapping the success in the context of a cold March day.
GAA referees' chief Willie Barrett has insisted that there is no policy of ignoring fouls in hurling in a bid to build on the game's treasured reputation as a free-flowing spectacle.
Gearóid McInerney is winning the battle to be ready for Sunday's All-Ireland final but now Galway have worries over John Hanbury.
Sixty-seven games played, one remaining. And no, the All-Ireland football final is not the foregone conclusion popular opinion holds.
The last time Tyrone reached the All-Ireland final, they prevented Kerry from winning the three-in-a-row, an omen that should provide a rich source of encouragement as they begin planning for the...
The GAA's system for appointing referees for All-Ireland finals will come under close scrutiny after stinging criticism from James McGrath as he announced that he was quitting for good after being overlooked for any role in the Galway-Limerick showdown on Sunday week.
Galway must remove the handcuffs and take on Dublin aggressively and systematically if they are to have any chance of derailing the four-in-a-row train on Saturday evening (5.0).
In the run-up to the 2002 football final, Joe Kernan received dozens of letters and 'good luck' cards from people offering their best wishes to Armagh in their pursuit of a first All-Ireland title.
"We're not going to run the GAA by Twitter", said Paraic Duffy, the then GAA Director-General, when informed immediately after Congress last year that some managers and players had taken to social media to criticise the introduction of the 'Super 8' football format.
Galway's strange performance patterns throughout this summer will, no doubt, be analysed in minute detail before the All-Ireland final, not least by manager, Micheál Donoghue.
Ten counties are set to lose home advantage for one game in next year's Allianz Leagues, arising from breaches of the regulations on training...
When Cian O'Neill was asked to reflect on the season after Kildare's defeat by Galway last Sunday week, he made it clear that while their championship ambitions were dead, their season...
Galway hurlers' two-in-a-row ambitions hinge on whether they bring more variation to their game in Sunday's semi-final replay with Clare, according to the last man to take the Liam MacCarthy Cup...
Saturday, August 18 - the eve of the All-Ireland hurling final - has been pencilled in for the football semi-final involving Dublin if the final round of...
It was close to 9pm when I left Croke Park last Sunday evening, the stadium now empty except for a few other journalists completing their work...
Never in championship history have a team gone into the All-Ireland semi-final off such a confusing background as Galway take to Croke Park this evening.
Tyrone supporters may have been cursing the darkness after last year's All-Ireland semi-final, but Mickey Harte was already lighting a candle.
Fourteen counties have tried - several more than once - and all have failed.
They won't speak publicly about winning four in a row, but it's in the background, teasing and tantalising the Dublin squad as they head for their first game of the championship without a safety harness attached.
I suspected from the handwriting that the contents might be hostile, a hunch that turned out to be well-founded.
If doing things the hard way heightens the sense of achievement, Galway will be really buzzing today after providing yet another illustration of their propensity for living through the best and the worst of times in the same game.
EAMONN FITZMAURICE has made three alterations to his Kerry side as they battle for championship survival against Kildare in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney this evening (6.0).
Malachy O'Rourke passed a curious comment while venting his frustration over Monaghan's one-point defeat by Mayo in the opening round of the National Football League last January.
This is probably the strangest situation in which Kerry football has ever found itself.
If Micheál Donoghue were to absorb even a small amount of the analysis from the drawn game, his head would be spinning with details of shapes and sweepers, plays and puck-out strategies, plus a whole lot more modern-day jargon.
The history of most successful teams can be traced back to a particular occasion when they delivered a performance which suggested they possessed that special quality required to advance from contenders to champions.
The Páirc Uí Chaoimh controversy is over but the implications have a long way to run yet. Indeed, they are quite profound for the GAA and there is a wider dimension too.
They won't admit it in Cork, lest they be accused of cockiness, but there's a special feeling tingling through the county.
By midday today, the controversy over the Liam Miller tribute game and Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be over, at least in as much as the GAA's Central Council will grant permission for it to go ahead there.
When Sean O'Connor scored a second goal late in the 2004 Munster hurling semi-final, nobody would have thought that 14 years later Limerick would still be waiting for their next goal against Cork in a championship game.
When Clare lost to Cork in the opening round of the Munster round-robin, their prospects of reaching the top three, which was required to stay in All-Ireland contention, didn't look especially promising.
Daithí Burke has emerged as an 11th-hour injury doubt for Galway's All-Ireland SHC semi-final clash with Clare at Croke Park today (5.0) after damaging his ankle in training earlier this week.
THE GAA is on Saturday expected to clear the way for the controversial Liam Miller tribute soccer game to go ahead in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, barring a late hitch.
It may not have appeared significant two years ago but it sure is now, having landed the GAA in a controversy that is as embarrassing as it was avoidable.
However they go about it, Kildare just cannot beat Galway, whose dominance over the Lilywhites extends back to 1985.
Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice has carried out major surgery to his defence by naming a completely new full-back line to face Monaghan in their make-or-break 'Super 8s' clash in Clones tomorrow.
When, after 12 years, Dublin finally have to play a championship game on the opposition's home ground, they certainly drew one of the shortest straws.
By the time the Monaghan-Kerry game starts in Clones tomorrow, it may be a straight knock-out test for Eamonn Fitzmaurice and his under-pressure squad.
It's the chance all Dublin's opposition have longed for since 2006 and has sent optimism levels soaring in Tyrone ahead of Saturday's 'Super 8s' round robin clash in Omagh.
Pressure is beginning to mount to review the dates for the All-Ireland senior hurling and football finals, which have been moved from their traditional September slots.
Stephen Cluxton will join fellow goalkeeper John O'Leary as Dublin's most 'capped' player in Saturday's clash with Tyrone.
Playing five major championship games on successive weekends is physically well within the range of modern-day inter-county players, but it does present psychological challenges which need to be carefully managed.
As ever, the wily old fox remained wary, sensing that something wasn't quite right about everyone telling each other that the fence around the hen-house would collapse under the first push.
Green and white decorated the Semple Stadium pitch a long time after this enthralling contest had finished yesterday, but then the wearers of the Treaty County colours had something special to savour.
Limerick hadn't beaten Kilkenny in the hurling championship since the 1973 All-Ireland final but the long wait is over after John Kiely's men held their nerve in the most dramatic circumstances in the closing minutes of thrilling quarter-final in Semple Stadium.
The inaugural 'Super 8s' All-Ireland football quarter-finals will attract total attendances of around 280,000 over the next three weekends, provided qualification for the semi-finals is still on the line going into the final round.
By the time Paddy McBrearty limped out of the Ulster final early in the second half, he had scored 19 points - 13 from play - in the championship.
A manager's work is never done. And just when he thinks he has a solid grasp of his responsibilities along comes a new challenge.
It may have been a routine Allianz League game on a bitterly cold afternoon, but victory meant a whole lot more to Galway than just another step up the Division 1 ladder.
The plot may be new but the cast is not. The first group in the changed All-Ireland quarter-final format features eight of the 11 counties who have reached this stage most frequently since the qualifier system was introduced in 2001.
Mick O'Dwyer is urging caution among all those who regard a Dublin-Kerry All-Ireland football final as a near-certainty.
Whether it was the lure of a guaranteed home game, a sense that the hankering for change needed to be indulged or the slick sales pitch, opposition to the 'Super 8s' proposal mustered little support, publicly at least..
When the hard questions were put, Galway had the right answers, but once they get around to analysing the entire performance they will have to address one particular conundrum.
A history-making day in Thurles on a number of fronts as Semple Stadium hosted the Leinster hurling final for the first time and Galway retained the title for the first time after withstanding a spirited comeback by Kilkenny.
Two distinct views, which are impossible to reconcile, have emerged around tomorrow's replay. One holds that Galway misfired last Sunday and will be much better this time, while the other offers Kilkenny's excellent record in replays as a pointer to who will join Cork as provincial winners in the All-Ireland semi-finals.
And then there were 12. Mayo are the most notable absentees as the football championship cull continues this weekend in order to complete the line-up for the 'Super 8s'. So how do the 12 contenders rank and what have their championship campaigns to date told us?
Donegal will learn today that nothing can be done to address their concerns over venue arrangements for the 'Super 8s' All-Ireland football quarter-finals, where Dublin are scheduled to play two of their three games in Croke Park.
If past trends prove reliable, only one of the four beaten provincial football finalists will qualify for the inaugural 'Super 8' All-Ireland quarter-finals, which begin on the weekend after next.
As Donegal county board officers prepare to meet senior Croke Park officials today to discuss their objections to Dublin having two 'Super 8' games in Croke Park, the unmistakeable irony of their position can hardly be lost on them or the rest of the GAA world.
It really is a time of great oddities in the country, highlighted, perhaps most of all, by the inexplicable contradiction of a water shortage in spring due to a short cold snap and a few months later because of a dry spell.
The outpourings of goodwill towards the Mayo football squad may be offered in a spirit of generosity and respect, but they are coming across as mawkish and too sweet to be wholesome.
For reasons that were neither clear nor logical, Kilkenny were 5/2 outsiders for yesterday's game, odds that looked seriously imbalanced before throw-in and even more so as a ferocious battle waged in the searing sun in Croke Park.
Where the rest of the season takes them remains to be seen but, as of now, Kilkenny are the most successful hurling team in the country so far this year.
Every county may have had four games in Munster for the first time but, even then, it came down to fine margins to decide who reached the final and who took third place, which also carried a ticket to the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-finals.
In the 20 seasons Brian Cody has been in charge of Kilkenny, they have never lost successive championship games to any county.
After a week that was dominated by a heated row off the pitch, now the intense temperatures on the field could have a major bearing on the championship programme this weekend.
From the moment Cian O'Neill appeared on RTé television's evening news on Monday to declare that there would be no game unless the GAA rescinded its decision to fix Kildare v Mayo for Croke Park, the pressure tanks began to fill rapidly across a number of areas.
A year ago, Leitrim lost a qualifier tie to Carlow and then looked on enviously as Turlough O'Brien's squad stretched Monaghan all the way to stoppage time in Round 3 before eventually losing by five points.
Kildare may have won the battle to host Saturday's All-Ireland football qualifier clash with Mayo but they will lose the crowd war in Newbridge.
The only thing worse that making a wrong decision is to stick by it, bunkering down behind unsustainable arguments.
It was inevitable that something like this would happen. The day was always going to come when the unbridgeable gap between public demand and a low-capacity stadium sparked a major row over a particular game.
It used to be one of the great occasions on the summer calendar but now the Leinster football final is no more than a sad reminder of the crisis engulfing the largest province.
A place in the history books is the target for Fermanagh and Dublin in tomorrow's Ulster and Leinster SFC finals on a weekend when, barring draws, three more of the eight slots in the All-Ireland quarter-final 'Super 8s' will be decided.
Brian Fenton is in his fourth season with Dublin, having already won three All-Ireland, three Leinster, three Allianz League titles and two All-Star awards. He was also nominated for the Footballer of the Year award in 2016.
It's 21 years since Waterford hurlers were eliminated from the championship before the footballers, an unusual turn of events that will boost the attendance in Fraher Field, Dungarvan on Saturday.
Disciplinary action against counties who allegedly broke the regulations on training camps and challenge games in the run-up to this year's provincial championships won't be taken for another month at least - if indeed at all.
If Stephen Rochford had been allowed to choose Mayo's opponents from the eight possibilities in the Round 2 qualifier draw, Tipperary would have been his seventh choice in a field that also included Monaghan, Leitrim, Sligo, Clare, Carlow, Longford and Down.
If Waterford's history is anything to go by, Derek McGrath's replacement can expect to be given plenty of time to stamp his personality on the job, something that's becoming increasingly rare in the volatile world of team management.
We have had the feast, now for the famine. Perhaps 'famine' is a slight exaggeration, more a case of strict rationing but, either way, the difference will be stark.
THE CHALLENGE: To prevent counties in the Munster and Leinster hurling round robin from facing four - or even three - games on successive weekends while adhering to a tight schedule.
All John Kiely could do in the final 15 minutes was watch and admire as Clare ran Limerick off Cusack Park and out of contention for a place in the Munster final.
Patience and hard work provided Clare with the roadmap from a first round defeat to a Munster final and they are now confident it will take them even further. They were fiercely disappointed after losing their opening round robin game to Cork but remained convinced it wasn't a fair reflection of what they or their season were about.
Clare booked a Munster final clash with Cork for a second successive year after a brilliantly executed win over Limerick in Cusack Park.
Kevin McStay's defiant stance over the venue for tomorrow's Connacht football final has sent confidence levels soaring in Roscommon as they bid to secure their first provincial two in a row since 1990-'91.
At some point in the development of a squad, there comes a time when they need to prove that it's not just a case of improving anymore, but that they have, in fact, reached a level of consistency that will not tolerate any big surprises.
Now comes the new territory. By 5.30pm tomorrow, Galway or Roscommon will be first into the 'Super 8' All-Ireland football quarter-finals but still three games away from the semi-finals.
Playing the All-Ireland hurling final after the football final should be considered, according to Leinster Council CEO Michael Reynolds.
Complaints from some counties that they have been disadvantaged by the tight sequencing of games in the new-look Leinster and Munster hurling championships cannot be addressed in future years without adding considerably to the duration of the campaigns.
The new round-robin format has almost doubled attendances at this year's Munster senior hurling championship, with the final figure likely to be more than 250,000.
Since its publication last Friday wasn't accompanied by a formal launch and happened just before one of the busiest championship weekends of the season, the GAA's 2018-2021 strategic plan has not attracted much attention.
Offaly removed Stephen Wallace and relaunched under Paul Rouse; Colin Kelly has departed Westmeath after one season, advising them to shop local for his replacement and Andy McEntee conveniently dumped the blame for Meath's defeat by Tyrone at the referee's door.
Hours before Meath manager Andy McEntee rounded on Roscommon referee Paddy Neilan last Saturday, Meath referee David Coldrick was similarly excoriated by Derry manager Damien McErlain.
Tipperary have a long summer and an even longer winter to reflect on why they faced an early cull from the newly-formatted Munster championship but when they return to action next January, their approach to the league will be considerably different to this year.
They started the championship as second favourites behind Galway for the All-Ireland title but it's all over for Tipperary well before mid-summer's day after failing to win a single game in the Munster 'round robin' series.
It's 90 years since Clare last beat Tipperary in the championship in Thurles and not for 20 years have Tipp been eliminated from the All-Ireland race as early as June 10.
Michael Ryan didn't like the provincial 'round robin' idea in the first place and probably fancies it a lot less now.
A major review of All-Ireland football and hurling championship structures is to be undertaken as part of the GAA's latest three-year strategic plan.
The gods stand accused of having a perverse sense of humour when a county that has waited 30 years to reach a provincial semi-final gets paired with one of the best teams in football history.
They have won only three of 12 games in all competitions this year, survived in Division 1 thanks to a point deep in stoppage time in their last game and lost to Galway in the Connacht Championship for a third successive season, yet are still regarded as genuine All-Ireland contenders.
If Davy Fitzgerald was less well-known to the GAA beaks, they might well have summoned him before them to account for his recommendation to bet against Wexford in their final Leinster hurling round-robin game in Nowlan Park on Saturday evening.
It should be a great adventure for Dublin hurlers, heading west on Saturday to take on the All-Ireland champions with a genuine chance of remaining in the All-Ireland race.
The Faithful hurling community never thought it would come to this. Out of the Leinster hurling championship on the first weekend in June and with no prospect of returning until 2020 at the earliest, it's a grim time down Offaly way.
One defeat - two championship exits. That was Offaly's miserable experience in Parnell Park where a thumping defeat in their final game of this season's Leinster round robin also ruled them out of next year's campaign.
A sad day for Offaly hurling as the trap door came crashing down on them in Parnell Park, ensuring elimination from the Leinster championship next year.
When asked after Limerick's win over Tipperary if the 13-day break before the Cork test was the ideal gap, John Kiely replied that it would all depend on this evening's result.
Only Kerry can save Offaly or Dublin now. It's the ultimate irony that a county which has not competed in its own provincial championship for 15 years could decide the fate of two others in a different province.
There will be no change to the format of the Leinster Hurling Championship next year even if, as expected, Dublin or Offaly are relegated.
It's not often that a team's longer term prospects can be accurately gauged against lower-ranked opposition, but that will be very much the case with Galway footballers next Sunday.
More than half the counties in the country are under investigation for allegedly breaking the regulations on training camps and challenge games.
Let's get this right so that there is no ambiguity regarding the latest example of the blatant disregard for GAA rules.
Waterford didn't fancy the new round-robin provincial hurling championship format from the start, and they have even less reason to like it now.
Here's what Cian O'Neill said last Sunday after Carlow had beaten Kildare in the Leinster Championship for the first time in 65 years.
Kevin McStay's defiant promise to have Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park for the Connacht football final on June 17 will certainly put it up to the Connacht Council if Galway beat Sligo on Sunday.
Micheal Donoghue wouldn't be so boastful as to suggest he expected Galway to beat Kilkenny easily but he did admit that what he saw on the training ground in recent weeks left him very happy heading into their first really big Championship test of the season.
Galway flashed out a clear warning that they are well-primed to make a bold bid to retain the All-Ireland hurling title when powering past Kilkenny in Pearse Stadium.