The 2018 hurling and football championships are up and running, and already expectations are high and excitement is rising following some very close encounters and narrow victories.
Leitrim travelled to Gaelic Park New York and were somewhat fortunate to come away with a one point victory over the home side after extra time.
Galway footballers beat hapless Mayo in Castlebar. Mayo were reduced to 14 men late in the first half but battled bravely before a goal from Johnny Heaney in injury time sent Galway to a semi-final date with Sligo, and consigned Mayo to the tradesmen’s entrance.
In Leinster, the Dublin hurlers led Kilkenny by 5 points with just 5 minutes to go and an upset looked on the cards. However, a late Liam Blanchfield goal sealed victory for the Cats.
The Munster Hurling Championship gets under way this weekend and history will be made with the competition being run off on a round-robin basis (chomórtas ciorclach) for the first time in 130 years.
Five teams, Limerick, Tipperary, Clare, Waterford and Cork, will play each other in four matches each, over the next five weeks. (The same round-robin system applies in Leinster) The top two teams will then contest the Munster final and continue on to the All Ireland semi-final and quarter-final respectively, while the third placed team will also be given another chance in the All Ireland quarter-final.
Next Sunday, Limerick play Tipperary in the Gaelic Grounds at 2 pm, while Cork take on Clare at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 4pm – a veritable feast of great hurling!
Limerick footballers play Clare in the Gaelic Grounds next Saturday evening at 7pm with the winners meeting Kerry in the semi-final.
Tipperary play Waterford at Semple Stadium, also at 7pm and the winners here will play Cork.
*Congrats to Leinster on winning the European Rugby Cup. They may be put back in their box next Saturday when they play Munster in the Pro 14 semi-final!
*And well done to Kevin O’Brien who scored a century as the Ireland cricket team competed in their first ever 5-day Test Match against Pakistan in Malahide.