Five reasons to watch the GAA on St Patrick's Weekend
Club finals in Croker, some league crackers and a bit of giving-out about RTE. It must be St Patrick’s Weekend in the GAA. (Actually, giving out about RTE could happen any weekend...)
Another chapter in the incredible story of Crossmaglen
You just couldn’t believe it if it wasn’t true. A team from a small town in Co Armagh, carrying all before them to win All-Ireland after All-Ireland, routinely putting away the best of the big city boys along the way. In the year that Crossmaglen lost one of their former All-Ireland medallists to a murder in Dundalk, Rangers will attempt to add yet another title when they take on Garrycastle of Westmeath at Croke Park in the traditional St Patrick’s Day showpiece.
They’ve won a mesmerising five in 15 years, with two completely different teams, and another win on Saturday will leave them just one off Nemo Rangers, whose seventh and most recent came in 2003. Watch them and marvel, and allow yourself to give plenty of credit too to Garrycastle, who will play their part in what has become one of the focal points of the GAA year.
Hurling’s lesser lights have their day in the sun
It’s hard to imagine Offaly ever taking on Antrim in an All-Ireland hurling final at Croker, but that’s exactly what will happen when the club hurling decider gets things rolling in the St Patrick’s Day double-header. The club game is the greatest leveller of all and Coolderry from the midlands meet Loughgiel Shamrocks from the glens in a unique occasion at HQ.
Coolderry are the warm favourites after their wins over Ballyboden St Enda’s (Dublin), Wexford men Oulart-the-Ballagh and Galway champions Gort en route to the final, but watch out for Liam Watson, who scored 0-16 for Shamrocks in the semi-final win over Na Piarsaigh of Limerick. Watson could well claim to be the best hurler outside of Kilkenny or Tipperary and he gets a rare chance to soak up the acclaim at Croke Park.
Keep an eye on Wexford’s sharp-shooters
Wexford might not even be top of the Division 3 table but even allowing for that 4-17 burst from All-Ireland champions Dublin last weekend Jason Ryan’s men surely have the most fluent attack in the country right now.
They’ve racked up scores of 4-9, 1-17, 2-20 and 1-21 in their four games so far, for an average points tally of 23 per game. At the other end they’ve been lacking a bit, though, conceding 4-14 against Sligo. All in all, then, it points to an open and entertaining game when they meet Roscommon at Wexford Park on Sunday lunchtime. (Take note of the early throw-in time of 12.45pm as the hurlers host Limerick at the same venue at 2.30pm.)
The Cats will aim to satisfy the Nowlan Park crowd again
Kilkenny had their troubles against Dublin last year, most notably in the final of the league when they were severely outgunned by Anthony Daly’s men. Dublin have struggled to match last year’s heroics and defeats to Galway and Cork leave them staring at the possibility of relegation less than 12 months after their league title win. Kilkenny don’t get to play many games at Nowlan Park and they are intent on impressing when they do, as in the eight-point win over Tipperary last month. Expect another good show from the Cats this weekend.
Can RTE’s highlights package silence the knockers?
No, not those knockers. We mean the knockers who were slating RTE’s League Sunday show last weekend after it turned out that no-one had sent any cameras to Killarney or Castlebar for two of the big National League games of the weekend. That meant people had to forage into 'The Way Things Used To Be' by reading match reports and listening to radio round-ups for the lowdown on events from Kerry-Donegal and Mayo-Down. TG4 are at Pairc Ui Chaoimh for the big hurling-football double header (Galway and Kerry are the visitors to Leeside) but there’s no live games on Setanta this weekend, so we’re wondering whether there will be another gap on the RTE CV when the League Sunday credits roll on Sunday evening.
Don’t lose the run of yourself this weekend. Drink alcohol responsibly. For more visit drinkaware.ie.