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30th May 2014

GAA-zilla: JOE’s look ahead to a monster weekend of GAA action

Hurling dominates the GAA landscape this weekend, particularly down south, where Munster folk are spoiled with a second massive game in the space of a week.

Conor Heneghan

Hurling dominates the GAA landscape this weekend, particularly down south, where Munster folk are spoiled with a second massive game in the space of a week.

Storyline of the weekend: It has to be the meeting of Tipperary and Limerick in Thurles on Sunday, a repeat of one of the many classics of last season’s classic Championship. A year on and the circumstances are a bit different, however. Limerick surfed the wave of momentum all the way to the All-Ireland semi-final last year but this time around they’ll be trying to prevent a united front after the turmoil that saw Donal O’Grady depart earlier this season.

Tipp, on the other hand, grew in stature and confidence after a desperate start to their league campaign and in Eamon O’Shea’s second season in charge, the Premier look more suitably primed for the tilt at Liam McCarthy that so disappointingly failed to materialise last summer.

The Treaty men didn’t suddenly become a bad team overnight and TJ Ryan could mastermind what would be something of a shock at Semple Stadium, but with the likes of Seamus Callanan and Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher showing very well towards the end of the spring, we’re expecting a victory for the hosts on Sunday afternoon.

Keep an eye out for: Are the real Galway hurlers going to show up this summer, starting with their meeting with Laois this weekend? One of the beauties of the hurling championship is its capacity for unpredictability, particularly last year, but the Tribesmen are often the very definition of unpredictable, such is their ability to flatter to deceive when they’re talked up and spring a surprise when they’re talked down.

Joe Canning 20/4/2014

Once again, Galway’s fortunes will revolve largely around this guy

There hasn’t been a whole lot of talk about them lately, however and we dare say that’s the way that Anthony Cunningham likes it. Much like the Dubs last year, a lengthier Leinster Championship campaign might be of benefit to Galway and they certainly have the players to have a decent stab at it. Whether they have the belief and the desire, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Game likely to be the subject of least discussion on The Sunday Game: There is plenty of action for fans of hurling in the so-called weaker counties with the Christy Ring semi-finals up for decision in Castlebar and Trim, but the relegation play-off between Down and Armagh in Newry might struggle for attention on the box on Sunday evening.

Jim White mis-pronounced word of the weekend: Brewster Park (below). It’s not that we think Jim will necessarily mis-pronounce the venue for the Ulster Championship clash between Fermanagh and Armagh on Sunday, more that we’re looking forward to him saying it in his booming Scottish lilt. Chocolate for the ears, that.

General view of Brewster Park 14/12/2008

Bet of the weekend: Tipperary (-5) to beat Limerick, evens: Forgive us Limerick folk and feel free to rub it in our faces if we’re wrong, but we can’t see past a home victory on Sunday and a relatively comfortable one at that too. The words ‘comfortable’ and ‘victory’ rarely go together when it comes to the Munster Championship and we hope to be proven wrong by a closely-fought and titanic encounter, but we’ve made our bed and we’re sticking with it.

Did you know… That there were only four Mayo supporters at the Green and Red’s victory over Wicklow in the Christy Ring Cup clash in Arklow last Saturday evening?

It’s no secret that hurling comes to second to football in the county, but one might have expected a bigger crowd to follow the hurlers’ fortunes, especially considering they’re on the verge of a place in the final in Croke Park if they can beat Kerry on Saturday, when a larger crowd will hopefully be in attendance to cheer them on.

Speaking to the Mayo News this week about the paltry attendance in Arklow, Mayo sharpshooter Kenny Feeney said: “I would love to see a crowd at all our games. We had four people in Wicklow on Saturday. Two Mayo men down from Dublin who didn’t know each other and just met at the ground and two of the players’ mothers. That was it. If it was a league game for the footballers, imagine how many would be there.

“We have some really talented players in this squad and I’d love to see their skill set on display to a much bigger crowd, it would help the game grow. We’re going to give it our all whether people show up or they don’t, but the speed and excitement is well worth watching… and it would be nice to have that extra support.”