Championship watch

Looking back  GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Louth v Wicklow. Wicklow surprised everyone except themselves by playing some excellent stuff at Headquarters and when they went four points up with ten minutes to go it looked like they would win their first ever championship game at Croke Park. However when Louth went a point ahead in injury-time Wicklow didn’t panic and they got a deserved draw. PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: There are many contenders for this accolade. James Masters scored 1-7 against Limerick for Cork and is one of the finest forwards the the country. Darren Fay had a brilliant game for Meath against Kildare and the full-back even got up the field to score a vital goal! Joe Sheridan was the Meath dangerman scoring 1-3 and Cormac Bane grabbed two mighty goals for Galway against Mayo. But the award goes to veteran Galway attacker Derek Savage who rolled back the years with a brilliant display against Mayo. He won oceans of possession and set up plenty of scores for his colleagues. TALKING POINT: Most followers were shocked at the very poor displays from both Mayo and Kildare in their respective games. Mayo look to be a very tired team while Kildare were simply not at the races against Meath. SOMETHING TO NOTE: Roscommon followers will be happy enough that Galway beat Mayo last Sunday because in the recent past Roscommon have always been better able to produce a performance against Galway than against Mayo. However Roscommon have to beat Sligo first before they get a chance to try out that theory! Also Meath were impressive against an admittedly weak Kildare team. They will give Dublin plenty to think about in the next round. REFEREE WATCH: No major controversies in the many games over the weekend although the referee in the Mayo/Galway game, Joe Mc Quillan of Armagh, had his hands full in what was a tough, hard championship game and as far as I could see he was right to send off the two players who did get red cards. Looking forward Bank of Ireland All-Ireland SFC Connacht – London v Leitrim (Sunday in Ruislip at 3.30 pm): On the face of it this looks like an easy win for Leitrim but they have had more trouble in London than any other Connacht county and the exiles will be looking at this game as a chance for them to win a championship match. Dessie Dolan senior is a wily old campaigner and he will be too cute to allow Leitrim to get caught. Prediction: Leitrim.  Ulster – Donegal v Armagh (Sunday in Ballybofey at 4.00 pm): A massive clash of two of the Ulster giants and possible All-Ireland winners. Donegal fought hard to get this game played in Ballybofey and I am tempted to go for them to win. Armagh will miss Francie Bellew and a lot of their players might be gone over the hill a little. It will be tight and tough but Donegal might have the greater hunger. Prediction:Donegal.  Leinster – Louth v Wicklow (Replay) on Sunday in Parnell Park at 3.30 pm): This was a very good game last Sunday and Wicklow were unlucky not to have won it. Louth will have to improve to win and although Micko will have The Garden County in bloom again, Louth have more scope for improvement – just. Prediction: Louth.  Guinness All-Ireland SHC Munster – Clare v Cork (Sunday in Thurles at 2 pm): The first real big hurling clash of the summer. If Cork are to be caught then this is the day. However Clare have just slipped back a little over the past two seasons. A close game no doubt but the Rebels look the better bet for me. It will be close though. Prediction:Cork. Leinster – Offaly v Laois (Sunday in Tullamore at 3.30 pm): Offaly are showing signs of a revival but these two teams are still very far behind Wexford and Kilkenny (and maybe even Dublin). Offaly are favoured to win, however it might be closer than many people think. Prediction:Offaly.  Ulster – Down v Derry (Replay) on Sunday in Casement Park at 3 pm): Derry were unlucky last Sunday and it’s clear that while Derry have improved Down have fallen back -however I’ll give them another chance. Prediction:Down.