Championship watch

Looking back Game of the weekend: Louth v Wicklow.  Neither of these teams will be winning an All-Ireland or even a Leinster title this year but they served up another dollop of drama last weekend in Parnell Park. Round three at Croker next Sunday (curtain-raiser to Dublin/Meath). Great for these players that they will get to play in front of 80,000 people. Could be a better game than the big event! Player of the weekend: Damien Murray (Offaly hurler). He scored 1-12 in their defeat of Laois. He got a spectacular goal from play and was deadly accurate from frees. Colm McFadden also had an excellent game for Donegal in their win over Armagh. Talking point: The brawl in Thurles while the teams were warming up. No-one was injured but it was a terrible spectacle especially for all the young people there and watching on TV. It will be interesting to see what happens now. Cork are past-masters at getting out of this kind of bother. Frank Murphy will wield his big stick and all will be alright! There was a brawl at the Offaly/Laois game too. This carry-on will have to stop. The funny thing was that the Cork/Clare and Laois/Offaly game were very tame after the brawls. There was very poor entertainment in both live games last Sunday. Clare were simply not good enough for Cork in the hurling while there was far too much pulling and dragging in the Armagh/Donegal football game. Referee watch: John Bannon did his best to keep the match in Ballybofey flowing but it wasn’t his fault that he failed. Both teams just didn’t want to play football. No real controversy in any of the games but surely the brawl in Tullamore deserved a few red cards?  Looking forward Bank of Ireland All-Ireland SFC Leinster: Laois v Longford (Tullamore on Satuday evening at 6.45 pm): Longford were the deserved winners against Westmeath but Laois will be a different proposition altogether. They have a very talented young team who may be a little lacking in the physical department but who are very skillful. Longford will have to produce the performance of their lives to be in with a chance. I  predict that Kavanagh, Barden and Dowd will give Laois plenty to think about but Liam Kerins’ men have too much power. Prediction: Laois.   Leinster: Louth v Wicklow (second replay in Croke Park on Sunday at 2 pm): This is fast become the story of the early championship season. Wicklow are showing great spirit so far. Louth have the better players but in the championship attitude and spirit are important too. I picked Louth originally and will stay with  them to win here but there won’t be much in it again. Prediction:Louth.   Leinster: Dublin v Meath (in Croke Park on Sunday at 4.15 pm): An intriguing match. There hasn’t been a word about the Dubs, which is very unusual. It’s a make or break year for Paul Caffrey. Meath are a much-improved side and they will give the Dubs plenty of it. Brian Farrell, who destroyed Roscommon will be a massive loss to Meath. It may be close but I expect the Dubs to win. Prediction-Dublin.   Munster: Waterford v Kerry (in Dungarvan on Sunday at 3.30 pm): Waterford have played their All-Ireland already against Clare. Kerry will travel to Dungarvan to stretch their legs ahead of bigger tests ahead. Prediction:Kerry.   Munster-Cork v Tipperary (in Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Sunday at 3.30 pm): Cork were impressive against Limerick in the first round and they should have no difficulty here. Cork for the final. Tipp for the Tommy Murphy Cup. Prediction:Cork.   Ulster: Antrim v Derry (in Casement Park on Sunday at 4 pm): Antrim try very hard every year to make the breakthrough but they only manage it once every ten years or so. Derry are no world-beaters but any team with Enda Muldoon and Paddy Bradley in attack should be respected, at least in the early rounds. Prediction: Derry.   Guinness All-Ireland SHC  Ulster final –  Antrim v Down (in Casement Park on Sunday at 2 pm): Bragging rights at stake here but Antrim look far too strong for a Down team that has gone back in the past two years. Antrim easily I suspect. Prediction: Antrim.