Championship Watch

Game of the weekend: Where do I start? Limerick and Tipp served up a real cracker on Saturday night and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better then along come Cork and Waterford to serve up what could only be described as a hurling classic on Sunday. Liam Griffin called hurling ‘The Riverdance of Sport’. When it’s played like this then his description is right. Magical entertainment. I also got a chance to see the Dublin/Meath replay in full since Sunday and it was a fierce battle again and hugely entertaining – with Dublin just winning. We were spoiled last weekend. Player of the weekend: We will split it up into hurling and football. On the football front how about Brian Dooher who kicked five excellent points for Tyrone in their demolition of Donegal. Dooher pips the returning Mark Vaughan who was clinical with his free-taking as Dublin beat Meath. In hurling the irrepressible John Mullane was on fire for Waterford, scoring 1-4 in that epic against Cork. Others to shine were Dan Shanahan, Joe Deane and Ollie Moran who all played brilliantly on a great weekend for football and hurling. Talking point: So many. Gerald McCarthy the Cork manager had a great cut at the national media and the GAA top brass in the wake of the Semplegate affair and the suspension of three of his players. He had a point. The players were treated disgracefully. More locally Roscommon followers were shocked at the second half fade-out against Sligo in Hyde Park. Tyrone’s rout of Donegal has also made people sit up and take notice. The Red Hand will be hard to stop after that devastating display in Clones and they are now real live All-Ireland contenders. Something to note: It will be interesting to see where the Connacht final is played. It would appear that Sligo may have the choice of venue. If that’s the case then Hyde Park would almost certainly be their choice – however if it’s a toss of a coin it may be McHale Park or Hyde Park. All will be revealed after the Galway v Leitrim game next Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon. Referee Watch: Pat McEneaney did a brilliant job on the Dublin/Meath match in Croke Park. He is by far the best football referee in the country. In Clones Donegal had a good goal disallowed by referee David Coldrick – being pulled back for a penalty that they missed, which certainly didn’t help them. Louth manager Eamonn McEneaney was fuming after Paddy Russell played only two minutes’ injury-time as they went down to Wexford  at Croke Park. He reckoned there should have been at least five minutes played and also accused Russell of wanting to get the game finished to allow Dublin and Meath to get on to the field!! Looking forward Bank of Ireland All-Ireland SFC Connacht semi final – Leitrim v Galway on Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon at 2 pm: The Leitrim County Board open up their spanking new 3,000 seater stand in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada and welcome Galway for a semi-final joust. Leitrim will certainly put it up to Galway and I expect that this will be a real dogfight. However Galway looked a big, strong, physical and very skillful side against Mayo and if they can reproduce even some of that form then they will be in the Connacht final at about 4 pm on Sunday. Galway by three or four points.  Prediction: Galway Leinster semi final – Dublin v Offaly on Sunday in Croke Park at 4 pm: Having finally scraped by Meath Dublin will be favourites to beat Offaly. I have a feeling that Offaly will give the Dubs an almighty fright as they do not want to be playing in the Tommy Murphy Cup. They wiped out Carlow in most impressive fashion and if the Dubs are over-confident they will pay a heavy price. This will go all the way to the wire but it’s hard to see the Dubs being beaten. Prediction: Dublin Ulster semi final – Monaghan v Derry on Sunday in Casement Park at 3.30 pm: A very interesting game in prospect here. Derry will be the favourites with Paddy Bradley back but I like the look of this Monaghan team who were very impressive against Down. If their free-scoring forwards can get enough of the ball I think they will cause an upset. Prediction: Monaghan   Guinness All-Ireland SHC Munster semi-final 2nd replay – Limerick v Tipperary on Sunday at the Gaelic Grounds at 3.30 pm: St. Peter himself wouldn’t be able to call this game the way the saga has gone so far. Limerick refuse to lie down and have come from behind several times already. I went with Richie Bennis’s side originally and I’m not going to change horses now. Prediction: Limerick