Clubs before counties for excitement – Seamus Duke Column

We have highlighted this often before in this column but the AIB All-Ireland Club Championships are fantastic competitions. Every year we see new names emerging, which is great. Last weekend we had the sensational victory by Clonmel Commercials against the mighty Nemo Rangers in the Munster final and then we had Oulart The Ballagh finally winning a Leinster Club Hurling Championship after being beaten in six previous finals and the last four in a row.

  Ballyboden and Portlaoise contest the Leinster Football Final on Sunday and although Portlaoise have been at this stage before it is many years since they played at All-Ireland level so there will be another new name on the scene in the semi-finals in the new year. Crossmaglen are the only really established name left in the senior football competition. They scored a really great win against Scotstown in the Ulster final and they will be hard to beat now. Their semi-final against Castlebar will be an epic encounter. I have a feeling that Portlaoise might win the Leinster Championship on Sunday and get to an All-Ireland Final but there is a lot of football to be played yet.        

  In the hurling championship, Na Piarsaigh of Limerick look the hot favourites to win but now that they have escaped from the Leinster championship, Oulart the Ballagh will have something to say about that. Sarsfields and Cushendall might not be as strong as the other two. But the competition is fierce and the standard of play in recent weeks has been really high despite the awful weather.

  In fact Joe Brolly referred to that in his column in the Sunday Independent last weekend. According to Joe, the club championships are far more enjoyable to watch than the inter-county fare at the moment and he might well have a good point. I don’t have much time for Joe Brolly but I have to say that his newspaper columns are very readable and he certainly knows the GAA scene inside out. You may not totally agree with his views but his columns the last few weeks have been excellent.