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With the furore over three handpasses (and one and two bandpasses at times) the actual focus of the last month has been less on teams and more on reportage of the progress and prospects of individual counties. With a mixture of new and returning management teams, and county panels affected in the opening stages by Sigerson and club commitments, there’s an opportunity for a few teams to steal a march. Still at this stage of the year as the league starts, for most diehard fans the county jersey still gets the blood racing after a winter of doing little. Lets look at a few prospects.
It’s a case of follow me up to Division 3 for Carlow after blowing fresh through 2018, so they should approach the season with a fair bit of optimism. In Turlough O’Brien they have one of the divisions most experienced managers, and a very able support
Slaughtneil camogie. Going for three-in-a row and why not. Forged in the shadow of An Carn. The spine features the formidable trio that is the Ní Chasaide sisters, Aoife, Éilis and Bronagh, playing in the image of their late dad, the indomitable Thomas. Add in stylish defender, gaeilgeoir and co-captain Gráinne Ní Cathain, and rock solid sweeper Louise Dougan, they are an impressive outfit. And that’s before considering the attacking merits of Shannon Graham and former Offaly All Star camogie nominee Tina Hannon. Ni neart go cur le chéile, There is no strength without unity - the legend across the club jersey rings true. This is one united and unified group, and a hard one to break. The drive for three goes on.
Ardrahan, they just love being written off and surprising folk? Why? Why is it a surprise? They have top class players. Galway senior and 2016
Lightning strikes twice did they say? Two Mile House, four years apart. Winning Kildare and Leinster that is. 2014 and 2018. A Junior and now an Intermediate championship. But first there’s the challenge of Kilcummin. There’s stories and character round this team you wouldn’t believe! A man with a Kerry father called Caomhán Doolan, playing a provincial final and racing off for an exam still in his playing gear; an Old Timer and All Star in Peter Kelly and the inspiring words and resolute determination of Adam Burke. And what about the bizarre theatre of Didier Cordonnier, was he or wasn’t he sent off because of his name? All roads from Two Mile House lead to the Gaelic Grounds. Kilcummin await.
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St Galls. Runners up in this competition the year they won their historic football All Ireland. Always a dual club. Any club from the Glens will tell you the Milltown men always give it everything. Antrim senior finalists in 2014. Ten All Ireland campaigns in fifteen years. Sevens specialists in football too. Men like CJ and Kieran McGourty, Aodhan Gallagher, Karl Stewart and of course Sean and Conor ‘Je Suis Burkey’ Burke. Led by the indomitable Mickey Culbert, St Galls stalwart. Goals from CJ and Sean McAreavey steered a course to their second Ulster Intermediate hurling championship. In Ulster it was a late late Tómas Ó’Ciaran free that kept them in the match against Derry’s Swatragh before CJ McGourty - who else? - finished the argument with an extra time goal. Can they emulate their county compatriots O’Donovan Rossa who won the title in 2015? Bragging rights in Belfast up for grabs.
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Cloughduv is one of the oldest Hurling Clubs in Cork. With the first recorded match in the parish dating back to 1863.by the time Cusack and the lads met up to set up the GAA Cloughduv had already been going around twenty years! One of their early successes was in winning the wonderfully named County Senior Beamish Shield. Winning the championship in 2018 meant the winter just got shorter and better for Cloughduv, after this superb victory in the Munster including nine points from Brian Verling. On their maiden voyage in this championship, the Cork and Munster champions...
So hand me down my hurley
And Jersey Green and Gold
The cry has come
Come on Cloughduv
Think of the days of old.
Easkey GAA. The Sea Blues. Coast home in Connacht? Certainly not in the cliffhanger final where Ryan McKenna’s late equaliser got them over the line. Just. Clonbur scores 1-8 to reel in an eleven point deficit when Easkey looked to be on the crest of a wave. Managed by club legend and Sligo Stalwart Dessie Sloyan, veteran of memorable Sligo campaigns in the 000s, Easkey went about winning the hard way and looked to be on the rocks. But for a place with two reef breaks, rocks only add to the excitement. We’re talking surfing of course, and Easkey, is one of Ireland’s most popular surfing destinations in Ireland. When waves break over rocks, they are known as reef breaks. Easkey has two reef breaks - one to the left, just by the river mouth and another to the right, east of the castle. Making waves is nothing to these guys. Everybody’s got a feeling, Surfin’ all the way?