Talking Points

The hurlers had a weekend to themselves, and grabbing the spotlight were Clare and Kilkenny, while Kerry continued their progress with their first win in Offaly in 60 years. The pairings for the league quarter-finals have now been resolved.

Hurling Top Flight for Clare

Clare made their return to the top flight of hurling after a 4 point win over Limerick, in the process condemning the treaty men to another season in 1B. Limerick will be cursing their fortunes for as Anthony Daly wrote tellingly in today’s Examiner “After all the recent momentum generated by Na Piarsaigh, Mary Immaculate College in the Fitzgibbon Cup and Ardscoil Rís’ run to the All-Ireland Colleges final, yesterday was a shuddering halt to that Limerick surge.” It’s fast becoming a real seven year itch since they played in the top tier. Cork or Galway will join them there after both lost yesterday to set up a relegation play-off. The Kerry hurlers will be cursing Wexford for beating Laois by the minimum as it means they will have to play off despite a superb win in Offaly, their first in 60 years. With Tipp winning again under Michael Ryan and showing signs they are stirring again, and Waterford continuing their league form with another Deise Spring, for them it promises much for the summer. Kilkenny remain the elephants in the room, they continue to go about their business with a minimum of fuss.


Quarter Finals

Kilkenny Offaly

Waterford v Wexford

Dublin v Limerick

Tipperary v Clare

Ulster Hurling Has Mixed Fortunes

It's been a mixed bag for Ulster hurlers with Antrim unable to make an immediate return to Division IB which has undoubtedly been unexpected among the passionate and the proud in Saffron hurling. Across the Bann, Derry were unable to build on last year’s momentum, making the drop following the loss and retirement of some established players. Good news stories for Armagh and Down however who will contest the league final to decide who joins Antrim next season in 2A. The Ulster championship and indeed the more important Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cups could be interesting indeed with three Ulster counties in the former and five in the latter.

A Unique Cross to Bear

We put on the kettle last night and settled down to watch  True North: Crossmaglen Field of Dreams. A fly on the wall documentary about the legendary Crossmaglen Rangers club. It certainly lived up to its advance billing.  Attracting praise across the board among those who had seen it, BBC sports reporter Thomas Niblock was granted free access to the club including being allowed into the inner sanctum of the dressing room. The result? A fascinating spotlight on the entire Rangers set up from Mrs McConvilles tea and buns to players getting dropped for big games. It was according to Thomas Niblock going to be 'a decent watch.' It didn't disappoint. If you missed it its on again on Wednesday or on the iPlayer.



O’Neills Supporting Irish News Ulster Club Awards

The Irish News has just launched its annual prestige Club and Volunteer awards. The awards are handed out each year to clubs across Ulster. The aim is to recognise those club members who make an extraordinary contribution to the life of their GAA club.

Everybody talks about the man that cuts the grass or the mother who washes the jerseys, well the Irish News awards ensure that their contribution does not go unrecognised. This year the format invites each club to tell their story and to  highlight a particular initiative that has made a difference in the life of the club.

It may be engaging with older members, it may be a program promoting health and well-being among young members, a mum and daughters initiative, or a unique approach to fundraising or community development.

Whatever the story is with your club, if you want to win an award, get it down on paper using the application form and get it into the Irish News. Last year for the first time the awards also recognised the contribution of overseas clubs in helping build a sense of community and identity among the Irish Diaspora. At O’Neills, we have been proud to support the awards since their inception and we wish all clubs in Ulster good luck with their entries.

The winner in each club category will be awarded £1,000, £1,000 in O'Neill's Sportswear vouchers and a full-page profile in the sports section of The Irish News. The runner-up in each category will be awarded £500.

Winners in the Overseas Club of the Year and Club Initiative of the Year categories will receive a new set of O'Neill's jerseys. The winner in each volunteer category will win a £100 Irish News Holiday voucher plus £100 in O'Neill's Sportswear vouchers.

Entry packs will be posted out to every club and school in Ulster this week and more can be ordered by emailing The closing time and date for applications is midday on Friday, April 22 2016.