A tip of the hat has to go to Michael Murphy after his weekend endeavours. His sporting schedule was forensically examined over the past week but in the end there was no ‘club v country’ conflict for the Donegal player.
He simply togged out in Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday night to captain his country to glory in the first International Rules test.
And then togged out in MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey yesterday to steer his club to glory in the Donegal county final.
He bagged 1-5 and the man-of-the-match award as Glenswilly triumphed and afterwards Murphy could bask in the glow of a superb sporting weekend.
2. It’s a Cross triumph again in Armagh
A nod to the South Armagh kingpins is also due today. Their three-in-a-row bid to win the All-Ireland fell short last February against St Brigid’s and their team splintered in the aftermath.
Oisin McConville retired while big guns like James Morgan (injury) and Jamie Clarke (travelling) are unavailable this year.
But they regrouped and rehabilitated. Joe Kernan returned to take the managerial reins, 13 years after he had last been in charge.
And they plotted a route through the Armagh championship that concluded yesterday evening in a familiar fashion. For the 17th time in 18 years they won a county senior title with a final win over Cullyhanna and now get set to embark on the Ulster hunt.
Crossmaglen captain Tony Kernan lifts the Gerry Fagan Cup
Pic: INPHO/Presseye/Russell Pritchard
3. The ex-London player and Cavan native who shone in Limerick
Dromcollogher-Broadford winning the Limerick senior football title yesterday was no great surprise considering it was their seventh time triumphing in the last 13 years.
There was novelty in the identity of their top-scorer though. Attacker Killian Phair struck 1-3 in his first Limerick county senior final appearance.
A native of Cavan where he played for the Cavan Gaels club, Phair is also a former London forward who transferred to Dromcollogher-Broadford this year as he is working as a teacher in the area.
Killian Phair in action for London in 2011
Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
4. A Cork hurling final pairing to savour
Yesterday’s Cork hurling semi-finals were both extremely lopsided affairs. Sarsfields had nine points to spare in their game against Ballymartle while Midleton topped that by crushing Na Piarsaigh by 18 points.
Yet the double-header in Páirc Uí Chaoimh paves the way for a decider in a fortnight’s time that is loaded with potential. Sarsfields will feature in their fifth final in six years while Midleton end a 19-year wait for a presence on final day.
Six players (four Sarsfields and two Midleton) were on Cork’s 26-man panel for the recent All-Ireland hurling final replay and they’ll ensure there’s plenty recognisable figures on show.
Conor Lehane in action for Midleton
Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
5. Clare’s club fixture logjam is starting to clear
Clare’s marvelous hurling summer on the inter-county front yielded a treasure trove of highlights as they garnered senior and U21 triumphs.
The downside was the club players in the county were idle as a consequence and when the All-Ireland senior final ended in a draw, there was a real danger that Clare would not have representatives in the Munster club arena.
But the fixtures programme was swiftly rolled out after the replay and has proceeded without the hiccups of replays or postponements due to weather.
The last four stages has been reached with Ballyea, Clonlara, Newmarket-on-Fergus and Sixmilebridge in contention. More significantly Clare are on course to have champions in a fortnight’s time.
Tony Kelly was in action for Ballyea over the weekend
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie
6. Dr Crokes, Oulart and Portlaoise start to eye bigger prizes
We spoke here on Friday about how Dr Crokes, Portlaoise and Oulart-The-Ballagh were all bidding to maintain their dominant spells in their respective counties. And all three obliged in county finals yesterday.
Dr Crokes hammered Austin Stacks in Kerry to do four-in-a-row. Portlaoise came from behind to defeat Arles-Killeen in Laois to do seven-in-a-row. And Oulart-The-Ballagh narrowly prevailed against Ferns in Wexford to do five-in-a-row.
They’ll all justifiably celebrate those wins but we’re guessing that thoughts are already drifting to the challenges ahead. Dr Crokes have lifted the last two Munster crowns yet All-Ireland semi-final defeats to Crossmaglen and Ballymun have caused regrets.
Portlaoise were Leinster champions in 2004 and 2009 but lost a semi-final to St Brigid’s in 2011 and a final to Ballymun last December. While Oulart-the-Ballagh’s wait for Leinster glory goes on after losing the last three deciders in the province.
The trio will seek to work over the winter and try to maintain their development.
Dr Crokes Ambrose O’Donovan lifts the cup.
Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer