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A Change of Harte - GAA 2021

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    A Change of Harte - GAA 2021

    After the All-Ireland final just before Christmas, it was expected that the Leagues would commence at the end of February, but with the GAA stripped of "elite sport" status by the Irish government, the beginning of May would appear the earliest start date. Still, the All-Stars were announced this week with Limerick and Dublin rewarded with nine gongs each in hurling and football respectively:

    2020 All-Star Football Team:

    1. Raymond Galligan (Cavan)

    2. Oisin Mullin (Mayo)
    3. Padraig Faulkner (Cavan)
    4. Michael Fitzsimons (Dublin)

    5. James McCarthy (
    6. John Small (Dublin)
    7. Eoin Murchan (Dublin)

    8. Brian Fenton (Dublin)
    9. Thomas Galligan (Cavan)

    10. Niall Scully (Dublin)
    11. Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin)
    12. Con O'Callaghan (Dublin)

    13. Cillian O'Connor (Mayo)
    14. Conor Sweeney (Tipperary)
    15. Dean Rock (Dublin)

    Footballer of the Year: Brian Fenton (2nd time)
    Young Footballer of the Year: Oisin Mullin

    2020 Hurling Team of the Year:

    1. Nickie Quaid (Limerick)

    2. Sean Finn (Limerick)
    3. Dan Morrissey (Limerick)
    4. Daithi Burke (Galway)

    5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Limerick)
    6. Tadhg de Burca (Waterford)
    7. Kyle Hayes (Limerick)

    8. Jamie Barron (Waterford)
    9. Tony Kelly (Clare)

    10. Gearoid Hegarty (Limerick)
    11.Cian Lynch (Limerick)
    12. Tom Morrissey (Limerick)

    13. Aaron Gillane (Limerick)
    14. TJ Reid (Kilkenny)
    15. Stephen Bennett (Waterford)

    Hurler of the Year: Gearoid Hegarty
    Young Hurler of the Year: Eoin Cody (Kilkenny, and yes, he's Brian's son)


      What are the elite sports then?


        Professional sports. You can't do the bubble thing, if you're leaving the bubble to go to work every day.


          Ah, yes, I keep forgetting that the two GAA sports are "amateur".


            A large proportion of League of Ireland football is part time as well, but we've been allowed to continue. I think the GAA are being punished for the behaviour of some fans at various club county finals.


              Will be interesting to see whether the sin-bin survives its one-year trial in hurling - the advocates of the small ball game always tend to claim the practitioners are purists, and that any chop downs on helmets are incidental.


                Yeah, I love the game but hurlers and hurling fans tend to have a smell of themselves alright.


                  The government announces that intercounty training will resume on April 19th, so a truncated League (four weeks) would then start mid-May, and the Championship in late June.


                    Dublin players caught training together prior to the official date allowed. A few slaps on the wrist and fines no doubt.


                      The Leitrim GAA legend, Pakie McGarty, has died - selected on the GAA's Team of the Century of Players who Never Won An All-Ireland, he remarkably lost four successive Connacht finals to Galway between 1957 and 1960.


                        GAA confirms the Master Fixtures Calendar for this year - with the Championships to be completed by the end of August. The Leagues appear to be somewhat of a mess, in that they may or may not have overall winners, but we do know that the football will be straight knockout again, without London or New York. If Kerry win the Joe McDonagh in hurling, they will definitely be promoted to Leinster for next season.




                            A world away from the Super League is the rather less glamorous Munster Football Championship, though spectators remain a distinct prospect, even for a potential Old Firm clash in Fitzgerald Stadium:

                            MFC QFs:

                            1. Clare v Kerry
                            2. Waterford v Limerick


                            1. Clare/Kerry vs Tipperary
                            2. Waterford/Limerick vs Cork

                            In relation to hurling, All-Ireland champs Limerick commence against Cork, with Waterford or Clare playing Tipp in the other semi-final.


                              Having begun with Munster, it only seems fair to continue in chronological draw order with the other provinces. In Leinster, the hurling championship sees Dublin play Antrim, with the winners to face Galway, while Laois and Wexford face off for the right to meet Kilkenny.

                              The football draw:


                              1. Offaly v Louth
                              2. Wicklow v Wexford
                              3. Carlow v Longford


                              1. Kildare v P1
                              2. Dublin v P2
                              3. Meath v P3
                              4. Laois v Westmeath


                              1. QF1 v QF2
                              2. QF3 v QF4


                                Connacht SFC:

                                Mayo v Sligo

                                SFs: Leitrim v Mayo/Sligo
                                Galway vs Roscommon

                                Ulster SFC:

                                Preliminary Round:

                                Down v Donegal


                                1. Down/Donegal vs Derry
                                2. Armagh v Antrim
                                3. Monaghan v Fermanagh
                                4. Tyrone v Cavan


                                1. QF1 v QF4
                                2. QF2 v QF3


                                  The two biggest towns in Kerry, Tralee and Killarney, are having a row over who should have the proposed Kerry GAA museum. I know where Diable Rouge thinks it should be.

                                  And golfer Shane Lowry has been announced as official team sponsor of Offaly GAA. I'm not sure if this says how rich Lowry is, or how little Offaly are willing to accept.


                                    As the noble sport of the ash resumes after a half-year hiatus, there was a real shock in Belfast, where newly-promoted Antrim secured a shock two-point win over Clare. The Saffrons had won both the Joe McDonagh and Division 2A in 2020, but were only fancied to defeat Laois in their six-team division. No such drama elsewhere, with Kilkenny ultimately comfortable against Dublin, Wexford defeating Laois handily, and Galway walloping Westmeath by 30 points. Tipp became the first team to take any point off Limerick since 2019 in their 0-20 apiece draw, while Cork currently lead Waterford by 8 in their first-round encounter.


                                      Normally, the league structure compares more than favourably with that for the All-Ireland Football Championship, but this year, Covid has meant the implementation of regionalisation to reduce travel times, so only three regular rounds will be played, and no league final will occur if it is due to happen a week before a county's first Championship game.

                                      Division 1 South:


                                      Of the four, Galway are arguably most motivated to push for a title, while the Rossies look out of their depth here.

                                      Division 1 North:


                                      Under new management for the first time in 20 years, the Red Hand County may find themselves revived, while Armagh narrowly look like making the drop.

                                      Division 2 South:


                                      After making considerable progress in 2020, the Rebels should edge ahead of Kildare to clinch promotion, while Clare will probably be relegated.

                                      Division 2 North:


                                      Not a section where you'd want to be placing big money bets, but Mayo really need to be winning here if their fortunes are to turn, with Westmeath looking the worst of the quartet.

                                      Division 3 South:


                                      The reigning Munster champions are strong favourites here, while Limerick will probably slide into the basement section.

                                      Division 3 North:


                                      As with Tipp, Cavan should be able to parley provincial glory into league success, but Fermanagh could suffer consecutive falls.

                                      Division 4 South:


                                      The enforced exile of London explains the three-team section - Wexford appear strong favourites.

                                      Division 4 North:


                                      Normally, Sligo would be tipped for glory here, but could the Harte factor transform the Wee County?


                                        Kerry set down an early marker, beating Galway 4.20 to 0.11, that's a 21 point margin.

                                        In division two, flat track bullies Mayo unsurprisingly beat Down by 2.20 to 1.11 .

                                        Mickey Harte's Louth revolution hits an early snag, Antrim shading it by a point 1.15 to 3.08.


                                          David Clifford's hat-trick goal was something else:



                                            That will be a 6 month ban for being " too clever by half "


                                              Limerick hurling manager John Kiely complaining about alleged Galway simulation during their defeat to the Tribesmen today. " It has no place in the game " , which makes me wonder what kind of sheltered life he's lived.


                                                Wexford's game with Kilkenny tomorrow is off after three squad members tested positive for Covid - if no new date can be agreed, the Cats would get a walkover.


                                                  Surprisingly entertaining game in Ballybofey - Monaghan took advantage of Michael Murphy's withdrawal to post three first-half goals and seemed in command at the break. Donegal recovered somewhat in the second period, and while a fourth Farney major rocked them on their heels, the home side took control from there to the long whistle, rescuing a rather improbable draw (1-20 to 4-11). Entertainingly, both keepers operated as roving liberos, often venturing well past the halfway line.