10 reasons to get excited about the summer Championships
The sun is on its way – here’s 10 reasons to get excited about the 2018 championship.
Sunny Championship Sundays
The best thing about the hurling and football championships has to be those sun-drenched Sunday match-days, whether you’re on the way to the ground or experiencing the game over a few pints or after Sunday dinner, nothing beats the feeling of a nice warm Sunday with championship action to drink in.
Munster & Leinster Hurling
This year, there’s more provincial hurling in Leinster and Munster than ever before. Each province will have a round-robin group stage, meaning there’s no more heartbreaking one-and-done games for some of these counties. Instead, we get all of the big provincial clashes in one year, meaning the winners will have to prove themselves against every one of their rivals. It’s going to be a lot of fun taking in so much provincial action when it throws-in later this month.
On the other side of the ball, the Super 8s are throwing in this summer for the first time and there’s plenty of intrigue as to how they will work out. Similarly to the new format in Munster and Leinster, teams will have to prove themselves against the very best in the country to have dreams of chasing All-Ireland glory. It’s going to muster up some titanic clashes when it gets into full swing this summer.
Who’s going to take Galway’s All-Ireland crown? Can they defend it? Galway are in an interesting position, whereby they have plenty of Leinster games to get into a strong flow before the All-Ireland series. On the other hand, they could face a bit of a hangover from last season, especially after failing to progress from Division 1B in the league.
Kilkenny are perhaps the most interesting coming into the summer, still a bit of an unknown quantity even after winning the league. Tipperary will never be far away and will looking to bounce back from that defeat, and may really benefit from the extended Munster format.
Waterford will go under everyone’s radar after a poor league campaign, but Derek McGrath will have his sights on one thing in his last year in the hotseat.
Clare are always capable of great things, while Wexford have become capable of beating anyone under Davy Fitzgerald. Limerick have been the team of the year so far, but can that continue into the summer?
Just like any other year, Dublin have a big massive target on their back. But they’re so far ahead of everyone it’ll be hard to bring them down. John Gavin’s men have been nothing shy of perfect the past three years, with a ruthless efficiency that blows their opponents away.
This year, we have a newcomer to try and topple the Dubs – Galway. They mustered a draw against them in the league and are quickly rising as a force to be reckoned with. Mayo will have something to say about that, starting this weekend, while down in Kerry Eamonn Fitzmaurice will be devising a plan to beat boys in blue.
Up north, Donegal and Tyrone will have their sights firmly on a late summer in Croke Park, while Monaghan are always capable of a scalp against the big teams.
The Biggest Names
From your Joe Cannings to your Cillian O’Connors, GAA is chock-a-block with household names that will be lighting up the fields around Ireland this summer.
We can’t wait to see the likes of Cian Lynch and Paddy McBrearty strut their stuff, in addition to the big name stars of which there’s far too many to mention.
The superstar of Kerry’s All-Ireland winning minor team, Clifford enters the senior championship for the first time this summer to much intrigue. He acquitted himself well in the league, and should get better and better as the weather dries up.
And in the hurling, who from Kilkenny’s new generation can become the next [enter Kilkenny star of the past here]? With the increased amount of action, there’s going to be plenty of fresh faces to get familiar with.
Tricks & Flicks
A bit of this.
Skilful Play by Barry Nash, with Diarmaid Byrnes with the finish! pic.twitter.com/91FPXHWGoD
— The GAA (@officialgaa) March 31, 2018
And some of this.
Is it fair to say Cian Lynch is operating at a level above most hurlers in the country?
So inventive getting possession and creative using it. pic.twitter.com/3QsL5L1moJ
— GAA Wrap (@gaawrap) April 3, 2018
And a whole load of this.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 18, 2017
There won’t be a summer without a controversy, whether it’s Jason Forde and Davy Fitz going toe-to-toe, Diarmuid Connolly finding issue with a linesman or questionable refereeing, sliotar thieves or helmets getting yanked off heads.
There’s bound to be some more controversy this summer and there’s bound to be a Sunday Game debate to follo
Speaking of which, this is the last summer of Michael Lyster under the helm at the Sunday Game. It will be sad to see him go, hopefully it’ll be a championship summer to remember.