We're in for a treat with the mid and south senior hurling finals this year following the deciding of the pairings at the weekend. Drom-Inch and Loughmore Castleiney, predictably, came through in the mid though Holycross Ballycahill put in a mighty shift against their neighbours.
While the outcome was never really in doubt, the defeated ended their season on a relatively high note having competed so meaningfully in the semi-final. It looked for a long time as though the same could be said for the first of the semi's in Boherlahan, but 3-9 in the third quarter from a blistering Loughmore Castleiney, put paid to Moycarkey Borris' chances of remaining competitive till the end. The McGrath's again were to the fore for the victors, with a slimmed down Liam really impressing in the second half.
In the south, Ballingarry and Carrick Swans fell at the penultimate jump with Mullinahone and Killenaule winning out respectively. Paul Kelly rolled back the years to seal Mullinahone's two point victory while Killenaule's county men stood tall in their four point win over the Swans.
The decider should be a fine spectacle with bragging rights at a premium between the neighbouring parishes. They have met on plenty of occasions in the past and the honours have been pretty even, by and large.
Anyone who feels that the divisions have less impact these days need only have travelled to the semi's to see the very strong attendances - Gaels are voting with their feet and the fact that there is a real feel good attitude around Tipp hurling right now helped as well.
We're still awaiting progress in the north and west with the former still a distance off having a final pairing.
U-21's great win
The Tipperary U-21 hurlers had a super win over a very fancied Limerick in Semple Stadium. Coming hot on the heels of the double Munster Final victory in senior and minor, this was another great boost and rounded off a tremendous week for the county. They now go to Waterford for the final next Wednesday for what will be another tricky assignment, but if they perform with the same application and maturity shown against The Treaty lads, they will be very hard to beat.
Derry are on the horizon for the senior footballers after the draw was made on Morning Ireland on Monday. A big big test of Liam Kearns men following on from the Munster Final defeat to Cork, the football fraternity will be hoping for an immediate bounce and a rub of the green to make it to the last eight.
Semple Stadium Status
Reflecting on the Munster Final played in Limerick, one would have to ask the question about the status of Semple Stadium in Thurles. Enshrined in the minutes of the Central Council during Nicky Brennan's term as Uachtarain, Semple Stadium is regarded as the second most important stadium in the country - the installation of Hawkeye at considerable expense is further evidence of its standing. But, within Munster it seems as though this classification does not hold much sway at all.
Apart from the argument that Waterford shot themselves in the foot by deciding not to opt for Semple Stadium for the Munster Final, the Council needs to make a decision on future finals. Surely, they cannot afford to take the kind of financial hit they have done this year - a hit which ultimately affects grants available to each and every club in the province. 16,000 less attended the final this year than last, and without doubt a substantial portion of those who stayed away, did so because of the location.
Semple Stadium has the greatest capacity in the province and hurling finals should be played there - end of story. This nonsense of it being Tipperary's home venue is just that - nonsense. Waterford love playing in Thurles - they were unbeaten in four of their last five games there, including winning the league game against Tipp. Clare and Limerick are well used to coming to Thurles and we all know that Cork love Semple Stadium.
It seems very wrong of the Council to have supporters travelling to Limerick for a Munster Final and charging €30 for a ticket for an uncovered stand, where the chances are, patrons will get wet. Indeed, it seems crazy to be choosing a venue where 80% of those in a sellout attendance will get wet. In this day and age, supporters deserve better. And, they are voting with their feet.
It seems that the Council needs to stand up and make the brave decision about Semple Stadium being the venue for Munster Finals going forward. Ok, so Pairc Ui Chaoimh will be a brand new stadium in the coming year or so, but even if it is contructed out of gold bars, it will still be in the same place - a very difficult place to get in and out of.
There is a lesson to be learned here by the council. Don't hold your breath awaiting for a positive outcome though - the delegates won't have the moral courage to do the right thing. Or perhaps more accurately, they won't be let by their counties.
We'll have a nice double in Semple on Sunday though with the All-Ireland quarter finals - interesting viewing.
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