Joe Kernan: Hurling initiative throws up two distinct success stories
The GAA authorities have been making strenuous efforts to promote hurling by implementing enhanced coaching structures and pumping huge sums of money into the sport.
While the fruits of their efforts have not been in evidence in too many counties to date, two in which the game has made considerable progress are Dublin and Armagh.
The Dubs won the recent National League final when they stunned Kilkenny, but the Cats avenged that defeat last Sunday by emerging as comfortable winners in the Leinster final.
Still, Anthony Daly’s side put up a spirited struggle and had they not been handicapped by the absence of a few key players they would in all probability have fared a lot better.
There is no doubt that hurling now has a much stronger foothold in the capital city and the fact that many thousands of fans turned up to cheer on the side at Croke Park emphasises the increased public awareness of the growth of hurling.
In Armagh, there is progress on all fronts. Last year the county reached the Ulster Minor final and this year the senior team won the Nicky Rackard Cup before reaching the Ulster final in which they were beaten by 2-20 to 2-12 by Antrim last Sunday with the Saffrons’ second goal coming late in the game.
Even in defeat, Armagh looked very focused and organised, and with a little rub of the green might just have ran their opponents a lot closer.
Armagh’s earlier semi-final win over Down was a major shock but manager Michael Johnston now believes his side can serve up more such performances in the future.