When Down manager Ross Carr predicted after his side had beaten Down in the Ulster Championship back in June that the Red Hands would still be playing All Ireland Championship football in August, he probably had an inkling that they might just be capable of winning the All Ireland title.
That has come to pass and today Carr, who has already commenced preparations for the 2009 season, is making it clear that while his own side covet the Ulster title, he sees Tyrone as targetting both the provincial and All Ireland crowns next year.
Carr has refreshed his squad for the 2009 campaign but acknowledges that Tyrone’s strength in depth will be a major deterrent to any side hopeful of dislodging them.
“While Armagh are the reigning Ulster champions, I think we can safely assume that Tyrone will be going all out to go through next year’s championship by the direct route,” maintains Carr.
He certainly does not share the view that the the Ulster football championship has been devalued by Tyrone’s All-Ireland triumph via the backdoor route.
Indeed, he thinks this in itself could prove a catalyst for Mickey Harte’s side to come good on all fronts next term.
"If you told the Tyrone players they would win next year’s All-Ireland by the backdoor route once more, they would probably take it.
"But they undoubtedly have this fierce hunger to win. They will be going all out to win the Ulster as well as the All-Ireland.
"We had to go to a replay this year and to extra-time in the second game, to get the better of Tyrone by just a point. Tyrone, of course, did not take the decision to win it via the backdoor - that was just the way things panned out for them,” observed Carr.
Meanwhile, Antrim’s prospects of being invited into the Leinster Hurling Championship appear to be receding now that several other counties are set to vote against the new Hurling proposals at the Special Congress on October 4.
Wexford have become the latest county to oppose Galway and Antrim’s entry into Leinster hurling.
Dublin have also opposed the plans while counties like Westmeath and Carlow are expected to follow suit, but All-Ireland champions Kilkenny are in favour of an expanded Leinster championship, having passed the plans without a vote.
But while Kilkenny’s voice will be heard, there may be an overwhelming weight of opinion against the inclusion of Antrim in the Leinster series.
Galway, too, are being mooted as another team to link up with Leinster but they would not appear to be too keen on this prospect.
The Hurling Development Committee’s proposals are certain to spark lively debate at the Congress which will also deal with the important issue of new rules governing discipline.