Joe Kernan: Down club championships on hold after All Ireland success
While the forthcoming All Ireland football semi-finals hold the national spotlight, the various county championships within Ulster are already under way.
Reigning Down champions Kilcoo and current Armagh title-holders Pearse Og have surmounted their first round obstacles while Antrim, Ulster and All Ireland kingpins St Gall’s, minus some of their more prominent players such as Kevin McGourty, Sean Burke and Kevin Niblock, will begin the defence of all three titles tomorrow night when they meet Moneyglass.
The county championships have been drawing bigger crowds of late and in Derry and Tyrone in particular it is not uncommon to witness attendances that would rival those at some National League games in other parts of the country.
Some county championships tend to be delayed, particularly if a team has made progress in the All Ireland series thus necessitating their domestic programme to be put on hold.
Not surprisingly, there will be no more matches in Down until after the county side plays Kildare in the All Ireland semi-final on Sunday week — and obviously the hope within the Mourne area is that a further block on domestic matches taking place until after September 19 will have to be imposed!
Like many others I would like to see all county championships concluded if at all possible while the weather — and daylight — remains favourable.
In recent weeks Down, Derry, Armagh and Fermanagh in particular have hosted full schedules of weekend championship matches and with Derry also staging a qualifier series this means even more fixtures.