Kernan urging Ulster to set the tone
Ulster manager Joe Kernan has thrown down the gauntlet to his players in advance of this week-end's inter-provincial football final against Leinster.
"Let's keep the trophy in Ulster and hope that this will prove the precursor to better things to come during the remainder of the year," declares Kernan.
Clearly impressed by the manner in which his team fended off a second-half revival in Sunday's one-point semi-final win over Munster, Kernan fervently believes they can now build on that performance and set the tone for displays by other sides from the province this year.
"This is an opportunity to flash the message that Ulster means business on all fronts in 2013 so let's make the most of it," demands Kernan.
Last year, Ulster won no fewer than 22 All-Ireland titles spanning all codes and levels within the GAA.
It's a catalogue of success that remains the envy of the other provinces and Kernan is anxious to see this trend continue.
"The tone has to be set from the top and if we can retain the inter-provincial trophy I think that teams competing in the Allianz League will take heart from this and then that optimism will spill over into the championship," insists Kernan, "It's very important that we bring the right attitude to the table and given the approach and commitment shown by the Ulster side on Sunday I have no doubt that this will be the case."
In overcoming Connacht in Sunday's other semi-final, Leinster, managed by former Dublin All Ireland winning boss Pat Gilroy, laid down a marker that they have their sights set on wresting the trophy from Ulster's grasp.
Leinster may have won by just one-point (1-21 to 1-20), the same margin of victory enjoyed by Ulster over Munster (1-14 to 1-13), but Kernan is in no doubt that they will reach a higher level in terms of performance against his side.
"You look at a player like Bernard Brogan scoring nine points and you see the likes of Michael Darragh Macauley, Joe Sheridan and Dessie Dolan in there straining every sinew and you know there is real quality in this Leinster side," observes Kernan.
• St. Ciaran's, Ballygawley will play St. Mark's, Warrenpoint, in the semi-final of the under-16 Ulster Bank Arthurs Cup after they defeated Virginia College, Cavan 3-7 2-9. It had been set for Friday but will be re-scheduled.