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Local flavours add plenty of spice to Championship

Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

After last weekend's battle across the Sperrins, we are set for another huge weekend of derby games.

Cavan meet Monaghan in the Battle of the Drumlins this Saturday night, before Down host Armagh in Newry on Sunday.

The week after, Antrim and Tyrone - who share a border there within the fringes of Lough Neagh - go to the Athletic Grounds for their Ulster quarter-final on a Saturday evening, while Fermanagh and Donegal will reprise last year's Ulster final in Enniskillen.

After that, if our tips are to be believed at all, it seems like there will be another derby battle between Tyrone and Donegal or Fermanagh.

Another semi-final is set up for Monaghan and Armagh and we could be looking at a Tyrone-Armagh Ulster final with nothing separating the two right now but the Moy Bridge.

It's quite something that every single game in a provincial Championship could end up between counties that share a border, but it's definitely something that might have been flagged up among the bean counters of the Ulster Council.

Last week was a case in point. While there have been complaints that Tyrone-Derry was not covered on live television, that might have helped it to an attendance of 10,116.

Local rivalries are what sustain the GAA at every level. Getting one over the other crowd has been the biggest motivation of teams since the organisation was formed and it makes it easier to travel to games.

There is an argument to be made about the current shape of the Munster hurling Championship. There were over 40,000 packed into Pairc Úi Chaoimh at the weekend to see Cork's defeat to Tipperary. Now, if that game was taking place in Croke Park at a later stage, the attendance would be interesting.

It's something that is the glitch in the Super8's system. Last year, the Croke Park weekend attracted poor numbers.

Counties have long worn out the novelty of playing at headquarters and the real fascination lay in games such as Monaghan travelling to Galway and a rocking Saturday night in Omagh when Tyrone hosted Dublin. Bring the games to the people.

Belfast Telegraph


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