THE big chiefs of Allianz were in Croke Park yesterday to launch the latest incarnation of the National Football League. Incredibly, in an era when sporting sponsorships tend to have far shorter life spans than those of your average inter-county footballer, the insurance giant is entering the 21st year of this partnership.
HIS team may have wilted in the face of a fearsome Kilkenny onslaught last August, but Tipperary hurler Shane McGrath has now come out fighting against the cyber bullies who tore into Tipp with a vengeance after their All-Ireland SHC semi-final implosion.
TONIGHT will bear witness to the most radical departure in recent GAA history . . . the O'Byrne Cup transported to a Wednesday night. Stop the presses! Beware the gridlock! And just in case you aren't moved by this enticing prospect, let us stress that GAA fans resident in the eastern province have absolutely no excuse for not travelling this evening: there are eight matches taking place at eight disparate venues, stretching from Navan in the north to Bunclody in the south, from the capital's Donnycarney citadel to Killoe on the cusp of Connacht.
ON the face of things, it's a swell time to be at the Dublin managerial coalface. Jim Gavin takes over the main gig, seemingly spoiled for selection choice between existing All-Ireland medallists and decorated -U21 graduates. And as Gavin takes the leap from U-21 to senior level, Dessie Farrell makes a similar ascent from minor to -U21.
IN the book of sporting cliches, to have "one hand on the cup" is usually a precursor to looming, last-minute disaster. But they do things differently in Ballymun: they ended up with a cup possessed of just one good handle and no one, least of all Portlaoise, was about to take it off them.
DESSIE FARRELL has added his weight to calls for a new rule declaring racial abuse an automatic red card offence, insisting the GAA must adopt a "zero tolerance" approach in the wake of the latest race storm that marred last Sunday's Ulster club football final.
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