Liam Hodgins of Galway and Jamsie O’Connor of Clare tussle during the All-Ireland quarter-final in 2002. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Before changes to modern structures the sides rarely ever went head-to-head in the championship

Waterford manager Derek McGrath bows his head in dejection  near the end of his side’s Munster senior hurling final hammering by Tipperary in Limerick two weeks ago.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Déise hurling boss will be hoping to emulate recovery strategies of his predecessors

Wexford’s  Lee Chin  who scored four points in his side’s clash with Cork two weeks ago. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Déise must put Munster hurling final blow-out behind them to see off surging neighbours

Clare’s Podge Collins (centre) is also down to play football on Saturday. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

With both sides not showing true potential it comes down to who has improved most

 Roscommon’s Cathal Cregg and Ciaran Murtagh dejected after the Connacht final defeat. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Clare’s strength is midfield, an area where Roscommon have struggled badly this year

Derry’s Mark Lynch will need to deliver a big performance on Saturday. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

Mark Lynch is the key man for the Ulster county but Tipperary will punish a slow start

Tyrone celebrate their Ulster final win and a first provincial title in six years. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho/Presseye

Counties bucked trend by winning provincial honours after a spring spent in Division Two

Galway’s manager Kevin Walsh before the Connacht  senior football championship final replay against Roscommon at  McHale Park, Mayo. Photograph: Inpho

Galway manager reacts to criticism in wake of last week’s draw while Roscommon joint-manager Kevin McStay accepted that it had bee(...)

Champions!  Galway’s Eoghan Kerin celebrates with his team mates after the game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Roscommon put up little resistance against stronger, sharper Galway in Castlebar

Seán Cavanagh: the last remaing link with the  Tyrone team that won a historic first All-Ireland in 2003. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho/Presseye

But new-look team must face down bogey side Donegal to claim a first Ulster title in six years

Neil McGee: returns from suspension to bolster Donegal’s defence in the Ulster final.  Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho/Presseye

Mickey Harte’s team is on the upswing and can overcome their toughest rivals

Full forward John Heslin is one of Westmeath’s dangermen, if he can get the service required. Photograph: James Crosbie/Inpho.

Hard to envisage anything other than a record equalling feat for Jim Gavin’s side

Niall Daly put in an influential performance for Roscommon in the drawn game against Galway. Photograph: Donall FarmerInpho.

Kevin Walsh’s side have more room for improvement and cut to their attack

It’s easy to understand why Waterford didn’t want to play the Munster final in Thurles. But it didn’t work out for them at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick either. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Championship marked its mid-point in sombre mood after a downbeat weekend

Tipperary celebrate with the trophy after beating Waterford at the Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

John McGrath hits 3-2 for impressive holders as Waterford suffer complete systems failure

Mayo’s Kevin Keane tackled by Galway’s Shane Walsh in the Connacht football championship semi-final. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Roscommon are missing Neil Collins from full-back line and they may end up regretting it

Dan Morrissey of Limerick gets away from Clare’s Darach Honan at the Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Cathal Nooan/Inpho

Hurling qualifer opponents have much to thank school for vibrant cross-border rivalry

Wexford will need to contain an in-form Alan Cadogan. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Alan Cadogan will be the go-to man for Cork against an improving, inconcistent Wexford

The injured Conor McGrath could prove a decisive loss for Clare. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Clare should prove too good for the stuttering Treaty County at Semple Stadium

The biggest officiating fiasco in modern times was the “goal” scored by Meath’s Joe Sheridan to defeat Louth in the Leinster final six years ago. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Controversy over goal in Wexford-Offaly game again highlights challenge for officials

Donegal’s Martin McElhinney gets ahead of Owen Duffy of Monaghan during the Ulster SFC semi-final replay at Breffni Park on Saturday. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho.

Donegal midfielder says atmosphere will be better in Clones for final

Former All Star lined out at centre back and got up field for three points in win over Laois

Clare will take on Limerick in their round 2 qualifier in Thurles on Saturday. Photo: Inpho

There will be seven football matches and two hurling matches on Saturday with the Munster final on Sunday

Clare took on Limerick in a classic encounter back in 1996. Photo: Inpho

Cork will play Wexford and Clare will take on Limerick in clashes laden with history

Kilkenny’s Lester Ryan lifts the Bob O’Keefe trophy. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Richie Hogan sprung from the bench to head second half revival as Cats win Leinster title

Damien Hayes and his team-mates celebrate with the trophy after Galway won the Leinster hurling championship in 2012. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Hurling’s lonely status in west has never been properly remedied by GAA

 Galway’s manager Michael Donoghue shakes hands with Kilkenny boss  Brian Cody after the league encounter in March. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Seán Moran and Malachy Clerkin run the rule over a busy weekend of action

 Liam Kearns celebrates after Tipperary’s win over Cork in the Munster football championship semi-finals. Photograph: Inpho

The provincial championships continue to provide opportunities for others to dream

The great Waterford hurler passed away at the weekend at the age of 86

Dublin’s Bernard Brogan catches a ball over the head of Meath’s Mickey Burke. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Royal County enjoy lively first half but never threaten the champions in 10-point loss

Conor McManus and his team-mates celebrate the Ulster final victory over Donegal last year. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Painstaking husbandry ensures the small county remain at football’s top table

Odhrán Mac Niallais had an impact against Fermanagh but he struggled for impact against Monaghan last year. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

A mouthwatering Ulster semi-final and a Leinster football semi-final double-header top the bill

Laois’s Evin Keane celebrates scoring the last point of the game against Armagh– but now  the teams must do it all again. Photo: Tom Beary/Inpho

GAA needs to optimise and streamline the administration of fixtures under its control

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea: “I’ve never lost to Galway in a competitive game, minor, under-21, senior, so yeah, definitely a change and definitely didn’t see it coming.” Photograph: Inpho.

All Star says team can recover fluidity after surprise loss to Galway on Saturday

Laois brought on a seventh replacement in injury time during their qualifier victory over Armagh. Sanctions for playing too many substitutes range from forfeiture to a replay to a fine. Photograph: Tom Beary/Inpho.

Croke Park CCCC considering claim that county used too many subs in qualifier

Tipperary manager Michael Ryan celebrates at the final whistle in Thurles. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Conceding three goals in the first half makes it very hard to win games, says Limerick manager

Séamus Callanan celebrates scoring Tipperary’s  third goal in the Munster SHC semi-final against Limerick at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster champions forced to battle hard after John O’Dwyer’s early sending off

d Johnny Duane fail to prevent a Donegal goal during the counties’ qualifier clash in Croke Park last summer.  photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

County’s success at underage level not being built on with Mayo dominating in Connacht

Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor: has had little football since returning towards the end of the league. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Visit to Castlebar looks a daunting task for a Galway side including five debutants

Cork players, led by Paul Kerrigan,  take to the field in Semple Stadium, Thurles. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tipperary delight in their very own D-Day, while mood in Rebel County is one of apathy

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Football action across all four provinces with six games down for decision

The Dublin senior hurling team ahead of their Leinster championship quarter-final defeat of Wexford at Croke Park last month. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Against all odds and expectation the county have emerged as real contenders

The decline of  Down is just one factor in the lack of competitiveness in Ulster football. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Presseye/Inpho

Major soccer tournaments come and go but more fundamental problem is a concern

Waterford manager Derek McGrath celebrates winning with Jamie Barron. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

The Déise beat Clare in semi-final clash in Thurles to avenge league final defeat

Clare’s Podge Collins  tackles Waterford’s Shane Bennett during the league final replay. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Banner’s ability to survive under pressure gives them the edge against Waterford

Bernard Brogan is part of a core of Dublin players that have backboned the county’s Leinster dominance. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

All-Ireland football champions Dublin return to action in Kilkenny

GPA CEO Dessie Farrell: “In this day and age it’s not acceptable that players go months and months without being reimbursed.” Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan

Players’ body CEO Dessie Farrell concerned at recent recurrence of a formerly thorny issue

Kevin McManamon: lines out at corner forward against Laois in place of Paul Mannion. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Jim Gavin names 11 of side that started All-Ireland final win against Kerry

Bundee Aki lifts the Pro12 trophy as the Connacht players celebrate their win over Leinster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Province’s great achievement unlikely to find counterpart in modern-day football or hurling

James McCarthy holds off Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy: “We have got better as we’ve gone on and we’re a tough team to play against now.” Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Versatile defender looking forward to taking on Laois at Nowlan Park

Terry Hyland was a selector for Val Andrews during the Dubliner’s first stint with the county. Photograph: Inpho

Val Andrews praises former selector’s success in bringing through emerging talent

Westmeath manager Michael Ryan: “We’ll embrace the challenge and take it on. It’s why we’re all involved in sport.”

Recent U-21 win over Kilkenny provides an ideal fillip for Michael Ryan’s senior team

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney: took personal responsibility for the performance when his side lost by 17 points against Cavan in March. Photograph: Inpho

Weekend GAA previews: Mayo too stronger for London despite injury problems

Séamus Callanan in action against Cork:  “It spoils open hurling but sure  whatever it takes teams to win, let them do it.”  Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Decorated forward says he hopes Tipperary never adopt hurling’s controversial tactic

Joe McDonagh: his death leaves the GAA bereft of the ease and good humour through which he communicated his passions for Irish  language and   culture. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The charismatic former president will be remembered as a decent and humane man

Galway hurler David Collins: “We wanted change and we got change. Now we have to fulfil our side and do it.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

David Collins knows stakes are higher as Tribesmen have also just been relegated

Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer scores a point as the rain buckets down at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Hawk-eye debuts in Semple Stadium but no big calls needed in one sided Munster clash

Former GAA President Joe McDonagh has sadly passed away.  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Sean Moran remembers the former Galway hurler who became president of the GAA

Longford manager Denis Connerton is not optimistic for his side’s chances ahead of clash with Offaly. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster SFC first round: Offaly v Longford, Tullamore, 3.30

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath. Photograph: John McVitty/Inpho/Presseye/

Ulster sides meet in championshop for third season in row with one victory apiece

Louth’s Jim McEneaney impressed in the  Division Four final at Croke Park against Antrim. Photograph: Inpho

Saturday: Leinster SFC preliminary round – Carlow v Louth, Portlaoise, 5.0

Laois’ Ross Munnelly: with Donie Kingston and rising star Evan O’Carroll up front, Laois have too much for the visitors. Photograph: Inpho

Saturday: Leinster SFC preliminary round – Laois v Wicklow, Portlaoise, 7.0

Carlow manager Luke Dempsey celebrates with goalscorer JJ Smith after the county’s draw with Meath in the 2012 Leinster championship. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Former manager Luke Dempsey says club game takes precedence in the county

The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park – against Longford at Pearse Park on June 4th, 2006. A youthful Alan Brogan takes on Dermot Brady. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho.

How can Leitrim with a population of 32,000 hope to compete with likes of Dublin?

Former GAA President Jack Boothman has passed away. Photo: Inpho

Wicklow man’s term of office was during an interesting time for the organisation

Waterford’s Austin Gleeson scores a point during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final replay at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Spotlight moves to the Munster semi-final against Clare on the June bank holiday weekend

Waterford’s Patrick Curran fires past Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly to score the opening goal of the league final replay. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Patrick Kelly says failure to win league is the one regret that 1990s’ team still have

Clare’s Shane Golden and Waterford’s Tom Devine challenge for the sliotar during the Allianz Hurling League Division One Final replay at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Holders left stunned by a Banner comeback sealed deep in injury-time

Waterford’s Maurice Shanahan scores the equalising point with the last puck of the game at Semple Stadium last week. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Holders are unlikely to squander so many chances from frees second time around

Waterford’s Ken McGrath gets away from Cork’s Seán Óg Ó hAilpín during the 1998 National Hurling League final which Cork won. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

History shows both Waterford and Clare benefited even from defeat in a final

Eirgrid GAA Football All Ireland Under 21 Championship Final, Cusack Park, Ennis, Co. Clare 30/4/2016Cork vs MayoDiarmuid O'Connor of Mayo celebrates scoring his sides first goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

County’s Under-21 triumph has been a timely boost for the senior panel’s confidence levels

League finalists Clare and Waterford are both coming teams. Their underage success in recent years denotes as much. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

The league finalists are on an upward curve and could be serious Championship contenders

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald trades some strong words with Derek McGrath of Waterford during the Allianz Hurling League final at Semple Stadium. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Neither side could rack up a decent lead over 90 minutes of fiercely contested action

The Ireland team celebrate in Croke Park after last year’s triumph. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Hawkeye to debut in Thurles for Munster championship clash of Tipperary and Cork

Cork’s Stephen Cronin lifts the provincial title following their win over Kerry in Tralee. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Rebels will top the final under-21 roll of honour if they defeat Mayo in Ennis

Waterford’s Shane Bennett, with Patrick Curran, has been playing a more prominent for the county. Photograph: Inpho

Gaelic Games weekend previews: Cork look to have edge in All-Ireland Under-21 FC final

Kilkenny hurler TJ Reid at the launch of Cúl Heroes. Photo: Sportsfile

Current Hurler of the Year slightly favours Clare to win Sunday’s AHL final

Dublin’s James McCarthy in action against Kieran Donaghy of Kerry. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Departures from defence have seen flying wing back step up to fill the void

Cian O’Sullivan ensured that Dublin did not miss Rory O’Carroll in the Allianz Football League final against Kerry. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Despite setbacks Jim Gavin’s team continues to press on while their main rivals stall

Justin McCarthy has managed both Clare and Waterford who clash this Sunday in the Allianz Hurling League final. Photo: Inpho

Despite proximity to Munster clash, Clare and Waterford will go all out in league final

Trevor Giles says Dublin’s dominance is undermining football’s appeal. Photograph: Inpho

All-Ireland winner with Meath says it’s hard to envisage Gavin’s team being beaten

Tyrone’s Seán Cavanagh in action during his side’s victory over Cavan in the Allianz League Division Two final. Photograph: Inpho

Mickey Harte’s team unbeaten on their way back to the top and are now poised in Ulster

Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony receives a red card for a challenge on Dublin’s Jonny Cooper during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Final at Croke Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Aidan O’Mahony’s red card saw Dublin’s side pull away in final quarter at Croke Park

All Star defender Paul Murphy is being deployed at centre forward by Kerry for their league final against Dublin at Croke Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

With Croke Park nearly sold out league finalists will have perfect stage for summer rehearsal

Antrim’s Michael McCann in action against Tyrone’s Padraig McNulty. McCann has been prominent in the county’s unbeaten league run to date. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Presseye/Inpho

New sense of unity in the county, as they prepare to take on Louth in Croke Park

The Tyrone team line up for a Division Two league match against Armagh. The county have not won an Ulster title for six year. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye

Evolution of championship formats is inexorably removing element of surprise

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody: “There has to be a sense that everyone can make this team.” Photograph: Inpho

Kilkenny have qualified for playoffs for 15th time during Cody’s 18-year tenure

Seán Cavanagh, who will lead Tyrone against Cavan on Sunday week, takes a step back in time in Croke Park. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Tyrone captain and great drops strong hint this could be his last intercounty season

Roscommon and Kerry players leave the pitch in Croke Park. We know  trying to replicate some sort of league format during the summer just won’t attract support. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Truly competitive football season set for its annual break for about three months

Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe bravely stops Anthony Nash’s penalty in the 2014 Munster championship quarter-final replay. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Waterford goalkeeper believes advantage remains firmly with the striker

Dublin’s Barney Rock tackles Kerry’s Tom Spillane in the 1987 National Football League final: the Dubs beat a much-fancied Kingdom team. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Barney Rock recalls some very colourful moments from National League 29 years ago

Dublin eased past Donegal at Croke park to reach the Allianz League final. Photograph: Inpho

All-Ireland champions produce accurate and dominant display in Allianz League semi

Kieran Donaghy: has strengthened Kerry’s options around centrefield during the league campaign. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho

Unbeaten Dublin poised to reach yet another league decider

Former Kerry player Eoin Brosnan is adamant that it’s still better to be involved at the end of the season. Photo: Inpho

Careers in football are short so win what you can says former All-Ireland winner

Roscommon county ground Hyde Park’s surface is badly in need of work. Photograph: James Crosbie/Inpho.

A new surface at Hyde Park and developing centre of excellence priorities for county

Jim Gavin’s Dublin are on the trail of a fourth successive league win, a feat achieved only twice before in football. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Donegal have it all to do against Dublin as Kerry will put it up to Roscommon

Clare’s David Reidy tackled by Seamus Callanan of Tipperary during their Allianz League clash. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Tipp again fail to make winningposition count in one point loss at Cusack Park

Roscommon host the reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin this Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Sean Moran looks at the final round of games as the battle for promotion and safety hots up

Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan and Darragh Ó Connell of Dublin in action during their Allianz Hurling League Division 1A match  Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. Photograph: Inpho

Allianz Hurling League previews: Galway have the edge over Cork in relegation play-off

Dublin’s Chris Sallier scores a goal against Laois in the Under-21 Leinster football championship semi-final in March. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

County target sixth Leinster title in last eight years

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