Limerick footballers would have made last eight by virtue of league status

In hurling, double-digit winning margin now almost as likely as close game

Even if they had lost to Tipperary in Saturday's Munster semi-final, Limerick could still have made the Sam Maguire last eight for the first time since 2011 by virtue of their league status.

That 2011 Treaty team have something in common with Cavan in 2013, Armagh in 2014, Kildare in 2015 and Armagh again in 2017 – all reached the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals and all, under the new criteria, would not have been permitted to play in the Sam Maguire qualifiers at all.

In 2011 Limerick were relegated from Division 3. In 2013, Cavan were fifth in Division 3 and lost the Ulster semi-final to Monaghan. The following year, Armagh lost the Ulster semi-final to Monaghan in a replay before going to the last eight, losing by a point to Donegal.

In 2015, Kildare were bottom of Division 2 and lost in Leinster to Dublin; in 2017, Armagh missed out on promotion from Division 3 and lost the first round in Ulster but also made it to Croker.


U20 furore

Amidst the furore about the venue for the U20 football final between Kildare and Tyrone, which the Red Hands won on Saturday in Carrick-On-Shannon, it is worth noting that both counties have played many All-Ireland U21/U20 finals in venues other than Croke Park.

Tyrone previously won the title in 1991 in Newbridge, 1992 (Longford), 2000 (Mullingar), 2001 (Sligo) and 2015 (Parnell Park), having lost the final in 1990 (also Mullingar) and 2003 (Navan).

Kildare, for their part, have had more experience of HQ on the big day. They won the U21 title in 1965 at Croker, lost the final at the same venue in 1966, lost another 10 years later in Clonmel and the 2008 final in Thurles before winning the title in 2018, back at Croke Park.

Gallagher’s glory

Rory Gallagher has now managed three counties to Ulster SFC finals, having previously guided his native Fermanagh (2018) and Donegal (2015 and 2016) to the decider.

The Beleek native is particularly well-travelled in GAA terms. As a player, Gallagher represented home club Erne Gaels, Dublin's St Brigid's and Antrim's St Gall's, winning a provincial senior club title with the Castleknock outfit in 2003 and an All-Ireland club with the west Belfast club six years later.

Gallagher also had a short stint with Cavan, lining out on a few occasions in 2007. At 43, he could well manage in other counties, too, and maybe even better the record jointly held by John Maughan, Mick O'Dwyer and Mickey Moran, who have each managed five counties.

Hurling gap

Are hurling matches becoming more lopsided?

Over the past two weekends, there were 25 championship matches played across the five tiers. There were two draws and, of the other 23 matches, only eight were decided by six points or fewer while another eight produced margins of 15 points or more.

Statistically, it is now almost as likely that the winning margin will be in double digits as it is for a game to be close.

Word of Mouth

“Derry have five of the best players not just in Ulster but in Ireland.”

Analyst Martin McHugh, on BBC NI, was highly impressed by Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rodgers, Gareth McKinless, Conor Glass and Shane McGuigan.

By the Numbers

47 – Years since Waterford met Cork in a championship match in Walsh Park. Cork won in 1975, too (4-15 to 0-6).