Tipperary, the reigning All-Ireland hurling champions, are back in action on Sunday next when they play Clare at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. After a good test against Cork in the quarterfinal Tipp will be fancied to account for their great rivals from across the Shannon in the semifinal on Sunday afternoon. Clare are going through a re-building program right now and hoping to promote several players from the under 21 team that won the All-Ireland title in 2009. They are now managed by former player Ger "Sparrow" O'Loughlin and went through division two of the National League unbeaten, but then lost the final to Limerick. Brendan Cummins will be making his 64th championship appearance for Tipperary on Sunday and if Tipp win Cummins should equal Christy Ring's long-standing record of 65 championship appearances in the Munster final on July 10.
It's a great honor for Cummins and he would have set a new record by now if former Tipp manager Babs Keating hadn't dropped him for part of the 2007 season. But of course there were not as many championship games in Ring's day as we didn't have the "back-door" in those years. Cork gave Tipp a good game, but this Tipperary side has a habit of getting goals at the right time and I think they should be much too strong for the Bannermen.
GALWAY ON THEIR DAY SHOULD BEAT DUBLIN
The Leinster hurling semifinal between Galway and Dublin in Tullamore on Saturday evening next is a tough one to call. Dublin, the newly crowned National League champions, didn't look impressive in their quarterfinal win over Offaly at Croke Park last month. Likewise Galway, who struggled for long periods against Westmeath at Mullingar. If Joe Canning, who was called from the subs bench when Galway were struggling against Westmeath, if fit to start, he would obviously make a big difference for the Tribesmen. This Galway side tend to blow hot and cold, but if they do click I think they should be able to account for Dublin, but it's a big if.
ULSTER ALWAYS HARD TO CALL
After their win over All-Ireland finalists Down in the first round of the Ulster championship, suddenly Armagh are favorites to win out in Ulster this year. But it's difficult to read too much into early results in Ulster. Armagh now meet Derry in the first of the semifinals at Clones on Sunday next and should be favorites to win. But it's very difficult to predict what will happen in Ulster and while Derry were not convincing winners over Fermanagh in the first round I wouldn't rule out a Derry win.
Meanwhile John Clarke has quit the Down panel. The 28-year-old said he was fed up with the abuse directed at him from Down spectators.
AVIVA WILL HOST HEINEKEN '13
The Aviva Stadium in Dublin will host the Heineken Cup Final in 2013.The European rugby final was previously held at the old Lansdowne Road in 1999 when Ulster beat Colomiers and in 2003 when Toulouse beat Perpignan in an all-French final.
Meanwhile Leinster the Heineken Cup holders, were handed what looks like a relatively easy draw when the pairings were made last week for next season's competition. The Blues are paired with: Bath, Glasgow Warriors and Montpelier.
Already they is talk about moving the crowd-puller against Bath from the RDS to the Aviva Stadium. On paper it may look an easy draw for the champions but Glasgow has caused problems for Brian O'Driscoll and his colleagues in the past. Meanwhile Munster have got a tricky draw after being paired with this season's finalists Northampton, Llanelli Scarlets and Castres from France. Ulster also has a tough task with Leicester, Clermont Auvergne and Italian side Aironi in their group. Connacht, making their first appearance in the competition, are paired with Toulouse, Harlequins and Gloucester and are very unlikely to make it to the knock out stages. The opening round of games will be played on weekend of Nov.13.
REPUBLIC FACING 4 'CUP FINALS': TRAP
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni says that the four remaining games in the European Championship qualifiers, against Slovakia, Russia, Andorra and Armenia will all be like cup finals. Trapp said: ''Every game for us now is like a cup final if we want to qualify. Russia beat us in Dublin and we drew in Slovakia but we can recover the advantage in September.
It's possible we might know who will qualify after the two games in September, but in my opinion it will come down to the last game. " The Republic are on a great run at present and have won their last four games against Northern Ireland, Scotland, Macedonia and Italy and didn't concede a goal in any of the four. Meanwhile Trapp says he will give the players who missed the recent games one last chance to prove they want to play for the Republic when we play Croatia in a friendly at The Aviva on Aug. 10 (see also Page 31). That game will be Trapp's last opportunity to run the rule over his squad ahead of the game against Slovakia in Dublin on Sept. 2.
TV3 TO CONSIDERBILINGUAL COVERAGE
TV3, who have got the rights for this year's All-Ireland minor hurling and football finals, are considering going with a bilingual commentary. Down through the years when RTE has the contract for both minor and senior finals Michéal O Muircheartaigh and later Michéal O Sé did the commentary in Irish. But while there is nothing written into the contract by the GAA insisting that Gaeilge be used, TV3 say they would like to remain true to tradition. However, a great number of people don't speak or understand Irish and you can see how the independent station might go with a bilingual commentary.
RICHARDSON TAPPED TO MANAGE LEAGUE
Former Irish international Damien Richardson has been appointed manager of the League of Ireland team for the Dublin Super Cup tournament at the Aviva at the end of July. Richardson, who scored 100 goals for English 3rd Division side Gillingham in the 1970s and won three Republic caps, was in charge when the League of Ireland XI were hammered 7-1 by Manchester United in the first soccer game played at the Aviva last August. Richardson has managed Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers, whom he played with in the 1960s, and Cork City in the League of Ireland, as well as Gillingham, but now mainly works as a match analyst. The Dublin Super Cup will also feature Celtic, Inter Milan and Manchester City.
MILLER GOES TO AUSTRALIA
Former Irish international Liam Miller has left Scottish club Hibernian and is moving to Perth Glory in Australia. Perth is now managed by former Rangers players Ian Ferguson. Miller made headlines in 2004 when he signed a pre contract agreement with Manchester United while he was with Celtic. But the Cork-born midfielder never delivered on the promise shown and didn't make the grade at Old Trafford and United subsequently loaned him to Leeds United.
Meanwhile Republic of Ireland under 21 international David Meyler is currently at a clinic in Vermont for a month of rehabilitation aimed at finally curing his long-standing knee problem. The Sunderland player ruptured the ligaments in his knee in the final home game of the 2009-10 season.
And last January the Cork-born midfielder suffered a relapse while playing for Sunderland against Aston Villa. Meyler says he is confident that he won't need further surgery. The 27-year-old is the son of current Kerry hurling manager John Meyler.