Joe Canning hitting the winning point against Dublin in the Walsh Cup semifinal game at Parnell Park, Dublin, on Jan. 13, 2019. [Inpho/Oisin Keniry]

Dub Double-header

Dublin will be the first county this year to play a senior football and senior hurling championship double-header on the same day. The Dublin hurlers will play Galway in the Leinster Round Robin at Croke Park at 2 p.m. next Sunday and that will be followed by their Sam Maguire cup first round game against Roscommon at 4 p.m. 

A few weeks back Dublin hurling manager Micheál Donoghue decided that Dublin should forego the compact Parnell Park in Donnycarney and play their Leinster games against Wexford and Galway at Croke Park. He said:  “In terms of the team we have and the attributes that they have, I think playing in Croke Park will suit them. It’s a big call but I think in terms of promoting the game and where Dublin hurling wants to go, why not use it when it’s there for us.’’ 

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Dublin did beat Wexford thanks to some great points scored from Donal Burke, but playing Donoghue’s native Galway will be a tougher assignment. And perhaps all the more so due to the switch of venue, with former Galway star Joe Canning revealing a reason why: “I hated Parnell Park. Whatever it was about it, it was just I didn’t like going up there. It was a kind of a place where the crowd are in on top of you. You hear everything, you hear all the abuse. It’s not a nice place to go. As a player I would prefer to play Dublin in Croke Park. But then again, I suppose if you're looking at the latter stages of the championship, with one eye on it for Dublin, they need to get used to playing at Croker Park.’’ 

Dublin beat Wexford, thanks to expert free-taking from Donal Burke, before a small attendance. The presence of the Dubs footballers on Sunday should swell the attendance. And after their demolition of Louth in the Leinster final Dublin will be fancied to account for the Rossies. 

When Louth won their last All-Ireland final in 1957 their opponents were Cork. Now 66 years later their first game in the Sam Maguire Round Robin will be against Cork Páirc Tailteann in Navan on Saturday evening. Louth opted for Navan as their own ground as St Mary’s in Ardee doesn’t meet the minimum capacity of 3,500. While Louth’s footballers have certainly improved under Mickey Harte, their stadiums are not up the standards in the rest of the country. 

I was impressed with Louth’s first-half performance against Dublin, but then the Dubs blew them away with a few easy goals. I reckon against Cork on Sunday Mickey Harte will have them set up different and they have a match-winner in centre half forward Sam Mulroy. This will be Cork’s first game since losing by a point to Clare in the Munster championship on Easter Sunday and we really don’t know what to expect from the Rebels. 

Also on Saturday Armagh will be favorites to beat Westmeath at the Athletic Grounds, while newly-crowned Ulster champions Derry play Monaghan at Celtic Park. This will be Ciaran Meenagh’s first official game in charge of Derry, having temporarily stepped in to replace Rory Gallagher in the Ulster final. The counties met in the semi-final in Omagh at the end of April when Derry won and I expect the result to be the same this time. 



The final round of games in the Leinster and Munster hurling championship will all be played this weekend. In Munster Waterford, after defeats to Limerick, Cork and Clare, cannot qualify for the All-Ireland series and they will only be playing for pride when they meet Tipperary in Thurles on Saturday evening. But a big game at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick where the reigning All-Ireland champions play Cork. Apart from the Dublin-Galway game there are two other games in Leinster: Wexford are home to Kilkenny on Sunday and Antrim travel to Mullingar to play Westmeath.



The Leinster GAA Council is seeking feedback from counties regarding the future of the pre-season O’Byrne Cup competition. It comes after no fewer than four games were cancelled in this year’s competition The late Offaly manager Liam Kearns had questioned the integrity of the O’Byrne Cup after his team were asked to play three games in eight days at a time of the year when many players are Sigerson Cup-tied. In the old days the O’Byrne Cup could be played any time during the year, but in the past 20 years or so it was seen as a pre-season football competition.