This weekend was an action packed two days for GAA fans with not one but two titles decided as our national sporting GAA season finally drew to a close at Croke Park. For Cork it was two days of mixed emotions, on Saturday they suffered heartache in the hurling final being beaten by Clare only to gain some joy and solace yesterday with yet another victory in the ladies (gaelic) football final.
Saturdays hurling replay was a blinding match with Cork chasing Clare all the way to the line in an exciting match that has to be one of the highlights of the years games and a hurling classic. As we are well aware both Cork and Clare met before in an electrifying hurling final 3 weeks ago which ended in a draw with the replay (rematch) held last Saturday evening. The replay was every bit as pulsating as the original final was with both teams as determined to win as ever. This time Clare were that bit more classy getting to work early forging ahead from the get go, scoring 3 goals in 20 minutes. Whilst in their previous match Clare had led with points only to be been caught late by Corks plethora of goals, in Saturdays match Clare made no mistake scoring 5 goals to Corks 3 for a final score of Clare 5-16 to 3-16. But that score with Clare winning by 6 points (a goal equals 3 points) doesn’t fully show how close it was at times, with Cork always chasing managing to draw level a number of times (once with 10 minutes to go) and still threatening in the final minutes forcing Clare to kick into gear again and again to settle the matter beyond a doubt.
So onto Sunday and Cork gained sweet consolation in the ladies football final, the last All-Ireland final of the season narrowly beating Monaghan by 1-10 to 1-09 in a tight finish. The victory makes it their 3rd title in a row and a remarkable 8th title in 9 years for the Cork ladies and a bittersweet weekend for Cork, losing one All-Ireland and winning another.
Saturdays classic hurling replay and yesterdays gutsy ladies football match has capped a remarkable and exciting GAA season. This year has seen competitive and exciting finishes with heartfelt and blistering finals in both our hurling and gaelic football championships with just last weekend Dublin narrowly overtaking Mayo in a nailbiting edge of your seat football final. New champions and stars have emerged in hurling, football and camogie with only one superpower the Cork ladies football team successfully defending their throne. Over the past few years hurling and gaelic football have been dominated by strong counties, the amber and black stripes of Kilkenny, the green and yellow of Kerry along with the red and white of Cork being a regular feature at the hurling and gaelic football finals. Bar the Cork ladies team who still dominate, this years finals were thus made all the greater as it has shown an emergence of new hurling (Clare and Cork) and football dynasties (Dublin and Mayo).
While we wait another year to crown new all-ireland champions what we have seen this year is resurgence in teams and a new crop of stars and strong counties emerging in both football and hurling. In camogie (womens hurling) Galway emerged victorious over Kilkenny gaining revenge for their male counterparts loss in the 2012 hurling replay. Dublin beat Mayo last week in football, Clare are hurling champs and as yesterdays match concluded only in the ladies football have we seen the reigning superstars remain in power, the remarkable Cork ladies footballers continuing their domination of the sport winning their 8th title in 9 years but they like fellow contemporary giants Kerry (mens gaelic football) and Kilkenny (hurling) are aging and may face tougher rivals next season. So as we draw wind down the GAA season we salute this seasons champions Galway (Camogie), Dublin (football), Clare (hurling) and Cork (ladies football) and look forward to an exciting new season ahead.