by Lár na Pairce
When the final whistle sounded in sun drenched Killarney last Saturday, Kerry had re-launched themselves as serious contenders for this years All-Ireland SFC title.
The manner of their 10 points defeat of Tyrone was so impressive that the remaining teams must not have slept too soundly on Saturday night.
Kerry, who now have an easy game against Clare, abject in the Munster final against Cork, will then face one of the provincial winners, Cork, Dublin, Donegal or Mayo for a place in the penultimate round.
Few could have imagined this scenario a few weeks ago as Kerry looked to be treading water and escaped from Mullingar by the skin of their teeth.
Now though they have re discovered their form and will have a huge say in the destination of Sam.
Meanwhile it is expected that following next weekend’s qualifiers Kerry will be joined by Kildare, Meath and Down, in the last eight. The draw for the quarterfinals will be eagerly awaited.
Hurlers nicely positioned
Cork hurlers hope to progress to a semi final meeting with Galway on August 12th when they take on Waterford in Thurles on Sunday.
Following defeat to Tipp in the Munster Championship, Cork have recorded sizeable victories over Offaly and Wexford, without ever extending themselves and look to be nicely positioned for this clash with the Deise.
The sides last meeting in the championship was two years ago when Waterford captured the provincial crown following a replay victory.
Much has changed in the interim with Cork under the stewardship of the legendary JBM embarking on a youth policy that seems to be progressing apace but Sunday will be the acid test.
Waterford, still smarting from their recent defeat to Tipp, will be keen to advance to a semi final meeting with Galway and with a nice mixture of youth and experience will be favoured in many quarters to do so.
However, Cork more than most, love Thurles and if their defence can tighten up they have the forwards to post a very healthy tally that should be enough to see them through to meet Galway, deserving if surprising winners over Kilkenny in the Leinster final.
Mention of Kilkenny sees the Black and Amber encounter qualifier action for only the second time as they prepare to do battle with a buoyant and rejuvenated Limerick, also in Thurles on Sunday.
The Cats last appearance at this stage was way back in 2004, when having lost to Wexford they battled all the way to the All Ireland showpiece but had to give way to Cork by an eight point margin.
John Allen was a member of the Cork selection committee that day and ironically he now manages Limerick as they seek to avenge their 2007 All Ireland defeat to Kilkenny.
Even the most ardent Limerick supporter would be hard put to see anything other than a Kilkenny win but as Galway proved once you stand up to them and run at them the Cats are vulnerable.
Limerick with that morale boosting win over Clare will go in with all guns blazing but it is impossible to see this Kilkenny side lose a second successive game something that has never happened in the Cody era.
Big three in hurling all play
Switching to local action the big three of West Cork hurling, Newcestown, Killbrittain and Bandon all have premier intermediate championship ties this Saturday against Ballinhassig, Ballyhea and Castlelyons respectively.
Both Bandon and Kilbrittain enjoyed first round wins over Aghabullogue and Ballincollig and will be hoping to make further progress in a championship that has eluded them for several years now.
The Lilywhites last captured this title back in 1974 while Kilbrittain’s last victory came 17 years ago. Both have excellent chances of advancing.
Newcestown, still awaiting their inaugural success, face the stiffest challenge as they meet Ballinhassig, who suffered relegation from the senior ranks last term.
The former got their championship challenge back on track with an easy win over Aghabullogue, following earlier defeats to Ballyhea and Mallow.
This local derby is sure to bring the crowds flocking to the excellent Brinny venue and over the years clashes between the sides have been very keenly and closely contested.
Expect nothing else on Saturday and do not be surprised if a second meeting is required before matters are resolved.
The Carbery JAFC has made substantial progress over the last few weeks with three of the four semi finalists now known.
Defending champions, Bandon, following victories over Kilbrittain and St Marys await the winners of the Tadhg MacCarthaigh and either Ballinascarthy or Gabriel Rangers tie while the other semi final is between St Oliver Plunketts and Castlehaven.
The latter have been very impressive in recent weeks recording wins over neighbours, Kilmacabea, Clonakilty, St Colums and finally St James.
Plunketts meanwhile had facile victories over Bantry, Ilen and Arigideen but with dual commitments may find the going tough.
Finally an observation from last Sunday’s Leinster Football final which saw referee Marty Duffy over rule his umpire when a Michael Dara McCauley point was mistakenly waved wide by the umpire.
What a pity the self same Mr Duffy was not as vigilant in the 2009 All Ireland Final when Nicholas Murphy was felled by Tadhg Kennelly at the throw in and no action was taken.
In our next column we will discuss all the weekend games, both national and local while previewing the football quarter finals and dealing with any other topical matters.
Until the next time then….
Beir bua agus slán