Glenswilly GAA Club today played host to the launch event to mark the onset of the 2013 All-Ireland Football Series following confirmation of the four provincial winners on the back of last weekend’s activity.They lost twice to Kilkenny this season, but wins over Meath, Offaly and Wexford in Leinster will have given them a bank of confidence they will hope to draw from when they face Galway, who are always a serious force at this grade.
The other semi-final on Sunday sees Ulster champions Antrim face beaten Munster finalists Waterford.
Antrim swept to the Ulster minor title on July 7, defeating Down at the Athletic Grounds on a scoreline of 2-20 to 1-12. That victory came on the back of a comfortable 5-17 to 1-13 Saffron victory over Armagh in the semi-final.
Jude McCurdy was the star of both those wins, and he has shown a real eye for goal, hitting 2-1 against Armagh, and 2-2 against Down. He is someone Waterford will have to watch closely in the game, which will be played at the grounds of Meath club Donaghmore Ashbourne.
Still, Waterford will be expected to progress past Antrim, given their strong credentials in Munster this season. Athough they were beaten in the provincial final replay by Limerick on Tuesday evening, the Déise showed in their two games against the Treaty County what a fine team they are.
They've had lots of games so far this year. They were beaten by Tipperary in the Munster quarter-final back in April, but recovered with wins over Clare and Cork before the two games against Limerick.
Backboned by a number of players from the Dungarvan Colleges team that won the Dr Harty Cup and All-Ireland Colleges titles earlier this year, Waterford will be confident of getting past Antrim, but they will need to have recovered quickly from the disappointment of losing to Limerick.
Monaghan and Mayo wins over Donegal and London respectively on Sunday allowed them to join Kerry and Dublin directly in the All-Ireland quarter-finals where they await one of the winning teams from next weekend’s round four qualifier clashes.
The provincial winners were represented on the day by Jonathan Lyne (Kerry), Owen Lennon (Monaghan), Eoghan O’Gara (Dublin) and Cillian O’Connor (Mayo), while Donegal’s Michael Murphy was also in attendance in his home club on behalf of the reigning All-Ireland Champions.
Today’s media event in Donegal saw Glenswilly join a list of clubs to host such an event which now includes Castlebar Mitchells (Mayo), Kerins O’Rahillys (Kerry), St Finbarr’s (Cork), Dunloy (Antrim), Ballyboden St Enda’s (Dublin).
GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy thanked the Donegal club for hosting the event ahead of what promises to be a fascinating conclusion to the All-Ireland Championship.
He said: “Already in this year’s football championship we have seen many exciting games across the four provinces and I have no doubt that between now and September we will have more games to savour.
“Our four provincial champions will be keen to build on their success so far but previous years have shown that the sides that emerge from the qualifiers are more than capable of causing an upset.
“I wish all the players here today and their teams every success in the coming weeks and months and acknowledge these fantastic facilities provided by Glenswilly GAA Club to host this event.”
As it stands, there are 11 games remaining (without the possible need for replays) before the destination of the Sam Maguire for 2013 will be known.