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2 March 2012 Edition

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The Mother of all victories beckons?

CROKE PARK GAA FOOTBALL AND HURLING CLUB FINALS

What are the chances that the best football and hurling clubs could hail from the province of Ulster this year?

THERE COULD BE the mother of all victories for the Northern half of the country in Gaelic games come St Patrick’s Day at GAA HQ.

First up we have the hurlers of Loughgiel up against Coolderry, and following that we have kingpins Crossmaglen taking on Garrycastle in the football final. For both trophies to return to the North would be the greatest victory since the Cattle Raid of Cooley — even Cúchulainn couldn’t beat this one.

But what are the chances that the best football and hurling clubs could hail from the province of Ulster this year?

Well Loughgiel certainly upset the applecart when they saw off the men of Limerick, Na Piarsaigh, in extra time. Few would have given them a chance and that would include their fellow Antrim men.

Now they need to see off the men from Offaly and if Liam Watson can hold his temper and let his hurling do the talking then the Tommy Moore Cup could be heading back to the Glens of Antrim for the rest of 2012 and some.

What can be said about Cross’ that hasn’t already been said? Some might have thought they were dead and buried 15 minutes into the game against Dr Crokes but that ‘never say die’ attitude they have displayed over the years came back to send them on to Croker on St Pat’s Day with a chance of retaining the Andy Merrigan Cup. Facing the mighty Cross’ men will be Westmeath’s finest in the shape of Garrycastle — or should that be Dolanscastle, there’s that many of the clan of Dolan in the team.

A first historic double could see appeals for partition to be applied to GAA competitions and, who knows, if both trophies head up the road to Ulster you may see players from the 26 Counties declare their allegiance to the Northern half of the country when it comes to soccer!

But all joking aside, a first-ever Ulster double on St Patrick’s Day could be setting down the marker for the year to come . . . well, in football anyway. Hurling? Hope springs eternal.

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