Hurling, football, racing and golf this weekend

Many have said that after watching the drawn All-Ireland hurling final on telly they immediately changed channel to take in a soccer match. Even the most dedicated followers of the head-the-ball game among them admitted that in terms of excitement, speed and skill the hurling couldn’t be matched.

Many have said that after watching the drawn All-Ireland hurling final on telly they immediately changed channel to take in a soccer match. Even the most dedicated followers of the head-the-ball game among them admitted that in terms of excitement, speed and skill the hurling couldn’t be matched.

The replay is going ahead this Saturday evening, part of another big weekend in sport. This county stages its biggest club football match of the year, and over in No-land, on the picturesque Gleneagles course, defending champions, Europe, take on the US in the Ryder Cup.

The soccer matches that matter most around these parts is the one involving Dundalk, who travel to UCD on Friday night looking to add the league title to the EA Sports Cup; and those who like racing on the all-weather will welcome the beginning of the winter series at Dowdallshill, the first meeting taking place on Friday night.

The question being asked in golf circles is: Will Paul McGinley pitch together the two Irishmen in the fourballs or foursomes? Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell might not, physically, be at each other’s throats, but there’s a tussle going on in court in which, you could say, they’re on opposite sides. McGinley might not be swayed by their proven record playing together.

Incidentally, had that vote in Scotland gone the other way, would it have spoiled forever the chances of either Celtic or Rangers’ – or any other SPL club for that matter – being admitted to the Premier League? Would Berwick Rangers, England-based, but playing in Scotland, have been told to clear off to the other side of the border? Berwick, by the way, are managed by a Cameron, not David but Colin.

The hurling is as difficult to call as it was before the drawn match. Kilkenny had most going for them as one of the great games of recent times drew to a close, but Tipperary rallied, drawing level before going to within a little over the width of the post of getting the winner.

It might be too much to ask for a repeat - but, then, didn’t Clare and Cork manage to up the ante 12 months ago, their second meeting even better than the first.

The Louth senior final is a repeat of two years ago, when St Patrick’s, chasing a second successive title and fifth since making the breakthrough in 2003, proved too strong for Dreadnots. As it was then, Pat’s are warm favourites, having reached this stage of the season unbeaten in the Championship and Cardinal O’Donnell Cup.

It won’t go unnoticed in Pairc Eamoin, however, that it was Dreadnots who gave their side their stiffest examination in the Championship, and since then have won twice in the competition, beating Dundalk Gaels in a replayed semi-final. The odds-on favs are unlikely to be taking anything for granted.

There’s an interesting sub-plot. The respective managers, St Pat’s Fergal Reel and the astute Colin Kelly, who’s in his second term in charge at Clogherhead, are said to be among the main contenders for the Louth post vacated by Aidan O’Rourke.

A newspaper report last week suggested Reel could form a partnership with Peter McDonnell, another South Armagh man who was prominent in the Louth set-up for the 2010 Championship campaign. Could the result of Sunday’s match be a decider?