Although the senior hurling championship has commenced, it is fair to say that the first game to get significant media coverage will be Sunday’s encounter between Clare and Waterford in Thurles, writes Nickey Brennan.
Westmeath are already looking towards the Qualifiers, as are Antrim, who have already played two games in this year’s championship.
London’s Leinster championship campaign was short-lived when they lost to Carlow. Laois has started its campaign successfully with a good win over Antrim; a fine result given that Antrim already had a championship game behind them.
With a growing number of counties now participating in the Leinster senior hurling championship, starting the competition in May is essential but it does leave a long gap to the opening Qualifier games which commence on June 22.
Over recent weeks I heard a number of players from counties which have already played a championship game bemoan the lack of media coverage of their games.
Criticism of the GAA’s lack of promotion of these games was also voiced. While I can understand the disappointment of the counties and individuals, unfortunately the early round games clash with the concluding stages of a number non-GAA competitions, leaving minimal space for Gaelic games coverage.
Aside from a couple of player profiles, early championship games receive little more than a few brief words in the daily and Sunday newspapers.
They receive no more than a passing comment either from any of the national radio and TV stations. Greater publicity and promotion would encourage the players to better effort. The serious media coverage and GAA promotion will now start as the big games unfold.
No increased attendance
But unfortunately for the counties who have already participated in the Leinster championship, any extra promotion or publicity would not have increased the attendance at their games. Irrespective of the sports one participates in, the principal focus by the media outlets is on the top teams and the top players.
The teams and players who feel disappointed by the majority of media outlets can be thankful that, for the most part, local media give excellent coverage.
There will be no shortage of coverage of next weekend’s game in Thurles between Clare and Waterford.
There is another big game in Portlaoise where Laois play Carlow. The reward for the winners is a Leinster semi-final against the reigning Leinster champions, Galway.
The Portlaoise tie will be a highly charged affair between the rivals who have met on a number of occasions in recent years. I expect a Laois victory. Neither of these sides can realistically expect to win the provincial championship, but the same cannot be said of the participants in Thurles.
One point separated Clare and Waterford in Ennis in the National League back in February, but throughout that competition Waterford appeared the more settled side.
Clare had to be at its best to retain Division 1 status when defeating Cork in the relegation play-off final. That result was a big boost to morale.
Waterford is the more experienced team with a number of long-serving players in its ranks. In addition, they also have a number of Munster championship medal holders lining out on Sunday.
Clare is a young side, backboned mainly by under-21 players of recent years. They will run all day but can sometimes get bogged-down in over-elaborate tactics.
Waterford plays a more traditional style game, getting the ball into a scoring position as often and as quickly as possible.
Despite an indifferent League campaign, I am leaning marginally towards a Clare win. There is great talent in the side and it is now time for the players to demonstrate this talent in a major Munster championship tie.
The reward for the winners is a Munster semi-final clash with Cork on June 23.