Whisper it, but the All Ireland Football Championship has been far more entertaining than it is being given credit for.
In a world where it is fashionable to wax lyrical about hurling, it has become equally fashionable to dismiss football as irrelevant in the early part of the Championship.
However, after just a few weeks of Championship action, a pattern has emerged of fiercely contested games of football that one would not expect to see in May, which perhaps suggests that football isn’t as big a non-event as some would have you believe.
— Official London GAA (@LondainGAA) May 6, 2019
The provincial football championships have been littered with shocks and near-misses by minnows and it has made for some great viewing. Well, actually. no it hasn’t since there have hardly been any televised football games and highlights have been reserved for the graveyard segment on The Sunday Game, and that is a shame.
Since Limerick’s shock win over Tipperary, the Championship has seen Cavan topple Monaghan, as well as seeing Division 4 sides Wicklow and Waterford give Division 2 sides Kildare and Clare almighty scares. Offaly, who stayed in Division 3 by the skin of their teeth, also led a Meath side who just gained promotion to Division 1 by four points with 15 minutes remaining in Navan before eventually succumbing to a late onslaught.
Even London managed to put it up to Galway in Ruislip, going in level at half time and only losing by four points in the end, despite the fact that 26 league places separated the two counties earlier in the year.
GAANOW has the highlights from this @UlsterGAA SFC thriller as @Armagh_GAA came from three points down in an extra-time to overcome @OfficialDownGAA in Newry for the first time in 63 years! pic.twitter.com/AeYTWhj8l3
— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 21, 2019
That’s not to mention the thriller that was played out in Ulster on Sunday between Armagh and Down which saw the Orchard County prevail by a single point after extra time.
More than anything, the competitive nature of the Leinster Championship in the absence of Dublin and the competitive nature of the Munster Championship in the absence of Kerry probably highlights the need for a two-tiered Championship.
Both counties are enjoying dominance in their provinces that will reach unprecedented levels if something is not done soon – Dublin’s dominance already has.
Once the two powerhouses get their Championship campaigns underway, they will doubtlessly douse the flames of what has been a thrilling campaign so far when they record emphatic wins but, for now at least, the football championship has been riveting.
Cork have beaten Limerick! Watch the GAANOW Full-Time highlights here pic.twitter.com/ZTM7ktQ7TO
— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 19, 2019
On the other hand, the Hurling Championship has not been nearly as exciting as it was last year, yet it still comes in for the same praise. Munster hurling, in particular, has failed to ignite, but still has every section of the media fawning over it by virtue of it being the most overrated sporting occasion in Ireland.
Tipperary have cruised through their opening two games, winning out by a combined total of 25 points against Cork and Waterford and the only truly close game in this year’s Munster Championship has been Clare’s one-point win over Waterford.
In truth, Leinster has seen a far more compelling Championship this season, with Dublin’s games against Wexford and Kilkenny going down to the wire, and minnows Carlow running 2017 All-Ireland champions Galway close in Salthill.
It casts an even brighter spotlight on certain broadcaster’s decisions to prioritise highlights of games that have already been shown live earlier that day.
Highlights of a competitive Football Championship and a competitive Leinster Hurling Championship are playing second fiddle to highlights of a Munster Championship that has thus far failed to produce.
What is the point of giving the lion’s share of highlight coverage to games that most viewers are likely to have already seen, especially when those games have not been as thrilling as they have been made out to be?
Hurling benefits from the fact that viewers and pundits alike view it through rose tinted glasses.
It can do no wrong in the eyes of many but, while it has been doubtlessly more exciting than football in recent years, the chasm isn’t as wide as people are making it out to be.