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Kilkenny ladies kick off their National League campaign this Sunday against neighbours Carlow and will be hoping to get the year off to a positive start.
These are busy times for Richie Hogan in his Kilkenny jersey – with a Leinster under-21 title already this year and progression to the senior inter-county ranks, where he will be involved in the Cats’ panel to take on Cork in the All-Ireland senior semi-final this weekend at Croke Park.
Galway are off to Leinster and with the draw for the 2009 Championship taking place this Wednesday we’ll soon know who is first up.
Delegates at special congress last Saturday gave Galway and Antrim the green light to compete in Leinster for the next three years. There were a number of proposals down for decision but without a doubt this motion was top of the priority list. There has been a lot of changes in the association over the years with this being the most radical on-field change since the backdoor system was introduced in '97. Both Galway and Antrim have now been given the chance to bring the famous Bob O'Keeffe Cup to foreign lands, oh, how times have changed. It may only be for a three-year trial period but I for one feel it's a stepping stone to an open draw or a champions league style championship. Sure Kilkenny are dominant in Leinster at present, but I think this move undermines the great effort that Dublin, Wexford and Offaly are doing to catch up on possibly the greatest Kilkenny team of all times. This move will certainly make it harder for the aforementioned sides to reach the Leinster final- so how this is going to improve hurling in this province is beyond me. Take Dublin for instance, a county that is genuinely trying its best to promote hurling. Their players would look upon it as a huge honour to play in a Leinster decider, the new system could now rob them of that chance. Any player who has won a Leinster senior medal over the years should cherish it. The new championship should in fact be called the 'rest of Ireland championship' during this three-year trial. Everyone will have their own opinion and are well entitled to have it, but the sight of Galway running out on Croke Park for final day doesn't exactly excite me. Call me old-fashioned or set in my ways, but that's the way I feel at present. Maybe I'll feel differently about it after the three-year trial; I wonder what way will the Kilkenny County Board look upon it in three-year’s time if Galway take all three titles during that period? Once again we are victims of our own success! It’s ok for people to mess around with this province, if change was needed, and I'm not so sure it was, but they should have bitten the bullet and brought Munster on board for the champions league style championship.
Standing in Paric Lactain in Freshford last January watching a young, fit Antrim side lower Kilkenny's colours in the Walsh Cup didn't leave anyone too upset, most people acknowledged that our warriors had just returned from what is now their annual team holiday and that it would take a few training sessions to shake off the cobwebs. Being honest, Kilkenny fans knew that this bunch of Kilkenny players would bust a gut later in the year to land the 3-in-a-row but I don't think anyone could have envisaged exactly what lay ahead for Kilkenny hurling.
The Galway Clinic has credited strict hand hygiene and good isolation facilities with maintaining a “very low” incidence of MRSA infection at the Doughiska based private hospital.
Kilkenny’s bid for back-to-back Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championship titles moves one step closer this Saturday, when the Cats face Antrim at the semi-final stage in Pairc Tailteann, Navan at 4.30pm.
We may still have a few weeks to wait before we reach the full height of the festive season but the football community of south Westmeath and indeed beyond will be hoping that both Garrycastle and Tubberclair can deliver an early Christmas present to the county. A Leinster title for either side would be a momentous achievement and, should they complete an unprecedented Leinster senior and intermediate club double, celebrations in south Westmeath would last well into the new year.
Kilkenny under-21 manager Michael Walsh will name his side tonight (Friday) to face Clare in this Sunday’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland under-21 hurling final at Croke Park.