Ulster Championship Fever
Very often much maligned in the media and by GAA pundits the Ulster Football Championship is still by far the most competitive and keenly contested Provincial championship of them all. Look at all the hype that this year’s Preliminary round match between Donegal and Tyrone created. There have been 9 championship matches played to date in the 2015 All-Ireland series and yet it is the games between Donegal v Tyrone and Monaghan v Cavan that have been the stand out games.
On the horizon in Ulster in early June we have two all ticket games which have already sparked a ticket frenzy, as supporters clamour to see Derry take on Down at Celtic Park at 2pm on June 7 and a week later, June 14 at the Athletic Grounds Armagh take on Donegal.
One will have to wait until July 5 in Munster to see an appealing contest if the “big two” Cork and Kerry negotiate their respective semi-finals. In Connacht the Mayo v Galway game on June 14 is a crowd pleaser with the other semi-final between Sligo and Roscommon pencilled in for a Saturday night at 7pm. In Leinster there will not be much stir until we get to the last four, all though the quarter-final game between Kildare and Laois should create a bit of interest.
If Donegal are to retain their Anglo- Celt Cup they will have to beat Tyrone, Armagh, Down or Derry and on previous form possibly Monaghan in the final. The task facing the Donegal men is a lot more daunting and far more competitive than that of the other Provincial champions. This is the case every year for the defending Ulster champions.
While at times the standard of play and the type of football played in Ulster may not be to everyone’s liking, the supporters within Ulster certainly talk with their feet by racking up big attendances for the championship. There was an awful lot made of the attention Michael Murphy got in the Tyrone game, he was given the same attention in last year’s All-Ireland final, yet there was very little made of it, but then again look at who won the title. When it comes to “sledging” the Provincial championships the media bias is all the one way anti-Ulster, yet it is the only Provincial championship that has survived the test of time in what has now become an outdated imbalanced approach to championship football.