GAA Editor @BrianGBarry
Carlow rising and more takeaways from the weekend's GAA action
Last Updated: 04/02/19 4:32pm
Following another weekend of Allianz League action, we take stock of what we learned.
Carlow are rising
2018 was a positive year for Carlow in both hurling and football. Both sides won promotion from their respective leagues, and excelled in the championship, with the footballers claiming an unlikely win over Kildare and the hurlers winning the McDonagh Cup.
Last year was always going to be hard to top...
Most observers were in agreement that Carlow would be doing well to avoid relegation this spring in both codes. But Carlow are aiming higher than just survival. With their footballers sitting atop Division 3 after two games, their hurlers played out a draw with 2018 All-Ireland finalists Galway after pushing Dublin close in Parnell Park last week. Right now, Colm Bonnar's charges look likely to beat Laois and Offaly to a Division 1 quarter-final berth.
Carlow are indeed rising.
Limerick can deal with expectation
Questions were raised throughout the winter as to whether the All-Ireland champions could deal with the pressures that go with the target on their back. Early indications suggest that John Kiely's men are unfazed.
Wins over Wexford and Tipperary leave them on their own at the top of Division 1A, and there is real competition within the squad. With several players who were on the periphery in 2018 putting their hands up for inclusion, there is an onus on the established stars to keep up their form. This was evident as Kyle Hayes and Cian Lynch were sprung from the bench to help blitz Tipp in the closing minutes on Saturday night.
With Conor Boylan among those to give Kiely food for thought, the Treaty appear to be in a good place at present.
Mayo making waves
You can't win an All-Ireland title at this time of year, but you can certainly lay foundations.
Many speculated that there was good reason why James Horan returned, and he clearly saw potential within the county. With the bulk of the side that has gone so close to All-Ireland titles in recent seasons still very much to the fore, young stars are making a real impression thus far in the league.
Brian Reape and Fionn McDonagh are staking serious claims for starting berths, with some big names yet to return.
It's early days, but a narrow victory over Roscommon followed by a nine-point win over Tyrone in Omagh suggests the Connacht side are moving in the right direction.
Dubs continue to find their way through defensive set-ups
While Galway made life difficult for the reigning champions in the early stages, Jim Gavin's charges adapted to their surroundings and found their way through the Galway rearguard. Although the Tribesmen worked into an early lead, the Dubs switched their plan of attack, and ran out convincing winners.
The Sky Blues are likely to encounter a more tactically ambitious side when they travel to Tralee next Saturday.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh's pitch isn't up to scratch
Following the controversies surrounding the stadium in recent months, including the Liam Miller tribute match and the overrun on the cost of its redevelopment, the Lee-side venue is at the centre of attention once again.
On Sunday, it played host to a doubleheader, with the Rebels taking on Kildare in football and Wexford in hurling.
The state of the playing surface came in for widespread criticism. With calls for Cork's remaining home league games to be moved to Páirc Uí Rinn, they will be eager to address the problem.