Liam Togher introduces a new weekly column looking back on some of the leading sports stories of the last few days.
The Munster hurling championship returned in all its glory on Sunday with the meeting of Clare and Waterford in Thurles, and while the Banner faithful went home with the immense satisfaction of a first provincial win since 2008, it was by no means a classic.
In front of a sparse attendance of 12,000 at Semple Stadium, David Fitzgerald’s young side showed plenty of resolve to turn a four-point deficit at half-time into an eventual eight-point victory.
Waterford, though, are left scratching their heads at the awful wides they hit, particularly in the opening stages of the second half when they were in the ascendancy and could well have put unbridgeable daylight between the sides.
As it is, Clare can now take massive confidence into a very winnable semi-final against Cork, the winners of whom will then face either Limerick or Tipperary in mid-July.
Elsewhere in the GAA championships, Derry and Down served up a cracking game of football at Celtic Park, with the Mourne men prevailing by five points in what surely must be one of the highest-scoring football matches in recent memory.
Their Ulster semi-final against Donegal should be a game to savour, with the winners of that tie destined to be strong favourites to win the Anglo-Celt Cup outright.
The main topic of conversation from the early weeks of the 2013 football championship has been the gulf between Division 1 counties and the rest, and that was in evidence again over the weekend.
Westmeath are not a bad side and won promotion to the top flight in spring, but they proved to be no match for league champions Dublin, who eased to a 16-point win at Croke Park. It took Pat Flanagan’s team a whopping 24 minutes just to register a score, by which stage the Dubs had racked up 0-8.
Dublin’s next match is against Kildare, who made hard work of beating Offaly on Saturday. The game will live in the memory for seeing the first use of Hawk-Eye in GAA, with Clare referee Rory Hickey the history maker.
Within seconds the technology showed that Peter Cunningham’s effort had gone wide, controversy was avoided and the football continued. Already the decision to implement Hawk-Eye seems a very good one.
In Munster, the much-maligned Kerry strolled to a second facile victory in a week, crushing Waterford by 26 points in Killarney.
With Cork more than likely to beat Clare in the other semi-final, the traditional meeting of the southern big two looks set for its next instalment in July.
Turning to soccer, the Sky Sports News team must have been performing cartwheels on Monday when it was announced that Jose Mourinho was indeed returning to Chelsea just over nine years to the day since he first walked into Stamford Bridge.
His return to west London had seemed imminent but it has still brought focus to the Premier League during the off-season.
Already the odds on Chelsea to win the league in 2013-14 have shortened and we can expect a break from two years of a straight Manchester shoot-out for the title.
As one newsworthy character returns to England, another looks set to leave as Luis Suarez does his best to talk his way out of Liverpool.
The Uruguayan has shown his best and worst qualities since moving to Merseyside in 2011 and his cannibalism attempts on Branislav Ivanovic seem to have been an indiscretion too far for the Reds to retain his services.
A fee in the region of €40million may well see Suarez walk, although any potential move is likely to be put on hold as he will be in action for Uruguay at the Confederations Cup this month.
Ireland won’t be involved in that tournament but it has been a rare positive week for the Boys in Green.
A decent 1-1 draw in England, with the ghosts of 1995 laid to rest, preceded a 4-0 stroll against Georgia in which Wes Hoolahan starred.
Barring a truly disastrous performance, Giovanni Trapattoni’s men will get three more points on the board in World Cup qualification against the Faroe Islands on Friday, with Sweden and Austria set to go head to head on the same night. A draw there would sweeten the deal.
Domestically it was a big weekend in the FAI Cup, with the big boys entering the fray.
Shocks were in short supply, which was good news for Limerick FC, who overcame the challenge of Glenville with a 3-0 win.
The shoe was on the other foot for Pike Rovers, who travelled to Division One leaders Longford Town in the hope of a famous result but it wasn’t to be as the Midlanders won 4-0.
In the world of rugby, the Lions began their 2013 tour with a thumping win over the Barbarians in Hong Kong.
It was a particularly pleasurable day for Paul O’Connell, captain for the match and scorer of the first try.
It capped a fairytale few months for the Limerick native, who not so long ago was having his playing career doubted.
The touring Lions have two more warm-up matches this week in preparation for the first test against Australia on June 22, and that is just one of several items on the TV agenda for sports addicts in the coming days.
Aside from Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against the Faroes, soccer fans can enjoy the European Under 21 finals in Israel, while there is action from the Munster and Leinster hurling championships on the telly next weekend.
Not bad for a June with no World Cup or Euros.