WHAT a weekend for hurling it was.
But it was spoiled by the man with the whistle in the Clare-Tipperary game.
What was this referee thinking about? To give a penalty to a player that didn't even have possession of the ball at the time he was fouled 30 metres out from the Clare goal on the sideline is beyond belief, rule or no rule.
And later, not to take action when Cathal Barrett should have got the line for his persistent fouling on Tony Kelly, having already got a yellow card, and for not giving a clear penalty to Aaron Shanaghar when he was rugby tackled in the square by Barry Heffernan...
How come he didn't implement the rules then? Why didn't his umpires help him?
I believe James Owens shouldn't ref another game in this championship after that display.
The weekend started brilliantly on Saturday, with Dublin beating Galway, and deservedly so. They played very good hurling and great credit to Mattie Kenny for having Dublin well up for the battle.
I have to say Galway were not in the same mood. They looked like a team full of complacency thinking all they had to do was stroll around Croke Park, especially some of their more experienced players who were well off the pace. As I have said before, if the attitude is not right, you will not win championship matches.
Galway found that out last weekend to their cost.
Dublin played as a team all over the field from goalkeeper Alan Nolan out. Galway played as individuals, and have no one to blame but themselves.
Very impressed with the Dublin forwards, Danny Sutcliffe, Donal Burke, Chris Crummey, Ronan Hayes, and great defenders like Liam Rush, Eoghan O'Donnell and of course, Conor Burke at midfield. Dublin will be no pushover from here.
Then we got Kilkenny and Wexford. I still believe these teams should get a second day out when they gave their all for 70 minutes, there should be no extra time. They should have another bash at it on another day.
Kilkenny know how to win games and especially tight ones, but Wexford were in a good position to win too. They find it hard to cope with playing against 14 men; they never seem to use their extra man to their own advantage.
To Thurles on Saturday evening. Where we were all looking forward to a humdinger, but this game disappointed. Limerick not at their best, but Cork failing to take advantage.
Cork were in a great position just coming up to halftime, but then a complete lapse of concentration by some of the Cork players, allowed Darragh O'Donovan, although he was fortunate. I think the real killer for Cork was the second goal by Kyle Hayes. These were two goals that were not scored by any Limerick forward, but by a defender and a midfielder.
I think the defence for Cork played very well and got great help from Ger Millerick at midfield. I think the two wing-backs for Cork, Eoin Cadogan, who completely blotted out Tom Morrissey and played like a defender should play, and Tim O'Mahony, who got on top of Gearoid Hegarty, were excellent but I still think Cork need a stopper centre-back.
Mark Coleman is a good hurler but, in my opinion, not strong enough for centre back.
The forwards for Cork were the letdown in this game, but I still think they have positives going into the qualifiers, and my Man of the Match for Cork was Sean O'Donoghue.
There is a huge game coming up for Cork this Saturday, the U20 All-Ireland final against Dublin. It's a big chance for players to prove to Kieran Kingston they are ready for step up to senior.
Cork need to be winning silverware now to give the county a lift, and with players like Daire Connery, Eoin Roche, Daire O'Leary, Ciarán Joyce, Eoin Carey and Tommy O'Connell. These hurlers have a good future, as does Brian Roche, Eoin's twin brother.
The two players to give them the edge in this game are Alan Connolly and Shane Barrett. Barrett played well when he came on for the senior team and should have started as he has been showing great form over the past year or so.
Pat Ryan has done a great job with this team and I believe he has them playing the.
They've outstanding players in Andrew Dunphy, Edan O'Donnell, Kevin Burke in their defence, Mark Sweeney, very good at midfield, and forwards Darragh McBride, Liam Murphy, Kevin Desmond and above all Lee Gannon, who was brilliant in the Leinster final.
Cork will really have to watch this guy. Cork's need is greater here, but it won't be easy.