Rounders interprovincials to take place on Sunday
By Jamie Dowling
The rounders season starts in earnest this Sunday as the Interprovincial competition takes centre stage in the GAA’s National games Development Centre in Abbotstown Dublin.
For the last number of years Leinster have dominated this competition and once again they will be hard stopped this coming Sunday.
In their way in the semi-finals are Connacht who have representation from six clubs including last year’s senior ladies’ champions Breaffy of Mayo. They will be looking forward to testing Leinster all the way.
The other semi-final pits Ulster and Munster with Ulster going in as strong favourites boasting the men from Erne Eagles of Cavan and Carrick of Monaghan who contested last year’s men’s final.
GAA Rounders President Michael Dowling took out time from his busy schedule to look forward to Sunday and the coming season and also discusses the fast growth of the game.
He said: “The interprovincial series herald that GAA Rounders is back for a new season. Club Players from the four provinces will get their first real taste of rounders in 2023. Donning the provincial jersey is a unique honour for rounders club players. The cream of the provinces will pit their skills against one another.
“Leinster have been the juggernaut in the provinces for a long number of years. Geography has probably played a part here as Leinster is the province with the most clubs. In 2022 they were unstoppable with a side glittering with past and present All Star players, none more so that multiple All Star pitcher Dwayne Keane. Keane’s only appearance in 2022 was a telling one.
“Ulster should have a big say in the provincial title’s destination this year as the senior men’s title rests in Cavan with the Erne Eagles. A lot of the Eagles’ players will surely feature on the Ulster team.
“Connacht will be depending on the Breaffy club to backbone their provincial challenge. It would be a major and indeed a welcome upset if Munster win bearing in mind they don’t have a senior club at present.”
In his last term as President, Michael is determined that 2023 will be the best season yet with a record number of teams and clubs that have entered which stand at 52 clubs with 94 teams across all competitions with rounders one of the fastest growing sports In the country.
“This is going to be the biggest and best season yet in the history of GAA Rounders. We have more clubs and competition entries than ever before.
“The blue-riband competitions in the senior ladies, men’s and mixed will be as keenly fought as ever, it’s at the junior and intermediate level where the game is really growing.
“With new junior start up clubs competing for the first time with last year’s crop there is going to be some really interesting games throughout the season. Who would bet on a newcomer winning the All-Ireland at the end of the summer.
“The intermediate section is going to be intriguing with the leagues a mixture of seasoned clubs and some newly promoted teams. Honourable mention must go to the Skryne of Meath Intermediate ladies who have lost the last three All-Ireland finals.”
The current President is happy how the game is growing and paid tribute to all the volunteers who have helped growing the game and also talked about the advantages rounders has over other GAA codes or other sports.
“I’m very happy with the growth of the game of rounders and the increasing number of entries. I would like the game to be played in every county in Ireland, but unfortunately that is not the case at the moment. We are working on achieving that aim.
“I am very lucky to have had a dedicated and hard-working Ard Comhairle over the past number of years. Your job is easier when you have a group of enthusiastic, dedicated men and women working with you who want to drive the game of rounders forward.
“We realise we have the most inclusive game in the GAA’s armour. The only GAA game where men and women can play on the same team in our mixed game. To me that is a unique selling point with our game.
“Imagine a boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and son all playing together on the same team. We have some of those combinations playing our game. In my club in 2023 we have a decorated All- Ireland winner hoping to play with his son on the same team this season.
“The possibility of playing with your family, on the same team, male and female is a unique part of our game.
“Another reason for the growth in the game is that you can extend your playing career. It is true to say that GAA Rounders is a game that you can play throughout your life and at a competitive level as your body allows. Some players are coming into their own in their forties when they have long given up on playing other GAA codes.”
The President is looking forward to the current season and hopes this year will be the year rounders is brought to a bigger audience.
“I am looking forward to the continuing growth of the game both on and off the pitch and continuing the camaraderie we have between our clubs up and down the country.
“I hope we have competitions that will whet the appetite and appeal of the game of GAA Rounders and finally bringing the game to a wider audience.”