Progress can mean different things to different people

In the overall annals of GAA history, one wonders where the Centenary Cup resides. For Meath however, it was without doubt the spring board for the greatest era in the county’s football history.

Fast forward to the present day and Westmeath will be hoping that last year’s Tailteann Cup success will similarly set them on the way to bigger and better things.

Switching codes, it’s not all that long ago the very existing of Connacht as a professional rugby team was under threat. Amidst talk of them merging with or being subsumed by one of the other three regions.

Thankfully, those idiotic notions were swiftly kicked to touch and the province have more than held their own. Winning what is now known as the United Rugby Championship and seeing Bundee Aki and Findlay Bealham among those rocking up in Ireland squads regularly.

You see, progress means different things to different people. Leinster for example will be seeking the shortest route back to atone for last year’s final defeat to Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle.

As statements go, putting 36 points on a team with the European pedigree of Racing 92 rings fairly loud and clear. Leo Cullen’s charges.

This Leinster team can do their business whatever way a day requires. Here, Jimmy O’Brien went over for an early try, but that was cancelled out at the other end.

However, sensing danger, the four time champions went up through the gears in what felt like a blink. O’Brien’s first ‘major’ had given the home side a 7-5 interval advantage, but halfway through the second half they cut loose.

Jimmy O’Brien crossed for a brace

O’Brien went over another, the flashy but frustrating Hugo Keenan also touched down twice while the immense Josh Van der Flier and Garry Ringrose also tacked on five points apiece.

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Thus Leinster took care of business for themselves. For Munster, priorities will be understandably be different. Now, comments made in this space quite recently about the worth – or lack thereof – in moral victories still stand. Yet given the transitional period the red province are currently negotiating, to have qualified for knockout European rugby is commendable in itself.

They will have regrets from their latest French odyssey, mind you. Falling 0-11 behind and then losing want-away fly half Ben Healy to a yellow card at a time when they had actually worked their way into the lead via tries from John Hodnett and Tadhg Beirne.

John Hodnett is an exciting talent

Their next outing may be their last in European competition for this season, however, Rowntree’s brand of red is, slowly but surely, beginning to look tasty.

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