In years to come, when Gaelic football goes fully professional, a time in which Ronan O'Neill is the game's first millionaire following his trademark of the dab, Longford do a Leicester on Sam Maguire and Frank Murphy is in charge of Cork GAA, we will look back at the provincial championships as an odd quirk of tradition.
Objectively, in the organisation of an All-Ireland competition, relying on borders drawn by British noblemen in the sixteenth century makes no sense, particularly given the fact that said All-Ireland competition can be won by sides playing far fewer games than direct competitors.
Subjectively, however, the provincial championships mean a great deal, what with the frequent engagements with local rivals, which we are frequently told is the lifeblood of the GAA. It is easy to be cynical of the provincial championships, particularly if you watch that modernist ponderance on the futility of life masquerading as a football competition the Leinster Championship, in which Leinster teams take turns shoving each other to the top of the queue for a pasting by Dublin.
The Leinster Championship may be beyond saving at this point - if we were to split Dublin, it would only guarantee us an entertaining final - but today proved there is life in the old competitions beyond Jones' Road.
The Ulster Championship final was a tight and largely drab affair, before exploding into the mother of all shootouts in the final ten minutes. Ultimately Tyrone squeezed out Donegal for a first Ulster title in six years, with Joe McMahon capturing the scene in the dressing room afterwards. Mickey Harte is one of the greatest men in the history of Gaelic Football, and to see him so happy is genuinely great:
— Joe McMahon (@Bigjoemc) July 17, 2016
After their draught, it's fair to say Tyrone fans enjoyed the big day:
The contrasting Tyrone pitch invasions from 2007 to 2016 #GAA pic.twitter.com/UNTmut5Owh
— Cahair O'Kane (@CahairOKane1) July 17, 2016
Meanwhile in Castlebar, Galway won the Connacht Championship with an almighty shellacking of Roscommon. There were some magnificent on-pitch celebrations afterwards:
@Galway_GAA are @ConnachtGAA champions 2016 pic.twitter.com/HoQZbgAi7w
— Tribesmen GAA (@TribesmenGAA) July 17, 2016
Superb. Not that the Connacht final was watched by many, thanks to an RTE Player systems failure.
The provincial championships as we know them will eventually have to go, but while we have them, we should appreciate the retain a certain lustre in most parts of the country.
See Also: Joe Brolly Responds To Jim McGuinness With His Own Plan To Save The Spectacle Of Gaelic Football
See Also: Cathal McShane's Black Card Against Donegal May Not Have Been As Soft As We Thought