Check out Kevin's GAA round-up for this week.
Hurling is a younger man's game; just don't write off the Cats yet

In the process of their first win in league or championship over Kilkenny since 2005, Clare showed the difference in confidence all All-Ireland win brings to a side. 

Davy Fitzgerald's side were composed and patient - even when they were behind entering the final ten minutes. They hit just 10 wides in total - nine less than when these teams met in the NHL last year and Clare threw away the win. One notable aspect of the win was Clare's dominance from restarts - they won eight of Kilkenny's puck-outs after the interval. Clare's greater pace and mobility around the middle third was decisive in the last quarter.

Colin Ryan and Conor McGrath sparkled in Cusack Park, with Podge Collins making a crucial difference when he was sprung from the bench. Dan Touhey's display in goals earned him well deserved plaudits and David McInerney was impressive at full back.

Hurling (and GAA in general) is certainly becoming a younger man's game. Take a look at the number of lads from the Clare panel who are in currently in college and it makes sense that they had the extra spark towards the end of the game. Most of them are in their early 20s and enjoying the advantages of a college lifestyle.

Younger guys have more time to give to training and, more importantly, more down time to recover during the week.

It's interesting to note that Kilkenny have been back training since November 1, yet Clare finished stronger. With a number of players playing Fitzgibbon in college, there seems to be less of a bridge from the end of one season to the next. That means Davy Fitz's side maintained much of their fitness from last September, whereas the older guys on Cody's panel were building it from a far lower base.

The funny thing is that had Kilkenny can take far more positives from the game. Clare lined out with 12 of the side who started the All-Ireland final reply, but Cody handed six youngsters their league debuts and started with only six players who began their Qualifer defeat to Cork last July.

With the likes of Jackie Tyrell, Tommy Walsh, Aidan Fogarty only seeing action from the bench and Brian Hogan, JJ Delaney, Michael Fennelly, Richie Hogan TJ Reid and Richie Power all still to return, Cody's hand remains very powerful. Padraig Walsh, in particular, gave an outstanding debut performance from midfield on Sunday. Good start then for Clare, but write the Cats off at your peril. 

Castlebar in disciplined and deserved victory

The new rules have had their desired effect and all is well and good with Gaelic Football once again. 

Castlebar Mitchell's brilliant 3-13 to 1-11 victory over Dr Cokes in Portlaoise on Sunday showcased the impact the black card and advantage ruling has had on the game. The first score from a free didn't come until the 31st minute - by which time there was 2-11 on the board between both sides. 

All-Ireland club semi finals are by nature low scoring encounters but the games on Sunday blitzed last season's numbers and it can be no coincidence. There were 73 points between the games in Portlaoise and Newry - compared to just 47 points at the same stage in 2013. 

Castlebar also gave an exhibition in how a team can make use of a mass defence in a disciplined manner without giving away needless fouls. Their manager Pay Holmes deserves much credit that his side didn't concede a single score from a placed ball all afternoon.

Of course, the forced withdrawal of Colm Cooper helped Mitchels on their way. Crokes found it very difficult to breakdown Castlebar's flooded defence in his absence, and once the long range scores from the likes of Johnny Buckley and Ambrose O'Donovan dried up, Castlebar evidently grew in confidence.

The positioning of Barry Moran on the edge of the square reaped a huge reward for the Connacht champions. He provided them with a massive outlet and they made full use of his physical presence, showering him with ball after ball. Moran didn't win clean possession from many of those long passes, but the breaks were extremely awkward for the Crokes defenders to deal with amid a second wave of onrushing Castlebar traffic. Tom King's goal in the 42nd minute was the perfect example of this.

St. Vincent's will be warm favourites for the St. Patrick's Day decider, but the well drilled Connacht champions will revel in the underdogs role and look to suffocate the likes of Diarmuid Connolly and Mossy Quinn up front. Stranger things have happened.

Future of the inter pros

Aaron Kernan sparked an interesting debate on Sunday night when he tweeted his suggestion for the future of the M Donnelly Inter Provincial Series.

The much maligned competition, formerly known as the Railway Cup, has dramatically fallen from grace in modern times, with repeated calls from supporters to remove inter provincial football from the already hectic GAA calendar.

The Spring also sees the conclusion of the All Ireland Club Championships, the Sigerson Cup and the start of the National Leagues which results in provincial sides fielding under strength teams in front of paltry crowds. In fact, barely 100 souls watched Connacht's victory over Munster in the Football Championship semi-finals, while Meath GAA ran a full round of football league fixtures over the weekend, despite the fact that Ulster took on Leinster in Pairc Tailteann, Navan in the other semi-final.

Finding a permanent home for the inter pros seems to be an annual headache for fixture planners, yet Kernan may have touched on something when he suggested the games take place on the weekend of the All-Ireland Final.

With no club football action fixed on the All-Ireland weekend, Kernan's suggestion makes sense and the competition would only benefit from the excitement and atmosphere around Dublin on the weekend in question. No doubt the players would revel in lining out in Croker, particularly those who don't play with counties challenging for honours at the business end of the season. 

Provincial sides would be without the guys playing in the All-Ireland final. So what? There are countless talented players who should be made feel part of the All-Ireland final weekend, and it would avoid talented players from weaker counties, the likes of Emlyn Mulligan, going through their entire careers without ever playing at HQ.

Having the Inter Pros on All Ireland final weekend would be a marketing master stroke by the GAA, where they could showcase the best this country has to offer over the course of a weekend and breathe new life into the historical competition.

100 people at Connacht v Munster. What have we got to lose?

Follow Kevin on Twitter: @Kevobrien7.