Being so close to Easter, St. Patrick's Day stuff on the mind:
This Sunday not being this Sunday.
And, a little less serious:
Reasons for hope: Setanta Sports Cup and the "A" Championship.
There have been other North/South cup competitions in the past, but because of recent political work and a pretty good sponsor, this one seems to be a bit more permanent.
Also, there have been Northern Ireland clubs competing in Republican leagues (Derry City, for example), but broad cross pollination at the non-league level across the entire island can only be a good thing.