Dr. Harty Cup Hurling Final – Thurles CBS 1-12 Ard Scoil Ris 1-12

Dr. Harty Cup Final

Thurles CBS 1-12 Ard Scoil Ris 1-12

By Cathal Ryan

A last gasp free from Ard Scoil Ris corner forward John Fitzgibbon meant that both sides will have to square up again as the Dr Harty Cup Final ended in a dramatic draw Sunday afternoon in MacDonagh Park, Nenagh. The throw in was delayed as a big crowd of 3,000 clambered through the turn styles in anticipation of this Munster Senior Hurling Colleges Final between last year’s champions Thurles CBS and maiden finalists Ard Scoil Ris. The wind gusted towards the town end of the ground and Ard Scoil Ris began with the breeze behind them. In a fiery opening to proceedings the Limerick men pounced as early as the sixth minute with a great solo effort from full forward Kevin Downes who ran 30 yards with the ball glued to the stick before riffling a shot that Aidan Stakelum in the Thurles goal couldn’t keep out. Thurles trailed their opponents from this point until the 10th minute of the second half when much coveted centre back Denis Maher, who was now playing as a forward, whipped on a breaking ball off his right hand side to find the net after it had broken kindly on the on the 14 yard line. This levelled the scores and although the game ebbed and flowed one way and another it was the Tipperary side that led going into the closing stages. Deep into injury time Ard Scoil Ris were handed one final opportunity to level the score with a free given by match official Sean Casey. John Fitzgibbon showed tremendous character in slotting over the free after being substituted late in the first half only to be reintroduced midway through the second period.

On closer assessment the men in the blue and gold of Thurles will be disappointed that they allowed victory be snatched from their grasp at the death. They fired wide on six occasions in the final six minutes but overall this was a gutsy display without one of their key forwards Aidan McCormack who was suspended for the final. The Limerick men will be happy to get another attempt at lifting the crown but they also can look back with some sense of regret having given their opponents all of their first half scores from frees conceded that kept Thurles in touch. The men in black and yellow pounced first when centre forward Declan Hannon converted a first minute free and although Thurles replied promptly through a Mike O Brien free it was the Limerick boys who tagged on two more points very quickly through Niall Kennedy and Declan Hannon. Things were not going well for the Tipp men at this stage and in the fifth minute it took an amazing last stitch tackle from corner back Stephen Maher to prevent a certain goal for John Fitzgibbon. Hannon scored the resulting 65 and a minute later Downes glided in for goal. Thurles CBS began to find their feet and impish corner forward Mike O Brien was proving a real threat winning and converting two frees, before Fitzgibbon converted a dead ball to keep the Limerick sides lead at five points after the first quarter.

The champions kept in touch through frees from O Brien and one from Pat Ralph when O Brien was upended and receiving treatment to leave the margin between the sides at just two points 1-6 to 0-7 come half time. The second period began with a lovely strike off his left hand side by O Brien to put the minimum between the sides. However Ard Scoil Ris were not going to roll over and Declan Hannon slotted two frees to push the gap back out to three points before Denis Maher scored the equalising goal. The tension mounted out on the field and the action although highly competitive became fractured and it was two more frees from Hannon that looked to reassert the black and yellow boys advantage.

The defending champions dug deep and narrowed through an O Brien free in the 47th minute and then two sublime scores from play through Pat Ralph and Denis Maher gave them the lead for the first time in the contest.

From the 53rd minute to the 63rd minute both sides try as they might were unable to find the target until the reintroduced Fitzgibbon stood up to the pressure put Ard Scoil Ris level in the forth added minute. The replay has been fixed for next Saturday afternoon at 3p.m. in the same venue and promises to be another nail biting encounter.

Teams:

Thurles CBS: Aidan Stakelum; Stephen Maher, Cathal Carroll, James Bourke; Cathal Barrett, Denis Maher(1-1), John Meagher; Pa Dunne, Pat Ralph(0-2,1F); Niall O Brien, Philip Looby, John Bergin; Cian Treacy, Darragh Devane, Mike O Brien(0-9,8F). Subs: Brian Campion for C. Treacy (H/T), Tommy Doyle for D. Devane (47).

Ard Scoil Ris: PJ Hall; Mark Carmody, Eoghan McCarthy, Alan Dempsey; Cathal McInerney, Shane Dowling, Martin Moroney; Sean O Brien, Niall Kennedy(0-1); Mark Ryan, Declan Hannon(0-7, 5F, 1’65’), Brendan O Connor; John Fitzgibbon(0-3, 3F), Kevin Downes(1-1), Aidrian Breen. Subs: Jamie Shanahan for J. Fitzgibbon (27), John Fitzgibbon for M. Ryan (42).

Referee: Sean Casey (Waterford)

Allianz NHL Division 2 – Clare 2-12 Laois 1-11

Laois came close to causing a big upset at Portlaoise before they eventually lost out to Clare on a 1-11 to 2-12 scoreline in a thrilling Allianz GAA Hurling National League Division Two clash. Niall Rigney’s charges let two precious league points slip as they relinquished a 1-10 to 1-9 lead in the last five minutes. Alan Markham came on as a second half substitute and hit the back of the net 64th minute before the Banner scored three late points to add a coat of gloss to the win.

Clare grabbed the first goal of the game in the 25th minute, when Laois’s Conor Dunne made a mistake which allowed Colin through on goal to fire past Patrick Carroll. However, Wille Hyland landed a couple of late points and John Rowney also hit the target as Laois trailed 1-5 to 0-6 at the break. Laois then hit the back of the net in the second half when Hyland fired home a penalty after John Brophy had been fouled. The O’Moore men led going into the final stages before Markham grabbed the match-winning goal with six minutes left.

From the GAA.ie web site

Allianz NHL Division 1 – Dublin 1-21 Tipperary 1-12

Dublin keep revolution on track

By TOM HUMPHRIES at Parnell Park for the Irish Times newspaper

Dublin 1-21 Tipperary 1-12: SO PICTURE this. Dublin returned to Parnell Park yesterday with their banners lowered and their morale tattered and their ambitions whittled. A bad thumping seven days previously had exposed them. And yesterday they faced Tipp, a team well equipped to do more than expose Dublin. Another whupping might have ended the revolution.

There are a few minutes left. Dublin have 21 scores on the board. One goal and 20 points. Fine picking. Peter Kelly, a young Lucan lad of immense but hitherto unconsummated promise, bends himself in the air and catches a Tipperary puc-out. He puts the ball on his stick and sets off.

You’ve seen this before of course. Dublin players who can solo until they run smack into a big culchie defender and spill the ball while the Parnell Park crowd bays, “ah jaysus, ref”. Peter Kelly keeps going though and crowns a fine performance with a point scored straight off his stick. One of those scores that players take when they are filled with self belief.

One of those scores that teams rack up when they are putting the opposition away.

As such, yesterday in Parnell Park was a slightly surreal exercise and an injunction about reading too much into anything that happens before the evenings grow long and the sod gets dry.

Tipperary, due to push on to a position where they would be neck and neck at least with the aristocrats of Kilkenny, came for a handy brace of points. Dublin, severely embarrassed pretenders a week previously, came to keep the score down. In the end, Dublin pulled a good win out and left Parnell Park having gained more confidence than Tipp lost.

And afterwards Liam Sheedy stood outside the dressingroom precinct and looked tired and chastened. “Dublin won every line. They were deserving winners. No complaints. No excuses. Dublin wanted it more.” That was pretty much it in a nutshell.

Dublin conceded a penalty in the first minute and saw Eoin Kelly cash it in without remorse.

Anthony Daly described the journey home from Waterford last weekend as soul destroying and the subsequent gathering for training on Tuesday as a clearing of the decks. Tipp, taking a chunky lead so early certainly brought back vivid memories to Dublin, who stepped up the intensity rattling off six points without reply.

Alan McCrabbe, the lazarus of Dublin hurling, was instrumental. Dotsie O’Callaghan’s return made a difference to the life force of the full-forward line and Liam Rushe’s growth as a player continued to be evident.

What Dublin have needed for so long (and what made the departure of Ross O’ Carroll feel so disastrous) has been a half-forward line which could win ball. Rushe’s catching has become a mainstay of Dublin’s style but on either side of him yesterday Peter Kelly and Shane Durkin contributed hugely to the ransacking of Tipp’s half-back line.

Elsewhere the news was all good too. Whereas a week previously Dublin were repeatedly horsed off the ball by Waterford players, yesterday they contested and generally won the dirty ball for 70 minutes. The Dublin forwards gave a lesson in how to harass and harry when you don’t have the ball.

For Tipp, this fixture would have been one which they ringmarked as likely to yield two points. The loss won’t reflect any problem greater than ring rust and perhaps a little complacency. They took the field without Shane McGrath at midfield, an apparent injury victim but were otherwise strong looking.

The forward lines repeatedly got smothered, however, and it will be interesting to see how often in the rest of the year the corner forward pairing of Lar Corbett and Noel McGrath are limited to a point apiece.

Dublin led by five points at the break having seen Tipp enjoy their best period with a string of points coming up to the half hour mark to go one clear again. Dublin got a goal just when they needed it. Johnny McCaffrey, enjoying his best game in some time, dropped a point attempt a little short. Dotsie O’Callaghan pressured Darren Gleeson in the Tipp goal and the ball sneaked into the net, O’Callaghan apparently getting the last touch.

And that was the key score. McCrabbe added a couple of frees before the break and Shane Durkin, increasingly impressive, did likewise from play.

After the break Dublin became increasingly dominant with Rushe and Kelly stepping up their input and Stephen Hiney became more influential. David Treacy, whose debut league game against Tipp last year provided him with three goals, had left some mark on the Tipp memory and he repeatedly drew fouls which yielded frees.

It all ended as oddly as it had started with Tipp in Parnell Park looking for a goal to put a gloss on the scoreline. Eoin Kelly saw a 20-yard free saved and then hit a penalty off the crossbar.

Liam Sheedy offered praise for Dublin’s performance. Anthony Daly, aware of how the hype ratchets up in the capital, played it down and pointed out that Offaly, in Tullamore in a fortnight, is all that matters now.

Strange days indeed.

DUBLIN: G Maguire; N Corcoran, T Brady, O Gough; J Boland, S Hiney, M O’ Brien (0-1); J McCaffrey (0-1), S Lambert (0-1); P Kelly (0-2), L Rushe (0-1), S Durkin (0-2); D O Callaghan (1-1), D Treacy (0-1), A McCrabbe 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 65, 0-1 sideline). Subs: J Kelly for S Lambert (27 mins), K Flynn (0-1) for J Kelly (55 mins), P Ryan for D O’ Callaghan (69 mins), M Carton for M O’ Brien (70 mins).

TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C O’Brien, P Curran, B Maher; P Maher, C O’Mahony, S Maher; B Dunne (0-1), Gearóid Ryan; S Hennessy (0-1), S Callinan (0-2), H Moloney; N McGrath (0-1), E Kelly (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-2f and a 65), L Corbett (0-1). Subs: D Fanning (0-1) for G Ryan 42 mins, M Webster for H Moloney 52 mins, P Kelly for S Hennessy 56 mins, J Brennan for S Callinan 67 mins.

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)


NHL Div 1: Dublin 1-21 Tipperary 1-12

From the RTE.ie web site

Sunday, 28 February 2010 20:04

Alan McCrabbe hit ten points as Dublin claimed the scalp of last year’s All-Ireland runners-up Tipperary at Parnell Park. McCrabbe shook off a leg injury to play his part in the Dubs’ first NHL Division 1 win, ably assisted by the likes of Peter Kelly, Niall Corcoran, Shane Durkin and Oisin Gough. Tipperary captain Eoin Kelly cracked home a first minute penalty, but the visitors were 1-12 to 1-07 behind at half-time. Tipp goalkeeper Darren Gleeson let a long delivery from John McCaffrey slip into his net and a late penalty miss from Kelly summed up his side’s day. The Premier County were sluggish and evidently rusty, following the double postponement of their league opener against Kilkenny in Thurles.

But that should not take away from what was a very accomplished performance from Dublin, who bounced straight back from last weekend’s hammering at the hands of Waterford. Manager Anthony Daly demanded much more from the Metropolitans and he got it in spades – despite a shaky start. Lar Corbett won a penalty in the opening seconds for Tipperary, after being fouled by Tomas Brady. Kelly’s powerful shot rippled the net, past goalkeeper Gary Maguire, Brady and John McCaffrey on the line. Tipp included eight players from last year’s All-Ireland final team, and four current All-Stars in Corbett, Noel McGrath, Padraic Maher and Conor O’Mahony. The Dubs were forced into a late change as centre-back Ronan Fallon made way for Joey Boland, but forward duo McCrabbe and David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan were fit to start. Dublin’s reaction to the concession of Kelly’s goal was brilliant, with O’Callaghan, McCrabbe, Liam Rushe, Maurice O’Brien and Simon Lambert helping themselves to points.

The hosts hit six on the bounce to lead by 0-06 to 1-00 by the 12th minute, with young centre-forward Rushe’s over-the-shoulder effort the highlight. Rushe typified Dublin’s sharpness and hunger to get on the ball, find space and create scores. With McCrabbe accurate from frees, they built a five-point lead for half-time. Kelly, Seamus Hennessy and McGrath had picked off points as Tipp fought back to lead by 1-06 to 0-08, seven minutes before the break. However, the next score fell to Dublin and it was a goal, McCaffrey’s high ball dropping in on top of Tipp goalkeeper Gleeson who, under a considerable amount of pressure from O’Callaghan, fumbled the sliotar over the line. Some excellent scores from McCrabbe and Durkin added to the Dubs’ buffer and the evasive David Treacy opened the scoring in the second half. Eoin Kelly and McCrabbe swapped a succession of frees, but Peter Kelly, McCaffrey, Durkin and Kevin Flynn helped Daly’s men stretch into a comfortable lead. Tipp skipper Kelly, who scored 1-05 in all, had an injury-time chance of a goal but his stinging effort was knocked onto the bar and cleared as Dublin collected two valuable league points.

Team News

Tipperary will field an experienced team against Dublin in Sunday’s Allianz GAA Hurling National League game at Parnell Park in what will be their first outing of the current League campaign after their first round game against Kilkenny was cancelled twice due to snow. Eoin Kelly captains the team from full forward with All Stars Lar Corbett and Noel McGrath filling the 2 corner forward positions.  Tipp’s other 2 All Stars, Padraic Maher and Conor O’Mahony are named at right half back and centre back respectively.

1. Darren Gleeson (Portroe)
2. Conor O’Brien (Eire Óg Annacarty)
3. Paul Curran (Mullinahone)
4. Brendan Maher (Borris–Ileigh)
5. Padraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)
6. Conor O’Mahony (Newport)
7. Shane Maher (Burgess)
8. Benny Dunne (Toomevara)
9. Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch)
10. Seamus Hennessy (Kilruane MacDonaghs)
11. Seamus Callanan (Drom & Inch)
12. Hugh Maloney (Nenagh Éire Óg)
13. Noel McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney)
14. Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone) Captain
15. Lar Corbett (Thurles Sarsfields)

Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, T Brady, O Gough; S Hiney, R Fallon, M O’Brien; J McCaffrey, S Lambert; P Kelly, L Rushe, S Durkin; D O’Callaghan, D Treacy, A McCrabbe

Allianz NHL Division 3A – Kerry 1-18 Mayo 2-14

Dooley gives Kerry edge

From the Irish Independent newspaper

Monday March 01 2010

AN injury-time goal from substitute Kenny Robinson came too late for Mayo to deny Kerry a deserving victory at McHale Park, Castlebar, yesterday. Kerry were sauntering to a four-point win when Keith Higgins found Robinson on the edge of the square, but inside a minute of him finding the net the match was over with Mayo unable to launch a final attack. Mayo lead by a point at the interval 1-8 to 0-10 but the pivotal score of the second half was a goal on 40 minutes from John Mike Dooley. That lifted Kerry into a three-point lead and a superb point from Mike Conway on 70 minutes had Kerry four clear and apparently home and hosed until that late scare.

Scorers — Kerry: S Brick 0-12 (0-7f), JM Dooley 1-0, M Conway, S Nolan 0-2 each, T Murnane, M Boyle 0-1 each. Mayo: R Cullinane 1-3 (0-2f), B Moran 0-4 (0-4f), K Robinson 1-0, D McDonnell 0-3 (0-2f), K Higgins 0-2, S Hoban, D McConn 0-1 each.

KERRY — JB O Halloran; C Harris, A Healy, A Keane; E Sheehy L Boyle, T Murnane; M Conway, J Griffin; D O’Connell, G O’Brien, S Brick; M Boyle, JM Dooley, S Nolan, Subs: J McCarthy for Sheehy (52); J Flaherty for Nolan ( 60).

MAYO — D O’Brien; B Higgins, K Moran, S Hoban; E Madigan, P Barrett, C Ryan; D McConn, S Hunt; K Higgins, D McDonnell, D Dowling; N Murphy, R Cullinane, M Devaney. Subs: B Moran for Murphy (55), K Feeney for Devaney (63), K Robinson for Dowling (63).

Ref — P Greene (Galway)

Allianz NHL Division 1 – Galway 4-15 Waterford 1-15

McIntyre unhappy with Galway focus

From the Irish Independent newspaper

Monday March 01 2010

CRIMINAL or awesome? Take your pick from the contrasting portrayals of Galway’s performance at Pearse Stadium yesterday. Galway manager John McIntyre classified his side’s second-quarter fade-out as “criminal”, while Waterford counterpart Davy Fitzgerald described the Tribesmen’s better periods as “awesome”. Both were correct, as Galway went from devastating to dreadful and back again before securing their second league win in a week. Galway hit Waterford for 2-3 in the opening 15 minutes, the goals coming from Iarla Tannian and Niall Healy, but failed to score again before half-time, leaving them trailing by two points as they headed for the dressing-room where, no doubt, McIntyre was less than complimentary about their uneven efforts. “We didn’t score for 23 minutes which, at this level of hurling, is criminal,” said McIntyre.

Their response to that long period of inertia was swift and effective as they fired over three points in the opening two minutes of the second half. Richie Foley equalised in the 39th minute but Waterford were crushed (2-7 to 0-2) over the next 15 minutes. Galway scored some excellent points in that spell and embellished them with goals from Tannian and Aidan Harte. Tannian’s 49th-minute goal was down to an error by Waterford ‘keeper Adrian Power who, in attempting to control a long-range shot for a point, allowed the ball to squirm over the line. Harte’s goal in the 54th minute was finished with a sweet ground-stroke after the ball broke loose in the Waterford square, putting Galway 4-13 to 1-11 ahead. Waterford seemed set for an embarrassingly heavy defeat but they dug in from there on and pared two points back as Galway appeared to ease back on the throttle.

Efficiency

McIntyre wasn’t pleased with that either but it says much for their efficiency during the good times that, despite fading in both halves, they still won by nine points. “Look, Galway were awesome at times today,” said Fitzgerald. “They out-classed us and we have to accept that. I’ve been saying all along that Galway will take some stopping this year if they get their game right. “Having said that, we gave away two sloppy goals and didn’t take enough of our chances when we were on top in the first half.”

Waterford shot 11 wides with the wind in the first half after recovering from a dreadful start. Direct from the throw-in, Galway full-forward Joe Gantley out-foxed Liam Lawlor and fed Healy, who smacked in a goal. With the Waterford full-back line looking edgy, Galway hit for a second goal in the 15th minute, Tannian applying the finishing touch. Remarkably, they didn’t score again before half-time, while Waterford hit 1-6, the goal coming from Shane Walsh in the 33rd minute. Waterford’s return should have been higher but some of their long-range shooting was poorly directed, while their obsession with short hand-passing frequently led to movements breaking down.

Still, they would have been pleased with their interval position, but everything changed dramatically on the re-start as Galway moved to a level where Waterford could do very little for a period except admire from afar. Ger Farragher, Tannian, Gantley, Harte, Niall Cahalan and Cyril Donnellan were all very enterprising from midfield up, while David Collins, Damien Joyce and Shane Kavanagh did well in defence. Collins’ return to the team after a long-term absence due to injury is a major plus for Galway, as he brings a real cutting-edge to their game. Shane Walsh was the pick of the Waterford attack, while Maurice Shanahan’s accuracy from frees was also impressive. Foley worked hard at midfield while Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh did well at centre-back, but the problems persisted in the full-back line.

After beating Dublin so easily a week earlier, Waterford were reunited with a painful reality. They are still very much in experimental mode but yesterday’s setback raises question marks about whether the back-up troops are as good as was thought after the Waterford Crystal competition, followed by the demolition of Dublin. “We hit a good day last week but this was different. Some of Galway’s play was outstanding and we just couldn’t cope. But in terms of effort I have nothing but praise for our lads,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s not easy to keep battling when things are going against you as much as they were at times today but the lads did that. You must remember they were playing against a Galway team that’s right up there with the very best. “Still, it’s only February and All-Irelands aren’t won in February. We’ll learn from this and move on.”

A nine-point win was a real bonus for Galway as it gave a great boost to their scoring difference, but clearly they still have work to do in terms of producing more even performances. “We’re okay when we’re on the ball but, when we’re not, we’re inclined to wander a bit. Still, we sorted things out today, which was encouraging. I always believe that the best time to sort out a problem is during the game,” said McIntyre. “The half-time break came at exactly the right time for us as it gave us a chance to re-focus and address what was going wrong. We got the response early in the second half, which made all the difference.”

All but two points of Galway’s total came from open play, underlining the scoring potential the team possesses when it hits the right note. That was the major plus Galway took out of yesterday’s game but, on the downside, their inability to pick off even a few points when things were going badly in the second quarter is a worry for McIntyre and Co. Still, they have picked up full points from two league games and have accumulated a points difference of +16, which is a decent yield to have on deposit heading into March.

Scorers — Galway: I Tannian 2-2, A Harte, N Healy 1-1 each, J Gantley 0-4, G Farragher 0-3 (0-2f), N Cahalan 0-2, A Callanan, D Collins 0-1 each. Waterford: M Shanahan 0-9 (0-7f), S Walsh 1-1, R Foley 0-2, J Nagle, S Molumphy, T Connors 0-1 each.

Galway — C Callanan; F Moore, S Kavanagh, D Joyce; D Barry, T Og Regan, D Collins; G Farragher, N Cahalan; A Callanan, C Donnellan, A Harte; I Tannian, J Gantley, N Healy. Subs: E Ryan for Healy (63), K Hynes for Donnellan (66), D Burke for Tannian (67).

Waterford — A Power; A Kearney, L Lawlor, N Connors; D Prendergast, M Walsh, J Murray; J Nagle, R Foley; M Shanahan, K Moran, T Connors; S Walsh, G Hurney, S Molumphy. Subs: M Doherty for Prendergast (ht), E McGrath for Murray (45), O Whelan for Foley (52), M O’Brien for Lawlor (62), T Ryan for Moran (66).

REF — B Gavin (Offaly)

Galway still blowing hot and cold

Galway 4-15 Waterford 1-15

By Michael Moynihan from the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, March 01, 2010

GALWAY turned on the attacking power yesterday with an ‘awe-some’ display, in the words of visiting manager Davy Fitzgerald of Waterford. The Tribesmen collected the NHL points on a crisp afternoon in Pearse Stadium, despite a remarkable first-half recovery which saw Waterford lead at the break. Joe Gantley gathered a high ball in the opening seconds to place Niall Healy for a goal, setting the tone for Galway’s dominance early on, but it was a false dawn regarding the game’s quality. It soon degenerated into an epidemic of foostering for the ball and aimless wides from both teams. Waterford struggled early to make an impact against a physically stronger Galway side, who had a second goal from Iarla Tannian on 15 minutes – again as a result of a high ball not being dealt with by the Waterford full-back line. Yet that was the last Galway score of the half, while Waterford got to grips with the game.

The Déise cause wasn’t helped by an over-reliance on short passing, which often saw their players lose possession or run out of options, yet they pulled ahead at half-time, Maurice Shanahan’s two late points put his side two up, 1-8 to 2-3; it was notable that the Waterford burst was fuelled by a far more direct approach, which yielded a critical goal from Shane Walsh. “We got a great start,” reflected Galway boss John McIntyre. “We didn’t build on it and we didn’t score for 23 minutes of the first half, which at this level of hurling is criminal. At least half-time came at the right time for us, because it allowed us to refocus and address what had gone wrong. “And in fairness to our players, they upped the ante considerably in the first twenty minutes of the second half and turned a dodgy-looking situation into a positive one.” No arguments about that. Three points in the opening two minutes of the second half – from Gantley, the impressive Ger Farragher and David Collins – set Galway on track.

Waterford stayed in touch until midway through the half, when a speculative Iarla Tannian effort from the wing deceived Adrian Power to drop over the line putting Galway seven ahead. They were three goals clear at the finish. Galway’s fourth goal came from the same source as their first, a long ball which Waterford couldn’t defend, and a crisp ground stroke from Aidan Harte made it an 11-point difference. John McIntyre was focusing on what his team need to work on at the final whistle, however. “When we’re on the ball we’re not too bad, but when we don’t have it we’re inclined to wander a little bit. We have to work on our concentration levels but we have four points on the board after two games and our scoring difference will be healthy enough after today. “So far so good, it gives us a good platform going into the Tipperary game. Everyone knows Tipperary and Kilkenny are ahead of everybody else, but we’re in the chasing posse.”

But Tipp lost to Dublin, John… “That’s unfortunate from our perspective heading to Thurles on Sunday week,” said McIntyre. “Because you don’t want to give Tipp a cause, and now they have a big one.” His thoughts were echoed by the man in the other dressing-room. “You see in the league results today,” said Davy Fitzgerald. “It’s funny, Dublin got a very hard time this week and they are not as bad as they seemed last week. We just happened to hit a good day last week. “Galway were awesome, absolutely super. They will be very hard to stop this year. They have a very strong panel. The scores they took, the goals they took, they totally outclassed us today. “In fairness to the lads, they kept plugging, they kept trying, even when the ball was not coming up for us today, they kept trying so I can’t say anything to them.”

Scorers for Galway: I Tannian 2-2, N Healy, A Harte 1-1 each, J Gantley 0-4; G Farragher 0-3 (2fs); N Cahalan 0-2; D Collins & A Callanan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Waterford: M Shanahan 0-9 (0-6fs); S Walsh 1-1; R Foley 0-2; S Molumphy, J Nagle, T Connors 0-1 each.

Waterford subs: M Doherty for Prendergast (HT); Eoin McGrath for Murray (45); O Whelan for Foley (50); M O’Brien for Lawlor (56); T Ryan for Moran (65).

Galway subs: K Hynes for Donnellan (blood, 45-49); E Ryan for Healy (56); K Hynes for Donnellan (65); D Burke for Tannian (66).

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly)

Allianz NHL Division 1 – Cork 2-21 Limerick 1-14

Déjà vu all over again

Cork 2-21 Limerick 1-14

By Diarmuid O’Flynn from the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, March 01, 2010

DON’T be fooled by the scoreline above, especially if you’re a Limerick hurling supporter. As they did in their League opener last week against Galway in Kilmallock, Limerick tried, gallantly and gamely, and in Shane O’Neill, Nicky Quaid, Paul Browne, Brian O’Sullivan and Thomas O’Brien they had players of real class. Overall, however, they are simply not good enough for this level. Any time Cork needed to up the ante, they did so, brushing the youngsters in green aside. At the start of the match, Cork blasted into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead with giant full-forward Michael Cussen, in his first league start, claiming 1-1. Then before the break, after Limerick had cut the gap to a goal, Cork again pushed on and tapped over three quick points to lead 1-10 to 0-7 at the interval.

On the restart Limerick had a quick point from free-taker Alan O’Connor, but this merely served as another reminder for Cork, and a four-point burst from the hitherto misfiring Pat Horgan took the visitors well clear again. From there to the end it was simply going through the motions, not related to a contest as the game played out to its inevitable conclusion. Both managers filled their full quota of subs, and for Cork, young Cian McCarthy looked especially sharp, notched 1-1, Aisake O hAilpín looked hungry for action, as did Niall McCarthy. “I felt we could have been closer,” Limerick boss Justin McCarthy said afterwards. “We made a few mistakes which changed the course of the game. Overall, I couldn’t fault the players for their commitment and endeavour.”

No-one could, any more than you’d fault a game novice hurdler that has just been swallowed up in a Champion Chase. What chance then that novice hurdler, however gutsy and committed, in the Cheltenham Gold Cup? What will happen this Limerick team when the sod is dry, the ball flying, the crowds roaring? How would Limerick do against a fully committed Cork team with the Newtown contingent – Cathal Naughton and the twins, Ben and Jerry O’Connor – back in harness, along with Seán Óg O hAilpín, Donal Óg Cusack? Whatever about Limerick, this was a difficult game for Cork. “You can’t win really,” said Cork boss Denis Walsh. “If you only scrape home, or if you win by three or four goals, you still can’t win. We lacked a bit of urgency, and what’s the reason for that? We probably weren’t clued in properly, which is disappointing. At times we had it but then it would fade again. I’d say the lads are a bit disappointed after this. I know 2-21 is good scoring, and we got 1-22 last week against Offaly – but I think the lads will be disappointed with their inconsistency.”

As for the situation in which Justin McCarthy finds himself, 27 of last year’s panel out of the picture, as a former long-time work colleague of the Limerick manager, on a personal level Walsh can certainly sympathise with his plight, but he wasn’t about to be drawn. “We had our own situation in Cork last year. I was brought into that, maybe because I kept my mouth shut, so I have no intention of saying anything now either, because I don’t know anything about it,’’ Walsh said. Meanwhile, Limerick and McCarthy get ready for Waterford. “We’ll regroup, we’ll look at it, we’ll talk about it, but we’re learning all the time,’’ he said. So much to learn, however, so much to learn.

Scorers for Limerick: T. O’Brien 1-2 (0-2 frees); A. O’Connor 0-4 (all frees); B. O’Sullivan 0-2; P. Browne 0-2; N. Quaid 0-2; P. McNamara, G. Mulcahy, 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: M. Cussen 1-5; P. Horgan 0-6 (0-4 frees); C. McCarthy 1-1; J. Gardiner 0-4 (0-1 free, 0-2 65s); K. Murphy 0-2; M. O’Sullivan, G. Calnan, N. McCarthy, 0-1 each.

Subs for Limerick: M. Deegan (Carr inj. 30); T. O’Brien (Owens 42); P. Harty (Brennan inj. 49); C. Hayes (Kenny 52); D. Moore (O’Connor 61).

Subs for Cork: C. McCarthy (O’Leary 52); A. O hAilpín (M. O’Sullivan 57); N. McCarthy (Calnan 65); A. Ryan (O’Neill 68).

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath) – Good job.

Cussen shines for dominant Rebels

From the GAA.ie web site

Feb 27, 2010

Michael Cussen scored 1-5 from play in Cork’s 2-21 to 1-14 Allianz GAA Hurling National League Division One defeat of Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday night. The Sarsfields clubman, who quit the Cork football panel to concentrate on hurling this year, gave a superb performance against a Limerick team that competed well in the first half but wilted badly after the break. Limerick trailed 1-10 to 0-7 at the interval after a brave showing, but the Rebels upped the intensity of their game at the start of the second half and eased to a ten-point victory.

Cussen, who was named in the Cork team at full-forward ahead of Aisake ÓhAilpín, did his hopes of staking a permanent place in the Cork attack no harm when he drilled home a fine goal in the fourth minute. Cussen showed a wonderful first touch to take a long ball on the run and slammed a shot past Tadhg Flynn in the Limerick goal. Limerick responded with a sublime solo effort from Nicky Quaid, but the Rebels could have grabbed a second goal a minute later had Kieran Murphy not blasted over the bar when the goal was at his mercy.

Cork looked like running away with the game early on as John Gardiner and Cussen gave them a 1-4 to 0-1 lead. However, Justin McCarthy’s side showed great heart and hit back with points from Brian O’Sullivan, Quaid and a pair of Alan O’Connor frees. Indeed, when Paul Browne and Paudie McNamara – two of the players who featured in Limerick’s 2009 Championship panel – found the target, Limerick had reduced the gap to 1-7 to 0-7.

However, Cork finished the half with three points without reply as Cussen again showed his worth with a fine score, Gardiner struck his third of the half, and Patrick Horgan arrowed a free over the bar to give Cork a 1-10 to 0-7 lead. Cork corner forward Patrick Horgan hit four points in a row after the break before substitute Thomas O’Brien briefly gave Limerick hope with a 48th minute goal. However, the Rebels once again responded impressively, with Cussen adding two more points from play to his total, while the ever willing Brian McCarthy pulled one back for Limerick. The game was long over as a contest, but Cork substitute Cian McCarthy wasn’t finished and he added another goal with four minutes left on the clock to complete the rout.

Team News

CORK (SH v Limerick): M Coleman; S O’Neill, E Cadogan, C O’Sullivan; B Murphy, R Curran, R Ryan; J Gardiner, T Kenny; F O’Leary, M O’Sullivan, G Calnan; K Murphy (capt.), M Cussen, P Horgan.

LIMERICK (SH v Cork): T Flynn; D Lynch, D Kenny, S O Neill; L O’Dwyer, A Brennan, M Carr; N Quaid, P Browne; B O Sullivan, A Owens, C Mullane; G Mulcahy, P McNamara, B O Connor.

Allianz NHL Division 2 – Clare 2-20 Down 0-6

Clare defeated Down by 2-20 to 0-6 in Round 1 of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 2 on Sunday in Cusack Park Ennis.

Flaherty stars in Banner blitz

Clare 2-20 Down 0-6

By Jim O’Sullivan for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, February 22, 2010

BACK in 1993, he burst on the national scene as a third-minute injury replacement in a Munster championship victory over Limerick at Cusack Park before going on to play a major role in the Banner’s breakthrough in the All-Ireland series. Yesterday, at the same venue, new team boss Ger O’Loughlin, better known as ‘Sparrow,’ watched from the sideline as Clare blitzed an eager but weak Down side in the first round of the Allianz League. Afterwards, he articulated his hopes for re-building the team, following the trauma of the player revolt which unseated Mike McNamara – but with the boost of a first title in the U21 grade inspiring hope for a brighter future.

As the scoreline suggests, this was virtually all one-way traffic, notably with the sum of Down wides over the two halves comparable to Clare’s points total. And, while it was by no means a one-man show, the contribution of 2-10 by full-forward Mark Flaherty from intermediate side Killanena was the game’s chief talking point. Down over nighted in Ennis after a six-hour bus journey (reportedly refusing an earlier start that would have facilitated supporters wishing to see the club game in the Gaelic Grounds), so manager Gerard Monan wasn’t able to put forward weariness as an excuse. Instead, he accepted that Clare were a more experienced outfit, praised his players for their effort and was honest enough to accept that they ‘need a bit of shooting practice’.

Clare were seven points clear before Down got the first of their four first-half scores and that was in the 22nd minute following the sixth of nine wides during the period. Flaherty was prominent from an early stage, as were wing-forwards Sean Collins (first) and Jonathan Clancy and overall Clare were easily controlling the game. Other factors included a more dominant midfield, where captain Brian O’Connell operated after filling the number six jersey in the Waterford Crystal campaign and a more than competent defence where U21 star Cian Dillon was very comfortable at full-back and Brendan Bugler showed the value of his experience in the right corner. Flaherty got the first goal in the 31st minute, but without the excellence of Graham Clarke’s goalkeeping over the course of the opening quarter, Clare could have had three or four in the bag by then. It was 1-13 to 0-4 at the break (with Flaherty hitting 1-8) and the pattern of the game changed little on the resumption.

Down opted to use three players at midfield, leaving Dillon on his own for a while and while a series of substitutes helped them to maintain a spirited challenge, a continuing weakness in their finishing seriously limited them. Nearing the end of the game, Bugler prevented a Down goal before Flaherty found the net in the last minute of normal time. The Clare manager admitted to being happy with the overall display, pointing out that while the panel has been together for seven weeks, they have ‘very little hurling’ done. “I thought we played quite well in the first half, (but) we were poor enough for 20/25 minutes of the second half. That’s something we have to work on over the next couple of weeks. Against stronger opposition we’d be punished, but it’s a learning process for everybody. And we learned a good bit out of today as well.’’

Ultimately, O’Loughlin views the challenge of getting back to the first division as being of ‘the utmost importance’. The target for the Down boss is to pick up eight points, to avoid finishing near the bottom of the group. “Okay the scoreboard looks bad, but I was very proud of them. They worked, they hit wides but they still responded in the right way and fair play to them. They are training hard, the commitment is excellent and they are bonding together well.”

Scorers for Clare: M Flaherty 2-10; J Clancy 0-3; O Murphy and S Collins 0-2 each; P Donnellan (free), B O’Connell and D McMahon 0-1 each.

Scorers for Down: P Braniff 0-4 (0-2 frees); J Coyle and C Woods (free) 0-1 each.

Subs for Clare: J Conlon for Clancy (51); C Ryan for N O’Connell (55); D McMahon for Lynch (64); D Barrett for Collins (68).

Subs for Down: J McCusker for Coyle (48); P Flynn for Teague (52); E McGuinness for Keith (56); S Conlon for E Clarke (60); M Hughes for L Clarke (66).

Referee: M Haverty (Galway)

Team News

Clare (SH v Down): P Brennan; P Vaughan, C Dillon, B Bugler; D O’Donovan, B O’Connell (captain), P Donnellan; J Clancy, N O’Connell; S Collins, J Conlon, F Lynch; D Honan, M Flaherty, M Ogie Murphy.

Allianz NHL Division 1 – Galway 1-18 Limerick 1-11

Galway defeated Limerick by 1-18 to 1-11 in Round 1 of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 on Sunday in Kilmallock.

Galway survive Limerick test

Limerick 1-11 Galway 1-18

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, February 22, 2010

THE ‘hair-dryer’ dressing- room treatment of one of his under-achieving teams by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is legendary in sport at this stage, but if there is anyone in the GAA who would give the great man a run for his money, it’s Galway’s fiery hurling manager John McIntyre. Consider then what the Galway dressing-room was like at half-time of yesterday’s NHL opener against Limerick. Because of the well-documented problems between the panel of 2009 – 25 of whom have either been dropped or have walked away – and manager Justin McCarthy, Limerick had practically a new team taking the field in the superb Kilmallock venue and were expected to be mere fodder for a high-flying Galway side that had recently won its first competition in Leinster, the Walsh Cup. Yet, and to the delight of a large and vocal local following, it was the underdogs with their noses in front at the break, 1-7 to 0-9, and full value for that lead.

Their goal had come in the 14th minute, a blistering finish by Cathal Mullane off a super Paudie McNamara cross, which put Limerick ahead for the first time in the game, (1-2 to 0-3). From there to the break Limerick continued to hurl with great skill and spirit. Half-backs Lorcan O’Dwyer, Andrew Brennan and Cathal King formed a very impressive line, midfielders Nicky Quaid and Paul Browne provided a steady supply of good ball to forwards Brian O’Sullivan, Graeme Mulcahy and Paudie McNamara (all members of the 2009 panel) who were impressive up front. A shock of massive proportions was really on the cards. Forget the hair-dryer – the foliage on the trees in the nearby Ballyhouras were in danger of being blown away in the blistering barrage from McIntyre. “A few choice words,” Galway keeper James Skehill admitted afterwards. “But they didn’t fall on deaf ears, we utilised it in the second half.”

They did, but only after an early scare when McNamara’s powerfully hit penalty (Alan O’Connor fouled by Pat Holland) was deflected out for a 65 by Damien Joyce. As it was Galway weathered that early storm, and a number of substitutions – most notably the experienced Fergal Moore and John Lee coming into the defence, the powerful Iarla Tannian and Niall Healy joining the attack – made all the difference as the Tribesmen eventually pulled away. An encouraging display then by Limerick, though manager McCarthy remained tight-lipped afterwards. “We played very well, showed great heart and determination,” he conceded. “Maybe if we scored the penalty that could have changed the result but in fairness I was delighted with the way they competed.”

Defied the forecasts of a lot of people? “I would say so, yeah. There was massive support, which was great.” The major question, however – has it secured his own position? “Ah now, now, now…” was all Justin would say to that. The aforementioned John McIntyre, however, who also doubles as sports editor of the Connacht Tribune, had his own views. The Limerick performance, while laudatory on many levels, wasn’t at all unexpected, but should be put in perspective, he reckoned: “What happened here today vindicates Justin McCarthy to some extent.

“They still lost the match and what happens now is up to the county board and the people involved in Limerick hurling. This was a fixture that had danger (for Galway) written all over it. Cork’s best performance last year under similar circumstances was against Tipperary in Thurles – they carried no baggage into the game. We expected this young Limerick side to have a right go at us and they did – we had to unload the bench to dig us out of trouble. “What people shouldn’t forget (however) is that one third of our team today was making their National League debut so we were inexperienced in a lot of positions as well, and it’s a learning curve. It’s very hard to just be slotted into a county team and see your career take off instantly.

“You have to serve your apprenticeship and maybe we were on a bit of a hiding to nothing after going up and beating Dublin last Sunday. Every match is different, a big Limerick following turned out today – maybe there was a curiosity factor, I don’t know, but we had a job to do. “We made hard work of it, I think that’s attributable to the way Limerick battled but we got there in the end, and have to focus in on the Waterford game in Pearse Stadium next Sunday.” Having seen them up close, is this Limerick team now capable of progressing from this, perhaps win a few games, avoid relegation? “I have no idea,” he said. “In some ways this was their easiest fixture.”

Scorers for Galway: G Farraher 0-6 (3f, 1s/l); I Tannian 1-2; C Donnellan 0-3; N Cahalan 0-2; N Hayes, D Burke, A Harte, N Healy, T Óg Regan (f), 0-1 each.

Scorers for Limerick: A O’Connor 0-6 (5f, 1’65); C Mullane 1-0; B O’Sullivan 0-2; G Mulcahy 0-2; P McNamara 0-1.

Subs for Galway: F Moore for Holland, 42; N Healy for Harte, 47; I Tannian for Hayes, 47; J Lee for Hynes, 64; D Collins for Burke, 69. Blood – E Ryan for Callanan, 31/35.

Subs for Limerick: T O’Brien (Patrickswell) for Owens, 50; P Harty for Mullane, 61; D Madden for Quaid, 64.

Referee: C McAllister (Cork)

Allianz NHL Division 1 – Cork 1-22 Offaly 1-11

Cork defeated Offaly by 1-22 to 1-11 in Round 1 of the Allianz National Hurling League on Sunday in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Rousing start for Rebels

Cork 1-22 Offaly 1-11

By Michael Moynihan for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, February 22, 2010

A SECOND-HALF scoring burst put Cork in an unassailable position in this Division 1 NHL clash with Offaly in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday. The sides were level at half- time but the Leesiders’ accuracy in the first ten minutes of the second-half, scoring five points to Offaly’s one, gave them a lead they never relinquished. Offaly manager Joe Dooley admitted as much after the game: “It was disappointing in the end but Cork overran us in the second-half, they were very strong. “They probably had their strongest team out in the end, they’re household names. I’m proud of my lads and we can take positives from the game, but it’s still disappointing to lose.”

His Cork counterpart Denis Walsh agreed that the second-half was the period when his players did the damage. “We dropped the tempo in the first half for maybe ten minutes, but in the second-half I thought we showed what we could do. “If we could maintain the tempo we showed there, we could trouble anyone. We asked the lads to transfer their fitness and their hurling into 70 minutes, and we certainly did that in the second-half for 30 minutes.” Both sides needed time to settle in the first-half, with most players’ touch showing a little rust. Aisake O hAilpín shone early for Cork, winning three frees which Patrick Horgan converted, while Joe Bergin mirrored his industry up front for Offaly.

Early on, the game became a shoot-out between free-takers – Horgan of Cork and Joe Dooley of Offaly. Two classy efforts from play from Horgan nudged Cork towards a three-point half-time lead, but Dooley, unerring, rattled over three frees in the last five minutes of the half to see them go into the dressing-rooms level on nine points apiece. The closest either side came to a goal chance was a fine Conor Mahon shot, which Donal Óg Cusack saved well.

Cork were slow out of the dressing-rooms for the second-half, but they motored as soon as they were back on the field. Kieran Murphy, Horgan (two), Mark O’Sullivan and Niall McCarthy all pointed, with Offaly only having a Dooley free to show for their efforts. “We had a chance of a goal and then we missed a handy point. Cork took a quick puck-out and went down and got the goal. That was the turning point, and it finished the game,” the Offaly boss admitted. And he was right. Shane Dooley’s snappy first-time pull yielded a goal that brought Offaly within two points of Cork, 1-10 to 0-15 on 55 minutes, but when John Gardiner delivered a long ball into the Offaly square three minutes later, Aisake O hAilpín showed a nice touch to flick home when the chance seemed gone. Cork went on to close the game out with points from Horgan, Murphy and Gardiner – and from sub Michael Cussen, who impressed when brought on.

Headline writers will relish the opportunity for ‘Twin Towers’ puns, but Cussen operated in the half-forward line, with fellow skyscraper Aisake O hAilpín on the edge of the square. On yesterday’s evidence the two men, each of them 6’ 7″, look like they can be accommodated in the one team, if not in the same line on the field. “Cork will take some beating this year,” said Dooley at the finish. “We held our own in the first-half and if we’d gotten a goal in the first-half… but it’s all about the second-half. That’s the half that matters.” Walsh was frank at the final whistle: “The game was like the championship game last year,” he said. “The scoreline probably flattered us a bit. Offaly more than held their own and were quite dangerous. The goal we got pulled us away a little bit. Now we have another game in six days and we’re focused on that, and on getting two points. After that there’s a bit of a break, and then we have the Kilkenny game.” Cork face Limerick next week, but nobody is putting the visit of the All-Ireland champions out of their minds.

Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (5f), K Murphy 0-5, J Gardiner 0-4 (3f), A O hAilpín 1-0, N McCarthy 0-2, M O’Sullivan & M Cussen 0-1 each.

Scorers for Offaly: S Dooley 1-8 (6f, 1’65’), B Carroll, C Mahon & C Parlon 0-1 each.

Subs for Cork: E Cadogan for Cunningham (ht), C McCarthy for O’Sullivan 50; M Cussen for N McCarthy 62; F O’Leary for McLoughin 64; R Ryan for S Óg O hAilpín 69.

Subs for Offaly: K Brady for Oakley 40, D Currams for Parlon 58, Molloy for Carroll 65.

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford)

Team News

Offaly (NHL v Cork) — J Dempsey; J Rigney, P Cleary, D Kenny; D Horan, G Oakley, D Morkan, D Hayden, R Hanniffy; B Carroll, J Bergin, C Mahon; C Parlon, G Healion, S Dooley

The Cork Senior Hurling Team to Play Offaly on Sunday is as follows:

1. Donal Óg Cusack (Cloyne)

2. Shane O’Neill (Bishopstown)

3. David Cunningham (Glen Rovers)

4. Shane Murphy ( Erin’s Own)

5. Brian Murphy (Bride Rovers)

6. Ronan Curran (St. Finbarr’s)

7. Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (Na Piarsaigh)

8. John Gardiner (Na Piarsaigh)

9. Tom Kenny (Grenagh)

10. Lorcán McLoughlin (Kanturk)

11. Mark O’Sullivan (Dripsey)

12. Niall McCarthy (Carrigtwohill)

13. Kieran Murphy (Sars – Capt)

14. Aisake Ó hAilpín (Na Piarsaigh)

15. Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers)

16. Martin Coleman (Ballinhassig)

17. Eoin Cadogan (Douglas)

18. Kevin Hartnett (Russell Rovers)

19. Ray Ryan (Sarsfields)

20. Aidan Ryan (Midleton)

21. Cian McCarthy (Sarsfields)

22. Graham Calnan (Glen Rovers)

23. Michael Cussen (Sarsfields)

24. Fintan O’Leary (Ballinhassig)

AIB All Ireland Club SFC 2009/2010 S-Final – Kilmurry-Ibrickane (Clare) 1-14 Portlaoise (Laois) 0-8

Kilmurry-Ibrickane (Clare) defeated Portlaoise (Laois) by 1-14 to 0-8 in the AIB GAA Football All Ireland Senior Club Championship 2009/2010 Semi-Final on Sunday in the Gaelic Grounds Limerick.

Kilmurry-Ibrickane through to Club final

Feb 21, 2010

From the GAA.ie web site

Kilmurry-Ibrickane are through to their first ever AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship final after a 1-14 to 0-8 win over 13-man Portlaoise at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday. The Laois champions’ task was made all the more difficult when Brian Mulligan was shown a straight red card after 39 seconds, before Brian McCormack joined him in the dressing rooms when he was shown a second yellow card after the break. Michael O’Dwyer and captain Enda Coughlan kicked the Clare men into an early lead before McCormack and Barry Fitzgerald hit back for Portlaoise. However, Kilmurry hit a purple patch towards the end of the half, hitting four points without reply, as Ian McInerney, Noel Downes (2) and Michael O’Dwyer helped them to a 0-7 to 0-2 lead.

McInerney struck just before half-time as the Banner men claimed a 0-9 to 0-4 lead at the break. They hit the first two points of the second half to streak further ahead, before former Celtic soccer star Paul Cahillane pulled one back for the Laois champions. However, the game changed midway through the second half, as Portlaoise had a goal disallowed before Kilmurry settled the outcome when Downes hit the back of the net after a clever pass from substitute Mark McCarthy to give his side a 1-11 to 0-5 lead. Fitzgerald and Cahir Healy did grab points back for Portlaoise at the death, but Kilmurry-Ibrickane cruised to victory in the end on a 1-14 to 0-8 scoreline.

Kilmurry secure Clare’s first

By SEÁN MORAN GAA correspondent for the Irish Times Newspaper

THE GAA’S Central Competitions Control Committee will be awaiting the report of referee Michael Duffy after unruly scenes in yesterday’s AIB All-Ireland club football semi-final in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds. Hot favourites Portlaoise ended up losing to Clare champions Kilmurry-Ibrickane and in the process had two players sent off, triggering furious protests from the Leinster champions at both half-time and on the final whistle when Sligo official Duffy, a brother of last year’s All-Ireland referee Marty, had to be escorted off the field by gardaí­ after being accosted by a Portlaoise supporter. Within 15 seconds of the start Portlaoise wing back Brian Mulligan had launched a high tackle on Kilmurry’s Shane Hickey and the referee showed him a straight red card. At half-time Duffy was confronted by Portlaoise officials, including manager John Mulligan, father of the dismissed player.

Speaking afterwards Mulligan senior was again critical of the referee. “I thought it was a joke. If the man has a conscience, he won’t sleep for a long time. I don’t want to sound a bad loser but it was an absolute joke of a refereeing decision. The man seemed to be out to make a name for himself. “He (Mulligan junior) caught him a bit high, it was definitely a free but a yellow would have sufficed. There is no such thing as consistency. One of their players came in as a sub, hopped off one of our lads and the referee did nothing. I asked him about it at half-time and he wasn’t going to entertain me.” Mulligan’s Kilmurry-Ibrickane counterpart Michéal McDermott not surprisingly saw things differently, saying the referee had made the right call in showing a red card. “The referee made a call on the dangerous tackle early on and if that happens, you’ve to go off for it. I thought he did a good job today and it was sad to see the scenes on the field there with the referee.” The second sending-off took place nine minutes into the second half when Portlaoise cenrefielder Brian McCormack was dismissed for a second yellow card. The first had been issued in injury-time at the end of the first half for dissent and the second for a foul.

It was the fourth time since winning the Clare championship Kilmurry have found themselves up against 14 men and they exploited the advantage with great efficiency in a performance of sustained commitment, against which Portlaoise appeared to lose their composure, going down to a heavy 0-8 to 1-14 defeat. Kilmurry will be Clare’s first representatives in the St Patrick’s Day football final but their opponents won’t be known until next weekend at the earliest, as yesterday’s other scheduled semi-final, between Galway’s Corofin and St Gall’s of Belfast, was postponed because overnight snow in Dublin left Parnell Park unplayable. The CCCC will today confirm refixture details for all of the weekend’s postponed matches but it is expected the Corofin-St Gall’s encounter will go ahead at the same venue next Saturday at 2pm (the Dublin hurlers are at home to Tipperary in the NHL the following day).

A mighty blow struck for Banner

Kilmurry-Ibrickane 1-14 Portlaoise 0-8

By Fintan O’Toole for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, February 22, 2010

GIVEN its impoverished recent history, yesterday in the Gaelic Grounds was a momentous afternoon for Clare football. Despite the favouritism tag being attached to Portlaoise, Kilmurry-Ibrickane conjured up a powerful performance in this All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final. In the process they ensured that there will be a Banner county representative in the St Patrick’s Day club football showpiece next month for the first time ever.

This was no fluke victory. Kilmurry-Ibrickane had the best performers on the pitch and their sideline operators had a key input as well. The post-match revelation that the template for victory was borrowed from their illustrious football neighbours to the south was highly intriguing. On Saturday night manager Michéal McDermott sat his squad down and whipped out a copy of last summer’s All-Ireland quarter-final between Kerry and Dublin from the video vault. The genesis of Kerry’s success that day was their blistering start as they capitalised on Dublin’s long spell in cold storage. McDermott surmised that the circumstances before yesterday’s game were a replica and instructed his players to produce a hurricane opening. They duly obliged to blow Portlaoise away in the first-half and ahead by 0-9 to 0-4 by half-time, they were firmly on course for a final placing.

Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s cause was certainly helped by a dramatic opening to the game as Portlaoise’s numbers were cut to 14 when wing-back Brian Mulligan was dismissed after a mere 40 seconds for a reckless challenge on Shane Hickey. That shocking start clearly unsettled Portlaoise and the subsequent outpourings of vitriol from members of their camp at half-time were not beneficial either. Then the second-half dismissal of captain Brian McCormack for a second yellow card was the final nail in Portlaoise’s coffin as they lost one of their better exponents on the day.

But those controversies should not deflect from Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s brilliant showing. Overall it was not a spiteful game with the defining feature being Kilmurry’s superiority rather than Portlaoise’s sending-off’s. Kilmurry-Ibrickane exploited the early good fortune of being handed a spare man as Enda Coughlan and Evan Talty alternated intelligently to fill that role in the half-back line. That helped them to construct a barrier to repel Portlaoise’s attacking advances, and further back Mark Killeen and Martin McMahon kept a tight rein on Paul Cahillane and Colm Byrne.

Cahillane entered the game with a gilded attacking reputation from Portlaoise’s Leinster campaign, but Kilmurry-Ibrickane identified him as a threat and went about blunting his impact from the word go. They forced Cahillane onto his weaker right foot on several occasions and the one goal opening he had in the 20th minute became fruitless when the Kilmurry-Ibrickane defence swarmed around him and turned over possession.

Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s attacking play was strikingly good from the start as well. Scoring has not been their forte in this campaign but they reversed that trend by cutting loose in front of goal here. Several of their forwards hit full speed from the outset with Ian McInerney’s freetaking and playmaking exemplary, Stephen Moloney’s hard work seeing him shine on the left flank, and Michael O’Dwyer and Noel Downes both emerging as attacking diamonds inside.

By the close of the first quarter Kilmurry-Ibrickane were 0-5 to 0-2 ahead and that was a reward for their swift passing movements which created chances. Their excellent work ethic was maintained for the rest of the half as Portlaoise defenders found it extremely difficult to clear their lines and points by Michael and Peter O’Dwyer, and Downes left them 0-8 to 0-3 up by the 26th minute. It was proving to be a miserable occasion for Portlaoise who relied on the promptings of Cahir Healy, McCormack and Craig Rogers to keep them afloat.

McCormack appeared the only attacking card they possessed and he kicked two tremendous points in the opening period. But the half ended in adversity for him as he picked up a costly yellow card in injury-time for protesting to referee Michael Duffy about the build-up play to a Kilmurry-Ibrickane free. It seemed valid to complain as Noel Downes touched the ball on the ground but the Clare side got the break and McInerney’s free gave them a five-point cushion at the break. Once it became apparent early in the second-half that Kilmurry-Ibrickane were going to maintain the high standards and tempo of their football, they never looked like being defeated.

It was 0-11 to 0-5 when McCormack saw the line in the 39th minute and then the match was killed off when Downes beautifully finished to the net five minutes later after a perceptive pass by substitute Mark McCarthy. Kilmurry-Ibrickane confirmed their superiority in the closing stages with their most celebrated name Odhran O’Dwyer jumping off the bench to claim a wonderful score at the death and seal a handsome eight-point win.

Scorers for Kilmurry-Ibrickane: N Downes 1-2, I McInerney 0-4 (0-3f, 0-1 ‘45), M O’Dwyer 0-3, J Daly 0-2 (0-2f), E Coughlan, P O’Dwyer, O O’Dwyer 0-1 each.

Portlaoise: P Cahillane 0-3 (0-2f), B Fitzgerald (0-2f), B McCormack 0-2 each, C Healy 0-1.

KILMURRY-IBRICKANE: D O’Brien; D Hickey, M Killeen, M McMahon; S Hickey, E Coughlan, E Talty; P O’Connor, P O’Dwyer; M Hogan, I McInerney, S Moloney; M O’Dwyer, O O’Dwyer, N Downes.

Subs: M McCarthy for Moloney (43), O O’Dwyer for Downes (46), B Moloney for Talty (58).

PORTLAOISE: M Nolan; E Bland, K Fitzpatrick, M McNulty; B Mulligan, C Healy, K Lillis; A Fennelly, B McCormack; C Boyle, B Fitzgerald, B Glynn; P Cahillane, C Byrne, C Rogers.

Subs: T Fitzgerald for Byrne (half-tine), B Smith for Glynn (42), J Fennell for Boyle (49), P McNulty for Cahillane (55).

Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo)

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