All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Qualifier Round 2 – Offaly 1-18 Limerick 1-13

Offaly defeated Limerick by 1-18 to 1-13 in Round 2 of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Qualifiers on Saturday in Tullamore.

Offaly put Treaty out of their misery

Offaly 1-19 Limerick 1-13

By Fintan O’Toole for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, July 12, 2010

THE fading sunlight in O’Connor Park on Saturday evening provided the backdrop as the Limerick hurlers finally bid their farewells to championship 2010. A season that has been laced with controversy and rancour concluded with the predicted defeat to a more seasoned Offaly team in this phase two qualifier. The bald statistics of the audit for this campaign will paint a depressing picture of results, with seven straight league defeats having preceded two championship losses. 2010 will be a year the Limerick hurling cognoscenti will want to scrub from the memory banks.

But Limerick’s band of young players left this encounter with little shame. Their display was brave and defiant, as they provided their hosts with a severe test. With seven minutes left they trailed by two points and had the locals shifting anxiously in their seats. Ultimately Offaly settled those nerves and reeled off four points to close out the game. The match had been a contest, albeit one where Offaly always looked to be the masters of their destiny. The Faithful men never replicated their firework displays in the two-game saga against Galway and this was a victory they had to grimly dig out. But there was an unmistakable sense that Offaly were afflicted with the condition that has plagued several teams facing Limerick this season. The expectation that they would win at a canter seemed to weigh down upon them and Offaly found the role of heavy favourites to be ill-fitting.

They are a county that is traditionally attached to the tag of plucky underdog and manager Joe Dooley revealed his unease at that pre-match talk. He revealed: “It was one of those games where we were at home and we were expected to win well. We’d the favourites tag and we don’t do that, that well as a county. There is something about the Offaly psyche that says we’re better as the underdogs it seems. “It was a bit hairy as Limerick did put it up to us. But I thought we showed huge character when they got it back to two, to pull away to win by six. It could have been easy to drop the heads there, but the lads kept at it which I was very glad to see.”

Limerick boss Justin McCarthy was fulsome in his praise of his players afterwards and their unstinting refusal to cave in at any stage. Kieran O’Rourke embellished his reputation as a specialist man-marker by managing the considerable feat of keeping Shane Dooley scoreless from play. Lorcan O’Dwyer and Bryan O’Sullivan hurled with authority in the half-back line, and the pace and touches of Thomas O’Brien enabled him to chalk up 1-7. The manner in which Limerick set their team out clearly indicated a desire to stack their defence but similar to the Munster semi-final against Cork, it compromised their attacking ambitions.

O’Brien’s freetaking was the scoring sustenance they relied on for long stages and Graeme Mulcahy was well-policed on this occasion. Limerick’s forwards could have done with the scoring threat that Bryan O’Sullivan and Paul Browne would offer. They also benefited from some errant marksmanship by the Offaly attack. The hosts led 1-8 to 0-7 at the interval, but Offaly should have been much further ahead as they spurned two gilt-edged goal opportunities. They amassed 15 wides during the game and Derek Molloy’s opportunist 11th minute goal enabled them to keep Limerick at bay for long stages. The excellence of Shane Dooley has been at the core of Offaly’s drive this season but it was another corner-forward who provided their attacking spark on Saturday night. Cathal Parlon was in sublime form as he clipped over five tidy points while captain Brian Carroll had an influential second-half.

Limerick were determined throughout the second-half and even when Offaly went seven points clear, (1-15 to 0-11) by the 57th minute the Shannonsiders hauled them back to two points with a quick scoring burst. O’Brien grabbed their goal after a well-worked team move with ten minutes left but the manner in which Offaly finished the game illustrated their greater experience and nous. Rory Hanniffy, Paul Cleary and Derek Morkan were at the forefront of a resilient defence that ensured Limerick were never going to generate enough scores to spring an upset. The challenge ahead of them next weekend against Tipperary is significant, as Dooley conceded afterwards. “Tipperary were the team to avoid but we’ve to face them now. I saw them against Wexford and they were very impressive. They’re getting stronger as the year goes on but we’ll have a crack off them and see what happens.”

Scorers for Offaly: S Dooley (0-5, frees), C Parlon (0-5), D Molloy (1-2), B Carroll (0-3), B Murphy (0-2), J Brady, J Bergin (0-1 each).

Scorers for Limerick: T O’Brien (1-7, four frees, two ‘65), J V O’Brien (0-2), N Quaid, G Mulcahy, C Mullane, P Russell (0-1 each).

Subs for Offaly: K Brady for Hayden (52), G Healion for Molloy (66).

Subs for Limerick: C Mullane for Moore (34), A Brennan for J O’Brien (ht), M Noonan for McKeogh (48), P Russell for Owens (60).

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

Offaly set up Tipperary clash

From the Breaking web site

Offaly 1-19 Limerick 1-13

Four unanswered points in the closing seven minutes gave Offaly victory against Limerick and a shot at Tipperary in phase 3 of the SHC qualifiers. Offaly looked for long stretches of this Tullamore clash to be on course for the win. However, they were met with a late onslaught from Justin McCarthy’s young Limerick side who bagged 1-2 inside a five-minute spell to cut the deficit to two points with just eight minutes remaining. But closing scores from Cathal Parlon (0-2), Shane Dooley and Joe Bergin dashed any hopes of a major Championship upset at O’Connor Park.

Offaly led by 1-8 to 0-7 at half-time, thanks to a 12th minute Derek Molloy goal, with Thomas O’Brien and James V O’Brien keeping Limerick in touch. Limerick had gained the early initiative with fine points by the aforementioned O’Briens, inside two minutes, getting the underdogs off to a solid start. Both sides were producing fast flowing hurling despite the heavy underfoot conditions. Offaly responded to the visitors’ early burst as scores from Dooley and Parlon tied the contest at 0-2 apiece Indeed, the hosts were unlucky not to snatch a fifth minute goal, but Limerick keeper Tadhg Flynn pulled off a fine save from a Joe Bergin shot.

Offaly did bulge the net, seven minutes later, when Bergin’s initial shot was blocked by Limerick defender Kieran O’Rourke, and Molloy pounced on the resulting break to slot to the net from 13 metres out. Offaly strung together some fine scores from play from Parlon, Molloy and Brendan Murphy to claim a 1-8 to 0-5 lead by the 32nd minute. Thomas O’Brien bagged his fifth point inside two minutes of the restart, but Offaly were beginning to win the breaking ball at midfield, and capitalised with Brian Carroll hitting two points from play to push 1-10 to 0-8 ahead in the 40th minute. Thomas O’Brien and substitute Cathal Mullane cut the deficit to a goal with 12 minutes remaining, but Offaly hit back with four unanswered points, seemingly doing just enough to keep ahead.

As the showers turned to glorious sunshine, the game suddenly upped in intensity, with points from Nicky Quaid and Peter Russell either side of Thomas O’Brien’s goal cutting the deficit to two points with eight minutes remaining. O’Brien did well to create enough space for himself to fashion a shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper James Dempsey. But Offaly dug deep with Parlon, Dooley and Joe Bergin pointing them home and into phase 3 of the qualifiers. This win for Joe Dooley’s men eliminates the need for a hurling qualifier draw tomorrow evening, and the confirmed fixtures are Offaly v Tipperary and Antrim v Dublin. The phase 3 games will take place at neutral venues to be decided by the GAA on Monday.

Scorers: Offaly: D Molloy 1-2, C Parlon, S Dooley (0-5f) 0-5 each, B Carroll 0-3, B Murphy 0-2, J Brady, J Bergin 0-1 each

Limerick: T O’Brien 1-7 (0-4f, 0-2 ’65’), JV O’Brien 0-2, N Quaid, G Mulcahy, C Mullane, P Russell 0-1 each

OFFALY: J Dempsey; D Franks, P Cleary, J Rigney; D Kenny, R Hanniffy, D Morkan; B Murphy, D Hayden; D Molloy, J Brady, B Carroll; C Parlon, J Bergin, S Dooley.

Subs used: K Brady for Hayden (53 mins), G Healion for Molloy (66).

LIMERICK: T Flynn; K O’Rourke, C Hayes, S O’Neill; L O’Dwyer, B O’Sullivan, P Browne; T O’Brien, D Moore; James O’Brien, James V O’Brien, N Quaid; G Mulcahy, A Owens, R McKeogh.

Subs used: C Mullane for Moore (34 mins), A Brennan for James O’Brien (half-time), M Noonan for McKeogh (47), P Russell for Owens (61).

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier – Dublin 1-21 Tipperary 1-13

Dublin defeated Tipperary by 1-21 to 1-13 in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier on Saturday in Croke Park.

Off-key Dublin find extra gear to limp past Premier


By DAMIAN LAWLOR for the Sunday Independent newspaper

Sunday July 11 2010

AN uneasy Dublin stuttered to a hard-fought and unimpressive win over Tipperary at a rain-soaked Croke Park last night. They could never quite put their opponents away and had Tipperary managed to hold on to possession a bit more in the first half they could have pulled off a shock. With 20 minutes of this second-round qualifier left, Dublin were clinging to a nervous three-point lead and the groans around Croke Park were audible.

But with time running out they pulled away as Tipp ran out of puff. The home team’s fitness, strength and an improved work rate in the closing stages helped them over the line and into the next round. It was the usual suspects who delivered for the Dubs; points from the Brogan brothers steered them away from danger while Eoghan O’Gara worked hard for the cause. There was little else for them to enthuse over. Their defence looked vulnerable for a long time, their midfield was out-fought for long periods and they continuously gave the ball away, much to the frustration of their supporters. It’s a long time since Dublin were in this position and they looked like they didn’t know how to handle it. A paltry crowd, unknown opposition and a team in rebuilding mode.

Only 22,107 deemed a Saturday afternoon qualifier at home to Tipperary worth turning up for — a poor show, considering their hurlers were in action just beforehand. Tipp were guilty of turning over the ball several times early on, allowing Dublin to race into a 0-3 – 0-1 lead. But it could have been worse; Kevin McManamon missed an open goal after just 40 seconds which would probably have killed the minnows off before the game had even started. Still, daunting as the task ahead of them was, Tipp stuck at it. They only had three previous qualifier wins under their belt, and had just a 30 per cent success rate with the back door. But this game meant something; it was the 90th anniversary of Bloody Sunday when Tipp man Michael Hogan was shot dead. And it was their first championship meeting with Dublin since 1922. And with Barry Grogan, Conor Sweeney and Hugh Coghlan working hard, this young side acquitted themselves well.

They slowly established a foothold around the Dublin half-back line as the first half progressed. Grogan gave Rory O’Carroll plenty to think about on the edge of the square and after 20 minutes they trailed by just three points. Even though Dublin goaled soon after, after great work from O’Gara to set up Michael McAuley, the home side looked nervous and devoid of confidence. They brought goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton out to kick a ’45 early on and proceeded to shoot eight first-half wides. They led by seven points at one stage, but Tipp responded quickly to their goal with a slick George Hannigan pass to Barry Brogan who turned Cluxton and goaled. Barry Brogan added two more points, Philly Austin and Conor Sweeney hit one each and they only trailed 1-9 to 1-7 at the break.

The Dubs made two changes, bringing on Eamon Fenell and Conal Keaney, and they upped their game considerably in the second half, shooting eight points in quick succession. As they emptied their bench, Dublin’s overall experience stood to them. It may not have been the most impressive of shows, but they are safely in the hat for today’s draw. That’s all that counts.

Scorers — Dublin: B Brogan 0-7 (3f), M McAuley 1-1, A Brogan 0-4, C Keaney 0-3 (3f), R McConnell 0-2, S Cluxton 0-1 (1 ’45), E Fennell, E O’Gara, K McManamon 0-1 each. Tipperary: B Grogan 1-5 (5f), P Austin (1f), C Sweeney 0-3 each, S Hahessy, B Coen 0-1 each.

Dublin: S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, Rory O’Carroll, P McMahon; K Nolan, G Brennan, D Henry; M MacAuley, R McConnell; N Corkery, A Brogan, P Flynn; B Brogan, E O’Gara, K McManamon. Subs: E Fennell for P Flynn (h-t), C Keaney for K McManamon (43), B Cullen for N Corkery (55), P Casey for K Nolan (68)

Tipperary: P Fitzgerald; P Codd, R Costigan, A Morrissey; C McGrath, B Jones, B Fox; G Hannigan, N Curran; S Hahessy, H Coghlan, P Acheson; P Austin, B Grogan, C Sweeney. Subs: B Coen for S Hahessy (29), B Mulvilhill for B Jones (46), K Mulryan for P Acheson (56), A Rockett for H Coghlan (64), E Kearney for P Codd (70).

Referee: P McEnaney (Monaghan)

Dublin 1-21 Tipperary 1-13

From the web site

The Brogans shot 0-11 between them to drive Pat Gilroy’s men to victory in a dour contest which gave little indication as to Dublin’s All-Ireland credentials. Tipperary tried their utmost to test the recently dethroned Leinster champions, but faltered in the second half as the Dubs broke clear. After an edgy first half, Gilroy’s charges got their Championship challenge back on the rails with an improved second half showing. Michael Darragh MacAuley and Barry Grogan traded goals as Dublin led by 1-09 to 1-07 at half-time.

Grogan led Tipp’s scoring with 1-05, but Dublin, with their bench proving influential, pulled through in front of just 22,107 spectators. In rain-soaked conditions, Kevin McManamon got a glimpse of the Tipperary goal in the opening seconds but failed to find the target. It was left to Alan Brogan to open the scoring for Dublin, with Ross McConnell and Bernard Brogan (free) making it 0-03 to 0-00 by the six-minute mark. The Dublin team showed five changes to the one that succumbed to Meath last time out, with experienced campaigners like Bryan Cullen, Conal Keaney and Barry Cahill among the players to miss out. Tipperary, who conquered Laois in the last round, opened their account through wing forward Stephen Hahessy, but Dublin pressed on for a 0-06 to 0-01 lead as goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton and Bernard Brogan converted three placed balls between them. Cluxton stepped up to knock over a ’45’, taking over from the benched Tomas Quinn.

While Dublin’s wides tally mounted to five, Tipp’s talismanic forward Grogan struck a free over off a post and Conor Sweeney, in the left corner, scored from play to reduce the arrears to three. Then, in the 19th minute, Dublin engineered their only goal when Eoghan O’Gara turned and raced in from the right to pass for the advancing MacAuley to fist home and crown his first Championship start with a goal. Alan Brogan had time and space to follow up with a point, making it 1-07 to 0-03, but a slip by Dublin full-back Rory O’Carroll in the 21st minute allowed Grogan slide home a well-taken goal in response. George Hannigan’s pinpoint through ball was latched onto by Grogan who cut past Cluxton and fired home in front of a sparsely populated Hill 16. Grogan added a free to make it a three-point game.

The remainder of the first half was evenly contested with Dublin clearly rattled by the concession of that goal. Philip Austin nailed a point and Grogan and Sweeney tagged on two more frees, in between scores from Bernard Brogan and McManamon at the Davin End. Indeed, Dublin would been celebrating a second goal by the break if O’Gara had not clipped a late shot wide. Tipp kept in the hunt as the second half started, with scores from Grogan and Sweeney sandwiching a single effort from Bernard Brogan. There were a lot of wides and frees conceded, but Dublin managed to add some much-needed cushion to their advantage, helped by a run of points from substitute Eamonn Fennell, Alan Brogan and O’Gara.

The life was sucked out of the game as, by the hour mark, Dublin were armed with a 1-17 to 1-10 buffer and had one foot in the next round. Substitute Conal Keaney came on and kicked two points, Ross McConnell raided forward to score and Bernard Brogan continued to cause problems for the Tipp defence, taking his haul for the afternoon to seven. Their overall effort could not be questioned, but the Premier County side, hit by recent squad withdrawals, had no answer. Their closing points from Grogan, substitute Brian Coen and Brian Mulvihill were cancelled out by MacAuley, Man of the Match Alan Brogan and Keaney. So, at the final whistle, it was a case of mission accomplished for Dublin who will be pleased with this return to winning ways, but they had enough shaky moments to still leave a question mark over their ability to mount a serious challenge for All-Ireland honours.
Dubs eventually prevail against dogged Tipperary

From the web site

Dublin 1-21 Tipperary 1-13

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dublin are safely into Round 3 of the GAA All-Ireland Football Senior Championship Qualifiers, but not after being pushed hard as they beat a gallant Tipperary side by 1-21 to 1-13 at Croke Park on Saturday evening. After an excellent start, when they led by seven points, the Dubs allowed Tipp back into the game and it was only in the final 20 minutes that they really pulled away from their opponents. What was crucial in deciding the outcome was that Dublin always stayed ahead of Tipp, though the margin was just one point on a few occasions. Man of the match Alan Brogan and Michael Dara McAuley both performed excellently for Dublin while Barry Grogan did plenty to keep Tipp in contention.

Early on, it looked as if Dublin would win at their ease, as they moved into an early 0-6 to 0-1 lead, and when McAuley found the net, following good work by Eogan O’Gara in the 20th minute, it was 1-6 to 0-3. From there to half-time however, Tipp managed to get on top, Grogan doing plenty to help their cause when he finished to the net with a ground shot after rounding goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton – who scored one of the Dubs’ points from a 45 – only a minute after McAuley’s goal. That made it 1-7 to 1-3, and with two minutes remaining until half-time, the gap had narrowed to the minimum, 1-8 to 1-7, following an excellent Conor Sweeney free, though Kevin McManamon’s point ensured Dublin had some breathing space at half-time, O’Gara unlucky with a goal effort just before the whistle.

It remained nip-and-tuck at the start of the second half, Dublin continuing to respond whenever Tipp cut the deficit to a point, and when Alan Brogan scored his third point, in the 45th minute, it was 1-12 to 1-9 for Pat Gilroy’s side, with Brogan’s brother Bernard converting two more soon before Conal Keaney opened up a five-point lead, a Grogan point Tipp’s only response. Dublin were in a commanding position by now, Tipp goalkeeper Paul Fitzgerald having to do well to deny O’Gara a goal and though Tipp reeled off three unanswered points, Cathal Coen and Sweeney pointing, the lead was still five, 1-18 to 1-13. Tipp needed a goal to set up a nervy last few minutes for Dublin, but instead it was the Leinster side who finished the stronger, McAuley, Alan Brogan and Keaney all pointing to secure their side’s passage.

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier – Offaly 0-15 Waterford 0-11

Offaly defeated Waterford by 0-15 to 0-11 in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers on Saturday in Tullamore.

Cribbin content as Offaly slip past Déise

Offaly 0-15 Waterford 0-10

By Fintan O’Toole for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, July 12, 2010

OFFALY’S quietly efficient progress through the All-Ireland qualifiers continued at home in Tullamore on Saturday yet they laboured before advancing past Waterford. The victory did not require the hunger that Offaly displayed in fashioning an extra-time success over Clare in the previous round but this was another battle against Munster opponents for the Faithful men. Offaly have found the championship landscape to be barren over the last few seasons but after two wins in succession, manager Tom Cribbin feels his team are developing. “There was an awful lot of pressure on the team before the Clare game as we hadn’t won a championship match in three years. So it’s good now that we’ve got a couple of good results. They’re starting to believe in themselves a little bit more and they battled well. The draw has been kind to us and has allowed us to build up confidence. That’s crucial for us with a young team. The older guys provided great leadership as the game went on. “I’m happy that we won but I’m not getting carried away.”

An improvement in the quality of their play is critical for Offaly ahead of next weekend’s round three clash, with the glaring issue of free-taking badly needing to be addressed. In their Leinster championship defeat against Meath, Offaly had some ghastly misses and on Saturday the malaise showed no signs of abating. Five different Offaly players attempted frees within scoring range and between them they fired seven wides, including a couple of shocking attempts within 20 yards. “We did miss some easy frees and it is a problem,” admitted Cribbin. “There was one from 14 yards and another from 21 yards. That’s not good enough and it makes it hard for us. If you come down to our training, everyone’s stepping up to kick them and they’re all going over. They spend a half hour each night, three or four of them taking frees. “I don’t know what it is but hopefully it will come right.”

In open play, Offaly were able to source scores and their cause was aided by the presence of the classy Niall McNamee. Maurice O’Gorman did have a fine game on the Rhode dangerman but McNamee still managed to swerve over a couple of outstanding points. Youngsters Anton Sullivan and Graham Guilfoyle assisted McNamee in the scoring stakes while the experience of Ciarán McManus was vital in the second half. For Waterford, a season that began with burgeoning optimism in the spring has concluded in the summer on a flat note, according to manager John Owens. “It’s a very disappointed dressing room there. We can look back on the year later that we got promotion but it’s a long way back. It’s the last match of the year for us and it’s just a pity we couldn’t be involved in the draw (for the next phase). We were missing a few lads that we would’ve loved to have had. But you have to take the rough with the smooth and while we’re disappointed, Offaly were the better team.”

The loss of suspended duo Tony Grey and Tommy Prendergast dented Waterford’s aspirations. While their inside rearguard were sound and competent, the Déise struggled to gain a foothold in the middle third. Up front, the reliance on Gary Hurney for scores proved fatal. Hurney was superb at full-forward as he survived off limited possession and his input, along with a couple of neat scores by Conor McGrath, kept them in the hunt in the first half. Offaly had nudged 0-9 to 0-6 in front at the end of a first half where the players on both sides struggled with the greasy conditions. Offaly never truly kicked ahead in the second half and the suspicion that a Waterford goal could alter the game always prevailed. Their best chance came in the 48th minute but a McGrath shot was diverted wide by a diving block by McManus. After that Offaly had the wherewithal to secure the spoils with McNamee and Sullivan supplying the late flurry of points that sealed matters.

Scorers for Offaly: N McNamee (0-5, two frees); C McManus (0-3, one ‘45, one free); G Guilfoyle, A Sullivan (0-2 each); R Brady (one free), K Casey, B Connor (0-1 each).

Scorers for Waterford: G Hurney (0-5, three frees); C McGrath (0-2); S Briggs, M Donnelly, P Hurney (0-1 each).

Subs for Offaly: P McConway for Slattery (inj) (22); J Reynolds for Guilfoyle (55); S Ryan for Coughlan (60); A McNamee for Casey (68).

Subs for Waterford: C Phelan for Connery (inj) (31); L Ó’Líonáin for W Hennessy (45); S Cunningham for P Hurney (54); J Hurney for N Hennessy (60); C O’Keeffe for McGrath (68).

Referee: A Mangan (Kerry)

Faithful dominate against Waterford

From the web site

Offaly have progressed to the third round of the qualifier series with a 0-15 to 0-10 win over Waterford in rain-sodden Tullamore. Waterford started better in the tricky conditions, with Gary Hurney causing Scott Brady lots of problems in the Offaly defence, setting up the first point of the game for Conor McGrath. But the extra firepower that Offaly have was to prove the difference between the sides. The front three of Niall McNamee, Ken Casey and Anton Sullivan all got on the score sheet before the break and with Ciaran McManus chipping in from the half-forward line, Waterford were always chasing the game.

The home side led at the break by 0-9 to 0-6 and they pressed home that advantage in the second half. Gary Hurney scored all his sides second half points with 0-4 but Offaly managed 0-6 in the second period, including two from McNamee and the game was over as a contest well before the final whistle. Offaly are now in the hat for the next round while Waterford have the autumn to prepare for life in Division 3 for the first time.

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Qualifier Round 2 – Dublin 2-22 Clare 0-15

Dublin defeated Clare by 2-22 to 0-15 in Round 2 of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Qualifiers on Saturday in Croke Park.

Dubs deliver bolt from the blue

Dublin 2-22 Clare 0-15

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, July 12, 2010

HOW in heaven’s name did this end up as a 13-point win for Dublin? Yes it’s hurling, an All-Ireland qualifier in the plains of Croke Park where things can change very quickly, and the greasy pitch on Saturday often made ball-winning something of a lottery, but this was truly a bolt from the blue. Having built up a nine-points lead in a spectacular seven-minute first-half spell (21st to 28th minutes, 0-4 each to 0-13 to 0-4, full-forward Dotsy O’Callaghan the scorer in chief), Dublin then committed a cardinal error at any level of hurling, visibly relaxed they allowed a genuinely talented Clare in for three soft points before the break.

Even so, Dublin were still comfortably in front on the resumption, seven points (0-14 to 0-7). However a now-rampant Clare picked up where they had left off, hit six consecutive points in just nine minutes and were reeling in the Dubs point by point. Trailing by one (0-14 to 0-13), the underdogs were now in control in almost every sector of the pitch (still couldn’t breach the outstanding Dublin rearguard, in which custodian Gary Maguire was in superb form with two magnificent saves on the day). By comparison Dublin couldn’t even get a look at the posts at the other, not a single shot either on or off target in this period. This was it, Clare’s game to win and lose.

Then came an error by keeper Donal Touhy, one of the heroes of Clare’s U21 breakthrough All-Ireland triumph last year. He needlessly came off his line to contest a harmless long lobbing ball by Dublin wing-back Peter Kelly with Dublin’s Liam Rushe and his own Brendan Bugler. The ball beat them all and bounced into the empty net. A sucker punch, certainly, but it was only the 45th minute and they were still only four points behind. Still hurling far better as a team there was every reason for them to keep driving on. They didn’t. Where the outfield players should have gritted their teeth and thought, ‘Right, Donal has saved us on many an occasion, now we’re going to recover this for him,’ they did as they had done in the final crucial ten minutes of their Munster semi-final loss to Waterford and simply faded away.

Dublin now tacked on 1-8 against just two points for Clare, and what had been a game balanced on a knife-edge, and tilting towards the Banner, became a romp for the blue-and-blue. “We won by what, ten, 11?” asked bemused Dublin manager Anthony Daly, to be told it was actually 13. “It certainly didn’t seem like that — the reality was that we were in serious, serious trouble.” Ironically Daly, a Banner legend and former teammate and still great friends with Clare manager Ger O’Loughlin and his selectors, knew what was coming after the break and tried to warn his charges. He said: “The last thing we said before we went out after half-time was, ‘They’re going to come at us’. I know Sparrow (Ger) almost intimately and I knew there was going to be Doyler (Liam Doyle) and Danny Chaplin down there (Clare dressing-room) going bananas.

“We tried to warn fellas but our lads can tune out so easily and think the work is done. The few scores before half-time were crucial for Clare. Instead of driving on and killing it off at that stage, we seemed to be… it’s just inexperience I think. We don’t have that ruthless streak that you get off a Cork, Kilkenny or Tipp. We haven’t learned that yet.” The team with even more learning to do, however, is Clare, a team even younger, even more inexperienced, whose cause wasn’t at all helped when corner-back Pat Vaughan (17th minute) and wing-back Patrick Donnellan (47th minute), had both to be stretchered off the field after accidental hits with both ending up in hospital. O’Loughlin admitted their departures were costly. “Those are two very experienced guys and probably two of the fellas who were playing better at the time. In fairness to the lads, in the first 15 minutes of the second half there was only one team in it and that was Clare. We put them thinking big-time and that was the way I was hoping they’d play from the start. They didn’t, and I don’t know why.”

Ultimately however, Dublin strength, and that little bit of extra Dublin experience, was telling. The Clare manager agreed: “We had nine or ten guys out there around 20 or 21 years of age, and you can see the difference. A guy that’s 24 or 25 and has been around for a few years, probably has an advantage physically. That’s something we need to do over the next two or three years, build up on that. We have to find other players in the county, and those players are likely to be around 19 or 20 years of age again, rather than 24 or 25. We’ve been unlucky this year as well with James McInerney, Gerry Quinn, Gerry O’Grady (injured), that has been a bit unsettling for the team. I’ve seen enough to know that there is a good future for Clare, but you wouldn’t want to be getting 13-point beatings like that over the next while, it’s very deflating. Going forward, our best hope is with these lads.” At that stage the lights in the media room went out, plunging us all into darkness – “That probably sums up my day!” said Sparrow, proving the sense of humour, at least is still intact. Might have summed up the day, but doesn’t sum up the season, for Clare – there’s a lot of light ahead for those boys. Dublin? They’re only an hour up the road from the true masters of game control – closing down, closing out. Will they never learn?

Scorers for Dublin: A McCrabbe 0-8 (3f, 2s/l); D O’Callaghan (0-6); P Kelly, S Lambert (1-1 each); S Hiney (0-2); S Durkin, L Rushe, D O’Dwyer, M O’Brien, (0-1 each).

Scorers for Clare: J Conlan (0-3); C Ryan (0-3, 1f, 1‘65); J Clancy, N O’Connell, D Honan (0-2 each); S Collins, F Lynch, B Bugler, (0-1 each).

Subs for Dublin: L Ryan for O’Dwyer (41); S Lambert for Durkin (46); M Carton for P Carton (51); K Flynn for Rushe inj (68); S Ryan for O’Callaghan (69).

Subs for Clare: N O’Connell for Vaughan inj (17); A Markham for Collins (26); G Quinn for Donnellan inj (47); D Barrett for Ryan (59); C O’Donovan for Conlan (70+2).

Referee: J Sexton (Cork).

Dublin lower Banner to claim first Qualifiers win

Saturday, July 10, 2010

From the web site

Dublin are through to Phase 3 of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship after a 2-22 to 0-15 win over Clare at Croke Park on Saturday afternoon. The Dubs led by 0-14 to 0-7 at the break after a powerful first-half performance, but the Banner staged a fine comeback after the break, cutting the gap to just two points, after scoring five points in a row at the start of the second half. However, the Clare revival was halted abruptly when a goalkeeping mistake by Donal Touhy allowed Peter Kelly to grab a fortuitous first goal for the men from the capital.

Dublin led 1-14 to 0-13 and further points from the excellent Alan McCrabbe – he finished with eight points, including two sublime sideline cuts – and Maurice O’Brien before taking complete control in the final ten minutes. Their second goal came in the 65th minute when livewire forward David O’Callaghan fed substitute Simon Lambert, who drove the ball to back of the net. The sides were level at 0-4 apiece after 20 minutes before the Dubs, with O’Callaghan in excellent form, hit the next nine points of the game in a remarkable nine-minute spell.

John Conlon finally stopped the rot in the 33rd minute with a point from play, ending a 13-minute Clare spell without a score. The Banner added further scores from Nicky O’Connell and Jonathan Clancy just before the break to trail by seven points at half-time. O’Connell and the rangy Darach Honan were amongst the scorers as Clare hit five unanswered points after the break to cut the deficit to just two points. However, Kelly’s goal proved to be the turning point in the second half and the Dubs powered home to claim their first-ever Qualifier win with 13 points to spare.

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier – Cork 1-19 Cavan 0-4

Cork defeated Cavan by 1-19 to 0-4 in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier on Saturday in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Cork none the wiser as Cavan capitulate

Cork 1-19, Cavan 0-4

By Jim O’Sullivan for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, July 12, 2010

YOU’D have to feel sorry for the diehards who turned up for this All-Ireland football qualifier in miserable conditions at Páirc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday in the hope of seeing Cork building on the lessons learned from their provincial defeat to Kerry. Their reaction would have been no different from the management’s — without even the semblance of a decent challenge from Cavan and in incessant rain on a heavy pitch, they learned nothing new. Not that Conor Counihan was prepared to accept these factors as an excuse for a performance which, while admittedly difficult to be analytical in making a valid judgement, wasn’t expected. Counihan said: “I don’t know if you drop your standards when the game is won, (but) it’s not good enough. “We wouldn’t be happy with it. You have to push on, take every opportunity you get. There is plenty of room for improvement.”

Tommy Carr, whose continuing involvement with Cavan could be in doubt, remains a big fan of the Rebels, stating he had tipped them to win the All-Ireland last year and is sticking with them to succeed this time. He likes their constant movement from defence forward, commenting: “they can play the game short and they can put the ball into the square as we saw. They have big men around the place, they are able to win possession and they are very focused. “I think they are every bit as good as Kerry and I don’t subscribe to the mental thing they have on Kerry. They continue to learn from the defeats they have along the way, especially against Kerry. At some stage they will turn that to their advantage.”

Despite his comment about their easy facility to vary their game, one of Cork’s old failings of over-playing the ball short was arguably the one aspect of their approach which earned most criticism. Time and again passing was either faulty or ball was turned over. In contrast, progress was made when they attempted a direct style. For me, other than Pearse O’Neill’s second-half goal which resulted from a sweeping movement begun by Noel O’Leary, one of the best scores of the game was produced a few minutes from the break. Graham Canty delivered a long ball out of defence, the impressive Ciarán Sheehan won it at the edge of the square and his quick pass to the equally imposing Colm O’Neill resulted in a superb point. Cavan’s weakness, reflected in a single point in the first half was explained by a number of factors, not least Cork’s physical superiority. Michael Shields was placed at the edge of the square to mark Cavan danger-man Seanie Johnston and the in-form Graham Canty operated at right-half.

Counihan talks about the usefulness of players being versatile, but it poses the question about the need to make changes from game to game. Carr was dismissive of a suggestion that the ‘passionate play’ which won them a noteworthy victory over Wicklow when reduced to 13 players and down seven points with 20 minutes to go was missing. “We came up against a side that are simply a better side — and a better side by a good bit — and no matter how much passion or flair you show, it’s not going to win games,’’ he responded. “I still feel that fellows tried hard and dug as deep as they could. When you don’t have the ball you are going to find it very hard to score. In terms of the talent the Cork forwards have and the talent we have, there was a big difference and that is why they are one of the best teams in the country.”

With Cork’s main scoring threat coming from their full-forward trio (outstanding free-taking from Daniel Goulding produced eight points), their overall dominance meant that Cavan were severely restricted in scoring. “A team can’t go toe-to-toe with Cork and expect to come off better — that’s not going to happen. We had worked a lot on counter-attacking and attacking with pace, but we were up against a team equally if not better at pace and power than we were.” In front 0-9 to 0-1 at half-time, Cork had stretched their lead to 14 points before Johnston got Cavan’s second score from a free he won himself in the 51st minute. Immediately after that came Pearse O’Neill’s goal. It served to once more highlight the scoring potential of the attack.

Scorers for Cork: D. Goulding (0-8 frees); C. O’Neill (0-4, one free); P. O’Neill (1-0); P. Kelly (0-3, two frees); C. Sheehan (0-2); F. Goold and D. Kavanagh (0-1 each).

Scorers for Cavan: R. Flanagan (0-2, one free)); C. Mackey and S. Johnston (free, 0-1 each).

Subs for Cork: N. O’Leary for O’Sullivan (ht); N. Murphy for Walsh (inj, 40); D. Kavanagh for O’Connor (inj, 41); E. Cotter for Shields (54); J. Hayes for Goulding (64).

Subs for Cavan: M. McKeever for Philip Brady (19); C. Mackey for Brennan (32); Paul Brady for Galligan (39); D. O’Dowd for Brides (46); T. Corr for Flanagan (63).

Rampant Rebels make light work of poor Cavan

From the web site

The Cork footballers’ season is back on track after they easily disposed of Cavan by 1-19 to 0-4 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Round 2 of the GAA All-Ireland Football Senior Championship Qualifiers at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday afternoon. Conor Counihan’s side were heavy favourites going into the clash against the Breffni Men, but the 18-point winning margin would have been predicted by few people. The size of the victory does not flatter Cork in any way, however, as Cavan never really got going and Cork led from the 25-second mark, after Ciarán Sheehan’s point.

Sheehan, along with his colleagues in the full-forward line Daniel Goulding and Colm O’Neill, shone all the way through for the Rebels as Cavan were unable to get to grips with them and while Cork did not perform at their optimum level, they did not have to. If Cavan were to cause an upset then Seanie Johnston would, perhaps unfairly, have been expected to be the game-breaker, but he found it difficult to escape the clutches of Michael Shields, selected at centre-back but restationed to the number three spot before throw-in. As it turned out, Johnston would only manage one point, a free in the 51st minute, by which stage the game was long gone, Cork winning by 0-15 to 0-2.

In fact, it took until the 35th minute of the first half for Cavan to score, a point by Cian Mackey, and it is telling that they had more bookings and substitutions (two each) than scores. In contrast, Cork scored nine in that opening period, Goulding and Patrick Kelly on song from frees while the Rebels’ good play at midfield provided them with a solid platform upon which to build attacks. Three early second-half points increased Cork’s advantage before Garret Smith was shown a red card for Cavan, making their task infinitely more difficult and three more Goulding frees underlined Cork’s superiority. Following Johnston’s free to cut the gap, Cork then scored a goal, Pearse O’Neill finishing well after being found by sub Noel O’Leary, and though Cork dropped a level or two after that, they were never going to be complacent enough to allow Cavan back into the game.