Bord Gáis Energy Ladies NFL Division 4 Semi Final – Limerick 0-8 Louth 0-7

Limerick defeated Louth by just a single point, 0-8 to 0-7, in the other semi-final played at Crettyard, Laois. Louth were on top for much of the game but paid the price for missed chances as the Shannonsiders squeezed through to the final. Jenny McGuinness was off-target with a late free that would have taken the game into extra-time but the forward’s effort went agonizingly wide. McGuinness did finish as Louth’s leading scorer, however, with 0-3 while Dymphna O’Brien hit a similar tally for Limerick.

Ann Eager’s Limerick side had to come from a point down at half-time, 0-3 to 0-4, to book their place in the showpiece decider, where the winners will gain promotion to Division 3. Eager admitted: “It looked like Louth were going to destroy us in the early stages. We’re notoriously slow starters and it wasn’t good for the heart out there! It was nail-biting stuff and you’d have to feel sorry for Louth as well.”

Bord Gáis Energy Ladies NFL Division 4 semi-final results:

Longford 3-17, Offaly 1-08

Limerick 0-08, Louth 0-07

Match Preview

LGFA; Bord Gáis Energy Ladies NFL Division 4 semi-finals;

By Jackie Cahill

LIMERICK boss Ann Eager has described next Sunday’s Bord Gáis Energy Ladies National Football League Division 4 semi-final showdown with Louth as a “huge” game.

Ladies Football top brass changed the format of the League this year, with the previous two up, two down promotion and relegation system replaced with one up, one down.

In recent years, the finalists in Divisions 2, 3 and 4 were automatically promoted but in the coming weeks, the top four in each of those groupings will battle it out for just one promotion place.

And Eager admitted: “That was a bit disappointing. Going back a few years, if you got to the final, you were promoted. But we don’t make the rules.”

Eager, a native of Kerry, is an experienced coach and has been involved with a number of club sides in recent years.

She is a former PRO with the Kerry ladies board and took over the Shannonsiders from ex-Limerick footballer Tommy Stack, who stepped down at the end of the 2011 campaign.

In the group stages, Eager guided Limerick to a second place finish behind table-toppers Longford, with just one defeat in five matches.

Limerick will now play Louth in next Sunday’s semi-final at Crettyard and when the sides met earlier this season, Limerick needed a last-minute goal from Claire O’Riordan to snatch a 2-4 to 0-9 win.

Looking ahead to the rematch, Eager reflected: “It’s huge, absolutely huge. This is a new Limerick team and I was told that from the 2010 and 2011 panels, 21 players have gone. We have a lot of minors and new young players coming in as well but we still have experienced players.

“Some have retired, others have gone away and even on the present panel, we have one girl going to Australia. But it’s happening everywhere – it’s the environment that we’re living in now.”

Eager added: “We only beat Louth by a point in February – we stole it off them and next Sunday will be very close.

“Louth are a very good all round team, very strong up the middle.

“They’re every bit as good as any team that we have played. The last game was so close and they’ll be really up for it as well. They had us there for the taking but took their eye off the ball in the last few minutes.”

In next Sunday’s other Bord Gáis Energy Division 4 semi-final, Longford will play Offaly at St. Loman’s, Mullingar.

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Semi Final – Cork 1-25 Tipperary 2-15

Cork 1-25 Tipperary 2-15

Report from the web site

Cork defeated Tipperary 1-25 to 2-15 in thrilling encounter at Semple Stadium to set up an Allianz Hurling League final against Kilkenny. The sides were level on 10 occasions, but Cork finished strongly with 1-07 in the final 10 minutes to Tipp’s sole point. Brian O’Meara and Eoin Kelly set Tipp up for victory with second half goals, but a superb Luke O’Farrell strike sparked a Rebel rout in the closing stages, and with Patrick Horgan claiming a nine points tally, they strode away to win by seven. A superb defensive display by Eoin Cadogan, coupled with huge contributions from Pa Cronin, Horgan and Niall McCarthy set up a mouth-watering title decider.

Horgan gave Cork the lead for the first time in the ninth minute, after Pa Bourke (2) had traded points with John Gardiner and William Egan. A superb Niall McCarthy score was followed by another Horgan point, but Tipp responded with Shane Bourke firing in a shot which goalkeeper Donal Og Cusack did well to deflect over the bar. Moments later, Cusack’s game was over, due to an injury sustained while stretching for a ball, with Anthony Nash coming into the action after 16 minutes. Jamie Coughlan’s creative streak saw him carve an opening for Horgan to clip over his third score, and when Paudie O’Sullivan tagged on another Cork point, they led by three.

But that advantage was soon wiped out. With James Woodlock imposing himself on the game, Tipp came strong, Woodlock firing over a long range effort and setting up a gem for Bourke, who also converted another free to make it 0-07 each on 25 minutes.

Bourke’s fifth score had Tipperary back in front, but only briefly, for Horgan’s fourth levelled the scores for the fifth time, before Egan steered over a long range free to make it 0-09 to 0-08 in the Rebels’ favour. A wonderful Niall McCarthy score eased Cork two ahead, and with Eoin Cadogan revelling at the heart of their defence, they thwarted their opponents until Brian O’Meara popped up with a stoppage time point, and won the free from which Bourke sent the sides in level on 0-10 each.

Horgan and Luke O’Farrell tagged on further points as Cork eased into a two-point lead early in the second half, but in the 46th minute, Brian O’Meara used his stregth and power to bustle his way past two defenders and blast the ball to the net. But Cork, with Horgan, Egan and O’Farrell all on target, kept their noses in front until substitute Eoin Kelly drilled a 20-metre free direct to the net. Tipp were clinging on to a two-point lead when O’Farrell broke away on the left to arrow an angled shot to the net for a magnificent 57th minute goal, a score that effectively killed off the Premier county’s title challenge. Cork scored at will in the closing stages, with substitutes Conor Lehane and Darren Sweetnam and Horgan leading the Rebels to glory, while the brilliant Cadogan continued to deliver an exhibition of defending.

Cork scorers: L O’Farrell 1-02, P Horgan 0-09 (6f), N McCarthy, W Egan (2f) 0-03 each, P Cronin, C Lehane 0-02 each, J Gardiner, P O’Sullivan, D Sweetnam, A Nash 0-01 each.

Tipperary scorers: B O’Meara 1-02, E Kelly 1-01 (1-01f), P Bourke 0-07 (5f), J Woodlock, G Ryan, N McGrath, S Bourke, J O’Brien 0-01 each.

TIPPERARY: B Cummins, C O’Brien, Padraic Maher, M Cahill, T Stapleton. C O’Mahony, D Young, B Maher, J Woodlock, G Ryan, N McGrath, P Bourke, S Bourke, B O’Meara, J O’Brien.

Subs: S Maher for Young, E Kelly for S Bourke, S McGrath for B Maher, S Curran for Woodlock, J O’Neill for N McGrath.

CORK: D Og Cusack, S O’Neill, S McDonnell, C O’Sullivan, S O hAilpín, E Cadogan, W Egan, J Gardiner, L McLoughlin, J Coughlan, P Cronin, N McCarthy, L O’Farrell, P O’Sullivan, P Horgan.

Subs: A Nash for Cusack, J Kenny for O hAilpin, C Lehane for Coughlan, D Sweetnam for McCarthy, C McCarthy for McLoughlin.

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford)


Cork send summer signals

Cork 1-25 Tipperary 2-15

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, April 23, 2012

Move over, make a bit of room for us there lads — that was the message delivered to Kilkenny and Tipperary from Semple Stadium yesterday as Cork came with a powerful finish to qualify for their second Allianz Hurling League final in three years (lost the 2010 final to Galway).

For some time now the consensus has been that the Cats and Tipp — All-Ireland finalists for the past three years — sit on their own at hurling’s top table, Dublin leading a chasing pack that has been living on scraps. Not any more. Yes, it’s still only the league, but the 15,000+ attendance in Thurles yesterday were witness to a team of real ability, a team ahead of schedule in its development, a team that will surely now harbour ambitions that extend beyond the league final against Kilkenny in two weeks.

Right from the start Cork were in this game and though playing into a strong breeze, carried the fight to Tipperary in the opening 23 minutes, at the end of which they led 0-7 to 0-4. They lost their captain and keeper Donal Óg Cusack during that period (a freak Achilles tendon injury) but just as they had absorbed the loss of four starters from the drawn game against the same opposition in the final league round two weeks ago, so they absorbed Cusack’s loss, took it in their stride, big-hitting Anthony Nash taking over between the sticks.

Jamie Coughlan was causing all sorts of problems at centre-forward for Conor O’Mahony with his pace and skill, wings Pa Cronin and Niall McCarthy were winning their battles, while the inside line of Luke O’Farrell, Paudie O’Sullivan and Patrick Horgan bristled with threat. At the other end, centre-back Eoin Cadogan again led the line with authority, while behind him Shane O’Neill was enjoying a massive battle with Tipperary’s giant Brian O’Meara, Stephen McDonnell and Conor O’Sullivan doing well alongside. O’Meara deserves special mention. Though on a beaten team, being very tightly marked by the gritty O’Neill, the big man from Kilruane had a superb game; finished with 1-2 and could have been more, his bulk and strength complemented by a silken touch.  By the break Tipp had managed something of a comeback, game tied at 0-10 apiece, free-taker Pa Bourke doing the bulk of their scoring (seven points, five placed balls). It was a false reflection on events, however, Cork already looking the better side.

The second half continued in the same vein, Cork hurling very well throughout the field but hit with two body-blows, goals from O’Meara (46) and sub Eoin Kelly (20m free 53rd min). Each of those goals put Tipp back into the lead, but each time Cork responded immediately with points at the other end — no accident, said Cadogan. “That’s something we focused on in training; when you get setbacks in games you don’t sit back, you have to try and pick yourself up. The movement of our forwards and the way they were moving — it was great for a back to be looking at that down the field, seeing the points going over like that then the goal as well.”

Ah yes, the Cork goal. It arrived in the 57th minute, Horgan and McCarthy combining to put O’Farrell through; Luke had Paudie O’Sullivan available in the centre — didn’t need him, his blistering angled drive almost taking the rigging from the Tipp goals. It put Cork 1-18 to 2-14 up and when the kids came on, Conor Lehane and Darren Sweetnam, the icing was put on the cake, Cork outscoring Tipp 1-7 to 0-1 in the final 10 minutes to romp home. It was total hurling, the forwards running up a big score, midfield supplying the ammo, the backs doing a suffocating job on the dangerous Tipp attack. “We’re working as a unit,” Eoin Cadogan explained: “Any defence in the country has to be tight when you have the likes of Eoin Kelly roaming around the place, Noel McGrath as well. We stood up to them well today but they will be a different animal come championship.”

It’s not just the kids doing the business either, says Eoin. “The old as well, you had Tom Kenny coming on too. It’s a huge bonus when the legs are getting tired to see these fresh guys coming in. With his first touch Conor Lehane puts the ball over the bar, as did Darren Sweetnam, that was a huge bonus for the backs looking down the field. Overall we can be delighted with today.”

Scorers for Cork: P Horgan 0-9 (6f); L O’Farrell 1-2; N McCarthy 0-3; W Egan 0-3 (2f); P Cronin 0-2; C Lehane 0-2; J Gardiner, P O’Sullivan, D Sweetnam, A Nash (f), 0-1 each.

Scorers for Tipperary: P Bourke 0-7 (5f); B O’Meara 1-2; E Kelly 1-1 (1-1f); G Ryan 0-2; J Woodlock, N McGrath, J O’Brien, 0-1 each.

Subs for Cork: A Nash (Cusack inj. 17); T Kenny (Ó hAilpín 60); C Lehane (Coughlan 60); D Sweetnam (McCarthy 66); C McCarthy (McLoughlin 67).

Tipperary Subs: S Maher (Young 28); E Kelly (S Bourke 45); S McGrath (B Maher 48); S Curran (Woodlock 61); J O’Neill (N McGrath 68).

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford)

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Semi Final – Kilkenny 1-20 Clare 0-14

Kilkenny cruise into the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final

Report from the web site

Kilkenny cruised into the Allianz HL Division One final with a storming second-half performance that shattered the hopes of plucky Clare, winning on a final scoreline of 1-20 to 0-14. Richie Power hit five points, but had a penalty saved, as Kilkenny went in at the break ahead by 0-8 to 0-7, with Conor McGrath also striking five for Clare. Matthew Ruth netted the only goal of the game for the Cats four minutes into the second half, and they finished the job off clinically, with Power bringing his tally to nine points and Ruth bagging 1-4.

Davy Fitzgerald’s banners side competed on equal terms with the mighty Cats in the first half, but the gulf in class was ruthlessly exposed in the second period as Brian Cody’s men took their opponents apart. After Ruth scored the only goal of the game, the floodgates opened, and Power helped himself to a nine-point haul as Kilkenny won by nine. McGrath swept over a couple of early frees to give Clare a measure of confidence, but the Cats were ahead by the ninth minute, thanks to Colin Fennelly’s splendid long-range strike.

Pat O’Connor and Donal O’Donovan stood firm at the back as Kilkenny continued to press, and after Power had shot Kilkenny into a two-point lead, the banner came back again to level with scores form Sean Collins and Nicky O’Connell, who drove a long-range free between the uprights. O’Connell and Patrick Donnellan were important figures around midfield as Clare battled to gain the upper hand, but they received a let-off in the 21st minute when Eoin Larkin finished to the net after being sent in by Fennelly. But referee Alan Kelly disallowed the goal and instead awarded a penalty for Brendan Bugler’s foul on Larkin.

Power stepped up, but his strike was kept out by Donnellan when a three-pointer would have eased his side four clear. Power did make amends with his fourth point from a free, but McGrath duly brought his tally to four with two points, one a superb effort from play, to bring the sides level on 0-06 each in the 27th minute. Power arrowed over a stoppage-time free to ease the All-Ireland champions ahead once again, 0-8 to 0-7 at the break.

And they grabbed a goal four minutes into the second half. Larkin again the man causing mayhem as his angled shot was saved by goalkeeper Patrick Kelly, but Ruth nipped in to finish to the net from close range. Ruth and Fennelly tagged on points, and suddenly Clare found themselves trailing by five. Clare needed a big response, and while they did pull back points through Liam Markham and O’Connell, Kilkenny were able to pick off points with relative comfort, opening out a six-point lead through TJ Reid.

Tommy Walsh imposed himself on the game in typical fashion at the back as Brian Cody’s side grew in stature, with Cillian Buckley an immense figure in the central area. Power was still hitting the target from frees and play, and Larkin finally got his name on the scoresheet as the margin grew to nine with ten minutes to play. The damage could have been greater, but for the heroic defending of O’Donovan and Cian Dillon, and Clare staged a minor revival to pull back scores through Colin Ryan and Donnellan. But it was to be Kilkenny’s day, and they hit the game’s last three scores, with Fennelly, substitute Kieran Joyce and Ruth all hitting the target.

Kilkenny scorers: M Ruth 1-3, R Power 0-9 (7f), C Fennelly 0-4, J Mulhall, E Larkin, K Joyce, TJ Reid 0-1 each.

Clare scorers: C McGrath 0-6 (5f), C Ryan 0-3 (2f), N O’Connell 0-2 (2f), L Markham, P Donnellan, S Collins 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: D Herity, P Murphy, J.J. Delaney, J Tyrrell, T Walsh, B Hogan, R Doyle, M Fennelly, C Buckley, T.J. Reid, R Power, J Mulhall, C Fennelly, E Larkin, M Ruth.

Subs: M Bergin for Larkin, K Joyce for Walsh, C Fogarty for Doyle

Clare: P Kelly, D O’Donovan, C Dillon, C Cooney, B Bugler, P O’Connor, L Markham, N O’Connell, P Donnellan, F Lynch, S Collins, E Barrett, C Ryan, C McGrath, J Conlon.

Subs: J Clancy for Lynch, A Cunningham for Barrett

Referee: A Kelly (Galway)


Kilkenny craft keeps Banner in check

Kilkenny 1-20 Clare 0-14

By Fintan O’Toole for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Kilkenny progressed with their customary assurance yesterday at Semple Stadium but received an adequately stern examination from Clare to earn their right to a spot in the final. This was a game that boiled down to two sides in differing stages of development. When they needed to close out the game in the second half, Kilkenny were able to draw on the defensive nous of JJ Delaney and Brian Hogan, the midfield power of Michael Fennelly and the attacking prowess of Richie Power. The level of experience they have stockpiled in recent seasons was instrumental in ensuring this game metamorphosed into a one-point advantage for Kilkenny at the interval to a nine-point margin by the final whistle.

Clare will not be too downhearted in defeat. Their mission statement this spring was to achieve promotion to Division 1A and their recent riveting success over Limerick meant that aim had already been realised. Yesterday was a bonus match and crucially a chance to pit themselves against a higher class of hurling opposition. For a team still in a burgeoning state, this was an important tussle for a duo like Aaron Cunningham and Seadna Morey who were sprung from the bench late on. This time last year they were eligible for the minor grade and studying for their Leaving Certificate. Clare need time to develop and in manager Davy Fitzgerald’s eyes the most important aspect to this game was avoiding the type of mauling Kilkenny inflicted on Galway a couple of weeks ago.

“We have a very young team and the most important thing is that we weren’t blow off the field. “What they did to Galway a few weeks ago will be on Galway’s mind every time they play them from now. Getting 3-26 to 10 points, that’s what they did to them and they’re capable of doing that every time they go out. We hung in there fairly okay I thought. Naturally it’s a big step. I don’t think physically we were blown out of it.”

Fitzgerald’s point was a salient one as Clare brought a ferocity to their approach from the outset. That was reflected in the physical nature from the opening moments when they stood up to Kilkenny. The shuddering collision between Clare’s Cian Dillon and Kilkenny’s John Mulhall in the 18th minute that led to both players departing the pitch as blood gushed from head wounds was indicative of the early exchanges.

In the second half the sting was largely taken out of the match as Kilkenny’s superiority came to bear. The Clare defence stuck to the Kilkenny attack with determination and did not allow themselves to be prised apart during the first half. They only trailed by 0-8 to 0-7 at half-time after being sustained by the free-taking of Conor McGrath and the clever scything runs of Sean Collins at centre-forward. There was fortune for Clare in the 21st minute when the referee awarded a penalty for a foul on Eoin Larkin despite the James Stephens man finishing to the net and subsequently inspiration for the Banner when captain Pat Donnellan got down well to beat away Richie Power’s penalty effort.

Kilkenny were uncharacteristically wasteful in their forays forward in the first-half but they sharpened their accuracy in the second-half. Matthew Ruth’s goal, which Clare were rightly aggrieved by with the decisions in the build-up to it, in the 40th minute helped settle them. They shot six out of the seven points registered in the game between the 50th and 60th minute. That essentially put the game to bed. Clare had been left reeling by the concession of that goal and Kilkenny took over with Richie Power prominent. Clare looked unlikely to raise a green flag themselves and it was not until injury-time that they had their best chance when substitute Jonathan Clancy’s piledriver was bravely smothered by Kilkenny netminder David Herity.

The theme of newcomers to senior hurling was not just restricted to the Clare line-up on the day, with the performance of Cillian Buckley in the Kilkenny midfield area something for Brian Cody to cherish. The Dicksboro player raised the Irish Press Cup at minor level against Clare in September 2010 and he enjoyed another fruitful afternoon against the Banner here. Matthew Ruth was another to catch the eye as he contributed 1-3 from corner-forward and their development provides plus points for Kilkenny heading into another league decider.

Scorers for Kilkenny: R Power 0-9 (6fs), M Ruth 1-3, C Fennelly, M Fennelly 0-2 each, J Mulhall, TJ Reid, K Joyce, E Larkin 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clare: C McGrath 0-6 (5fs), C Ryan 0-3 (2fs), N O’Connell 0-2 (2fs), S Collins, P Donnellan, L Markham 0-1 each.

Subs for Clare: E Glynn for Dillon (blood) (18), Dillon for Glynn (21), J Clancy for Lynch (61), A Cunningham for Barrett (61).

Subs for Kilkenny: M Bergin for Mulhall (blood) (18), Mulhall for Bergin (24), Bergin for Larkin (63), K Joyce for Walsh (63), C Fogarty for Doyle (64).

Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)