Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tables July 29 - Senior Football, Hurling, Junior A Football, Ladies Senior Football, Junior B Football

Junior B Table

Sunday July 27 - Senior Football: Aidan McAnespies v Galway

Aidan McAnespie’s 3-15 Galway 1-7

Aidan McAnespie’s coasted to a 14-point victory in the Senior Football Championship over a Galway side that looked every inch a side that had not made the play-offs.

The play of Gary Kelly was a bright spot for Galway this season.
The tone for this fixture was set very early on, as Macs were already 3-1 to 0-0 in front by the time five minutes had passed.

Macs’ captain Collie Donnelly was first to hit the net with a neat left-footed finish, and his effort was followed by three-pointers from Peter Mallon and Michael Quinn.

Mallon had another goal opportunity, but he may have been abiding by the mercy rule as he fisted over for the South Boston side’s first point of the game. It was the tenth minute before Galway got up and running, and it took a free from Gary Kelly to get them off the mark.

Macs eased off the gas a little as the half progressed, but they still managed to build up a 3-9 to 0-3 lead before the half-time whistle was blown. Donnelly, Mallon and Quinn all added to their individual tallies.

The second half was a more even affair, with Macs using the healthy lead they had to give some substitutes a decent amount of game time ahead of the business end of the season.

The men in red and white didn’t manage to add to their goal tally, but they did continue to pop over points. Caolan O’Boyle accounted for Macs’ first point of the half, and even full-back Niall Gallen got in on the act.

There was at least one bright moment for Galway when Dermot Judge found the net just before the final whistle was blown.

It was an experience Galway will want to quickly forget, but McAnespie’s will know that the tests will be significantly tougher in the coming weeks.

Aidan McAnespie’s: P Coakley, C McGurk, N Gallen, S McAleer, D Lally, D Wrynn, C Donnelly, C O’Boyle, M Quinn, G O’Neill, M Campion, P Mallon, L Boland.

Galway: M O’Connor, D Redmond, T Morrissey, G Patterson, M Ryan, D Judge, C Fitzmorris, T Ryan, E Alford, G Kelly, I Collins, K Cummins, P McGovern.

By Seamus Leonard

Sunday July 27 - Senior Hurling: Tipperary v Wexford

Tipperary 3-12 Wexford 3-11

Tipperary came away with a Senior Hurling Championship win, but they had to endure a brave comeback from Wexford in order to do so.

Tipperary Senior Hurlers win over Wexford tightened the race for the championship.
It was a game that struggled to catch fire, but it was worth staying with for the dramatic conclusion.

The first half was a scrappy affair, with both sides racking up a number of wides. Brian Doyle put Wexford ahead in the third minute. Two frees from Jack Kelleher then put Tipp in front before the Premier men conceded the first goal of the encounter.

Harry Wallace was the man on target for Wexford as he applied the finish following a fabulous fetch by Padraig O’Farrell.

If anything, though, that goal only served to spark Tipp into life, and they rattled the net themselves soon enough. Kevin O’Brien was the scorer, as he made no mistake after finding himself in behind the Wexford full-back line.

The Slaneysiders were giving a good account of themselves, however, and two important scores before the break gave them a three-point lead at the interval, 2-4 to 1-4.

The first was a goal credited to Peter Ryan after the forward got a crucial touch to a long free that landed in on top of the square. And Doyle tacked on a point to give Wexford an advantage their performance warranted.

The quality did not improve immediately in the second period, and it took eight minutes for the first score of the half to be registered. Tipp’s Kelleher was the man to trouble the scoreboard, and his point was the first of five unanswered points as the Premier assumed control.

It was a full 14 minutes before Wexford scored again, but when it came it was something special. Wallace provided the entertainment, cutting a sideline over the bar from 40 metres out.

That memorable point marked the start of a period of domination for Wexford, which culminated with a super point by Doyle from his own 65-metre line that levelled the scores at 1-12 to 2-9.

But just as Wexford had dragged themselves back into the match, Tipp smashed home two goals (through O’Brien and Michael Harney) in quick succession to seemingly finish the game as a contest.

To Wexford’s credit, the Slaneysiders never gave up and another goal from Wallace and a Mark Mansfield point left just the minimum between the sides after two minutes of injury time had been played.

Unfortunately from Wexford’s perspective, the final whistle blew after the next puck-out and they didn’t get the chance to launch one final attack.

Tipperary: C Hennessy, N O’Connor, S McGarr, S O’Halloran, P Flaherty, J Kindregan, C Dempsey, S Nally, R Sludds, S Moriarty, J Kelleher, K O’Brien, M Harney.

Wexford: E Sprughan, D O’Leary, M Ryan, T Moloney, M O’Regan, B Barron, D Redmond, B Doyle, H Wallace, M Mansfield, P Ryan, T Ryan, P O’Farrell.

By Seamus Leonard

Sunday July 27 - Senior Football: Wolfe Tones v Donegal

Wolfe Tones 1-15 Donegal 0-15

Wolfe Tones booked their place in the Senior Football Championship play-offs with a narrow victory over Donegal in an absorbing encounter.

Tones had the better of the opening half, and they had the opportunity to open up a four-point lead when they were awarded a penalty after Luke Flynn was hauled down as he prepared to shoot.

Wolfe Tones pulled off a win to ensure a playoff place.
However, Marty Clarke saw his penalty saved by Donegal goalkeeper Eamon McCarney, and Tones were punished for their miss as Donegal worked the ball down the field for Ciaran Thompson to land a point and level the score at 0-2 apiece.

Tones continued to dominate, and by the time Michael Argue curled over a beautiful point the Dorchester men were four points to the good. It was tit-for-that from there until the break, and another over from Argue ensured Tones enjoyed the half-time lead, 0-10 to 0-07.

The close nature of the game continued upon the restart with Ryan Murray and Argue both scoring points for Donegal and Tones, respectively, inside the opening 60 seconds.

Argue was having an exceptional game at midfield for Tones, and an impressive point by him from over 40 metres out gave Tones a four-point lead.

Donegal enjoyed a purple patch in the middle period of the second half and three points from Stephen Griffin (two frees) left just the minimum between the teams with 15 minutes remaining, 0-13 to 0-12.

Tones were in desperate need of a point to get them back on track, and Gary Brilly obliged with a fine effort off his right boot. And Charles McCarthy followed that up to put the Tones three ahead with just under ten minutes remaining.

A Griffin free cut Donegal’s deficit to two, and then Murray split the posts to leave the game delicately poised heading into the last five minutes.

Donegal equalised in the 58th minute when Thompson held his nerve to find the target, but Tones responded brilliantly as they got the ball to full-forward McCarthy who blasted to the net from close range.

Tones had Cillian Clarke sent off for a second yellow card late on, and Donegal had a couple of close-range frees in stoppage time. However, the Tir Chonaill men just couldn’t breach the Tones defence, and, in truth, the Banshee Boys were worthy of the victory.

Wolfe Tones: C Hynes, K Clarke, D McConnon, S Higgins, K Cleere, G Scanlon, M Argue, L Flynn, M O’Brien, G Brilly, D McVeery, M Farrell, C McCarthy.

Donegal: E McCarney, M Canny, C McCarron, S Doherty, C Healy, J O’Connor, M Smyth, S McDonagh, R Murray, C Thompson, D McLaughlin, S Griffin, S Boyle.

By Seamus Leonard

Saturday July 26 - Junior A Football: Aidan McAnespies v Shannon Blues

Aidan McAnespie’s 2-12 Shannon Blues 2-6

Aidan McAnespie’s maintained their push for the Junior A Football Championship play-offs with a hard-fought win over Shannon Blues in the opening act at Canton on Sunday.

There had been some torrential downpours in the hour leading up to the game, which made for extremely slippy underfoot conditions on the main field.

Macs were quicker to get to the pitch of the game, and they opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Ryan McCrystal floated a fine point over the bar.

Aidan McAnespies continued their push for Junior playoffs.
The men in red and white added a goal to their tally four minutes later when Aaron McKenna met a Stephen Magill ’45 and punched clinically to the net. Magill was provider again soon after when he slipped in Enda Hamill for a tidy point.

The Blues eventually played themselves into the game, and a couple of converted frees by Vinny Cadden brought the score to 1-2 to 0-2 by the midway point of the first half.

Macs were guilty of some wayward shooting but they added a point in the 24th minute when Gareth McAlinden capitalised on a loose handpass in the Shannon rearguard to find the target.

Cadden tapped over a free for Blues and Hamill replied with a point on the stroke of half time to leave the score at the break 1-4 to 0-3 in Macs’ favour.

The Macs were a reinvigorated force after the interval and points from McKenna, Hamill and McAlinden (2) eased them into a 1-8 to 0-3 lead.

Blues were struggling to get a foothold in the game and their task became even more difficult in the 42nd minute when McAlinden rifled a shot to the bottom corner of the net.

But Shannon finally made a breakthrough with a quarter of an hour left when some sloppy defending by Macs afforded John Walsh the chance to crash a shot to the net. And when Pat Murray followed that up with another goal inside a minute there was just five points between the sides, 2-9 to 2-4.

Almost ten minutes elapsed before the next score, with Neil Donaghy settling Macs’ nerves with a point from distance. And the result was put beyond doubt when Shane Lynn curled over a beautiful point moments later.

Aidan McAnespie’s: N Duffy, B Smyth, M Bogue, R McCrystal, P Daly, L Brogan, S Lynn, N Donaghy, O McNulty, G McAlinden, E Hamill, S Magill, A McKenna

Shannon Blues: M Moriarty, D O’Brien, M Keegan, S Sinnott, J Craig, B Bannon, V Cadden, P Murray, C Moriarty, J Walsh, J Moriarty, T Hernon, K Flattery.

By Seamus Leonard

Saturday July 26 - Senior Football: Connemara Gaels v Christopher's

Connemara Gaels 3-14 Christopher’s 1-13

Christopher’s exited the Senior Football Championship on Saturday evening in Canton as a seven-point defeat to Connemara Gaels extinguished any hope they had of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the competition.

The Gaels Thomas Corrigan shoots.
Christopher’s, the 2009 Senior champions, had the better of the opening stages in what was a very competitive first half. Gaels got on the scoreboard through a Colman Mulkerrins point after two minutes, but the men in red and black responded with overs from Kevin McAllister (2), Shane Leahy and Luke Connolly to lead by 0-4 to 0-1 by the 12th minute.

Gaels almost grabbed the first goal of the game when Collie Harkin’s clever shot snuck past Christopher’s goalkeeper Paudie Kenneally only for full-back John Spillane to get back and make a tremendous last-ditch clearance.

But Gaels were on top by that stage and points from Noel Graham, Dave McCormack and Ian Burke made it level pegging by the 20th minute.

A converted ’45 by Burke gave the Westerners a slender advantage, but it didn’t last long as Connolly drilled a penalty to the net to put Christopher’s in the ascendency once again.

However, a goal a minute before the short whistle ensured Gaels went in 1-7 to 1-5 ahead the break. The major came from the boot of Harkin, with goalkeeper Kenneally unable to deal with both the power of the shot and the visual impairment caused by a blindingly low sun.

Gaels extended their lead in the early stages of the second half, with a hat-trick of points from the effervescent Ruairi Corrigan putting the Connemara men in control.

Christopher’s continued to persevere, and a sublime point off the outside of his right boot from Connolly reduced the deficit to just two points.

Gaels were making a habit of scoring at crucial junctures and a goal from Burke, via the underside of the crossbar, nipped the Christopher’s comeback in the bud.

Christopher’s spent much of the latter stages camped inside Gaels’ half. Connolly had two excellent attempts on goal repelled, but on the whole the red and black just didn’t have the killer instinct to prevail.

The winners put together a number of fluid handpassing moves, and it was yet another one of them that led to their third goal with half-forward Graham punching to the net.

Gaels finished the game with 12 men after Mulkerrins was dismissed following a second yellow card. It made no difference to the result, though, as defending champions Gaels marched confidently into the play-offs.

Connemara Gaels: E Connolly, J Donohoe, S Connelly, P McNicholas, C Daly, C Mulkerrins, D McCormack, C Jones, C Harkin, N Graham, R Corrigan, I Burke, C McCormack.

Christopher’s: P Kenneally, E O’Mahoney, J McGuire, J Spillane, C Murphy, D Culhane, D Kenneally, B Coughlan, E Kiely, L Connolly, K McAllister, B Shanahan, S Leahy.

By Seamus Leonard

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sunday July 20 - Senior Football: Connemara Gaels v Aidan McAnespies

Aidan McAnespies 3-13 Connemara Gaels 2-12

Aidan McAnespies pulled out a rousing four point win over Connemara Gaels to finish the day's action.  The Gaels finished the first half strong to go into the break with a lead, but in the second half McAnespies moved ahead and this time around the Gaels could not recover.  With the game tied in the final 5 minutes McAnespies delivered the goods to now find themselves challenging for one of the two top spots in the table.

Caolan O'Boyle sends Eoin Connolly the wrong way.
After a rocky start the Connemara Gaels eventually settled and started to play good running football.  Noel Graham opened the Gaels account with a well taken point, and the response from McAnespies came in the form of a Daniel McKinless goal.  Ger Leech leveled matters with two points before McAnespies went ahead again through a well taken Caolean O'Boyle penalty that sent Eoin Connolly the wrong way.  McKinless again was involved having been pulled down in the penalty area to win the kick.  McAnespies now had the edge, and held a five point lead.  The Gaels worked their way back into the game.  Ruairí Corrigan started to motor at wing forward and the Fermanagh man's run resulted in Ian Burke palming home a goal into the far corner.  With that the Gaels started to find their rhythm and points came from Graham, Corrigan, and John Egan.  McAnespies stayed in touch with O'Boyle and Boland points.  At the break it was a 1-10 to 2-5 Gaels lead, and the 2013 champions were sitting pretty.

Ruairi Corrigan makes the opening for the Gaels first
half goal.
Just like the first half, McAnespies netted from the get go, and McKinless was once again involved.  Collie Donnelly just had the tidy up to do to put the ball into the empty net after the ball was played across the goal.  McKinless and Colin Campion followed up with points and McAnespies were in a three point lead early in the second half.  McAnespies defended well far out the field, and forced turnovers with the Gaels trying to play the ball out of defence.  The Gaels spurned some golden opportunities to turn the tide though.  Calum McCormack was presented with a golden chance for a goal after intercepting a cross field pass, but with just the keeper to beat bundled his shot wide.  Paddy Coakley denied McCormack shortly afterwards with a point blank save, and the ball ended up coming off the crossbar.  McCormack was in again a third time, and the Westmeath man's placed effort went wide of the far post.  Eventually a goal did come for the Gaels from Ruairí Corrigan, who made no mistake when through and the score tied the game with less than ten minutes to go.  The game was now up for grabs.

It was McAnespies who grabbed the bull by the horns with the game on the line.  Boland pointed a free following a turnover coming of defence, Peter Mallon followed with a second, and a third came from McKinless soon afterwards made it a three point difference, forcing the Gaels to go for goal with minutes left.  After a couple of unsuccessful forays forward, Caolan O'Boyle made it a four point difference with the final kick of the game to move McAnespies to third in the standings and leave the Gaels looking at somewhat of a mid season slump.

Macs:  P. Coakley, N. Gallen, C. McPartland, M. Bogue, D. Lally, D. Wrynn, C. Donnelly, C. O'Boyle, M. Quinn, G. O'Neill, M. Campion, D. McKinless, L. Boland.  Gaels:  E. Connolly, J. Donaghue, C. Daly, J. Egan, M. Shanahan, S. Connolly, J. Barrett, C. Jones, G. Leech, N. Graham, R. Corrigan, I. Burke, C. McCormack.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday July 20 - Senior Hurling: Tipperary v Fr. Tom Burke's

Fr. Tom Burke's 0-20 Tipperary 1-20

Fr. Tom Burke's and Tipperary contested a magnificent game of hurling in an atmosphere that has not been seen at the Irish Cultural Center in quite some time.  Tipperary had called upon the services of Clinton Hennessy who last played on the famous field eleven years ago.  In the end it was a second half Kevin O'Brien goal that separated the sides and gave Tipperary a late lead that they managed to hang on to until the final whistle.

Tipp and Tom's were involved in a great game of hurling Sunday.
It was intensity from the throw in.  Each side produced some excellent hurling, wonderful scores, and tough tackling to keep the crowd on the edges of their seats.  With the team's level at four points each, John Mulhall, Zane Keenan, and Niall O'Brien pointed four times between them, to scores from Jack Kellegher and Kevin O'Brien for Tipp.  Tipp pulled the lead back in with O'Halloran and Kellegher points as the game flowed up and down the field at speed.  By the time the break arrived, Tom's held a three point edge.  John Mulhall, and two wonderfully taken points from Keenan from out on the stand side provided Tom's with a 0-13 to 0-10 edge at the break.

It was Tipp who edged it in the end.
Tipperary always had the look of a team that was going to score a goal however, Alan Keating was called upon to make a handful of good saves as Tipp found routes through the Tom's rearguard.  In the meantime, Tipp had erased the Tom's lead with Sean Moriarty, Andy McRedmond, and Kellegher points.  The goal eventually came after Tom's had restored their lead to two points, one of which was a brilliant effort from John Mulhall.  Kevin O'Brien found room behind his man, picked the ball and buried the shot.  The goal gave Tipp a lift and took some of the life out of Tom's efforts.  Jack Kellegher extended the lead with two frees to one from Keenan for Tom's and now it was Tom's chasing the game.  Tom's could not overturn the Tipp lead in the final minutes, and additional scores from McRedmond and Kellegher put the final touches on a win that will have sent Tipp home very satisfied indeed.

Tom's:  A. Keating, G. Joyce, P. Heneghan, D. Costello, C. Joyce-Power, C. Healy, Z. Keenan, O. Burke, J. Mulhall, I. McDonnell, S. Howley, D. O'Mahoney, N. O'Brien.  Tipp:  C. Hennessy, S. McGarr, N. O'Connor, J. Kindregan, P. Flatherty, S. O'Halleran, C. Dempsey, R. Sludds, P. Glennon, S. Moriarty, J. Kellegher, P. Dalton, K. O'Brien.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday July 20 - Senior Hurling: Galway v Wexford

Galway 5-12 Wexford 0-13

A revamped Galway side took the field on Sunday to meet Brighton rivals, Wexford.  Richie Cummins and Tomás O'Hanrahan lined out in the corner forward positions and Rory Hickey at center forward, and between them the Galway forward line had put the game away in the first 30 minutes.  Galway started the game full of intensity, and did not allow Wexford any room on the ball.  It seemed too easy for Galway in the first half, and though Wexford did not allow a goal in the second half, they really needed to bag a couple to make a game of it, but Galway's defence was too tight to allow that to happen.

Galway put the matter to bed early with 5 first half goals.
The half time whistle must have come as a relief to Wexford for by the time it sounded, Galway had beaten Ed Spruhan five times.  The goals seemed to come a little too easy from Wexford's viewpoint.  Tomás O'Hanrahan netted a hat trick, with the balance coming from Paul Holden and Ger Malone.  Galway's turned Wexford the back line inside out on occasion, and in fairness to Spruhan, there was not much he could have done to stop any of them.  Galway were relentless in the half back line, John Moylan put in a determined first 30 minutes at wing back, as did Sean Phelan and JJ Doyle.  Wexford had a chance at a major having won a penalty.  Michael Moloney went low, but the ball bounced off the turf which took the sting out and Galway saved easily.  Wexford got some encouragement with fine scores from Tom Moloney, and his brother, Michael, but Galway had matters well under control and took the break 13 points to the good.

Though Wexford had a couple of opportunities they could not convert.
Wexford's misery continued in the second half.  Moloney stepped up to take another penalty opportunity, but again it went awry after was mishit and went wide of the posts.  Galway tended to the lead and matched Wexford in the points column.  Ed Spruhan pulled off a good save from Cummins to at least deny Galway a second half goal.  Wexford can take some solace from their second half performance, and remain on course for semi-final place.  But with the Tipperary result against Tom's, this senior hurling championship has sprung to life.

Wexford:  Ed Spruhan, H. Wallace, M. Ryan, B. Doyle, B. Barron, T. Moloney, J. Kehoe, M. O'Regan, M. Moloney, P. Ryan, T. Ryan, P. O'Farrell, M. Mansfield.  Galway:  J. Skehill, P. Dowling, P. O'Dwyer, J. Moylan, S. Phelan, JJ Doyle, J. Regan, B. McNamara, P. Holden, R. Hickey, G. Malone, T. O'Hanrahan, R. Cummins.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sun July 20 - Senior Football: Galway v Christopher's

Galway 1-16 Christopher's 4-18

Christopher's late playoff run gathered momentum following an entertaining battle against Galway.  A couple of well taken Shane Leahy goals delivered a double blow to Galway in the second half.  It looked as though the game could go either way for most of the game, but in the second half Christopher's pulled away after Galway lost Danny Reddin to a sending off.

It was close until late in the second half between Galway and Christopher's.
It was an evenly contested half of football.  Eoin Cummins got Galway off to a great start with an early goal, but Christopher's answered with points from Kevin McAllister, Paddy Dalton, and David Culhane.  Kevin Cummins, back in the Galway lineup, put two fantastic points over in quick succession as the game ebbed and flowed.  Christopher's had Brian Shanahan to thank for two wonderful points to open up a three point lead coming up to the break.  Gary Kelly reduced the gap to one point just before the break with a converted free followed by a glorious left footer. 

Gary Kelly put some magnificent strikes over the bar for Galway,
but it was not enough to overcome Christopher's.
The second half saw Christopher's strike with two goals in quick succession to deliver a blow to Galway's hopes.  Kelly had just given Galway a one point lead with two well taken points.  After Mark Delaney and Shanahan reciprocated for Christopher's opened up the Galway defence but made one pass too many, and the opening that was created quickly closed.  It was a harbinger of what was to come, however.  Shane Leahy, who made that extra pass, took the next two chances himself and rattled the net twice.  John Spillane converted the next critical score, and it looked as though Christopher's were on their way.  Paddy Dalton then worked hard to force a turnover as Galway tried to play the ball out of defence, and the result was a third goal for Christopher's, finished by Shanahan. 

Galway kept up the work rate.  The tribesmen accounted for the next 4 points, although Danny Reddin was shown the line and that was the end of the Galway revival.  With a few minutes left Christopher's made it a three score game with points from McAllister and Shanahan and are now pushing the Wolfe Tones and Kerry for that final playoff spot.

Galway:  M. O'Connor, D. Redmond, J. Gallagher, G. Patterson, P. Cummins, D. Judge, E. Cummins, C. Fitzmaurice, D. Reddin, G. Kelly, D. Hickey, P. Breen, K. Cummins.  Christopher's:  P. Kenneally, E. O'Mahoney, J. McGuire, J. Spillane, C. Murphy, D. Culhane, B. Coughlan, D. Kenneally, P. Dalton, K. McAllister, A. Matassa, B. Shanahan, S. Leahy.

By Rory O'Donnell

Saturday July 19 - Senior Football: Shannon Blues v Kerry

Shannon Blues 1-14 Kerry 1-10

Shannon Blues provided Kerry with a golden opportunity to pull off a big win, but the Kingdom failed to take it.  With the scores tied early in the second half, Blues center back, Dennis McElligott, was tagged with a second yellow card.  As the game wore on however, it was the Kerrymen who seemed to tire, while the Blues used the ball well to make the most of their opportunities, and outscore their arch rivals by 4 points to win the game.

Shane Briggs and Kerry Matched the Blues in the first half.
Kerry put it up to their opponents in the opening period.  The Blues introduced a face from last year, Darragh Treacy lined out in the middle of the field alongside James Walsh, forming a formidable midfield partnership.  The Blues got on the board first with a couple of points, but Kerry got a lift with a well taken Graham Glenn goal.  The Clareman fisted into the right spot from just outside the small square.  Croft popped over a couple of dead balls and Kerry were looking good.  A goal was on the cards for the Blues however.  The Kerry defence was opened up on a couple of occasions, and eventually a foul in the penalty area drew the signal.  Paul O'Connor fired home low to Lee Stacey's left.  It was O'Connor for the Blues and Croft for Kerry matching each other for scores up the final whistle.  It was a 1-6 each game at the break.

But Paul O'Connor and Blues pulled away in the second.
The second half saw the Blues go down a man after McElligott was shown a second yellow card, and Kerry fail to capitalize.  There was a golden opportunity for a goal that fell to Croft after the ball was poked across the face of goal.  The Dubliner tried to place it, but mishit the shot and the chance went a begging.  Kerry had a decent handful of chances to score after working the ball within range, but it looked as though a bit of anxiety crept in and the end product did not have the desired effect from a Kerry viewpoint. 

The Blues on the other hand made good use of the ball, and also almost had the ball in the net but the post denied Niall Murphy.  One score exemplified the precision with which the Blues were playing.  With Kerry having the extra man in the full back line, Sean O'Connor played a beautiful ball into Paul O'Connor who was between two Kerry defenders, and O'Connor put it over the bar.  As time went on Kerry were the side that looked to tire more quickly.  The O'Connor point put the Blues 3 up, and Kerry pulled within one following two Croft free kicks with minutes left.  The Blues, however, finished the stronger side with three unanswered points to go top of the table.  Kerry still in the playoff picture, but this was one that will leave the Kingdom wondering what they need to do to come out on the right side of the result.

Kerry:  L. Stacey, M. Godley, A. Fitzgerald, P. Devane, S. Briggs, C. Moriarty, D. Foley, M. Condron, O. McGreevey, G. Glynn, J. Fitzpatrick, R. Croft, N. Sheehy.  Blues:  C. Wallace, S. Kelly, C. Long, T. Wallace, D. McElligott, S. Moriarty, J. Walsh, D. Treacy, M. Brosnan, D. Clifford, S. O'Connor, P. O'Connor, N. Murphy.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday July 20 - Ladies Senior Football: Connacht Ladies v Tir na nOg

Tír na nÓg 6-8 Connacht Ladies 1-15

Six goals for Tír na nÓg matched Connacht Ladies total score in points, and ensured that the Brighton side remained unbeaten so far this season.  A hat trick for Jenny Byrne at full forward, and two goals from Caroline Nee put the daggers into Connacht Ladies, who played well in spells and tallied a respectable total of 16 scores.  Conceding goals can kill a team however, especially six of them.

Tir na nOg banged in the goals to keep Connacht Ladies at bay.
The game started with a goal for each side.  Jenny Byrne opened Tír na nÓg's account with a well taken goal, and Sinead Greene answered for Connacht Ladies.  The sides traded points thereafter, Greene, Catriona Smith and Catriona Foley hitting the mark for Connacht Ladies, and Tessa Mullen and Shauna Jackson for Tír na nÓg.  The Brighton side then opened the gap with two goals in quick succession.  Caroline Nee and Byrne netted back to back goals, and at the break it the Brighton side in a 3-6 to 1-5 lead.

Connacht Ladies kept it interesting till the final few minutes.
Another two goals early in the second half put them in the drivers seat.  Nee put away her second, and Byrne her third.  Connacht Ladies kept plugging away in the points department.  Foley, Smith, and Jane Ward inched their side closer and the 2013 champions drew within six points.  Tír na nÓg dug in at the back and held off their opponents until Tessa Mullen got the insurance goal with a minute left, and put the game out of sight.  Tír na nÓg back with a bang in 2014 after a few years on the outside looking in.

Tír na nÓg:  N. Hynes, E. Healy, L. Brick, A. Potts, N. O'Neill, A. Taylor, N. Daly, J. Moore, S. Jackson, T. Mullin, C. Nee, L. Bergin, L. Leonard, J. Byrne, C. O'Connor.  Connacht Ladies:  C. Heraty, K. Cunningham, A. Edgan, A. Kerr, E. Mulgrew, S. Polly, K. O'Brien, C. McDonald, J. Ward, C. Smith, S. Greene, J. McDonagh, K. Kenneally, C. Foley, N. Morgan.

By Rory O'Donnell

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Leinster Final Day Memories

This Sunday Dublin and Meath play for the Leinster title.  I recall the days when I lived at home, just up the road from Croke Park, and myself and a large group of friends would head to Croker and the Hill.  Decked out in the Arnotts shirts.  Stop at Meagher's in Fairview for a quick two (or three) before making our way down Clonliffe Road and to the Hill.  It always seemed to by sunny, at least that is what my memory tells me.  The anticipation would build as you got closer to the Hill, and crowd became denser.  Nearly all Navy and Sky Blue in that vicinity, though there would be a green and gold shirted soul or two around, probably lost their way to the Hogan Stand.  The adrenalin would start to flow and the stomach would being to knot as the anticipation built up.  Wed make our way to the usual spot on the Hill, everyone had their usual spots.  Ours was just at the curve in the terrace, about two thirds the way down.  This was back in the 1980s and 1990s when Dublin and Meath would battle for the title on an almost annual basis.  It was either going to be the best day of the summer, or the worst, there would be no in between.  There was no backdoor system; the loser was out. 

We had to beat Meath.  Inside Croker, once the crowd had filled up, the atmosphere was electric, there was no other way to describe it.  If Meath were in the minor final, and Dublin were not, the opponent always got the Hill's support.  Wexford, Offaly, Kildare, it didn't matter.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  The Hogan Stand was an oasis of culchiedom in the heart of Dublin City.  Like West Berlin for them, like an unwelcome guest forced upon us was our viewpoint.  Usually there was a decent amount of Dublin support in the Cusack, but the Hogan was a different matter.  Hardly a blue shirt, hat, or flag to be seen.  How could anyone shout for Meath we would think, even if you were from there.  The Hogan faced the Hill, always took a split second for the cheer following a score to reach the Hill, you always waited for it and you hated it.  It sounded like a jeer, it had an edge to it.  When the Dubs scored, I'm sure it was the same for them as sound waves traveled across the field towards the Hogan.  The ball goes over the bar, a second of silence, then the sound.  The score was the knife in the gut, the sound was the twist.

We had our heroes, the half back line had a nice ring to it, Carr, Barr, Heery.  I loved seeing Eamon Heery lining out at left half back.  He took no shit from them, and you could tell before the ball was thrown in that he was not going to.  We also had Deegan (with the socks pulled up), Curran, Guiden, Vinny, Jack Sheedy, and Charlie.  They were our guys.  The prime villain was Mick Lyons.  If Meath were playing away from the Hill to start the game, and Lyons was jogging to take his full back position, the chant went up instinctively.  "Mick Lyons, he's a wanker, he's a wanker, etc."  I'd say he relished it when I think back.  So often a high ball would drop into the box and amid a knot of hands and shirts, Lyons would come away to clear the ball.  Others we loved to hate were Robbie O'Malley, Colm Coyle (the absolute worst), David Beggy, Kevin Foley, Colm O'Rourke, and Tommy Dowd.  One name that generated more concern rather than anything else was Dr. Gerry McEntee.  In a tight game with 15 or 20 minutes to go, the switch would be made, McEntee was on, and it was never usually good, for us anyway.  Was it because he was a doctor and probably knew plenty about the human body that the rest of us were unaware of?  I don't know.  But when he came on, it was a huge concern, and Meath seemed to usually win.

The beauty of these games was that there was never a favourite.  The game could go either way.  Take 1991, which was actually a first round tie, it took 4 games to separate the teams.  Time has not eased the pain of the that Kevin Foley goal.  It never will. 

One other reason we gave ourselves to dislike Meath was the fact that they never stuck around after the game.  Should the Dubs have lost a game, there was a certain soothing element to knowing that you can head for a pint or two around Croker after the game, congratulate the opposing supporters and discuss the match objectively with them.  Meath never even gave us that.  Head off back to Meath straight after the game, gloating with their green and yellow flags, the woolen headband dangling from the rearview mirror, and leave us to wallow in our misery. 

The proximity and overlap was probably what made it such an intense occasion.  Some of the Dublin players actually lived in Meath.  Dr. Gerry McEntee managed Dublin minors.  I recall my own club playing a friendly against Summerhill, the club of Mick Lyons and his brothers.  I togged out at corner forward that day, and who was standing to my left, but the man himself.  For a young lad who had only ever abused him from the safety of Hill 16, it was quite the occasion.  I worked for many years in Boston with a brother of Paddy Hands O'Brien, full back on team of the century, and played with Paddy's son Tony at home.

After coming to Boston I played with St. Columbkilles.  We had a lad by the name of Mick O'Dowd join us for a couple of seasons, he did a great impression of Michael O'Muircheartaigh.  He was a fine footballer, and now manages the Meath team.  The last 10 years or so have been kinder to Dublin in the Leinster final stakes, though with Mick at the helm, Meath are catching up.  I'll be shouting for the boys in blue of course, but I wish Mick all the best in his managerial career.  Those Meath folk are not all that bad you know.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 13 - Senior Hurling: Tipperary v Wexford

Wexford 5-9 Tipperary 0-13

Five goals saw Wexford past Tipperary in an entertaining encounter.  The win puts Wexford in second place with the second round of the championship to come.  Tipperary played some nice hurling, but the final touch let them down.  Plenty of ball made it into the forward line, but the yield was low as the Wexford back line mopped up well.  Wexford on the other hand tallied three goals inside the first 15 minutes of the second half carry them to the win.

Tipperary clear their lines in the first half.
After a first half that was bookended by Eoghan Kavanagh goals, Wexford held a one point lead.  Having drifted out of the game in the 10 minutes leading up to half time, Kavanagh's second goal was much needed for Wexford.  Tipp had tallied four points to no reply, and had a penalty attempt saved during that spell in which they were on top.  Wexford rode the early goal, which came from a mazy run from the man from Inistoige County Kilkenny, and thereafter the teams traded points.  Michael Moloney was the main marksman for Wexford with four points, while for Tipp Paul Flaherty and Paul Buggy were on target.  Tipps plans were turned upside down after Buggy suffered an ear injury that ended his participation.   Kavanagh's second goal resembled the first, though it came from the other side, and it was all to play for in the second half with Wexford holding a 2-5 to 0-10 lead.

 Wexford came up with the big scores in the second.
Before the second half was 15 minutes old Wexford had the ball in the Tipperary net three times.  Peter Ryan accounted for 2 of the goals, the first from the edge of the small square after Paudge O'Farrell had made the opening with a run, and the second from a high ball into the small square.  Michael Moloney accounted for the other goal.  Tipp managed three points, but the absence of Paul Buggy severely curtailed their scoring  effectiveness.  Wexford defended well and Tipperary were unable to generate clear chances in spite of a decent amount of ball played into the attacking third of the field.  Harry Wallace at corner back cleared well on several occasions.  Towards the end of the game things got a little ill tempered with 3 players getting the marching orders.  Pat Moriarty, and then Jamie Kehoe and Sean Moriarty were given the line.  Wexford saw out the game to take the points and have 2 wins from their 3 games at the half way point of the season.

Wexford:  A. Duggan, H. Wallace, M. Ryan, T. Moloney, B. Barron, J. Keohane, J. Kehoe, M. Mansfield, B. Doyle, P. Ryan, E. Kavanagh, P. O'Farrell, M. Moloney.  Tipp:  S. Delaney, R. Sludds, S. McGarr, S. McKillop, N. O'Connor, P. Moriarty, C. Dempsey, L. Varley, E. Quinn, P. Flaherty, M. Kavanagh, S. Moriarty, P. Buggy.

By Rory O'Donnell

July 13 - Men's Senior Football: Wolfe Tones v Christopher's

Wolfe Tones 0-11 Christopher's 1-11

Christopher's pulled off a one goal victory to remain in the senior championship playoff hunt.  In doing so they also keep pressure on the Tones who lie just above them in the sixth playoff spot.  It was a scrappy game in which a first half Kevin McAllister goal proved to be the difference between the teams at the end.

Darragh McVeety caused problems for Christopher's in the early going.
The first half was a close run affair.  A late goal from Christopher's handed them the advantage going into the second half.  Luke Connolly made the defence splitting run to open the door for Kevin McAllister to put the finishing touches on the move.  Up to that the teams swapped points.  Neither side settled into any sort of rhythm.  On the mark for the Tones were Darragh McVeety, David Duke, Gary Brilly and Lee Carr.  Christopher's kept pace with scores from McAllister, Connolly, and Brian Shanahan.  At the break it was Christopher's ahead by double scores, 1-5 to 0-4.

The second half started off with neither side able to come to grips with affairs or generate any rhythm to their play.  Killian Clarke pointed from a free to inch the Tones closer, but Christopher's tallied four points in a row in response.  Brian Shanahan put a free over, followed by scores from Eamon Kiely, McAllister, and Connolly opened the lead to six points.  With Christopher's looking like they had the game in the bag, the Tones tried to stage a last gasp comeback.  Clarke moved into a more central position in the middle of the field.  Marty Farrell and Gary Brilly accounted for four points, to two for Christopher's, to bring the Tones within four and a handful of minutes left.  With the game into injury time Farrell made it a one score game as the Down man came to life.  A frenetic final few minutes saw Christopher's scramble clearances and names went into the book as temperatures heated up in the approach to the final whistle.  Hope still alive for Christopher's, and the Tones feeling the pressure in the coming weeks.

Tones:  Cathal Hynes, K. Clarke, G. Scanlon, C. Carr, S. Higgins, D. Duke, G. Brilly, L. Flynn, M. O'Brien, J R Bodkin, D. McVeety, M. Farrell, L. Carr.  Christopher's:  P. Kenneally, E. O'Mahoney, J. McGuire, D. Culhane, C. Murphy, E. Kiely, D. Kenneally, B. Coughlan, A. Matassa, K. McAllister, B. Shanahan, S. Leahy, L. Connolly.

By Rory O'Donnell

July 13 - Men's Senior Football: Donegal v Galway

Galway 2-7 Donegal 6-15

Donegal joined Shannon Blues on top of the senior football table with a lopsided win over Galway.  Galway needed to win to keep hopes of a playoff place alive and for most of the first half were doing what they needed to make that happen.  Donegal took advantage of a Galway lapse late in the half to turn the tables and with the drop in Galway heads went on to win easily.

Donegal pulled away from Galway in the second half of the game.
Galway were giving Donegal a real challenge until just about 5 minutes before half time.  With Galway ahead by three points, the tribesmen won a line ball deep inside their won half.  The sideline kick ended up missing its target and into the hands of the deadly Daniel McLaughlin, and the Donegal wing forward buried the chance to bring his side level and deliver a blow to Galway spirits.  Galway had gotten off to a great start.  A Gary Kelly penalty gave the side an early lift, and the teams traded points.  Donegal pointed through McLaughlin, Stephen Griffin, and Sean Boyle.  For Galway it was Andy Glennon, Kelly, and Paddy Breen on target.  Donegal had come close to netting on two occasions.  First Martin O'Connor pulled off a great save from a Griffin shot, and soon afterwards Matt Smyth shot low and just past the post.  Coming just before half time, the goal visibly deflated Galway's effort.  Griffin and McLaughlin pointed to send Donegal 2 points to the good entering the break.

Things got worse for Galway in the second half.  Donegal netted with the first attack through Griffin, and followed up with quick points from Boyle and McLaughlin.  The writing was on the wall for Galway.  The scores began to come easy for Donegal as the difference between the teams became a yawning chasm.  Sean Boyle added a third Donegal goal with a fisted high ball.  It was one way traffic thereafter as each team brought in the subs to give them a run.  Donegal move top with the Blues, and Galway chances of forcing a playoff game exist, but are mathematical in nature.

Galway: M. O'Connor, D. Redmond, J. Gallagher, G. Patterson, P. Cummins, D. Judge, E. Kavanagh, C. Fitzmaurice, D. Reddin, G. Kelley, J Kehoe, A. Glennon, P. Breen.  Donegal:  C. McLaughlin, M. Canny, C. McCarron, C. Healy, G. Gallagher, S. Doherty, M. Smyth, S. McDonagh, J. O'Connor, C. Thompson, D. Mclaughlin, S. Griffin, S. Boyle. 

By Rory O'Donnell 

July 12 - Ladies Senior Football: Connacht Ladies v Tir na nOg

Connacht Ladies 4-5 Tír na nÓg 2-14

Tír na nÓg made it two out of two in the Ladies senior football championship.  The Brighton side rode the wave of a highly impressive first half performance to the final whistle, while the reigning champions find themselves without a win half way through the championship.

Tir na nOg made it two for two on Saturday evening.
Shauna Jackson in the middle of the field was the key to Tír na nÓg's brilliant first half.  Jackson was the playmaker and the link for many of the smooth passing moves that saw the Brighton side to a 10 point half time lead.  At one point, Jackson split the posts with a 45 yard free that would be the envy of players of any stripe.  Full forward, Jenny Byrne, also made her mark.  The former Irish international soccer player goaled early and was also comfortable in the role of scorer and provider. 

Of course, it was not all down to these two.  Connacht Ladies found themselves up against a solid wall of defenders on most forays into opposing territory, and managed a total of 3 scores over the first half hour.  Goals came from balls over the top into Jackie McDonagh and Catriona Smith, each player finished well.  Catriona Foley accounted for the solitary point.  Scorers for Tír na nÓg included Ciara O'Connor with a goal, and points from Caroline Nee, Tessa Mullen, and Lisa Leonard.  At the break it was a 2-11 to 2-1 lead for the Brighton team.

Things turned somewhat in the second half as Connacht Ladies made a game of it and reduced the deficit to a single score by the end of the game.  In fact, it was Tír na nÓg who mustered just three scores in the second period as Connacht Ladies inched closer.  Sinead Greene was full of energy this half and carried her side for much of the way.  Green netted early in the half.  Catriona Smith followed with a point and Tír na nÓg tried to stem the tide.   Catriona Foley then capitalized on a situation where the referee appeared to have awarded a penalty, and changed the decision to a free.  Before the defence had time to settle the ball was in the net.  There was just three points in to coming into the final few minutes, however, with numbers helping out in defence, Tír na nÓg held on to record a second win.      

Connacht Ladies:  C. Heraty, K. Cunningham, A. Egan, S. Polly, C. Mulgrew, J. Conroy, R. Croul, C. McDonald, S. Greene, L. Mullen, C. Foley, J. McDonagh, J. Ward, A. Kerr, C. Smith.  Tír na nÓg:  N. Hynes, E. Healy, L. Brick, A. Potts, N. O'Neill, A. Taylor, N. Daly, J. Moore, S. Jackson, L. Bergin, C. Nee, T. Mullen, L. LEonard, J. Byrne, C. O'Connor.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday July 13 - Junior A Hurling: Fr. Tom Burke's v Wexford

Fr. Tom Burke's 1-18 Wexford 0-10

Tom's junior hurlers emulated their senior team with a win that keeps them unbeaten this season.  Tom's established a sizeable advantage over the first 30 minutes, and added slightly to that lead in the second.  A Joe Fitzpatrick goal in the first half was the turning point after the teams matched each other in the early stages, and from there Tom's pulled away to win with ease.

Fr. Tom's Juniors won well against Wexford on Sunday.
Tom's held a nine point edge by the time the first half was done.  It was fairly even for the first 15 minutes as the teams battled to and fro.  The early scores for Tom's came from Ciaran Moore, Joe Fitzpatrick, Fran Keenan and Eanna Burke.  Wexford hit with points from Colm Kerins, Ian Collins, and Ed Spruhan who lined out at center forward.  A Tom's goal came from a Dermot Fox puckout to Burke, who found Fitzpatrick at the far post to put some distance between the teams.  After Larry Guinan appeared to point, but was called wide, Tom's sprayed a handful of points over the bar to finish the half strong.  Keenan, Burke, and Fitzpatrick added to the gap between the teams to make it a 1-10 to 0-5 Tom's advantage at the half.

Wexford matched Tom's in the early going.
Tom's continued to hold the advantage in the second period.  Early points from Moore and Burke added to the gap between the teams.  Wexford tallied nice points from Greg Lundy, Ian Collins, and Donal Redmond, however, Tom's were not about to be turned.  Three points in quick succession down the stretch underlined Tom's dominance.  Two were lovely efforts from Jason Costello, and a third from Ciaran Moore came right off the puckout from an earlier Costello score.

Tom's:  D. Fox, C. Horan, L. Guinan, L. Keane, S. O'Brien, J. Costello, J. McDonald, G. Kelly, J. Fitzpatrick, E. Burke, C. O'Donoghue, C. Moore, F. Keenan.  Wexford:  M. O'Connor, P. Nolan, J. Clancy, D. Brennan, D. Magill, JJ O'Neill, D. Redmond, G. Lundy, N. Moloney, E. Spruhan, E. Kealy, C. Kerins, I. Collins.

By Rory O'Donnell