Sunday, July 26, 2015

Senior Football: Connemara Gaels v Donegal

Connemara Gaels 1-16 Donegal 1-10

Connemara Gaels added a well-earned 2 points to their championship total with a comprehensive win over Donegal.  It was an all round display with the Gaels looking sharp, and the defence worked hard all through the game to provide the platform for the win.  Tony Brosnan was on form up front, while Kieran Murphy worked hard in the middle of the field throughout.

The Gaels enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half, and took the break 2 points to the good.  Looking to rebound following the previous week’s heavy defeat to Wolfe Tones, the Gaels played with a heightened sense of urgency.  After Rory Kavanagh opened the Donegal account with a goal from close range in the first minute, Sean Conneeley restored parity with a second chance effort.

Gavin Gallagher gallops through the Gaels back line.
The Gaels went on to outscore Donegal six points to two with some great defensive work followed by sharp scores from Tony Brosnan, Martin Farragher, and Fintan Cooney.  It was clear that the Gaels were intent on going home happy.  Towards the end of the half Donegal narrowed the gap through Jason Whelan and Mal McDermott with a well taken free.

Tony Brosnan gets away from his man.
The Gaels continued to work impressively hard in the back line throughout the second half and generated scores from balls that were turned over.  Ryan Caffrey, Coleman Mulkerrins, and Kieran McGeary did some excellent work while at the other end Frank Burns put a pair of excellent points over the bar, as did Tony Brosnan.  Noel Graham and Martin Farragher chipped in, however, Graham had to leave the field after receiving a black card.  His replacement, Damien Doolan did just as well during his time on the field, and set up a score for Burns.

Donegal’s performance looked lackluster for the most part however, and the northerners tried to get some change out of the Gaels before it was too late and brought on some subs.  Things did not open up in that department for them.  Emlyn Mulligan accounted for 3 points from frees, but the Gaels were not for turning on this Sunday as each point Donegal scored was answered with two.  First to every loose ball, and seemingly holding an extra man in the final 10 minutes, the Gaels will have restored some confidence with this win. 

Gaels:  E. Connolly, K. McGeary, C. Fahy, F. Cooney, R. Caffrey, C. Mulkerrins, K. Murphy, S. O’Connor, S. Conneeley, N. Graham, F. Burns, M. Farragher, T. Brosnan.  Donegal:  M. Boyle, J. Noctor, C. Burke, S. Doherty, D. Green, G. Gallagher, M. Smyth, B. Donnelly, J. Whelan, E. Mulligan, E. Doherty, M. McDermott, R. Kavanagh.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Hurling: Tipperary v Fr. Tom Burke's

Tipperary 5-28 Fr. Tom Burke’s 0-12

Tipperary confirmed their credentials as favourites for the senior hurling crown with a demolition of Fr. Tom Burke’s.  Tipp led by six points at the break, and were full value for their lead, however, shortly into the second half the Premier county were in little danger of failing to win top spot on the table.  A David Reidy goal early in the half was followed by a string of points, and Tom’s were pretty much hoping for the final whistle well before it was due.

Tipperary held a handsome eight point half time lead.  There was some impeccably controlled hurling from the Tipp men, taking their time to find a fellow blue and gold shirt before releasing the ball.  Michael O’Leary’s presence in the half forward line was a huge asset to Tipp, when in possession O’Leary was hard to stop.  Adrian Morrissey was on the mark from the dead ball and added a couple of well taken points from play. 

James Rigney gets Tipp going forward.
After Tipperary had opened with a five points to one tally, Tom’s started to make a comeback.  Paddy Purcell, Sean McClelland and Paul Winters pointed to narrow the gap.  Tipp, however, pulled away in the latter stages of the opening period.  A penalty after Michael Ryan was bundled over the box was converted by Morissey, and the goal provided Tipp with the impetus to build on it.  Points were added by Morrissey and Stephen Molumphy and the lead grew to eight points.  A goal chance fell for David O’Mahoney just before the break, and Clinton Hennessy was sharp to it to deny a lifeline goal for Tom’s going into the second half. 

The Balls' up for grabs between Tipp and Tom's.
The mountain just kept getting steeper for Tom’s as the game wore on.  Two quick points were followed by a goal by David Reidy.  A short puckout went wrong, and Reidy was in with just the keeper to beat and made no mistake with the strike.  Tipp tallied 1-8 to a point for Tom’s as the outcome was in no doubt with 20 minutes to go.  Michael Ryan added another goal, and the rest was academic.  Tipp looking good coming into the final stretch of the season while Tom’s will be looking to rebound in their next outing against a strengthened Wexford side.

Tipp:  C. Hennessy, S. McGarr, D. Maloney, J. Rigney, W. Egan, T. Rigney, S. Molumphy, C. Dempsey, M. O’Leary, J. Bergin, A. Morrissey, M. Ryan, D. Reidy.  Tom’s:  A. Keating, S. Og Lyons, C. Burgin, S. McClelland, K. Kennedy, S. Dolan, P. Winters, D. Purcell, D. Costello, N. Burke, C. Burke, D. O’Mahoney, S. Howley.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football: Kerry v Galway

Kerry 2-15 Galway 1-19

Galway did it again, and this time it took an injury time point from Kevin Cummins to keep the tribesmen in the pack for a top 6 place in the senior football championship.  In doing so Galway effectively knocked Kerry out of the running and the men from the Kingdom will ponder what might have been had they managed to hold on to their lead in a couple of the early season games.  Galway started off well and opened an early lead, however Kerry, who needed the win to stay in the championship hunt came back strong at the end of the first half.  It was tit for tat until Shane O’Callaghan netted for Kerry with 6 minutes left, but Galway drew level, and in injury time Kevin Cummins stole the points with a great pressure point.

Kerry's Emile Mullan under pressure.
Seamus Mattimo was the man on the mark for Galway in the early going of a high scoring first half.  The Kells native accounted for Galway’s first goal and five points.  Playing at wing forward, Mattimo pointed a handful of excellently taken scores, and goal was a bullet into the top corner from outside the 14.  Kerry struggled to get out of second gear, however points from Shane O’Callaghan, Emile Mullan, and Ronan Kennedy kept the Kingdom in touch. 
It was after Oisin Reilly pointed for Galway that Kerry started to motor.  Kennedy at corner forward was in great form and the Leitrim native netted 15 minutes into the game.  The score seemed to provide life for Kerry, for whom the two points were essential to keep an interest in the championship.  David Larkin, Kennedy, and O’Callaghan pointed and Kerry eventually pulled ahead, and it was their turn to motor with some great passing and support play.  Kerry by two at the break, 1-11 to 1-9.

Sean Marshall wins this kickout for Galway.
The sides could not separate from each other in the second half.  Galway had leveled matters within the first 10 minutes of the restart.  Two points from Cummins and one from Mattimo to a single point from O’Callaghan had the teams at 1-12 a piece.  The pace of the game was noticeably slower at this stage, the blistering speed that we saw from both teams was now at a premium.  Kerry had Stephen Enright to thank for two good saves, one from Enda Flanagan and the other from Mattimo as Galway engineered the better chances.

With six minutes left a turnover saw Kerry break downfield and take a one goal lead.  Emile Mullan latched on to an errant Galway pass on his own 45 and the field was open in front of him.  As Galway desperately tracked back a couple of exchanges between Mullan, Kennedy and O’Callaghan saw the ball nestle in the back of the Galway net.  It was far from over though.  With a minute to go Galway were back in the lead, and it was Mattimo with the critical finishes, while substitute Shane Regan put the go ahead point over.  Kerry answered with a good score from O’Callaghan and the game was tied going into injury time, but it was Cummins who put the winning point over the bar to capture the spoils.  Kerry are out of it now, and Christopher’s, Galway, and the Gaels are looking for the last 2 playoff spots.

Kerry:  S. Enright, M. Murphy, J. Barry, R. Driscoll, L. Healy, D. Larkin, D. Foley, E. Mullan, J. O’Shea, R. Croft, M. Mangan, R. Kennedy, S. O’Callaghan.  Galway:  J. Kelly, M. Collins, F. Reilly, D. Reddin, L. Laheeen, O. Reilly, S. Marshall, K. Mulvaney, J. Campion, K. Cummins, S. Mattimo, C. Kennedy, E. Flanagan

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football: Christopher's v Wolfe Tones

Wolfe Tones 2-17 Christopher’s 4-10

Wolfe Tones followed up last week’s romp over the Connemara Gaels with another win, though this week the men in blue and navy just about hung on to earn a hard fought win over Christopher’s.  The Tones looked to be cruising at half time, however, in the second half Christopher’s launched a comeback.  Late goals from Dan Kenneally, who was placed on the edge of the box pulled Christopher’s within a point, however, at that stage there was too little time left for Christopher’s rescue the point.

Wolfe Tones Gary Brilly launches another attack.
Wolfe Tones put on a fine display of running the ball in the opening half.  The first 20 minutes was all Tones, and it was 2 goals that kept the game from slipping away from Christopher’s.  Michael Argue accounted for the Tones first half goal, and it was a good one.  Argue combined with fellow Cavan county man, Dara McVeety and Tomas O’Connor to place the ball in the bottom left corner of Eoghan Keogh’s net. 

The Tones were rampant, building from the half back line the South Boston men lined up for scores from Marty Farrell, McVeety, Ciaran Hurley, and Argue.  Defenders also got in the act, half backs Conor McCormack and David Hyland pointed, and corner back Eoin Powderley pointed before the half time whistle.  Christopher’s hung in thanks to two goals, the first from Eanna O’Connor and the second from Dan Kenneally.  Kenneally was placed on the edge of the box to great effect, fisting a high ball into the corner of the net.  Chances were at a premium for Christopher’s however, and too often the shot drifted wide of the posts.

Playing at center forward, Cathal Vaughan found himself isolated on several occasions and swamped by Tones defenders.   Christopher’s managed a handful of points amid several missed chances before the break through Vaughan and Eoin O’Neill.  At the break it was a 6 point Tones lead, 1-12 to 2-3.

Christopher's Mark Delaney shoots
The second half saw the tables turn somewhat and Christopher’s enjoy the edge in play – perhaps the Tones first half exhertions had taken a toll.  Darren McDonnell was a hero between the posts for the Tones, pulling off a handful of brave stops when Christopher’s looked to be in for a goal.  Christopher’s inched closer by way of the point, however.  Kenneally, Vaughan, Sean White and Ryan Harkin brought Christopher’s 4 points closer before the Tones responded. 

O’Connor netted for the Tones to start the final quarter which was quickly cancelled out with a strike from Dan Kenneally.  Would Christopher’s repeat last week’s come from behind victory?  It looked a possibility after Kenneally netted again in injury time to pull Christopher’s within a point.  A scuffle before the end of the game saw a red card issued to Paschal Connell, and Christopher’s had a couple of late half chances to level affairs.  The tying score did not come however, and for the Tones the victory will have been greeted with relief.  The Tones looking impressive coming into the crunch time of the season, while Christopher’s will need a win in their final game against the out of the running Kerry to be sure they keep in it.

Tones:  D. McDonnell, E. Powderley, P. Faulkner, C. McCormack, D. Hyland, D. Maguire, M. Argue, G. Brilly, D. McCabe, M. Farrell, D. McVeety, T. O’Connor, C. Hurley.  Christopher’s:  E. Keogh, N. Rossiter, L. Kitterick, E. O’Neill, C. Murphy, P. Kenneally, S. White, R. Harkin, E. Nolan, C. Vaughan, M. Delaney, D. Kenneally, E. O’Connor.

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior A Football: Donegal v Cork

Cork 1-6 Donegal 0-10

It was north versus south when Cork and Donegal met Sunday afternoon in the junior A football championship.  Cork needed the win to keep matters in their own hands for a top 4 spot.  After a hard fought battle it was the northerners who came out on top thanks to a Ciaran Diver point in injury time.

Cork's Colm Caffrey looking to see who is in support.
The first half was evenly contested with each side enjoying a spell on top.  Donegal came out of the blocks fastest, and after some confusion regarding whether a goal was scored or a 45, it turned out to be a 45.  Donegal’s early pressure yielded a single point, a Ciaran Diver free.  Cork then took the initiative and put three unanswered over the bar as Donegal were pinned inside their own half for a long spell.  Cian Horan put a fine score over from play, while Mike Moynihan accounted for 2 from frees.

The balance of play swung back in Donegal’s direction for the final stretch of the half.  The northerners put 4 over to one from Cork, and it could have been more as the post saved Cork from falling further behind on 2 occasions. Christy Bell, Eamon McCarney, and Diver got on the scoresheet.  At the break it was a 0-4 to 0-5 Donegal lead.

The second half was just as tight as the first.  After Donegal added a point to their lead through Diver, Cork regained the advantage.  Cian Horan was the provider for two scores, first a goal from George Bantinble and the second a point from Moynihan.  When in possession Cork tried to hold on to the ball, however, there were not many options inside with Colm Caffrey ploughing a lonely furrow.  All too often the attacks came to an end before the ball could be worked into a shooting position.

Christy Bell has a long way to come down from this leap.
Donegal had more going for them in that department, however, some dogged Cork defending and a handful of wayward final passes kept the rebels from slipping behind.  With 10 minutes to go it was all to play for after Eamon Quigley and Diver had pointed to level the scores.   Donegal might have had a shout for a penalty, however, the referee did not see it that way, and as the tension mounted yellow cards were issued to Declan Scott and Padraig O’Shea to keep things within the allowable limits.

Donegal brought in the experienced pair of Brian Kelly and Michael McGinty for the final push.  After much huffing and puffing and failure to score, Bell finally put Donegal ahead with a by a score.  Cork made a push and a free was earned that Moynihan converted.  1-6 to 0-9 and it would be an exciting finish.  Each side had chances to go ahead, and with 2 minutes injury time played Diver put a well taken score over the bar to claim both points on offer.  Donegal’s place is secure in the semi-final, while Cork are hoping that Aidan McAnespies can do them a favor to set up a shot at the semi-final in their last game against Wolfe Tones.

Cork:  O. Murphy, E. Barry, M. Carolan, T. McKitterick, J. Lynch, D. O’Donovan, C. Horan, G. Bantible, P. O’Shea, M. Moynihan, S. Kennedy, C. Caffrey, L. Cunningham.  Donegal:  J. Byrne, A. Coman, D. Scott, D. Doherty, E. Quigley, C. McDevitt, T. Caldwell, C. Bell, C. Diver, C. Hughes, H. .Loughran, E. McCarney, A. Curley.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, July 20, 2015

Men's Senior Football: Christopher's v Shannon Blues

Christopher’s 1-12 Shannon Blues 0-14

Christopher’s twice came from behind in the second half to record a hard earned win over the Shannon Blues.  The Blues looked like they would record a routine win with 15 minutes to go and had the initiative, leading by four points.  A Cathal Vaughan goal tied the game, and after the Blues restored their lead in response, Christopher’s finished the game with three points unanswered and held on till the final whistle sounded.

The Blues Wayne Guthrie makes a fantastic leap for this high ball.
The first half was tightly contested with some fantastic scores coming from each side.  Barry O’Dwyer and Dara Roche each put some hard fought points over the bar.  The Blues at times strung some scintillating moves together with hard running and quick passing, the forward line at times shows a telepathic understanding of each other’s intentions.  Cathal Vaughan for Christopher’s also tallied a couple of great scores from difficult angles, and under pressure. 

There were others who contributed on the scoreboard, Stephen Cahill made a foray from wing back to pop one over, while midfielder Ryan Harkin added to Christopher’s tally at the end of the half to level the scores at seven points each.

The man of the hour, Cathal Vaughan hits a pass into the corner forwards.
The Blues opened up a gap in the second half with scores from Dara Treacy, Roche, Wayne Guthrie, and Paddy Kennelly.  Christopher’s struggled to contain the potent Blues forward line, which was well supported by the half back line.  Paidi O’Shea and Stephen Cahill were always willing to come forward in support and were on hand to pick up the loose balls.  Four points was the difference and another win looked on the cards for the Blues coming into the final quarter.

Christopher’s still had life in their legs though, and Vaughan lived up to his billing as a match winner.  After the Blues train of scores was broken by a Vaughan point, the main man for Christopher’s made a long solo run and put the ball low and into the back of the net from outside the 14.  Tied up now.  The Blues responded in clinical fashion, however.  Two quick points from O’Shea and Roche recaptured the lead, but again Christopher’s responded.  Mark Delaney, who battled hard in the middle of the field all day long, pointed, while Vaughan tied the game with a point from play and put the winner over the bar from a free.

Christopher’s tried to play the possession game to run down the clock, however, the Blues had a couple of chances to tie the game, but did not take them and Christopher’s just about saw the game though to the final whistle.  Another surprise win this week, this time for Christopher’s, and it keeps them in the hunt come early August.

Christopher’s:  E. Keogh, K. Fulignati, L. Kitterick, E. O’Neill, N. Rossiter, P. Kenneally, S. White, R. Harkin, M. Delaney, C. Vaughan, E. Nolan, T. Fahy, E. O’Connor.  Blues:  D. O’Brien, T. Wallace, C. Jordan, S. Cahill, T. Grey, P. O’Shea, W. Guthrie, G. Horan, D. Wallace, B. O’Dwyer, D. Treacy, K. Hurley, D. Roche.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Hurling: Galway v Wexford

Galway 4-12 Wexford 4-15

Wexford pulled off a victory to secure their first win of the season in a tight, tough contest against local Brighton rivals Galway.  Wexford lifted their game in the second half and got great performances from Niall Kennedy, Jamie Desmond, and Conor Murray to see them through in a game where their desire to win was evident for the full hour.

Michael Morris coming out of defence for Wexford.
If you like seeing goals, this was the game for you.  The opening half was a goal fest with each side netting three times in the first 20 minutes.  Wexford goaled within seconds of the throw-in, Niall Kennedy getting on the end of a ball played into the box.  Galway answered on kind through David Dunne who helped the ball over the line while on his knees.  Points were few and far between as each side had its eyes on the big score.  Galway did put three minors over to one for Wexford before Dunne netted a second for the Slaneysiders.  This was answered in seconds.  Robert O’Hanrahan played Kieran Maher in and the wing forward’s shot billowed the net.

More goals, Wexford’s third was a bullet from Niall Kennedy after Eoghan Kavanagh played him in, and Galways’ third was an easy one for Darragh Murray who was on hand to pull on a deflected ball, and put the ball into the net.  Finally the points started to come as the game settled down, Kennedy was the man for Wexford with a tally of three, while Stephen Roche was on the mark from the placed ball for Galway.  Conor Robinson did some tidy work at corner back for Wexford, while Galway’s Oran Keevers did well in the middle of Galway’s half back line.  At the break Galway held a 3-6 to 3-5 lead.

Galway's Cormac Wafer tries to find a way to clear.
Wexford hurled with the greater urgency in the second half and their performance had determination written all over it.  Jamie Desmond at center back and Robinson continued to battle for the dropping balls and cleared their lines well.  Conor Murray pointed after Desmond had won the ball in his half back position, and Niall Kennedy, another huge contributor to Wexford’s cause, put his side ahead.  After Galway almost netted when Roche hit the post, Wexford started to pull away.  Desmond pointed twice, and the Dunne worked the opening to net after being found by Kennedy.

Wexford added scores from John O’Driscoll, a monster score from well inside his own half, Jamie Kehoe, Dunne, Carton, and Kennedy.  Galway found themselves six points behind with seven minutes to go.  Darragh Murray pulled a goal back to give the tribesmen some hope, however, a second would be needed to pull off a result.  Wexford kept Galway’s forwards under wraps for the last few minutes and Wexford’s cheers of content might have been tinged with a sprinkling of relief at the first win of the season.

Wexford:  S. Barry, J. Keyes, C. Robinson, M. Morris, J. Desmond, T. Moloney, J. Kehoe, C. Murray, N. Kennedy, E. Kavanagh, B. Carton, J. O’Driscoll, D. Dunne.  Galway:  K. Hammersley, C. Wafer, O. Teagle, S. O’Neill, O. Keevers, JJ Doyle, S. Roche, R. O’Hanrahan, K. Maher, B. Whelan, D. Murray, L. Allen, J. McDonnell.

By Rory O'Donnell

Men's Senior Football: Wolfe Tones v Connemara Gaels

Wolfe Tones 5-13 Connemara Gaels 2-8

Wolfe Tones scored a big win over the Gaels in the final game of the day.  Kildare man, Tomas O’Connor, was a massive asset to the Tones at corner forward and accounted for 4 goals.  The Tones played with a combination of speed and strength and 10 minutes into the second half the game was as good as over.

Kieran Murphy and Michael Argue tussle for the ball.
Wolfe Tones held a double scores half time lead thanks to some blistering speed and 2 goals.  Both came from O’Connor.  The Tones moved the ball at speed from the get go, and O’Connor was on hand to finish a move with a fisted effort after the Gaels defence was opened up.  The short kickout bit the Gaels for a second game.  There was miscommunication between Eoin Connolly and Cillian Fahy for an attempted short kickout, and the ball went straight into Tones hands.  The ball found its way to Ciaran Hurley’s hands, and then to the big Clane man who put the ball away for a second time.

The Gaels struggled to contain the speed of the Tones when the South Boston men were moving the ball downfield.  It was direct for the goal and on several occasions there were well worked points.  Ciaran Hurley, Dara McVeety, and Conor McCormack were all on the mark.  Shane O’Connor accounted for the Gaels goal, however, it was a tired and dejected looking Gaels that took the break.   Tones ahead 2-8 to 1-4 at half time.

Tony Brosnan has a pop for the Gaels.
Things got worse shortly after the restart.  McGeary brought O’Connor down just inside the penalty box, and Hurley sent Connolly the wrong way with the shot.  Hurley added another point and the Tones were 11 points to the good.  The Gaels did make a burst afterwards, however for all the effort there was only a goal to show for it.  A move that started with McGeary winning the ball at corner back ended in the back of the Tones net, Brosnan the scorer.  The Gaels then laid siege to the Tones goal for period.  Sean Conneely hit the crossbar, while other chances that fell to the Gaels ended wide of the mark and the Tones lead stood intact at the end of it.

The Tones put an end to the Gaels brief flurry on top in devastating fashion, and again it was O’Connor with a cannon into the bottom corner of the net.  It was pretty much a done deal at that point.  The Gaels kept plugging away, however, were their own worst enemies when trying to move the ball into scoring position, each move breaking down when in the danger zone.  A big win for the Tones who appear to be making the noise in the middle of July. 

Tones:  D. McDonnell, E. Powderly, P. Faulkner, C. McCormack, D. Hyland, D. Maguire, M. Argue, G. Brilly, D. McVeety, M. Farrell, M. O’Brien, T. O’Connor, C. Hurley.  Gaels:  E. Connolly, K. McGeary, C. Fahy, C. Mulkerrins, R. Caffrey, F. Cooney, K. Murphy, S. O’Connor, S. Conneely, N. Graham, F. Burns, M. Farragher, T. Brosnan.

By Rory O'Donnell

Ladies Senior Football: Boston Shamrocks v Tir na nOg

Tir na nOg 3-9 Boston Shamrocks 3-7

Tir na nOg and the Boston Shamrocks played a very exciting game with the Shamrocks looking for their first win of the season.  They almost got it and in hindsight will look back at some wayward shooting as being their Achilles heel.  The key to the win for Tir na Nog was some great play from the half back line, as well as some great running from Louise Bergin and Rebecca Stapleton.  Tir na nOg tallied 2-6 to 2 points over the first 20 minutes of the second half during a period that was key to the game, and a great comeback effort in the latter stages from the Shamrocks fell just short.

Shauna Jackson was a driving force for Tir na nOg.
It was a competitive first half, with each side generating plenty of chances to score, and each side pulling off some timely defensive stops.  With 15 minutes played it was all square at 1-2 each before Chloe Ryan put the Brighton side ahead with a rasping shot that barely cleared the crossbar.  Shamrocks fired a warning shot shortly after, however Niamh Hynes was alert to Ciara McCormick’s close range shot. 

A goal did come a minute later when McCormick made no mistake and fired home.  Each side had chances to add another in the goals column, however Shauna Jackson’s well struck penalty shot was a shade too high and came back off the crossbar, and on the stroke of half time Anna Finnegan shot just wide.  At the break it was a 1-3 to 2-2 Shamrocks lead.

Sinead Woods tries to turn the tables in the Shamrocks favour.
The second half saw the Shamrocks go 2 for 8 with their shooting.  There were plenty of chances generated in the early part of the half, however, the Shamrocks failed to add to their advantage.  When Tir na nOg had their period on top, they made it count.  The Brighton based side started to drive through the Shamrocks defence.  Louise Bergin led a charge that resulted in a goal after a give and go with Fiona Morissey.  Bergin then followed with a point and the Brighton side were on top.  The Shamrocks struggled to clear the ball from their own half as Tir na nOg were first to the kickouts, and had their opponents pinned inside their own half.

The game took another swing as the Shamrocks took the initiative for the final stretch.  Behind by seven points the green and gold pointed through Rebecca Mongan and then won a penalty following a foot black in the penalty box.   Rebecca Kelly made no mistake and the excitement grew as there were now just 3 points in it time almost up.  Bernie Murray made it a two point game, and a final chance that fell to the Shamrocks drifted wide.

Tir na nOg: N. Hynes, R. Stapleton, L. Brick, J. Davoran, N. Daly, A. Taylor, F. Ni Bhriain, F. Morrissey, L. Bergin, R. Stapleton, C. Nee, R. Flanagan, C. Ryan, N. Horan, S. Jackson.  Shamrocks:  L. Brick, L. Larkin, S. McLaughlin, B. Devlin, G. Kelly, B. Murray, A. Finnegan, S. Delahunt, S. Woods, R. Mongan, A. Montague, L. Lavin, C. McCormick, L. Flynn, L. McCrystal.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, July 13, 2015

Senior Football: Galway v Aidan McAnespies

Galway 2-13 Aidan McAnespies 1-11

Galway dished out the first defeat of the season to Aidan McAnespies with a brilliant performance, full of determination and confidence.  Picking up their first win of the season, the Tribesmen looked in control for most of the game.  Two goals in quick succession from Galweigan, Craig Kennedy, proved the tipping point when the game was in the balance and Galway saw off the efforts of their opponents with some tough defending and keeping possession to kill off time. 

McAnespies' Tony Donnelly tries to burst.

Galway raised some eyebrows for after the first 10 minutes were played the tribesmen led by six points to no score.  Galway’s blistering pace would not last however, as McAnespies took their turn in the driver’s seat and put five points over to no reply.  At Galway’s end it was Meathman, Seamus Mattemo, doing the early damage, followed by Kevin Cummins with 3 frees. Collie Donnelly eventually got McAnespies off the start line, and was followed by Derryman Danny Tallon, Chris Healy, and Michael Day as the initiative swung back and forth.  After Cummins stemmed the tide with an excellently taken free, Tallon, who is really coming into his own, finished the superb move to net for McAnespies.  The sides went into the break all square after Cummins had pointed another free, though McAnespies were the side with the initiative in their favor at the break.

Oisin Reilly in possession for Galway.
The pace of the game slowed somewhat in the second half, the heat sapping energy from tired legs, and the sides traded points, Tony Donnelly and Cummins did the honors for each side.  Craig Kennedy had been called on a couple of occasions for over carrying as he tried to round his man having won possession on the right side of the field, but soon afterwards got in twice in quick succession to rifle the ball into the roof of the net from the left side.  Galway had made the breakthrough and were on the pigs back.  The defence stepped up when McAnespies threatened, Michael Collins and Fergal Reilly at corner back were sharp to every ball played into the dangerous Chris Healy and Tallon. 

Galway’s forward line were quick and full of running and rediscovered some of the pace from early in the game.  Mattemo, Kennedy, and Jason Campion moved the ball well, and the place kicking of Cummins was second to none.  The Galway lead grew to seven points as a famous win became ever more likely, Cummins and Enda Flanagan doing the honors by adding points.  When it was time to kill the clock Galway did well keeping possession and saw out time to deliver the first defeat of the season to McAnespies, and claim the first win for themselves.

Galway:  Jamie Kelly, M. Collins, F. Reilly, D. Reddin, L. Laheen, O. Reilly, S. Marchell, K. Mulvaney, J. Campion, K. Cummins, S. Mattemo, C. Kennedy, E. Flanagan.  Macs:  P. Coakley, R. Kennedy, E. Kerins, J. Carney, B. Greenan, M. Bogue, M. Day, J. Brickland, F. McGeough, C. Donnelly, T. Donnelly, D. Tallon, C. Healy.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Hurling: Wexford v Tipperary

Wexford 1-10 Tipperary 1-18

With Wexford still looking for their first win of the senior hurling championship and Tipperary looking for sole position at the top of the table the sides met Sunday afternoon.  It was Tipp who accomplished their mission with some strong performances from Wille Egan, Adrian Morrissey and Jason Bergin, who popped up with a goal in the second half to send Tipp on their way.

Wexford's Richie Doyle in possession.

 The teams slugged it out for the first half, and at the end of the 30 minutes Tipp had the edge by four points.  Tipperary looked strong with Willie Egan at center back, former Waterford intercounty star, Stephen Molumphy, in the middle of the field, and Adrian Morrissey at corner forward all doing their bit.    

Stephen Molumphy tries to gather under close attention.
It was tit for tat for most of the half, though Wexford had Jamie Barry to thank for a great save from Mikey Ryan as Tipperary pressed in the early going.  Morrissey was the man on the mark for Tipp with five pointed frees and two points from play while Wexford got contributions on the scoreboard from many quarters, Eoghan Kavanagh, Niall Kennedy, Jamie Desmond, and John O’Driscoll each contributed.  With Tipperary threatening to pull away having opened a 4 point lead, Wexford pulled a goal back through Paudge Kehoe to make it a one point game at the break, 1-6 to 0-10 in Tipp’s favor.

Tipperary made several switches in the second half and the fresh legs made a difference as the second half wore on.  The heat took its toll on Kinnity man Jimmy Rigney who had to leave due to dehydration.  After trading two points each, Jason Bergin and Morrissey put back to back points over and Tripp then hit with a goal from Bergin to make it a six point game.  Bergin and Morrissey added two more points and the Tipp advantage had ballooned to eight. 

With Egan in command at center back, and wing backs Tommy Rigney and Andy McRedmond who replaced brother Jimmy in support, Wexford’s chances did not look too good.  Murray and Desmond pulled a couple of points back, but Tipp had them back at 8 points through Morrissey and Egan.  Wexford had a handful of half chances at net, however Clinton Hennessey was not too troubled dealing with the danger.  Tipp eased to the win, While Wexford will be hoping for a win or two in the second part of the season to keep playoff hopes alive.

Wexford:  S. Barry, J. Keyes, C. Robinson, M. Morris, J. Desmond, T. Moloney, J. Kehoe, C. Murray, P. Kehoe, R. Doyle, N. Kennedy, J. O’Driscoll, E. Kavanagh.  Tipp:  C. Hennessy, D. Moloney, P. Meade, J. Rigney, W. Egan, T. Rigney, S. Molumphy, R. Sludds, B. O’Leary, J. Bergin, M. O’Leary, M. Ryan, A. Morrissey.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football: Kerry v Donegal

Kerry 1-11 Donegal 2-11

Donegal held off the challenge of a game Kerry team in the intense heat in Canton.  Kerry started the game much faster than their opponents, however, Donegal lasted the long distance contest, and came out on top one goal winners.  Kerry held a two point lead at the break, however, Paddy McBride’s early second half goal put Donegal on top.  Kerry managed to pull level again one more time, but could not repeat the feat as Donegal finished stronger as time ran down.

Kerry Keeper Stephen Enright and Donegaal's Nicky Kelly - but where is the ball?

Kerry got out of the blocks quickly with a five points to no score start to the game.  Robbie Croft accounted for the first 3, 2 frees and one from play – a fine effort from out on the wing.  Kerry were playing at a blistering pace and in the ascendancy in the early going, and almost had a goal, however Shane O’Callaghan’s initial effort was blocked and second went over the bar.

Emlyn Mulligan shoots for Donegal.
After a handful of missed opportunities, Donegal finally got on the scoreboard with a Nicky Kelly goal, who was at the far post to pick up on a rebound from Mal McDermott shot.  Kerry corner back, David Larkin, straight away made a massive run upfield and after a couple of give and go’s, cancelled out the goal right away.  Donegal inched their way back into it as the initiative swung their way.  Three frees from Mulligan reduced the gap to two as Kerry were forced into fouling to keep the opposition at bay.  The sides traded scores to finish out the half with Kerry on top, and hanging on, 1-7 to 1-5.

The second half saw Donegal turn the tables early, a Paddy McBride goal put the northerners into the lead.  Kerry had to work hard to try and move the ball into scoring position as most players were on defensive duties as Donegal attacked in numbers.  With the half forwards playing deep, options were few and far between when in possession.  Kerry did manage to generate a handful of chances, the best of which fell to Sean Driscoll who blazed wide.  Donegal took their chance right away  with a Rory Kavanagh point followed by McDermott.

From that point on Kerry defended in depth and tried to counterattack, however, with one forward man covered by multiple Donegal defenders it was an arduous task.  The Kerry men hung in though and kept themselves in with a shout with two points from O’Callaghan.  Donegal still had matters under control however.  Gavin Gallagher, Sean Doherty, and Mulligan pointed down the stretch to keep Donegal’s noses ahead, while Kerry’s efforts at pulling off a late goal from high balls were well dealt with by sure hands in the Donegal back line.  Kerry badly in need of a win to keep hope alive in their next outing against Galway in 2 weeks time.

Kerry:  S. Enright, D. Larkin, M. Murphy, R. Driscoll, L. Healy, J. Barry, P. O’Sullivan, E. Mullan, S. Driscoll, R. Kennedy, J. O’Shea, R. Croft, S. O’Callaghan.  Donegal:  M. Boyle, M. Canny, C. Burke, S. Doherty, T. McCleneghan, G. Gallagher, M. McDermott, R. Kavanagh, P. McAleer, N. Kelly, P. McBride, M. Smyth, E. Mulligan.

By Rory O'Donnell

Ladies Senior Football: Connacht Ladies v Tir na nOg

Connacht Ladies 4-8 Tir na nOg 1-6

Connacht ladies broke the game wide open with four goals early in the second half having come up against a solid defensive wall in the first.  The first half was tight with each side playing some excellent running football, however, the westerners had banged in three goals within the first five minutes of the second half to turn the game on its head, and see them through to the win.

Tir na nOg' defended well in the first half.

Superb defending was the hallmark of Tir na nOg’s first half performance.  The full back line of Jenna Davoran, Alison Taylor, and Rachel Stapleton was outstanding, and the steady hands of Niamh Hynes also kept Connacht Ladies from netting in spite of having worked the ball inside the 21 on several occasions.  At the other end, Nicola Horan stole in behind her marker to slip the ball past Jackie McDonagh and into the net after about 10 minutes as Tir na nOg delivered the goods at each end of the field.  The teams matched each other in the points column, Connacht eventually figured out the effort from range was more likely to produce results.  Jane Ward, Catriona Foley and Tori McLaughlin on the mark for Connacht, while for Tir na nOg it was Louise Bergin, Fiona Morrissey, Sinead Bannon and Horan pointing.  The goal was all that stood between the teams at the break.

Emily Hannon tries to win possession for Connacht Ladies.
Within 5 minutes of the restart Connacht Ladies had turned the game on its head with 3 quick goals.  Aimee McGuckin stole in behind her defender and collected the ball over the top to fire home for the first, Jane Ward reached highest to punch the second one home, and Nicola Donnelly’s floated effort drifted into the far corner of the net – with an added air of good fortune.  With points added from Foley and Donnelly, all of a sudden, Tir na nOg found themselves behind by eight points.

Shauna Jackson, who entered the game as a substitute, pointed from a free after 20 minutes, Tir na nOg’s first score of the second half.  The Brighton based side had failed to take advantage of a decent handful of chances to score, both from play and from free kicks up to that point.  The result was sealed with a fantastic Connacht goal after Tori McLaughlin and Ruth Cox combined to see Foley in with just the keeper to beat, and with just minutes to do there was 11 points in it.  Tir na nOg spirits flagged, and the result was in the bag for Connacht Ladies.  Connacht ladies on top of the table, while Tir na nOg will be figuring out how to maintain form for the full 60 minutes.

Tir na nOg:  N. Hynes, J. Davoran, A. Taylor, R. Stapleton, F. Ni Bhriain, N. Daly, S. Trusiak, F. Morissey, J. Hyland, S. Bannon, C. Nee, L. Bergin, C. Ryan, R. Stapleton, N. Horan.  Connacht Ladies:  J. McDonagh, J. O’Grady, J. McDonald, K. Lynch, T. McLaughlin, H. Potts, A. Griffin, C. McMahon, C. Fitzpatrick, C. Foley, N. Donnelly, R. Cox, E. Hannon, A. McLaughlin, J. Ward.

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior A Football: Cork v Aidan McAnespies

Cork 1-12 Aidan McAnespies 3-9

Sean McConville was the hero of the hour for Aidan McAnespies in their junior football encounter with Cork.  The Monaghan native banged in two fine goals, one in each half, and was pulled down to win a penalty and see Aidan McAnespies junior A side through a test against last years finalists.  The goals came just before half time and late in the second half, each time with Cork in the lead, and wiped out the rebels advantage on both occasions.  The second goal was a killer as the spoils looked like they might be heading Cork’s way as a Mike Moynihan penalty had just put Cork into a one point lead. 

Tommy McKitterick on the attack for Cork.

The first half was a well contested affair with Cork building a three point lead, though the teams were neck and neck for most of the half.  Mike Moynihan tallied the first couple of scores for the rebels before Tom Rigney answered for McAnespies.  Cork worked the ball well upfield, however left themselves open at the back for counterattacks.  With teams level at five points each Cork opened the lead with scores from Peter Wallace and Padraig O’Shea.  However, just before half time Seanie McConville’s persistence, in spite of the efforts of his marker, hit the back of the net with an effort from a tight angle and the teams headed into the break on level terms.

Sean McConville Shoots for McAnespies
McConville also made a big contribution to the McAnespie cause after being pulled down in the box mid way through the second period, and Callum Comiskey sent Ollie Murphy the wrong way with the shot to put Macs on top by a goal.  The spaces opened up as the half wore on and players took advantage, carrying the ball on both sides.  Cian Horan won a penalty for Cork after he was pulled down following a long run, and it was Moynihan to slotted the kick home. 

The goal put Cork one to the good as Moynihan had put a free over earlier to break the tie, however the lead did not last long.  Comiskey broke through the Cork defence and hit inrushing McConville with a pass that McConville buried into the far corner of the net.  With the initiative in their favor, McAnespies drove forward to point twice, Darragh Murphy and Shane Lynn made it a four point game.  Cork got within a goal with a point Padraig O’Shea, however a tying goal was not on the cards for the rebels.  With the win, McAnespies junior As maintain a 100% record along with the senior team.

Cork:  Ollie Murphy, E. Barry, M. Carolan, T. McKitterick, J. Lynch, D. O’Donovan, G. Bastible, C. Horan, P. O’Shea, M. Moynihan, S. Kennedy, C. Caffrey, P. Wallace.  Macs:  E. McKenna, P. Daly, M. McQuaid, C. Comiskey, T. Rigney, R. McCrystal, E. Hamill, D. Fitzpatrick, S. O’Kane, S. McConville, D. Spratt, D. Murphy, D. Kennedy.

By Rory O'Donnell

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Senior Football: Shannon Blues v Donegal

Donegal 0-14 Shannon Blues 3-10

There was plenty of talking points to keep the punters going for the week following this highly anticipated game.  Unfortunately most of it will have little to do with the football itself.  There were three sendings off, and probably should have been more following a melee just before half time.  The game was testy throughout and the Blues came out on the winning end having played the last 20 minutes or so with 11 men to Donegal’s 12.

Tony McCleneghan tries to move Donegal forward.
The Blues pulled away into a four points to one lead before the first incident.  Emlyn Mulligan and Trevor Wallace had each been shown a yellow card after the two got into a tangle off the ball, and shortly afterwards both walked following an off the ball incident about which referee Mairtin Mannion consulted with the umpires at that end of the field.  Barry Dwyer, who lined out at center forward for the Blues was in fine form, full of energy and running and a goal and two points to his name in the early going, the goal followed a Guthrie run through the middle.  Paudi O’Shea put a lovely effort over the bar from out on the wing and the Blues were most definitely in the ascendancy.  Kieran Hurley added a second goal for the Blues shortly afterwards, and the champions were firmly in control.

Darrren Wallace recovered from this tumble to set up a point for Kieran Hurley.
Donegal managed to gain a foothold and scores came from Rory Dunleavy, Mal McDermott, and Eunan Doherty.  The testy nature of the encounter continued though, and eventually the niggling between Darragh Roche and Conor Burke, who had come on as sub, flared up just before the break.  While not all players were involved there was more than enough to keep the referee and linesman conferring for several minutes.  Eventually, and half time was blown with no cards shown and the Blues ahead by 2-8 to 0-8.

In an effort to cool things down the teams were asked to gather their players and remind them to focus on the football before the restart.   Donegal almost pulled a goal back, however, Paddy McAleer’s shot came off the crossbar and Gavin Gallagher tidied up with a point.  A McDermott free reduced the deficit to 4 points, and then the Blues Kieran Hurley was shown a second yellow for his challenge on the Donegal keeper who had just gathered a high ball.  Rory Kavanagh added another Donegal point and things were set up for a grand finale with a goal in it and Donegal with a one man advantage.

The Blues had other ideas.  Greg Horan scored a cracking goal reminiscent of Eoin Mulligans for Tyrone against Dublin 10 years ago.  Horan sold two dummies before firing the ball into the roof of the net from outside the 14.  The Blues had the adrenalin coursing through the veins now, Conor Mullen casually slotted over from distance and Conor Jordan made it an eight point difference with the game entering the end stages.  Donegal heads were down and some late points improved the scoreline but made no change to the outcome.  A great win for the Blues coming into the second half of the championship, and for Donegal a time to regroup.

Donegal:  J. Nockor, S. Doherty, M. Canny, T. McCleneghan, D. Green, G. Gallagher, M. Smyth, R. Kavanagh, R. Dunleavey, M. McDermott, E. Doherty, P. McBride, E. Mulligan.  Blues:  D. O’Brien, T. Wallace, C. Jordan, P. O’Shea, T. Grey, L. O’Connell, W. Guthrie, G. Horan, D. Wallace, B. Dwyer, D. McElligott, D. Roche, K. Hurley.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, July 6, 2015

Senior Football: Kerry v Connemara Gaels

Connemara Gaels 1-19 Kerry 1-14

After being neck and neck for most of the game the Gaels finished strong to pull away in the last 10 minutes and take their first points of the season.  Tony Brosnan was the man on the mark for the Gaels with some fine scores in the last 15 minutes, and newcomer from Pomeroy, Kieran McGeary, made a fantastic debut at corner back for the Gaels.   

Matthew Murphy coming out of defence for Kerry.
Kerry held a slender two point lead at the break.  Eoin Connolly will be having second thoughts about a short kickout attempt that Robbie Croft was alert to, and the Dubliner made a short pass to Shane O’Callaghan who buried the chance.  The Gaels had just worked their way into the game before the goal came.  Kerry started by attacking in waves from the half back line.  David Larkin was particularly effective coming forward, and in the middle of the field Lawrence Healy saw plenty of ball.  Early scores were converted by Sean Driscoll, Ronan Kennedy, and Phil O’Sullvian before the Gaels finally got off the mark.  Martin Farragher, Tony Brosnan, and Noel Graham converted. 

Lawrence Healy looks for options.
With the teams level Croft pointed a free, and then the goal came.  The Gaels gathered themselves and buckled down.  Brosnan put a fine score over the bar, midfielder Frank Burns, and corner forward Farragher followed.  Connolly redeemed himself before half time with a fine save when it looked like goal number two was on the cards for Kerry.  1-7 to 0-8 for Kerry at the half.

The second half was peppered with some well taken points and the sides could not separate from each other.  The Gaels got a visible lift from a blistering Sean Conneely goal about 10 minutes into the half.  Conneely hit the ball off the underside of the bar from 14 yards as he steamed in from the right side.  The sides we now level and it was anybody’s game. Brosnan added two scores after the goal and it was tit for tat from that point on. 

Phil O’Sullivan and Tony Brosnan provided an exhibition of point taking and traded some excellent scores.  When Kerry tried to find dangerman O’Callaghan in the corner, however, McGeary was alert to the threat.  Connolly more than made up for his first half gaffe with three superb saves to deny Kerry a second goal as the Gaels rearguard did their bit.  Having weathered the Kerry storm, the Gaels pulled away in the final 10 minutes after Sean Driscoll had pointed to level the scores.  A Robbie Croft 45 was all that Kerry had in answer to six Gaels points down the stretch.  Sean Conneely put two points over the bar to underline a strong finish from the Gaels to get two points towards their playoff push.

Gaels: E. Connolly, C. Fahy, K. McGeary, D. Doolan, R. Caffrey, C. Mulkerrins, K. Murphy, F. Burns, S Conneeley, N. Graham, F. Cooney, M. Farragher, T. Brosnan.  Kerry: S. Enright, J. Barry, M. Murphy, J. O’Shea, R. Driscoll, D. Larkin, L. Healy, E. Mullan, R. Kennedy, S. Driscoll, P. O’Sullivan, R. Croft, S. O’Callaghan.

By Rory O'Donnell