Monday, July 25, 2016

Senior Football Championship: Galway v Aidan McAnespies

Galway 1-13 Aidan McAnespies 1-14

Sunday served up yet another fantastic senior football championship game, this time between McAnespies and Galway.  Neither side really had the upper hand over the 60 minutes and battled it out with the game going to and fro.  The result could have gone to either side as, with the teams level, Ryan McCrystal pulled off a close range save from a Fionn Ferguson shot, and McAnespies chance came a minute later substitute JP Gallagher put the ball between the sticks for the winning score.  

Michael Daly takes off for Galway.
It was a tight first half in the heat of Canton with each side playing some uncompromising, solid hard hitting football.  Galway opened with a flurry of points from Michael Daly, Kevin McDonnell and Kevin Cummins.  It did not take McAnespies long to get into the swing of things, Kevin McKernan and Shane Daly pointed.  A goal from Gareth O’Neill gave McAnespies a boost and a real lift.  O’Neill was beaten by the hop as he came to meet the incoming ball, but didn’t give up on the play and turned and continued his run till McKernan fed him the ball, and the Dromintee man then buried it into the roof of the net.  Shades of 2011.

Galway refused to be rattled though and answered well.  Daly put a monster point over from play and Cummins added another from the dead ball.  Neither side could find an advantage as the game ebbed and flowed, two evenly matched teams.  McAnespies ended the half with back to back points to send themselves into half time leading 1-6 to 0-7.

Barry Kerr get McAnespies moving.
A goal came for Galway early in the second half from Cillian O’Sullivan.  After some nice linking play O’Sullivan was played in with the keeper to beat and the Meathman slid the ball low and into the net.  Galway had missed about four very scoreable chances, chances they would come to regret when looking back at the game.  The goal, however, tied up the game as Daly had pointed for Galway to two points for McAnespies from McKernan and Forde. 

Finnerty put then Galway ahead with a trademark point, but as was the nature of the game momentum swung back to McAnespies with three unanswered points from Kerr and McKernan to put McAnespies into a two point lead.  There was some controversy as each side had what were initially called as points wiped, and the game was poised for a grand finale.  It was Galway’s turn to then go on a scoring run with Cummins and Daly bringing the Tribesmen level and then O’Sullivan and Jamie Kehoe with the go ahead points.  It looked as though the Galway winning run would continue.  

But back came McAnespies with three points of their own, and in between Ryan McCrystal came up with a huge save from Fionn Ferguson with the teams level.  Ferguson, who got behind the defence, but with a tight shooting angle went low and McCrystal was down to keep the shot out.  Cur McAnespies final foray forward, and in the end the winning point came from Strabane native, JP Gallagher, who had entered play in the second half, and McAnespies come up with a huge win to underline their championship credentials.

Galway:  J. Kelly, J. Kennedy, K. McDonnell, S. Cullen, P. Naughton, C. Mannion, E. Stritch, M. Daly, F. Ferguson, K. Cummins, C. O’Sullivan, J. Kehoe, E. Finnerty.  Macs:  R. McCrystal, J. Allen, P. Daly, C. Daly, P. Holloway, R. Reynolds, S. Daly, D. Ward, B. Kerr, K. McKernan, G. O’Neill, A. Forde, S. Attride.

Rory O'Donnell

Senior Hurling: Wexford v Tipperary

Tipperary 3-13 Wexford 1-16

Tipperary did enough in the first half to claim the points over a Wexford side that started the game very slow, but were a transformed side in the second half and made a run at pulling off a result.  Tipp made it look easy in the first 30 minutes, but had to work in the second to hold off a late challenge that saw Wexford cut a 10 point half time lead to four.  Wexford left it too late, however, and Tipp won the game to leave Wexford looking up at the other 3 clubs in the table.

Tipp had the measure of Wexford at the ICC on Sunday.
Tipperary dominated proceedings in the opening half.  With Limerick duo Barry Nash and Cian Lynch on the half forward line, Tipp lorded over proceedings.  Nash opened with two points, and further scores were added from Lynch and Mark Kavanagh at corner forward before Tipp hit their first goal.  Lynch netted from a tight angle on the edge of the square, and shortly afterwards was followed by another from Kavanagh.   This was all too easy for the defending champions.

Wexford were unable to find a real foothold in the game but as the first period wore on found some measure of success and put 4 points over the bar from Shane Ryan to get off the ground.  Tipperary, however, were up to most anything that Wexford could throw at them and at the break went in ahead by 2-8 to 0-4.

The second half saw Wexford claw their way back into the game.  An early penalty helped, and Ryan made no mistake.  Tipp answered in kind with a Nash penalty after holding in the box, but in the points column it was Wexford who made up ground.  Kieran O’Dea made a difference after coming on at corner forward, and Ryan made the most of frees earned by the Slaneysiders.  Entering the final 15 minutes it was a six point game and Wexford hopes were up.

The last quarter was Tipp’s defenders who were put to the test.  Sean Nally, Michael Carey and Andrew Ryan had to step in on several occasions to cut out the Wexford threat.  Shane Ryan was still the main scoring threat for Wexford and added three scores to Tipp’s one to give Wexford hope of pulling off a comeback.  Tipp managed to hang on and do enough to ward off the Wexford threat.  Jason Bergin pointed late for insurance, and two late points from Eoghan Kavanagh and Paudge Guinan, left a goal between the sides, but the clock ran out on Wexford and the Brighton men need a win in their next outing against Fr. Tom’s next week.

Tipp:  J. Maher, M. Casey, C. Neville, B. Troy, A. Ryan, S. Nally, C. Dempsey, P. Ryan, B. Nash, L. Moloney, C. Lynch, M. O’Malley, M. Kavanagh.  Wexford:  D. O’Callaghan, J. McCarthy, D. Guinan, R. Sludds, B. Phelan, D. Walsh, T. Moloney, E. Kavanagh, G. Murphy, E. Flaherty, P. O’Connor, S. Ryan.

Saturday afternoon saw the Galway senior Hurlers complete a Galway double over Fr. Tom Burke’s with an emphatic 7-17 to 1-9 victory.  With Corkmen Jamie Coughlin and Mark Ellis in the side, Galway bagged three early goals that set the tone for the rest of the game.  An early sending off reduced Tom’s to 12 men and Galway cruised for the rest of the game.  The win puts Galway on top of the table and in pole position for the automatic final berth.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football Championship: Wolfe Tones v Christopher's

Christopher’s 0-10  Wolfe Tones 1-12

Sunday’s final game of the day saw Wolfe Tones took both points in a game that would not be described as a spectacular, and had their opponents taken their chances the result would certainly have been in doubt.  Both teams labored at times and scores were at a premium.  It was the Tones to had the resources to see the game through to the end, bringing in some quality players from the line in the second half.

Shea Tennyson and Robbie Vallejo had a good tussle Sunday.
In fairness both teams were guilty of a plethora of missed opportunities in the first half, and if one of them had managed to take better advantage they would have enjoyed a healthy advantage at the break.  The middle part of the half saw the Tones score six unanswered points and could have blown the game open.  Christopher’s were struggling and while the Tones had plenty of chances, there were several wayward shots from well within scoring range.  Shea Tennyson at corner forward accounted for three points, while the balance was made up by Thomas O’Connor, Paddy Keenan, and Mike O’Brien.

Christopher’s played well all through the period, however, like their counterparts, scoring was not their strong point.  After Ruairi Lavelle opened their account with a long range free, and Niall Hughes added a second, Christophher’s went through a long barren spell.  With the Tones pulling further away, Andrew Murphy stemmed the tide with a foray forward from wing back and a point, and Paudie Allen and Mark Ellis made it five points for Christopher’s, to seven for the Tones, at the break.

The Tones had the step on their opponents all afternoon.
Tones opened the second half with three points on the trot.  Kildare men O’Connor and Mark Hyland, as well as Sean Driscoll made it double scores, five points to ten, and again Christopher’s needed an injection of something to give them a boost.  Danny Neville, who did not start as he was nursing a knee injury, came into the game as did Paudie Kenneally.   

Christopher’s though, couldn’t seem to raise it a level, although Robbie Vallejo did Trojan work at corner back and hampered several Tones forays forward.  Slowing the Tones down, however, was not going to be enough unless the forward line kicked into action.
Neville pointed a free to make it six points to ten, but it was cancelled out by a Leighton Glynn point, the Wicklow man had entered the fray as a sub.  Christopher’s continued to spurn opportunities to close the gap but made a late run and points from Andrew Murphy and Niall Hughes narrowed the gap to a goal with 5 minutes left to play.  

Could Christopher’s muster the energy for a grandstand finish?  Not so however, as with Christopher’s pushing up the field the Tones struck the killer blow with a Tennyson goal following a defence opening move.   Two hand passess opened up the defence and the corner forward just had the keeper to beat.  The sides traded points to finish the game, and with little time Christopher’s hopes ended.  The Tones still unbeaten add another 2 points to looking good for an automatic semi-final place.

Christopher’s:  R. Lavelle, D. Kelliher, R. Vallejo, J. Horgan, A. Murphy, P. Allen, S. Byrne, M. Ellis, N. Hughes, C. O’Brien, J. Murphy, K. Hodgins, C. Collins.  Tones:  L. Molloy, M. O’Grady, R. Driscoll, M. Hyland, K. O’Brien, D. Maguire, P. Keenan, I. Whelan, M. O’Brien, C. Walsh, G. Troy, T. O’Connor, S. Tennyson.

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior A Hurling: Wexford v Tipperary

Wexford 4-11 Tipperary 2-21

Tipperary gathered another two points in the junior hurling championship with a well-earned victory over Wexford.  Tipp had the run of things for most of the game and at one point led by 14 points however two late Wexford goals provided the Slaneysiders with a sliver of hope in injury time, but the Tipp back line withstood Wexford’s late flurry and the 4 point lead stood.

Another win for the Tipperary junior hurlers.
Tipperary enjoyed the better of things in the first half.  It was Peter O’Keefe the dangerman at corner forward again, O’Keefe accounted for accounted for a goal and six points of Tipp’s first half haul of 2-14, one point a beauty from way out on the wing.  Sean Moriarty was also prominent in the Tipperary forward line with a couple of well taken points and a goal where Wexford really should have done better with clearing the ball.  Moriarty was on hand to drive the ball into the back of the net from inside the 21 following a handful of fluffed attempts to clear.

Wexford struggled against the Tipp defence, although Kevin Joyce booted in a goal that was sandwiched by three points each side of it.  Paddy Whelan, Sean Deanly, and Jason Foley each hit the mark.  Wexford had a couple of chances from 21 yard frees that could have kept them in touch, but went low for the early goals, and the shots were easily dealt with.  At the break it was a commanding 2-14 to 1-6 lead for the Premier men.

A late Wexford surge fell just short on Sunday.
Wexford made a better fist of things in the second half but with Pat Moriarty sweeping up at center back and Mark Jordan and Darren O’Donovan doing well on the wings, Wexford found it hard to make a breakthrough.  Tipp opened with three points on the trot from O’Keefe to further inflate their lead before Wexford answered with a Foley point and a second goal from Joyce.  This time Joyce fetched a high ball, rounded the keeper and tapped the ball into the net.  The use of the young American born hurler as a target man paid dividends.

After Tipp strung another 3 points together Wexford caught a break when Mark Jordan was shown a second yellow and had to leave the field.  Wexford needed goals and started going for them.  After a couple of efforts John Dooley hit the back of the net.  With still 8 points in it Wexford still had a lot of work to do.  An injury time goal from a bullet of a free by Dominic Magill hit the roof of the net and reduced the deficit to 4 points as Gary McGovern had pointed.  Another chance from directly in front of the goal was saved by Michael McGrath, and that was the last chance for Wexford to try and save something from the game, although Tipp really would have felt robbed. Wexford looking shaky to make a semi-final place with just one win from their 4 games.

Wexford: E. Spruhan, D. Brennan, P. Bergin, J. Taggart, D. Magill, JJ O’Neill, G. Lundy, J. Foley, P. Whelan, C. Kerins, S. Deanly, J. Dooley, K. Joyce.  Tipp:  M. McGrath, S. SInnott, C. Madden, M. Jordan, P. Moriarty, D. O’Donovan, S. Fortune, K. Kavanagh, S. Delaney, M. Moriarty, M. Kavanagh, S. Moriarty, P. O’Keefe.

Saturday afternoon the Galway junior hurlers defeated Fr. Tom Burke’s 4-23 to 3-10 and Worcester pipped Barley House Wolves by a single point, 4-14 to 5-12.  

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior A Football: Cork v Wolfe Tones

Cork 1-13 Wolfe Tones 2-13

For the second week in a row Cork fell just short of a result after falling to the Wolfe Tones on a warm Sunday afternoon at the Irish Cultural Center.  For the Tones it was a good way to rebound after a sub-par outing against the Gaels last week.   Cork chased the game all the way through and although the rebels came close, they could not find an equalizing goal to earn themselves a point for their efforts.

Wolfe Tones held on to deny Cork on Sunday.
The first half started slow but finished with some well taken scores.  The Tones enjoyed the advantage of four early and unanswered points to carry them through most of the period.  Neither side managed to generate much in the way of flowing football, but did manage some flashes of good football.  Kevin Ryan opened the scoring for the Tones and was followed by Barry McShea and two points from Ciaran Cunningham.

The Tones threatened to run rampant, however, Cork came to grips with affairs and managed to generate some decent scoring chances.  Jack Lynch and Mike Moynihan pointed as the game tarted to flow a bit better and moved up and down the field.  Sean Kelly and Ryan answered back for the Tones before a well worked goal came from Brian O’Connor.  A ball into Sean Kelly was off loaded to the inrushing O’Connor who buried it.
The rebels found themselves a step
behind most of the game.
Cork finished the half strongly with four unanswered points themselves with Kevin McMahon, Lynch, and James Long hitting the mark to make it a 1-6 to 0-7 Tones first half advantage.
Cork tried to eat into the Tones lead but could not make any inroads as each time Cork pointed the Tones answered.  Padraig O’Shea’s lovely score was answered by Ryan, as was Cork’s next score.  The rebels labored to make up ground.  The Tones then hit with a Barry McShea goal.  A well worked move was hit low past Ollie Murphy by McShea and now Cork really needed a goal to have a chance of salvaging something and keeping on track for a semi-final place.

,Cork managed a couple of Peter Wallace points and Moynihan forced a good save from Miskell in the final 10 minutes.  Cork worked the ball well into the final third and had brought Cian Clifford into the fray.  Eventually the rebels got the ball into the hands of the tall corner forward and Clifford slotted home from the edge of the small rectangle.  Five minutes to go and a goal in it.  Cork pointed through O’Shea and with normal time up needed the goal.  Jack Lynch was in from a tight angle, but amid Cork cries for a penalty the captain’s shot hit the outside of the post.  The teams traded points to finish the game with the Tones holding on to both points from the game.

Cork:  O. Murphy, M. Carolan, T. McCloskey, B. Devlin, C. Caffrey, S. Loftus, J. Lynch, L. Cunningham, K. McMahon, M. Moynihan, J. Long, P. Wallace, P. O’Shea.  Tones:  P. Miskell, C. Moran, B. Faulkner, K. Gill, K. O’Regan, N. Mullen, C. Cunningham, B. McShea, B. O’Connor, K. Ryan, A. Moore, G. Walsh, S. Kelly.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Senior Football: Donegal v Connemara Gaels

Donegal 1-13 Connemara Gaels 2-12

Donegal and the Gaels served up a cracker of a game to make for a tremendously exciting finale to the day on Sunday.  Donegal had added Ger Brennan of Dublin fame as well as Derry’s Eoin and Paddy Bradley to the ranks.  It was the proverbial game of two halves with the Gaels lording it over their opponents in the first and Donegal controlling the second.  It seemed as the Gaels had shot their bolt in the first half as in the second it was all Donegal, with an exhausted Gaels team desperately hanging on.  But hang on they did thanks to late points from substitute Ronan Kennedy and move up in the standings.

Sean Conneely about to score the Gael's first goal.
The Gaels were clearly up for this game and played with a high intensity from the get go.  The westerners battled for every ball and their running off the ball was constant.  Ryan Hyde lined out in the middle of the field and broke the ball well, with Gaels runners picking up almost everything.  After Donegal opened the scoring with a point each from corner forwards, Paddy and Eoin Bradley, the Gaels kicked into high gear.

Sean Conneely netted after picking up on a rebound from a high ball into the box, and Jack Kielt pointed to follow up the score.  Conneely added another point and the Gaels were flying.  Two long range dead ball efforts from Fintan Cooney had the Gaels looking at a 10 points to 3 lead.  Eoin Bradley had moved deeper out the field and tallied a point with John Campbell adding another for Donegal who could not settle into the game.  Just before the half time whistle Hyde burst through the defence and buried the ball into the top corner.  At the break the Gaels were ahead 2-9 to 0-4.

Brian Donnelly rises highest for this kickout.
This Donegal team though has too much quality to be counted out and came out all guns blazing in the second half.  After the northerners outscored the Gaels three points to one to set the tone for what was to come in the second stanza, Eoin O’Connor ran through virtually unchallenged to blast past Eoin Connolly and it was game on again.  This time it was Donegal who looked unstoppable while the Gaels lost their way.  Some chances that fell to the westerners were badly missed, and badly needed, and at the other end Paddy and Eoin Bradley made hay with three points unanswered. 

Entering the last quarter it was the Gaels hanging on by a thread to a one goal lead.  Changes were made with Ronan Kennedy, Jack Wyndham, and Noel Graham entering the fray for the Gaels and Darragh Kavanagh for Donegal.  The long ball into the isolated corner forwards from Derry continued to work for Donegal and the deficit was reduced to a single point, and it looked as though Donegal would pull off a massive comeback.  However it was two late scores from Leitrim man, Ronan Kennedy, that kept the Gaels noses just about ahead when nobody else in a green and white shirt could find the space between the posts.  A big win for the Gaels, however, once this Donegal team settles into the remainder of the championship they will be hard to beat.

Donegal:  B. Flynn, D. Monagle, J. Noctor, R. Dunleavy, G. Brennan, C. Russell, R. Caldwell, B. Donnelly, J. Campbell, E. O’Connor, G. Gallagher, P. Bradley, E. Bradley.  Gaels:  E. Connolly, L. Cullen, A. Girvan, F. Cooney, R. Caffrey, D. Larkin, R. Hyde, B. Boylan, S. Conneeley, C. Sheehan, J. O’Brien, R. Rafferty, J. Kielt.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football: Christopher's v Shannon Blues

Christopher’s 1-18 Shannon Blues 1-6

Christopher’s recorded their first win of the season at the expense of the Shannon Blues.  Christopher’s came flying out of the blocks and the Blues were never really at the races.  Christopher’s had the game in the bag early in the second half and more or less played out the time.  The Blues engineered a handful of goal opportunities that just would not go in to even provide some degree of consolation late in the game.

Syl Byrne mounts another Christopher's attack.
The first half saw Christopher’s come full belt at the Blues and did not let their opponents settle.  A quick 1-1 contrasted with the Blues who missed an early chance at a point and then at a goal.  Niall Hughes pointed and Danny Neville followed with a well taken goal.  With Christopher’s seemingly winning every kickout four unanswered points followed, Neville, Cormac Collins, Kevin Hodgins and Andrew Murphy. 

The Blues initiated some attacks however their efforts were wayward before George Bastible got his side off the mark.  Paul O’Sullivan soon added another point, but for the Blues that would be their final score of the opening period.  Christopher’s were flying and the midfield tandem of Syl Byrne and Conor O’Brien dominated.  O’Brien pointed twice, Collins and Neville once each to see Christopher’s sitting on a 1-11 to 0-2 half time lead.

The Blues battled hard but could not come to
grips with the game.
The pace of the game slowed down somewhat in the second half as legs tired in the heat.  Christopher’s extended the lead by three points, Syl Byrne and Neville the scorers, while center back Andrew Murphy had matters fairly in control.  When the Blues threatened they were let down by turnovers, some forced some unforced.  The highlight of their day was a great goal finished by Brian Ryal, some quick hand passing left Ryal with the open net to fist the ball into.

Ruairi Lavelle was called into action to save from close range shortly thereafter and the missed chance was one of a handful that fell the Blues way in the late stages.  Points from Tervor Wallace and Conor Cox put some respectability on the scoreboard but Christopher’s were happy to maintain the slow pace and see out the win.  It looks like there will be a real battle over the next few weeks to avoid being the team that misses out on the playoffs.

Christopher’s:  R. Lavelle, D. Kelliher, R. Vallejo, S. Lonergan, A. Murphy, J. Horgan, S. Byrne, C. O’Brien, J. Murphy, C. Collins, N. Hughes, K. Hodgins, D. Neville.  Blues:  E. Whelan, S. Kelly, P. O’Sullivan, C. Cofffey, G. Cuniffe, T. Wallace, M. Young, D. Somers, D. McElligott, S. Moriarty, G. Bastible, B. Ryal, C. Cox.

By Rory O'Donnell

Ladies Senior Football: Connacht Ladies v Tir na nOg

Connacht ladies 1-11 Tir na nOg 0-11

Connacht Ladies had to fight hard against a dogged Tir na nOg side to record an all important win to bolster their title credentials, and leave the Brighton side needing a win in their final game to remain in the championship.  The westerners lorded it in the early going only to see their opponents fight back in the second half and come within a great save getting a result.

Tir na nOg battled to the end to try and pull off a result.
Connacht Ladies had a great first half and played some blistering football with great running in the forward line.  Rose Boyle, Jane Ward, and Aisling Reynolds were out of the blocks fast and at times carved open the Tir na nOg defence.  With Maria Kelly looking strong in the middle of the field, the Connacht Ladies dominated possession and had tallied six points before their opponents got off the ground in the scoring stakes.  Reynolds and Ward finished off some well worked moves to put Connacht Ladies into an early six points to no score lead.
As the half time break approached Tir na nOg managed to put some sustained pressure on Connacht Ladies and cut the lead in half.  Niamh Crowe, Emma Connolly points from play and a Chloe Ryan pointed free cut the lead in half to make it a 0-6 to 0-3 score in favor of the westerners.

The second half saw Tir na nOg pick up their efforts.  The Brighton side played the ball well out of the back line and worked hard for each other.  Rebecca Stapleton, Maggie Sayers and Emma Connolly helped raise their side’s efforts, while in the front Niamh Daly, Caroline Nee and Niamh Crowe were to the fore.  Points from Nee, Ryan and a great effort from Sayers reduced the gap to a goal.

But it was Connacht Ladies who came away with the win.
Although they were not as rampant as in the first half Connacht Ladies remained very dangerous when in possession and breaking downfield.  A Reynolds point following some slick passing was followed by a goal in for Connacht ladies.  Another fast breakaway move ended with the ball in the hands of substitute Aoibheann Leahy who was stopped dead in her tracks by Niamh Hynes, but unfairly so and a penalty was awarded.  Reynolds slid the kick low past Hynes and the gap was restored to six.

With the clock running out Tir na nOg continued to work very hard to pull off a result.  Nee and Leahy exchanged points and the Brighton side pulled back three points until just the goal stood between the teams.  With relentless pressure on the Connacht Ladies goal, the westerners had to defend in numbers.  The best opening fell to Crowe whose shot was saved by Jackie McDonagh and Maria Kelly was on hand to clear.  The tall midfielder’s presence in assisting her defence was critical in the final minutes and Connacht Ladies held on to record a hard fought victory.  Tir na nOg need a win in their final game against the Shamrocks to qualify for a semi-final place.

Connacht:  J. McDonagh, H. Ennis, A. Egan, C. Boyle, S. Cleary, M. Peel, E. Hannon, R. Boyce, M. Kelly, R. Boyle, J. Ward, R. Cox, A. Reynolds, R. Curran, A. Kerr.   Tir na nOg:  N. Hynes, M. Murphy, R. Stapleton, A. McKenna, C. Murphy, C. O’Neill, M. Sayers, E. Connolly, D. Pugh, C. Dalton, N. Crowe, S. O’Callaghan, N. Daly, C. Nee, C. Ryan.

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior A Football - Cork v Donegal

Cork 2-10 Donegal 1-14

Donegal and Cork battled out an entertaining junior football contest that went down to the wire.  Donegal first opened a sizeable lead and Cork came back in the middle part of the game.  With the teams all square it was Donegal with who seemed to have more in reserve to push on for the win over the final stretch, though Cork came within a hair of salvaging a draw.

Brian Kelly had a major impact at corner forward for Donegal.
It was Donegal with the slightest of leads heading into the half time break.  The northerners had the upper hand for most of the game and at one point held a 1-5 to 0-2 lead.  Donegal had most of the play and Brian Kelly at corner forward, along with Karl Archibald at wing forward were proving to be a handful for the Cork back line.  The Donegal goal came from a high ball to Kelly who engaged in a back and forth with Colm Byrne till Byrne poked the ball into the net.  Kelly and Archibald shared four of Donegal’s five first half points between them.
Cork worked their way into the game, and with Colm Caffrey playing well at center back, Padraig O’Shea, Mike Moynihan and Mike Maye pointed before a lovely ball from Darren O’Donovan found Niall O’Connor behind the Donegal defence, and O’Connor netted with only Jonathan Byrne to beat.  Cork had threatened on a couple of occasions up to that point to net a goal and did so just in the nick of time.  1-5 to 1-6 in Donegal’s favour at the half.

Peter Wallace battles to make something happen for Cork.
A penalty mid - way through the second half put Cork into a two point lead.  The rebels had wasted multiple scoring chances, while Donegal had made the most of the couple that came their way.  The teams swapped points through Kelly and a well taken Mark Dunphy point for Donegal, with Peter Wallace pointing twice for Cork.  Cork will have felt that their efforts were for naught until a great ball from Jack Lynch found O’Shea who was held in the penalty area.  O’Shea took the kick himself and put Cork into the lead as the ball nestled in the back of the net.

After Donegal had leveled matters through Archibald with a brace, it was up and down the field for the final 10 minutes with each side trying to vie for the advantage.  It was Donegal who looked like they had a tad more gas in the tank for the final run in.  Cork’s fatigue probably accounted for errors that the men from Tir Chonaill capitalized on.  Dean Kelly put three points over the bar, two from frees as Cork were forced to foul, and Donegal had a three point lead in injury time.  Late points from Colm Caffrey and Wallace brought Cork within a point, but time ran out on the rebels and Donegal leapfrog them in the standings.

Cork:  O. Murphy, B. Devlin, D. O’Donovan, C. Caffrey, S. Loftus, J. Lynch, N. O’Connor, L. Cunningham, M. Moynihan, M. Maye, P. Wallace, P. O’Shea.  Donegal:  J. Byrne, P. McNulty, D. McBride, D. Doherty, A. Cammon, M. Canny, D. Kelly, M. Dunphy, C. Byrne, R. Diver, K. Archibald, B. Kelly, K. McDevitt.

By Rory O'Donnell

Junior A Football: Connemara Gaels v Wolfe Tones

Wolfe Tones 3-7 Connemara Gaels 6-16

Connemara Gaels continued their winning run in the junior A football championship with a very convincing win over Wolfe Tones.  Six goals underlined the dominance of the Connemara side, however, a late flurry by the Tones may have caused some concern for the Gaels heading into the teeth of the competition.

The Gaels dominated the opening period, holding the Tones to two points and accumulating a tally of 2-7 themselves.  With the scores at a point each the Gaels first goal came when Shane O’Reilly lobbed Pauric Miskell in the Tones goal.  Points flowed afterwards from Phil Sullivan and AJ Maguire (who entered play following an injury to Damien Doolan).  The Gaels looked sharp, and the half back line had the game under control, setting up the forward forays.

Pauric Miskell guessed right but Phil O'Sullivan's
penalty slipped past.
After Darrragh Mulgrew put a well taken point over with his left foot, the Gaels won a penalty that Sullivan dispatched with little fuss.  The Tones managed to muster a couple of points from Brian O’Connor and Sean Kelly, but struggled to move the ball in the face of a determined and focused Gaels.

The second half saw the Tones score a fantastic goal from Ciaran Cunningham.  The Tones opened up the Gaels defence with some quick passing and Cunningham’s shot from outside the 21 flew into the far corner of the net.  For the Gaels, however, it was a bump on the road to a convincing victory.  There were three more second half goals as there always seemed to be a man available in green and white. Sullivan, Mulgrew, and Stephen Murray hit the back of the net.

AJ Maguire goes to ground attemping to win the ball.
The Tones showed flashes of what they are capable of with another well worked goal finished by Joyce-Power and points from Kevin Ryan and Kelly and finished the game strong, but it was a little too late to have an impact on the outcome.  Another win for the Connemara men though, who are looking like a serious threat for the coveted junior football championship this year.

Tones:  P. Miskell, C. Moran, B. Faulkner, K. Gill, K. O’Regan, N. Mullen, C. Cunningham, B. McShea, C. Joyce-Power, C. Moriarty, B. O’Connor, G. Walsh, S. Kelly.  Gaels:  T. O’Malley, D. Black, C. Morisson, F. Cassidy, P. McNicholas, D. Doolan, J. Farrragher, B. Joyce, S. Murray, C. Mulkerrrins, S. O’Reilly, D. Mulgrew, P. Sullivan.

By Rory O'Donnell

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Junior A Hurling: Offaly v Wexford; Worcester v Tipperary

Offaly 2-21 Wexford 4-12

Offaly held on to capture 2 championship points in a nail biting junior hurling championship game on Saturday evening at the ICC in Canton.  Offaly looked to have established a comfortable 10 point lead about 20 minutes into the game, however, Wexford hit with 2 goals late in the half  and another 2 in the second to make it a one goal game in the final minutes.  With the spectators on the edges of the benches, Offaly held on as Wexford went for the goal to tie it up.

Wexford just about couldn't catch Offaly Saturday evening.
The end of the first half saw Offaly sitting on a comfortable 6 point lead.  The Faithful men picked off their points well, and also combined well in opening up shooting angles.  James Kilmartin at wing forward was the big dangerman and the former Offaly underage player opened the scoring with a point from each side of the field.  Barry McManaman at corner forward was also a major threat, and it was he who accounted for a goal that put Offaly into an early 1-6 to a point lead.  Wexford pulled themselves back into it with 2 goals.  One Kevin Joyce at full forward and a second from John Dooley with Joyce involved.  At the break it was 1-14 to 2-5 for Offaly.

Joyce hit with a third Wexford goal shortly after the restart, however it was none other than Kilmartin who pulled it back within minutes to dampen Wexford hopes.  Offaly extened the lead to 7 points again through Barry Kealy and Kilmartin scores, but Wexford finally found the target.  Peter Ryan andPaddy Whelan pulled the side within four as the Wexford men worked very hard throughout the field to rein in their counterparts.  

Whelan put a free from outside the 21 into the net to set up a grandstand finish with one point in it, however McManaman and Kilmartin restored the lead to four.  After a Dooley point made it a one goal game Wexford had one last chance to tie it up but with Offaly back in numbers the ball never made it into the danger zone.  A very exciting win for the newcomers, and great Saturday evening entertainment for the visitors to Canton.

Tipperary 5-15 Worcester 0-10

If it weren’t for the goals Worcester were very much in this game against Tipperary in the early game.  Tipperary streaked into a a1-6 to a point lead before Worcester settled into the game.  Peter O’Keefe was the free taker and corner forward dynamo for Tipperary.  Pat Moriarty was very much involved in the half back line, while his brother Sean was another headache for Worcester opposite O’Keefe in the corner.  Between them Moriarty and O’Keefe accounted for all of Tipperary’s 3-8, Moriarty with 2 of the 3 goals.

It was goals that separated Tipperary
and Worcester at the ICC.
For their part, Worcester settled into the game in the latter part of the first half.  John Griffey, Sean O’Shaughnessy and Dan Brown accounted for Worcester’s 6 points, O’Shaughnessy putting two fine efforts over the bar.  John Donohoe did well in the half back line to return several threatening looking Tipperary attacks.  At the break it was a 3-8 to 0-6 Tipp advantage.

Two Tipp goals in the first 10 minutes after the restart put the dampers on any hope of Worcester getting into touching distance.  Again, it was Moriarty first and then O’Keefe hitting the majors.  Worcester kept at it, O’Shaughnessy with another booming point and Dan Sweatland getting his name on the scoresheet.  Tipp saw it out, but needed those goals to feel comfortable.

Offaly:  G. Sherlock, J. Murray, A. Bergin, R. Reynolds, T. Rigney, C. McMahon, D. Kealy, C. Mahon, C. Flynn, L. Kiely, J. Kilmartin, M. Markham, B. McManaman.  Wexford:  E. Spruhan, E. Goff, J. Taggert, JJ O’Neill, D. Magill, P. Bergin, G. Lundy, S. Delaney, P. Whelan, P. Ryan, P. Guinan, J. Dooley, K. Joyce.

Worcester:  T. O’Brien, D. Smith, T. Falise, P. Mann, C. Berry, J. Donohue, S. Shaughnessy, T, Gahan, D. Brown, D. Sweatland,  P. Dolan, J. Grifffey, PJ Heffernan.  Tipp:  M. McGrath, M. Moriarty, S. Sinnott, M. Jordan, P. Moriarty, D. Donovan, S. Fortune, C. Madden, M. Kavanagh, T. Hanley, S. Delaney, S. Moriarty, P. O’Keefe.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, July 11, 2016

Senior Hurling: Fr. Tom Burke's v Tipperary

Fr. Tom Burke’s 2-8 Tipperary 1-10

Tom’s made it 2 wins from 3 games with an exciting, albeit low scoring, win over Tipperary on a drizzly Sunday afternoon at Canton.  The teams were neck and neck all through, and a second half goal from substitute, Stephen Lorigan, edged Tom’s over the line.

It was a well contested game between Tom's and Tipp.
It was a low scoring first half with both teams struggling to put good chances between the posts.  Tom’s kept in the game thanks to a great goal from corner forward Alex Morey.  Dean Delaney drove a ball in from distance and Morey got the final tip on the ball to direct it past James Maher in the Tipp goals.  On a couple of occasions Tom’s threatened to break through, however, at the crucial moment the ball was lost and the chance went a begging.
With 20 minutes gone there were just four scores in total, 1-1 for Tom’s and 0-2 for Tipp.  

The Premier men came to grips with shooting matters with about 10 minutes to go.  Colm Rafferty took a point well from just inside his own half, and Robbie Hanley tied it up shortly afterwards.  A Michael O’Malley free put Tipp one to the good before Morey leveled the scores as half time approached.

Every score was a big score in Sunday's senior hurling contest.
Tipperary got off to a fast start in the second period.  O’Malley pointed and a fine goal followed from the corner forward.  After Tom’s missed another great chance, the westerners started to make inroads.  The ball into Morey was the key.  The Clareman converted a great score from play and two frees to bring Tom’s within a point.  After Mark Kavanagh blazed a chance at another Tipp goal wide of the far post, Morey and O’Malley exchanged fantastic points, in stark contrast to the misses from the first period.

Then came a goal from Tom’s to nudge them a point ahead.  Morey’s shot was well saved by James Maher and Lorigan, who had just come on the field, was on hand to finish into the net.  O’Malley leveled before Gary Brennan and Morey put Tom’s 2 to the good.  An O’Malley free to make it a one point game set up a tense final 4 minutes.  Tipp desperately searched for an equalizing score, but it never came as Tom’s shot down possible openings.  After one round of the championship it is Tom’s joining Galway on top of the table. 

Tom’s:  O. O’Rourke, S. Kilduff, C. Bergin, K. Kennedy, C. Joyce-Power, C. Burke, P. Whelan, G. Brennan, D. Delaney, A. Hogan, S. Riordan, A. Morey, R. Hanley.   Tipp:  J. Maher, S. McGarr, C. Neville, A. Ryan, B. Troy, J. White, E. Moriarty, C. Dempsey, L. Moloney, C. Rafferty, S. Nally, M. O’Malley, M. Kavanagh.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football: Galway v Donegal

Galway 2-9 Donegal 1-5

The Galway footballers are generating quite a bit of excitement around Brighton as they followed up their convincing victory over the Connemara Gaels with another over a fancied Donegal team.  Galway played some nice possession football and a goal in either half proved to be just about the difference in the end.  With Michael Daly and Eoin Finnerty playing key roles, Galway were full value for their win.

Campbell at one end for Donegal.
Galway played some lovely passing football in the first half and there were some great scores from the Brighton based team.  Michael Daly at center forward took a handful of well kicked points, while wing back Stuart Cullen added a nice score as did Kevin Cummins with a free from outside the 45.  A goal came from a penalty after Barry McHugh was pulled down in the box following an incisive Galway move.  Eoin Finnerty took it well, low and hard to the keeper’s left.

John Campbell at corner forward was the main threat for Donegal.  Campbell accounted for 1-2 of Donegal’s 1-4.  The goal was an opportunist one, Campbell was in the right spot after a mis-hit shot came off the post.  Galway had just lost McHugh to a red card following a foul on Eoin O’Connor and although the tribesmen had a two point lead, it was going to be a tough second half if they were to pull off a win.

Finnerty at the other end for Galway.
The teams were soon level in terms of on field personnel after Eoin O’Connor was booked a second time for an incident after conceding a free.  Donegal had also lost the services of center back Darren Green who looked to have suffered a serious knee injury.  Galway struck with a second goal, Cummins showed presence of mind to calmly use the outside of his right foot after the window to shoot seemed to have closed, and the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line before being cleared by the Donegal defence.  The score was followed by a powerful point from Eoin Finnerty, the Mountbellew man put the ball over the bar from 45 yards and distance to spare.

The pace of the game slowed as fatigue took hold for both sides, Finnerty at times was the lone Galwayman in the Donegal half as the Brighton side fell back to defend Donegal’s forward forays.  Galway tried to play the possession game to run out the clock, and defended in numbers, and limited Donegal to a single second half point.  The tribesmen controlled the remainder of the game and Donegal did not cause them too much trouble in the latter stages of the game.  Galway looking good mid-way through the season.

Galway: J.Kelly, G. McCoy, J. Kennedy, S. Cullen, P. Naughton, C. Mannion, E. Stritch, E. Kavanagh, F. Ferguson, M. Daly, B. McHugh, E. Finnerty, K. Cummins.  Donegal:  C. McLaughlin, D. Monaghan, C. Russell, R. Dunleavy, D. Green, S. McMenamin, G. Gallagher, B. Donnelly, A. McLaughlin, E. O’Connor, V. Coyle, L. Carr, J. Campbell.

By Rory O'Donnell

Senior Football: Wolfe Tones v Shannon Blues

Wolfe Tones 1-13 Shannon Blues 0-7

Wolfe Tones made it four from four in the senior football championship with a win over the struggling Shannon Blues.  It was a close run first half with the Blues going in at the break a point to the good, but in the second half an early Tones goal turned the tables in their favour and the South Boston side ran out easy winners.

Gerry Troy and the Tones came through in thee end.

It was tit for tat in the first half with the Blues matching the Tones score for score.  With Brian Ryal moving well at center forward the Blues played some good running football and yielded six points.  The Tones huffed and puffed, and managed a tally of five to keep themselves positioned well entering the second.

The Tones got the second half off to a great start with a goal from corner forward Tomas O’Connor.  The positioning of the big Kildare man at the edge of the square paid dividends.  Last year’s finalists settled down and Paddy Keenan motoring in the middle of the field, and the Tones defending well, points were added from the boot of Gerry Troy, Shea Tennyson, and Keenan.  The Blues ran out of gas and managed a solitary point from Cormac Coffey, and almost had a goal but Conor Fitzgerald’s shot from close range was well blocked by Lorcan Molloy in the Tones net.

Another win for the Tones in the quest for a return to the  final in August.

Tones:  L. Molloy, M. O’Grady, B. Fotune, D. Maguire, R. Driscoll, S. Driscoll, I. Whelan, P. Keenan, G. Troy, C. Walsh, M. O’Brien, S. Tennyson, L. Galligan.  Blues:  E. Whelan, T. Wallace, P. O’Sullivan, C. Coffey, G. Cunniffe, S. Kelly, M. Young, D. Somers, G. Bastible, B. Ryal, D. McElligott, I. Parker, C. Cox.

By Rory O'Donnell

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ladies Senior Football: Boston Shamrocks v Tir na nOg

Boston Shamrocks 3-6 Tir na nOg 0-9

Boston Shamrocks are continuing from where they left off after winning the Orla Benson Cup in June and made it two wins from two games in the Ladies senior football championship last Sunday.  The Cup winners tallied three goals, and could afford to miss a penalty, to propel themselves to victory.  

The Shamrocks took another step in the quest for their first senior championship since 2010.
The first half was well contested and at the break the Shamrocks held a two point lead, though truth be told it should have been more.  The Shamrocks took some time to find their shooting touch and several chances went awry.  Points did come from Mairead O’Driscoll, Rebecca Mongan, and Sharon McGovern, and a goal from Caoimhe Murray ensured that the Shamrocks took the break with the lead.  Tir na nOg kept themselves very much in the game thanks in large part to the accurate free taking of Chloe Ryan.
The second half saw Tir na nOg dig in and batten down the hatches.  Maggie Sayers and Christine O’Neill did well in the half back line, and Tir na nOg pulled within a point after Niamh Crowe and Ryan had pointed.  However, with things beginning to look like there would be a close finish in store, the Shamrocks hit with a goal from Maria Bannon who came on as a sub, and the score took some of the wind out of the sails of the Brighton team.  A penalty could have provided the Shamrocks with a sure victory well before the final whistle, but Niamh Hynes was up to the shot and saved well.

The Shamrocks, however, gained in confidence and took control of affairs.  The back line did well to stop Tir na nOg attacking forays, with Brittany Maguire, Cathy McEleaney and Ciara McCormack doing particularly well.  Points were added from Aisling Cunningham and Kiernan to see the Shamrocks to the top of the table.

By Rory O'Donnell

Monday, July 4, 2016

Senior Football: Aidan McAnespies v Christopher's

Aidan McAnespies 4-15 Christopher’s 4-8

Aidan McAnespies recorded a fully deserved Christopher’s though not without some late anxiety.  Having outplayed their opponents for most of the game, McAnespies conceded four second half goals that turned what had looked like a win in the bag into some anxious second half minutes.  McAnespie nerves were calmed with a late goal from Kevin McKernan with a few minutes to go.  The fact that McAnespies could afford to concede four second half goals and still end up 7 point victors underlined their dominance over the course of the afternoon.

Kevin McKernan netted 4 goals Sunday.
McAnespies were in control for most of the first half and behind two goals from McKernan who lined out at center forward took the break eight points to the good.  Some solid defending and great running from the half back line forward were the hallmarks of McAnespies first half performance.  Christopher’s did not do themselves any favours and had a multitude of chances to score, but did not take advantage and slipped farther behind in the race.  It took an awful lot of work to tally the four first half points for Christopher’s, while for McAnespies the scores flowed a little easier and came from multiple scorers.  Shane Daly, McKernan, Paul Kingston, and Darren McElroy were all on the mark.  Sitting on a 2-7 to 0-4 half time lead, McAnespies looked well in control.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with McAnespies playing at a higher level of intensity.  When not in possession McAnespies worked hard to win the ball back, and when with the ball the northerners ran for each other.  Christopher’s continued to squander chances and seemed to be looking for things to happen easy.  McKernan completed a hat trick mid-way through the half, the Antrim man taking a pass from Paul Forde to finish from just outside the small box. 

Christopher's Mark Delaney knocks Barry Kerr off the ball.
Christopher’s managed a goal on their third opportunity, the first two goal attempts were saved well by Ryan McCrystal, while the third effort from the boot of Hodgins found the net.  By that stage Christopher’s were looking at a 10 point deficit.  McAnespies responded with three points, Dessie Ward, McElroy and McKernan on target.  Christopher’s made things interesting, and raised some concern among McAnespie’s supporters after Christopher’s opened up the McAnespie defence on two occasions and Conor O’Brien and Syl Byrne netted.  Cormac Collins netted a fourth goal shortly after to bring Christopher’s within five points and still 7 minutes to go, was an unlikelt comeback on the cards?  Not so said McKernan who averted a possible catastrophe from a McAnespie viewpoint, with his fourth goal.  McAnespies add a fully deserved 2 points with Christopher’s still looking for their first win of the season.

Macs:  R. McCrystal, M. Bogue, J. Allen, B. Kerr, C. Daly, JP Gallagher, S. Daly, D. Ward, P. Daly, K. McKernan, A. Forde, P. Kingston, D. McElroy.  Christopher’s:  R. Lavelle, D. Kelliher, R. Vallejo, S. Lonergan, J. Horgan, P. Allen, C. O’Brien, S. Byrne, M. Delaney, D. Neville, N. Hughes, D. Kenneally, K. Hodgins.

By Rory O'Donnell