Kilkenny and Dublin served up a feast of hurling in Nowlan Park on Sunday when the Dubs scored six goals and 12 points against the Ireland champions and still lost!
Kilkenny came storming back in a whirlwind second half to rack up the winning score of five goals and 16 points, enough to win the NHL game by a single score.
Three points from Matthew Ruth at the end of play saw the Cats emerge victorious on a 5-16 to 6-12 scoreline as they maintained their 100% start to the league season.
Cats boss Brian Cody said, “It was amazing the way the game turned out and I’m sure the crowd that turned out enjoyed it.
“Obviously, we weren’t happy at conceding six goals, but we got the win we wanted and it’s another two points for us in the league.
“What pleased me most was the perseverance we showed when it looked the game was slipping from us on more than one occasion.
“The players refused to lie down and kept at it. Different players stood up on different occasions and took the game by the scruff of the neck. We got the goal late on and that proved decisive in the end.”
Dublin boss Anthony Daly believes his team did their county proud even in defeat, and he praised several players in particular.
“Danny Sutcliffe is making great progress, playing very well. He’s got a great attitude, and in fairness to some of the other young players, like Eamon Dillon, who came in and got a great goal, it’s great credit to the system Dublin have in place, that they can bring through fellas like that, and they’re ready for the step up,” said Daly.
“And Joey Boland too, after a stinker against Galway, by his own standards, he really had a look at himself, and he was outstanding the last two games. Michael Carton too.
“And to have David O’Callaghan coming back as well is great. We weren’t sure if he’d even make it to half time, because he has very little training at all done, having been out with pneumonia. We were going to take him off at halftime and he asked for a few more minutes, and in fairness he came out and got the old goal straight away.
“So there are some positives, sure. It’s just disappointing not to get something, two close games in a row.
“I suppose we are at least competing with Kilkenny, on a regular basis, although they still normally end up winning. But look, we still think we can compete at this level.
“We’re still National League champions. It doesn’t look like we’re holding on to the title, but until it’s given over to someone else, I suppose we are still champions.”
TYRONE sealed promotion to the top flight of the National Football League with a well deserved win over Galway on Sunday, but manager Mickey Harte wants his team to carry on the winning habit.
“At the start of the season we said we wanted to win as many games as possible to get ourselves out of this division,” said Harte after a fifth consecutive league win.
“Straight wins is the way to do it, we need to keep the roll going by winning games. It’s ironic that when the conditions got bad our players got a spurt of energy.
“We had ourselves ahead at halftime, probably against the run of play, and we knew if we went out and won the second half we’d be in a good place. We won’t be sitting down thinking we are world beaters, we are a work in progress and we have plenty more to do.”
Harte was furious, however, after corner back PJ Quinn was sent-off for an off-the-ball incident involving Padraic Joyce.
He added, “PJ Quinn says he was just pulled around and, in the swing-around, his foot hit him in the knee or somewhere, that he never kicked him or anything they are putting him down for.
“He is adamant that is not the case and I would well believe it. He has never had a red card in his life.”
Sean Cavanagh made his return to the Tyrone colors in the game after a shoulder injury and admitted afterwards, “I feel good. I’m a bit tired but that was my first competitive game in seven-and-a-half months. It’s good to get the lungs open and last the 70 minutes, and it was all about the result.
“It’s mission accomplished. We are qualified and we can push on now. The guys are working really hard. You need to be in sublime condition to do that and we are lucky to be in such good physical fitness to be able to play that sort of football.
“It’s early days yet. It’s only March but things are moving in the right direction.”
KERRY’S newcomers were to the fore again as the Kingdom crushed hosts Cork in the NFL tie on Sunday, boosted by an impressive start.
Goalkeeper Brendan Kealy praised the new Kerry players and said, “It’s great to see it. They’ve come in there and haven’t looked out of place. They have settled in perfectly. It just makes training and everything that much better when everyone is fighting for their place.”
Cork trailed by 0-2 to 0-8 at the break and eventually lost by 0-11 to 0-13, much to the disgust of manager Conor Counihan.
“Crazy, crazy, absolutely crazy first half,” he said. “You wouldn’t deserve to win a game playing the way we played in the first half.
“It just wasn’t good enough and the lads know that themselves. There was a bit of a response in the second half, but you have to play for 70 minutes at this level or you don’t get a result.”
DUBLIN forward Eoghan O’Gara is awaiting the results of a scan on a groin injury picked up in the warm-up before his team suffered a shock NFL defeat away to Down on Sunday.
Manager Pat Gilroy confirmed, “Eoghan had a problem with his groin. He was just doing a warm-up and there was no way he could play so that disrupted things a bit.
“He’d been going very well but there’s no excuses. That wasn’t the reason our intensity wasn’t at the races today.
“We were at a different level last week against Armagh and we didn’t get up to that level this week with our intensity and that’s the bottom line. In fairness to Down, they brought plenty of it here today.
“The intensity of Down in the first half, really gave us a lesson. They were ferocious in everything they did but we upped it significantly in the second half.”
TIPPERARY have an NHL semi-final place on their mind ahead of this weekend’s clash with Dublin after an impressive 31 win point win over Waterford last Sunday.
Manager Declan Ryan said: “We’re looking to get to a league semi-final and that has been the aim since we started the league. We obviously didn’t get off to a great start but our performances have picked up considerably, we’re going in the right direction.
“Dublin blew us off the pitch last year in the league; they started off poorly this year but their performances are also on the way up. They need the points, so do we; it will be a massive battle, a huge physical battle.”
ARMAGH are considering an appeal against the red card issued to captain Kieran McGeever after a halftime incident in the tunnel as they lost to Laois in Sunday.
“To lose the man at halftime was an incredibly bizarre decision,” said manager Paddy O’Rourke.
“We honestly don’t know why we lost him, he doesn’t know why. He said nothing happened in the tunnel. Why we lost him I don’t know.”
ARMAGH’S Crossmaglen and Garrycastle of Westmeath must meet again in the All-Ireland club football final replay after a dramatic and intense draw in the first fixture at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day . . .
MONAGHAN are to appeal a decision forcing them to play their NFL clash with Galway at a neutral venue as a punishment after recent incidents in their league clash with Kildare . . .
A LIAM Watson hat-trick helped Antrim’s Loughgiel Shamrocks beat Offaly side Coolderry in the All-Ireland club hurling final . . .
JOHN Evans has resigned as manager of the Tipperary senior football team in the wake of Sunday’s NFL defeat to Sligo . . .
BERNARD Brogan could miss as many as four league games for Dublin after undergoing an operation on his knee last Friday . . .
KILDARE midfielder Ken Donnelly has been forced to retire from inter-county football due to a long term knee injury . . .
DONEGAL may consider appealing Rory Kavanagh’s red card in Sunday’s football victory over Mayo.