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Mark O'Riordan of Limerick and Danial Goulding of Cork in action at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday.

Cathal Dervan's sports digest

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Mark O'Riordan of Limerick and Danial Goulding of Cork in action at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday.

Dunne Wanted

Sunderland have upped the ante in the chase for Manchester City’s Irish defender Richard Dunne, with chairman Niall Quinn keen to land his former international teammate.

“Richard is a player who is an excellent footballer but he is a Man City player until they say any different and we stand in a line,” Quinn told the Daily Mail.

“We are not the only admirers, but if there is a chink of light we will get through it if we can. We probably need a few men and spirited people to lift what we have and of course Richard Dunne would fit the bill.”


Kenny Suspended

Former Irish goalkeeper Paddy Kenny has been suspended by Sheffield United pending further action after he failed a drugs test following the Championship playoff against Preston at the end of last season.

Kenny’s sample is believed to have tested positive for the banned substance, ephedrine, which is believed to have been contained in a cough mixture that he is understood to have bought over the counter.

 

Ireland Again

Ireland assistant boss Marco Tardelli has confirmed that Giovanni Trapattoni intends to sit down with maverick midfielder Stephen Ireland in the near future.

“He’s an important player for Ireland, but we also have other important players and they have worked very hard. If he wants to come back, then we are happy, no problem,” said Tardelli.

 

Soccer Shorts

Bohs want to keep on loan Celtic winger Graham Carey at Dalymount Park until the end of the League of Ireland season as he contemplates a new contract offer at Parkhead . . .

The FAI have announced losses of some €16.2 million for 2008, but chief executive John Delaney is adamant they will return to profit in 2009 . . .

Shamrock Rovers have offered free scoring striker Gary Twigg a new improved contract following his successful move from Scotland . . .

Irish defender Damien Delaney has joined fellow Corkman Roy Keane at Ipswich Town after completing a move from QPR . . .

Sheffield Wednesday expect to complete the transfer of Irish midfielder Darren Potter from Wolves in the coming days . . .

Manchester United have signed Ireland under-17 international defender Sean McGinty from Charlton Athletic . . .

Waterford United have signed former Irish under-21 international Stephen Grant from local side Tramore AFC . . .

New Floriana boss Roddy Collins wants to bring Irish striker George O’Callaghan with him to Malta . . .

Cardiff City are the new favorites to sign Irish midfielder Liam Miller after he was released by QPR . . .

Scottish side Hibs have failed in a bid to sign Irish striker Anthony Stokes on loan from Sunderland . . .

Irish winger Alan O’Brien has moved to Swindon Town after his release from Hibernian.

 

Lions Win

The Lions finally found a winning formula to defeat South Africa in the meaningless third test in Johannesburg on Saturday, but captain Paul O’Connell was still a proud man afterwards.

O’Connell told Sky Sports, “It was a very tough week mentally for everyone. We just really dug deep. Some guys produced some serious form and produced some great scores. We were determined to dig as deep as we could.

“I think anyone works very well with their backs to the wall. We’ve probably never had our backs to the wall as much!

“With Jamie (Roberts) and Brian O’Driscoll out, they have probably been our best two players so it was going to be very tough for us.

“The guys are very conscious of the Lions ethos and wanted to do it proud.

“The first test we could have won, the second we should have won... we were eager that kind of memory wouldn’t be upset by a poor performance today, knowing we were beaten and throwing in the towel.’

“I hope people don’t misconstrue our lap of honor. We’re under no illusions we lost the Test series. But a lot of people paid a lot of money to come out here, we wanted to thank them."

 

Rebels Hang On for Narrow Win

Limerick gave Cork an almighty fight before the Rebels held on for a 2-6 to 0-11 win in the Munster SFC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday -- not that winning boss Conor Counihan was surprised by the challenge presented to his side.

“I mentioned last week this would be a tough game and that Limerick would put it up to us,” said Counihan.

“The fact that the media were putting us up on a pedestal after beating Kerry too, I equally said that we weren’t that good and I said that Kerry weren’t that great.

“Today had a lot to do with Limerick’s performance. We dealt with it as best we could on the day but we were extremely lucky.

“We said at halftime that we needed to take responsibility, we need to take ownership, but we don’t panic. We came out then and I felt we dominated the first 15 minutes but we didn’t get scores on the board.

“To be fair to the fellas, they kept their heads, kept plugging away and you know if you do that generally you get the break. I don’t know how many opportunities we failed to convert after halftime. You just have to keep with it and hopefully it will turn for you and fortunately enough it did.”

Unlucky Limerick were left to rue missed chances, and manager Mickey Ned O’Sullivan admitted they could have ended a 113 year wait for the Munster title.

“It’s naturally very disappointing, especially when you put it in perspective -- that 113 year history of defeat and you are just one point off it. That is the disappointing factor,” he said.

“I know that our lads gave it every last ounce in their preparation and I was very proud of the way they played. They played a very attractive brand of football and very sporting. They are devastated, but will bounce back.

“Anything that hurts, you can turn it to a positive and hopefully we will. It steels players and makes them strong. They have a good attitude and they showed they can play as good a brand of football as any county in the country. That’s good for Limerick football. It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t win it.”

 

Kilkenny Wins

Dublin’s reputation as a side on the up continued despite Sunday’s 2-18 to 0-18 defeat to All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in the Leinster SHC final.

Even Cats boss Brian Cody admitted to the press afterwards that his team were pushed all the way by Anthony Daly’s Blues.

“We were looking for all the gears we had,” said Cody. “We weren’t dominating the game by a long shot at any stage. We got scores at different times that gave us a bit of a cushion, but at all times they were there and were very competitive.

“It wasn’t an outstanding performance from us, but it was a hard, workmanlike performance and if we were less than committed, we wouldn’t be Leinster champions, that’s for sure.

“I’m always saying about the Leinster championship being difficult. You see the quality of Dublin there and they barely beat Wexford. It’s always great to win the Leinster championship. It’s the sweetest one because it’s the most recent one.”

Man of the match Martin Comerford was one of the main differences between the sides with a personal tally of 2-4 for the afternoon.

“That’s good going for Martin, I tell you,” added Cody. “He had a great game. He was outstanding really. He worked hard and created a lot too. He doesn’t always tend to score a huge amount, but he’s been a huge player for us for a long, long time.

“He’s coming into form in the last while as well.”

Dublin manager Anthony Daly was disappointed his team didn’t get closer than six points to the champions and said,

“We felt that we had a great chance, but we didn’t manage to drive it home.

“They certainly looked to me like they were not putting us away. We sensed that after halftime and drove on, but a sloppy second goal really murdered us.”

 

Monaghan Wins

Monaghan fans were relieved after their team’s narrow 0-13 to 0-12 win over Armagh in the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday, no one more so than manager Seamus McEnaney.

“My immediate emotion would be one of relief,” he said afterwards. “We were struggling at halftime, we were struggling around the middle of the field and we were not winning any of the breaking ball.

“I think the count was 17 to five to Armagh at halftime and that wasn’t good enough. We dealt with a number of things at halftime, we re-jigged the team and I think we dominated play for the bulk of the second half.

“That was a big turnaround, it’s a big part of our game. But I think it’s fair to say that, even though we only won by a point, we deserved to win this match.”

A defiant Armagh manager Peter McDonnell defended his players after the early end to their championship summer.

“Exiting the championship was always going to be the scenario for one of the teams going into this fixture,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it is ourselves and I have a very disappointed changing room down there. Those lads gave their all, I couldn’t ask for any more from them, they ran themselves into the ground but it didn’t work out for us.

“Maybe a little more composure in front of goal at different times might have made a difference. But fair play to Monaghan, they kept going right to the end and good luck to them.”

 

Tipp Wins

The Tipperary footballers scored a major shock when they dumped Louth out of the All-Ireland qualifiers in Drogheda on Saturday by a score of 2-10 to 1-12, much to the delight of manager Johnny Evans.

“It means as much as winning the Division 3 NFL title, if not more,” said Evans after his team’s first championship win in six years.

“We won the league last year in Division 4 right through and we were beginning to become a league team and we knew ourselves that unless we won a championship game we hadn’t fulfilled our ambition for 2009.

“If we packed away the cases and went home now, we’d be happy but I think now they’ll go out and play more football.”

 

Cork Wins

Returned Aussie Rules footballer Aisake O hAilpin was the star of the show with his two goal performance in Cork’s All-Ireland SHC qualifier win (1-12 to 3-19) over Offaly on Saturday.

“He is a guy who works fierce hard. He was anxious to get a few scores,” said Cork boss Denis Walsh.

“He didn’t join us really until four weeks into my reign so he had only four weeks training before Tipperary and it’s very hard for fellas to get up to the pace of it in that time.

“We gave him encouragement and he knew that he would be improving the next day out.”

 

Wicklow Wins

Wicklow had Tony Hannon and Thomas Walsh sent off but still managed to beat Fermanagh in the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday by a score of 0-17 to 1-11, much to the delight of manager Mick O’Dwyer.

“In 1998 or ‘99, we had two players sent off in the first seven minutes of a game against Laois, and yet we went on to win,” said O’Dwyer.

“So while it was a setback to have the two lads sent off today, and it meant that the other lads had to work that much harder, it wasn’t nearly as bad as in Kildare’s game against Laois.”

 

Qualifiers Set

Derry will meet Monaghan in a repeat of their contentious Ulster SFC clash in the second round of the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday.

Meath will face local rivals Westmeath in Mullingar, Longford will host Kerry and Wicklow will fancy their chances in a home tie against Tommy Carr’s Cavan.

The draw for the second round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers, to be played on Saturday, is: Down vs. Laois; Monaghan vs. Derry; Longford vs. Kerry; Wexford vs. Roscommon; Tipperary vs. Sligo; Donegal vs. Clare; Westmeath vs. Meath; Wicklow vs. Cavan.

 

GAA Shorts

Full-forward Stephen Banville will miss Wexford’s All-Ireland SHC qualifier against Limerick on Saturday after he was diagnosed with glandular fever. Stephen Nolan, Andrew Shore and Tomás Waters have joined Colm Farrell, Eoin Quigley and Barry Lambert on the injured list, but Keith Rossiter and Darren Stamp will be available . . .

The Gaelic Players Association will meet a government committee this week as they step up their bid to gain official recognition from the GAA. Minister for Sport Martin Cullen has yet to outline the future of the players’ grants scheme after a meeting with the GPA last week . . .

Stephen O’Neill has put his honeymoon on hold in order to play for Tyrone in the Ulster SFC final against Antrim on Sunday, July 19. Joe McMahon is Tyrone’s biggest injury worry for the game after damaging ribs in the semi win over Derry . . .

The Derry County Board have rubbished reports that All-Star forward Paddy Bradley has quit their senior football squad and are adamant he will play against Monaghan in Saturday’s eagerly anticipated All-Ireland qualifier . . .

Dublin could be without young defender Rory O’Carroll for Sunday’s Leinster football final date with Kildare amid reports that the Kilmacud Crokes star is to take a break to travel abroad for the summer . . .

Mayo midfielder Ronan McGarrity is a major doubt for the Connacht final meeting with Galway after suffering a suspected broken jaw in a club match last Sunday.

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