Kieran Donaghy fields the ball during the Munster football final against Cork last Sunday.

Kerry duo Kieran Donaghy and Colm Cooper will escape punishment after their trial by television following Sunday’s nail-biting Munster SFC final win over Cork in Killarney by a score of 1-15 to 1-12.

The RTE cameras caught both players in off-the-ball incidents which were highlighted on The Sunday Game just hours after the final whistle.

Donaghy appeared to kick-out at Cork defender Noel O’Leary but only received a yellow card from referee David Coldrick after he had consulted with his linesman.

Cooper was also booked for a clash with Cork substitute Denis O’Sullivan and while the referee took action in both instances, the RTE pundits felt the punishment was weak considering the alleged crimes.

However the GAA’s new rules, adopted at Congress this year, mean no player can be retrospectively penalized once the matter has been dealt with by the referee leaving Donaghy and Cooper suspension free ahead of the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

The Kingdom retained their provincial crown and forced Cork into the All-Ireland qualifiers for the second year in a row despite a stirring second half fight back from the Rebels.

Kerry led 1-10 to 0-5 at the break but Cork, inspired by a Donncha O’Connor penalty, got within a point of pulling level before late points from Eoin Brosnan and James O’Donoghue sealed the deal for the home side to the delight of manager Jack O’Connor.

“They were coming down as All-Ireland champions, but we have a great record here in the stadium. We certainly didn’t want them beating us in our own backyard,” O’Connor said.
“I thought we prepared very well for the game. I know we were short personnel. But we felt the players we had available had prepared extremely professionally and that Cork were going to have to play awful well to beat us. That’s the way it panned out.

“We knew well at half-time there’s a kick in Cork. We came out of the blocks a bit quicker but we were playing against the wind in the first-half and it took a lot out of us.

“That showed in stages in the second-half and Cork were always going to come back at us. It was very hot out there but it was a great game for us, there was a point in it with a couple of minutes to go and we just dug it out and got a couple of points on the break.
“Maybe a bit lucky, Cork had a great goal chance and had it gone in probably would have won the game.”

Kerry beat Cork in the Munster final replay last year, then crashed out of the All-Ireland to Down in the quarterfinals weeks later.

Manager O’Connor believes the lesson has been learned. He stated, “We had a great day above in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last year in the replay and three or four weeks later we came a cropper in Croke Park. We can’t let that happen again, and that’s a big danger.

“We played two rounds of club matches last year and a few fellas came back with knocks. We just didn’t get our training right going into the quarterfinal last year.

“If there’s a lesson to be learned, I think that’s a critical one. There are club games next weekend and that will still give us three weeks.”

As for the beaten Munster finalists, O’Connor warned, “I wouldn’t be forgetting about Cork: I think they’ll have a big say in what way it goes from here on in. As regards down the line, I wouldn’t fancy getting Cork in the qualifiers.”

Kilkenny Wins

Kilkenny had their mojo back on as they destroyed National League champions Dublin in Sunday’s Leinster hurling final.

The Cats won their seventh straight provincial crown under manager Brian Cody which suggests they will be a force to be reckoned with once again come September.
The return to full fitness of star forward Henry Shefflin was the ace in Kilkenny’s pack in a 4-17 to 1-15 win that easily avenged their league final defeat to the Dubs earlier in the year.

Afterwards, Cody praised his players and suggested that their performance was a positive response to the criticism that has come their way since the NHL final defeat to the Dubs.
“I’m not sure what the critics were saying because I wasn’t getting involved in it. I stayed well away from newspapers and predictions and everything else because too many people out there know too much about hurling for my liking,” Cody told RTE.

“All you can do is prepare as well as you can and have a real spirit and a real genuineness in your team and go out there and perform. At the end of the day, it is only won on the day.”

As a result of this win, Kilkenny are straight through to the All-Ireland semi-final on August 7 while Dublin will contest a quarterfinal a week earlier.

Cody believes there is more to come from his side. He added, “The hunger is intact. I’d say we picked it up a lot from the league final and we picked it up from the time of the Wexford game. We have come on a bit further.

‘But we are going to have get some serious improvement before the All-Ireland semifinal. We wanted to win the Leinster final and that brings on the All-Ireland semifinal.

“The alternative to that is what Dublin are faced with now. We are quite happy to go there and if we hadn’t won today, you would be disappointed but straight away you would be focusing on the next match. That is the way it works.”

Man of the match Shefflin scored 1-9 and was lauded by Cody after the game.

“Henry is absolutely flying,” Cody said. “You see the quality of him there again today. His ability to play for the team is immense and some people will rightly talk about his overall excellence. For us, as a team player, he is immense.”

Dublin boss Anthony Daly had no excuses on a day that saw him lose center-back Joey Boland to an early injury.

Daly also acknowledged the contribution made by the returning Shefflin and Tommy Walsh, both of whom missed the league decider.

“Their big guns were back to their best. I was just in the Kilkenny dressing room there. Tommy Walsh and Henry Shefflin are some throw-ins!” joked Daly straight after the game.
“Without them in the League final they looked a little bit vulnerable. But when they are there, especially Henry, they looked good.”

Dublin will need to regroup and refocus ahead of the quarterfinals as their manager admitted. “Maybe the occasion got to us a little bit. We won’t know until we sit down and look at the video,” added Daly.

Galway Wins

BossJohn McIntyre is adamant his Galway side answered the critics with their emphatic win over Clare in the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers.

Galway were the big winners in the latest qualifiers as a stunning Joe Canning goal helped them to a facile 4-25 to 0-20 victory in Salthill on Saturday night.

Canning scored 1-9 in total for Galway, who will now play Cork in the next round of the qualifiers as they justified McIntyre’s faith following a dismal defeat to Dublin in the Leinster Championship.

“My over-riding emotion tonight is that I’m just thrilled for the players,” McIntyre told RTE after the game.

“We have all got a lot of flak over the past fortnight. The past three months have been difficult; ever since Tipperary brutally brushed us aside here in Pearse Stadium in April, and the past two weeks have been particularly traumatic.

“We got the response we were looking for this evening. We changed things around on the training ground. We got rid of some of the cones and the disks and just went hurling.
“Matches are the best way to sharpen up a team. This win is a good answer to our critics but we have to keep a sense of perspective.”

Cork are next up for Galway, with McIntyre well aware that more hard work is on the cards before Saturday’s game in Limerick.

“At least we are going into the next game with momentum,” he said. “But my rallying cry to the players in the dressing room is let’s not forget what it took to get this performance out of them this evening.

“There was a bit of anger and frustration in that display tonight but most of all there was pride. They have defended and retrieved their reputations tonight and I am very proud of them.

“They are not bad hurlers. But we still have a long road to travel and great scope for improvement and we need to make that progress if we are going to challenge seriously for the championship later in the year. But at least we are still standing.”