GAA news from Ireland this week.
Cork’s big comeback bests Limerick
Cork were the big winners on the opening weekend of the National Hurling League as they came back from eight points down at the break to beat All-Ireland champions Limerick by 2-17 to 0-22 in front of a big and very happy home crowd at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday night.
Goals from Robbie O’Flynn and Declan Dalton made all the difference for the Rebels, and even though Limerick led by two points after six minutes of added time, Cork clawed their way to victory with points from Patrick Horgan, Conor Cahalane and the match-winner from substitute Shane Kingston.
Afterward, a delighted Cork boss Pat Ryan told RTÉ, “We played well enough in the first half but had a lot of wides. Limerick got a run on us for the last six minutes, they’re a fantastic bunch of players who move the ball well. They got six great scores and put us under a lot of pressure going in at half-time.
“Our fellas, what we ask them to do is play with character and represent the jersey well, and they did that in the second half. There’s loads of learnings for us, lots of mistakes were being made, but it’s very early in the season.”
Man of the match Horgan hit 10 points in total for the winners and was delighted they proved their worth in that dramatic second half. He said, “The first half, being down by eight points, we didn’t deserve that. I thought we played well for 25 minutes but lost our way for the last five or 10, and you can’t give Limerick any time to gather momentum like that. They punished us.
“At half-time the message was to keep doing the same thing, to keep driving on and going to the ball, and we’ll get our chances. Thankfully we did and we took them. We did the right thing a lot, it just didn’t work out in the first half with a couple of shots.”
Elsewhere in Division One Group A, Galway won on the double away to Wexford in a game delated by a generator fire on the night Wexford launched their new floodlights. A 0-23 to 0-15 win for Henry Shefflin’s side won them two league points and the Walsh Cup as the fixture served as a double bill.
“We were looking forward to the game. Two points in the league were a priority but it was also nice to get a piece of silverware,” said Galway boss Henry Shefflin.
“It was good and added to the game. The Wexford game in the championship is the priority, but it’s a good space, with the championship not until April 22. We have injuries but will be hoping to see everyone in the league. Daithi Burke is the most serious, but we hope to have everyone available.”
Clare opened their league account with an easy 4-27 to 0-14 Group A win over Westmeath at Cusack Park in Ennis while new Tipperary boss Liam Cahill got his Group B season off to a winning start with a 2-32 to 0-18 victory against Laois at Semple Stadium.
The only major issue for Cahill afterward was an injury picked up by Conor Stakelum early in the game. “That’d be a concern for me. Conor Stakelum was very good tonight so hopefully we’ll get him back on the field as soon as possible,” said Cahill, who is already without Ger Browne for the season due to knee surgery and is awaiting the return to full fitness of Séamus Callanan.
Derek Lyng also tasted league action for the first time as Kilkenny boss with a 1-18 to 0-15 win against Antrim at Corrigan Park in Belfast with Billy Drennan top scoring on 1-8 for the young Cats side.
“We had a lot of young players on the pitch today and to get through that and to have that experience of what it takes was hugely important,” Lyng told RTE. “Look, ultimately we got the result at the end, it wasn’t perfect, but that’s okay.”
Waterford had Jack Fagan and Stephen Bennett sent off as a late, late pointed free from Donal Burke grabbed a draw for Dublin, 3-16 to the Deise’s 2-19, at Fraher Field.
Selection of images from Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group A Round 1 Cork v Limerick.
Thanks to @GeorgeHatchell2 for photos pic.twitter.com/zLLGUmxUj0— Cork GAA (@OfficialCorkGAA) February 7, 2023
Kerry Proves a Point
Donegal were nowhere near Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney on Sunday but their influence was evident in the post-match interviews afterward as Kerry manager Jack O’Connor digested the 3-16 to 0-14 win over Monaghan in round two of the NFL Division One campaign.
Beaten a week earlier and still rattled by a controversial refereeing decision in Donegal, the All-Ireland champions were out to prove a point on their return to home turf and did just that with goals from Darragh Roche, Paudie Clifford, and Donal O’Sullivan on their way to an 11 point victory.
Asked about that first-round reversal and its impact on this game, O’Connor admitted, “We were very disappointed after last weekend. We felt we should have got something out of the game, and we didn’t. So it was a long old journey down from Donegal.”
Roscommon lead the Division One table after two rounds thanks to a late point from Richard Hughes which secured a 0-9 to 0-8 win over Galway at Pearse Stadium and maintained their record as the only team with a 100 percent record in the division.
“We’re obviously getting a good bounce out of them, they’re going well,” new manager Davy Burke told RTÉ. “I must be getting this first-year manager bounce that they talk about. The lads are brilliant, turning up every night and working hard.
“But we are realistic. We’re far from safe yet. We’re going to need six points to stay up.”
Galway lost the game and star man Damien Comer to injury and manager Padraic Joyce rued their luck afterward. “We’re disappointed to lose the game but the injury to Damien had a downer on everyone,” said Joyce.
Mayo threw away a five-point lead with three minutes of normal time left to draw 0-17 apiece with Armagh at the Athletic Grounds but manager Kevin McStay was more interested in the positives of their performance.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, he admitted, “It was nearly happening in front of us. We lost momentum. We were in a game-winning situation. I’m going to dwell on the positives from our side.
“I have to tip my hat to Armagh, they were terrific. I had a sense that they weren’t going to go away. They had the experience with Galway last year, keeping going to the final minute.”
Donegal captain Paddy McBrearty picked up a leg injury as his side were beaten by double scores, 0-16 to 0-8, by Tyrone at Healy Park. “We have a good number of young lads in there,” Donegal manager Paddy Carr said afterward.
“One day things will go right for them, on another day they have to experience that as well. But that builds character. There is nobody feeling sorry for themselves in there. We are disappointed for the people who made the journey, but we know we are way better than that. You get the highs and lows from one week to the next, but we know we are better than what the scoreboard showed there today.”
🏐 2023 Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 2, Kerry v Monaghan. 💚💛#WeAreKerry #CiarraíAbú #AllianzLeagues— Kerry GAA (@Kerry_Official) February 8, 2023
📸 Maurice Whelan pic.twitter.com/Xn9VCSx7Kv
Dubs Two for Two
Dublin made it two wins from two in Division Two of the National Football League with a 2-17 to 1-11 win over Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday as Dessie Farrell continues to build his squad ahead of the summer.
Paul Mannion is close to a return after Kilmacud Crokes’ All-Ireland club title journey and Farrell expects more big names back, including the Crokes contingent, in the coming weeks as he told RTE after Sunday’s win.
“We’ll definitely have some of those players come back to us, which is great because we’re still trying to build out the panel,” said Farrell. “Obviously the Crokes’ contingent will be the last to make up the numbers for us. It’s another opportunity, the next day, to bring more players in and get some other players exposure as well.”
Meath boss Colm O’Rourke hit out at the demands placed on his young players by college football after his team went goal crazy again in a 4-8 to 0-16 win over Clare in Navan on Sunday.
With six players on Sigerson Cup duty at present, O’Rourke is not best pleased and said, “The Sigerson Cup has dealt a heavy blow to our team. Shane Walsh with a hamstring injury, Matt Costello having a hamstring injury, playing last Tuesday night after coming home from Cork – a long drive, a hard match, a very fast pitch – these are overuse injuries.
“This is disgraceful, the abuse of players with this Sigerson Cup. It needs to be put on at a different time of the year. We have six players tied up. They’re not able to train with us at any of the time, and we had to take off Darragh Campion and Cathal Hickey today because we were concerned about the load on them.
“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful the way these players are being abused. Talk about player welfare; there’s no player welfare in expecting lads to do that.”
Cork bounced back from their opening weekend defeat at home to Meath with a 2-14 to 0-7 win over Kildare in Newbridge while Derry took a 2-11 to 1-11 win home from Ardee in their second-round game.
MATCH REPORT: Our Senior Hurlers played out a thrilling draw with Waterford in the opening round of the Allianz League in Dungarvan yesterday 👕
➡️ https://t.co/hQeVxcg6XP#UpTheDubs pic.twitter.com/x1WdBg0ylm— Dublin GAA (@DubGAAOfficial) February 6, 2023
*This roundup first appeared in the February 8 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.