GAA news from Ireland this week.

Win puts Mayo in top position

Ben O’Carroll almost stole victory for Roscommon at Dr. Hyde Park but Diarmuid O’Connor’s last gasp block saved the day for visitors Mayo (1-16 to 2-11) and moved them to the top of the Division One table and edged them ever closer to the National Football League final.

Defeat would have been unbearable at that stage for Kevin McStay’s side which led by seven unanswered points after 19 minutes and took full advantage of a gift goal from Jack Carney midway through the second half to lead by eight.

For hometown boss Davy Burke, the game was won and lost in those largely uncontested early exchanges. 

“We made a terrible start,” admitted Burke, who also claimed his team are now in a relegation battle despite winning the first three games of the league season.

“We probably gave the game up really in the first 18-19 minutes. Mayo’s kick outs really hurt us. I think Rory Beggan really hurt us on kick outs too last week, so it’s a huge area that needs to improve.

“We are absolutely right in the mix of the relegation battle,” added Burke. “But I was thrilled by the resolve and resilience from our players.”

Mayo counterpart McStay left several big names on the bench including late substitute Aidan O’Shea. Many assumed that was a decision taken with one eye on that Connacht opener against the Rossies, but that was a claim he denied afterward. 

“Those changes are made because we deem them to be right for the team,” McStay said. 

“The boys trained exceptionally well on Tuesday night, and we have to honor that and we have to build out the squad as well. Any guy that starts today is expected to go full throttle or he’ll be falling down the pecking order, as simple as that.”

Shane Walsh made his first appearance for Galway since the All-Ireland final defeat as they beat Monaghan by 1-13 to 0-10 at Pearse Stadium and admitted he was rusty having taken a long break after Kilmacud Crokes’s controversial club final win against Glen.

Walsh was introduced as a sub as 14 man Galway – Peter Cooke was sent off before the break – clawed their way back into the game with a Johnny Heaney goal the decisive score.

“Great to be back, delighted,” Walsh said. “Two points on the board as well. It helps when you’re coming back, to get a win today.

“Lads have been soldiering away in the last month since I’ve been away. You can see where the bar is at – or I can see where it’s at!”

Tyrone finally boosted their Division One survival hopes as they joined Kerry on four points from five games courtesy of their 1-15 to 2-9 win over the Kingdom at Healy Park, and that after Sean O’Shea had netted for the visitors in the first minute.

Kerry were never let settle after that bright start however and, coupled with their lack of efficiency in front of goals, the game belonged to a dogged Tyrone thereafter.

Monaghan are next up for Tyrone and joint manager Feargal Logan wants a repeat performance against their Ulster rivals. 

“The bottom line is that we ask for resilience,” said Logan. “It’s not a pretty place to be when people are cutting off you as a footballer and when you think you are not that far away in a seven-game league.

“County football is a harsh environment. And I tell that to every young lad who comes into it and of course there are harsh conversations every day of the week. It’s been a harsh week this week. Not maybe a million miles away from any other week, but we had to pull two points out. We did.”

Kerry boss Jack O’Connor had no complaints with the result. He admitted, “It’s not like we hadn’t got chances. We’d enough chances but for some reason we… you have to give them credit. They pressurized us but we didn’t get our shots off.

“It is disappointing as we were in a good position early on in the game and their goal was a bit of a turning point, it gave them a bit of confidence and belief. It’s just very hard to win games away from home, you know.”

With a point to spare over Monaghan and Donegal at the wrong end of the table, O’Connor hopes one more win will keep Kerry in the top flight ahead of their defense of the All-Ireland title.

“You’d be hoping six points would be enough but we’ll have to see,” O’Connor said. “Again I said it from the off every point is hard fought for.”

GAA President-elect Jarlath Burns was the main attraction as Armagh defeated Donegal by 0-13 to 0-10 at the Athletic Grounds, but it was his son Jarly Og who stole the show with a decisive score late on to settle the hosts in a nervy finish.

Armagh selector Kieran Donaghy said afterwards, “We’re delighted to get out of here with the win. We said it beforehand this wasn’t about anything pretty or putting on a show for the Armagh fans. It was literally about winning.”

Derry stops Dublin’s march

Derry put a stop to Dublin’s gallop in Division Two of the NFL with a late Brendan Rogers point sending the home fans wild as their team triumphed on a 1-11 to 0-13 scoreline at Celtic Park on Saturday night.

Dessie Farrell’s side can still seal promotion back to Division One with two points from their remaining two games against Meath and Louth, but the Dubs boss admitted this result puts the cat amongst the pigeons.

He said, “The next one against Meath becomes very big for us as well, in Navan. It’s a very competitive division. This will give some other teams a glimmer of hope obviously as well and there is a bit to be played out yet.

“But this was a great game for us to get, a great challenge. We’ll learn a lot from this. I think we’re making good progress. It’s never linear.”

League leaders Derry look certain to get back to the top division after an eight year absence, but manager Rory Gallagher isn’t taking anything for granted just yet.

“After we beat Kildare, we needed three points out of six – do I care how it comes? No. We know now we need one, and we know now we need to go and deliver against Clare,” said Gallagher.

“Owenbeg is great, but we’d love to be playing every game here in Celtic Park with 10 or 12,000. We played Leitrim here on a very, very dark day in 2020 when I questioned life. This is the arena you want, there’s no doubt about that.

“Since Covid, we’ve had everything our own way, we’ve played 18 or 19 league games since we came back from Covid and lost one. We’ve won them all pulling up, bar Galway, Roscommon and Dublin.

“Today we were playing a better quality of opponent, who was really, really up for it, who had a very clear plan with the ball. We hadn’t been in a battle like that and it was good to be in a battle like that. I think Dublin will be the better for it too.”

Cork’s second-half surge

Cork remain on Dublin and Derry’s coattails in the third spot in the Division Two table after a second-half revival with goals from Mattie Taylor and Sean Powter saw them beat Clare by 3-10 to 1-8 in Ennis.

“We won. We weren’t a bit happy with what happened in the first half,” Cork manager John Cleary said. “We were fairly disgusted now at half-time.

“But in fairness, we said to the lads, it was time to get the lead out. We looked in a bit of bother, facing the wind, a point down. We just tore into it in the second half.”

Kildare are in real danger of relegation from Division Two – and an early exit from the All-Ireland Championship – after a 2-11 to 0-12 defeat to Louth in Ardee.

Mickey Harte’s side suffered a 16-point defeat to Kildare in the Leinster Championship last summer but not this time. “We know what happened to us last year when we played Kildare in the championship, they just overran us and I think that still hurt the boys,” said Harte.

“They were determined that they wouldn’t get beaten like that and in doing so, they put up a really good performance that took us to an even better place.”

Kildare manager Glenn Ryan said, “Symptomatic of all our performances really. We are talking about trying to execute our basic skills which we are not doing.”

Meath were held to a draw by Limerick – 2-11 to 0-17 – at the Gaelic Grounds after second half goals from Matthew Costello and Donal Lenihan set them up for victory only for Brian Donovan to level it with a 69th-minute equalizer.

The game also saw Meath’s Shane Walsh suffer a recurrence of a hamstring injury that will likely keep him out of their big Navan date with Dublin on Saturday, March 18.

“It’s a recurrence of a previous hamstring problem that he has had so we’ll take him home, have a look at it, and maybe give him a bit more time,” said Meath boss Colm O’Rourke.

*This round-up first appeared in the March 8 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.