GAA news and scores from around Ireland this week.

Gillane a star in Limerick victory

They may have only won by a point, but revenge was sweet for All-Ireland champions Limerick as they won their fifth Munster SHC title in a row with this 1-23 to 1-22 victory over neighbors and rivals Clare at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.

Having lost by the minimum to the Banner in the provincial series six weeks ago, Limerick were happy to take any win after a game that ebbed and flowed and saw Aaron Gillane score a crucial second half goal as he hit 1-11 in total.

Five quick points in succession in that second period sent Limerick on their way to another Munster crown and a Man of the Match award for Gillane.

He said afterward, “It’s unbelievable. A full Gaelic Ground sold out, a very tight match.

"A lovely enough game for the supporters and a lovely day for us to finish it out as well, we’re delighted to get it over the line.

"It’s a sign of the great character of Clare that they didn’t give up, they didn’t throw in the towel and were right there to the very end. But to be fair it’s been that way the last couple of years.

“Any day you win a Munster medal it’s unbelievable. It doesn’t matter how many you have in a row, they’re all equally as special as each other, so we’re delighted.”

Asked about his own big tally of scores, Gillane insisted, “Sure a lot of them were frees. For the other ones, the guys put the ball on a plate for me. I just had to do the easy bit.”

Limerick manager John Kiely was also happy to put the record straight after their earlier defeat to Clare this season. “I’m just thrilled and elated for the lads,” Kiely told RTE Sport. “They’ve put a huge amount of work in over these last number of years.

“This year has been a really tough campaign, every team has brought an unbelievable level of performance against us. Clare were the one team that beat us in the round robin and we were very determined that wasn’t going to happen today.

“I don’t think anybody likes someone coming into your backyard and taking anything from them. We were always going to have to fight tooth and nail. This is a top-quality Clare side, they have shown that in terms of their resilience and determination. Hats off to them, they brought a tremendous effort. It was down to the smallest of margins. We just came off at the right side.

“We came out a much stronger and more energetic team in the second half. For the last 10 minutes of the first half we lost our energy a little bit. We struggled at that part of the game but you’re always going to have spells in a game where you’re going strong and weak. It’s a case of minimizing the damage that occurs when you are having a bad spell, and maximizing the damage that you can do when you’re having a good spell.

“I think we got the balance just right today. It was a really tough game, a fantastic Munster final and a great occasion. Clare and ourselves, we’ll meet again, I’ve no doubt. We have special battles every time we meet. This was just another chapter in that story.”

Clare might have had a last-minute free and an opportunity to equalize, but manager Brian Lohan was adamant that their own performance and not the referee cost the Banner on the day despite that late frustration when Tony Kelly appeared to have been fouled.

“We find it very hard to get decisions. We don’t have that much power or influence or anything like that. It’s tough for our lads. Is it hard to take? Yeah,” said Lohan.

“It was very even in a lot of areas but the biggest area where there was a big difference was shooting efficiency. We weren’t as efficient as we could have been or needed to be to win the game. That decided the result.”

Clare play Dublin or Carlow now in the All-Ireland quarterfinals and Lohan added, “That’s the big challenge with the way the championship is structured. It’s all go, you don’t really get a chance to recover. You just move onto the next game and that’s what we have to do now.”

Cats win Leinster with late goal

Cillian Buckley used to win All-Irelands with Henry Shefflin for Kilkenny – on Sunday he broke the Galway manager’s heart with the last-gasp goal in added time that won the Leinster SHC final for the Cats and their new boss Derek Lyng by a score of 4-21 to 2-26.

Kilkenny’s legendary manager Brian Cody was in the stands as Buckley sealed a comeback for the ages with his goal the final move of the game and the icing on the cake for the winners who came from 10 points down to keep their hands on the Bob O’Keeffe Cup.

An incredible afternoon of hurling in front of just 24,500 fans at Croke Park saw Kilkenny lead by eight points after 50 minutes, then trail by two in the final minute of added time before Buckley picked up a loose clearance and smashed the ball to the back of the Galway net for his first Championship goal.

The Galway players sank to their knees as the final whistle blew straight away and the Cats squad jumped all over a shell-shocked match winner Buckley.

Kilkenny, four-in-a-row Leinster champions now, are straight through to the All-Ireland semifinals while Galway will meet Offaly or Tipperary in the quarters.
And on a day when TJ Reid top scored with nine points, Buckley was the unlikely Kilkenny hero.

He told RTE, “I don’t get into that position too often. I knew there was only a few seconds late and being honest, I looked for a pass. I looked again and it wasn’t on. I shot, and I’ll call it a shot, and I managed to get it in.

“Talk about special moments. To do that for your team, among your team and to win the Leinster final, it’s just savage, it’s a dream come true. It opens up the year for us now and we’re over the moon in there, Leinster champions. For what it does for us now, it’s just savage.

“We came here to win silverware today, to win our provincial championship, to win the Bob O’Keefe. We’ll celebrate that today but yeah, look, no doubt about it there’s benefits to the four-week run in to a semifinal. But a Leinster medal? You’ll never turn your back on it and that will definitely be celebrated first.”

Substitute Buckley did admit that victory looked beyond the Cats as the clock ticked down at Croker. “I think both teams had their purple patch and I came on there with 10 minutes to go,” he added. “We were a few points up and for Galway to go ahead, I did think it was gone to be honest.

“But I think some huge players from the lads, I’m thinking Tommy Welsh, Hughie Lawlor, Mikey Butler in the back line there. Galway could have been further ahead and it could have been beyond and all then the last-minute goal there and they were just phenomenal.

“That’s what you want from your team, to be in the game in the dying seconds. Something like that happens there today and we came out with the result. I can’t say I’ve practiced too many of them and maybe that showed. But look, it opened up. 

“I said let’s go for it here, 75th minute of a Leinster final. There’s more behind me than ahead of me now.

“I said I’d take it on and as I said it’s a dream come true, just to celebrate with the lads. There was a pile on there at the end and I’ll never forget it honestly, and even with my family there at the end. I’ve been playing with Kilkenny for 12 years and it’s special.”

Cats manager Lyng agreed it was a special win on a great day as Leinster hurling finally matched the drama on offer all summer down in Munster.

“We made it a bit hard on ourselves, the way we did it,” Lyng told RTE.

“Huge spirit from the team and we kept going. I’m just delighted for them today, I thought their effort was outstanding. We were on top in the second half and had a few chances that we didn’t finish off the game. They’re a quality team, got back into it and it looked like we were going to be on the wrong end of it.

“You couldn’t script it any better, the way we won it. The game was over, we got the goal. The ball was in the corner there for 30 seconds and it looked as though the game was going to fizzle out and that was going to be it

“They just kept plugging away, got the ball across and fair play to Cillian, I’m delighted for him. I’m most pleased about the fact that they never gave up. Okay, we’ve been inconsistent at times, but we got to a league final – didn’t perform – got to a Leinster final and won. We’re going to improve and we’re going to look forward to the next game now.”

Galway boss Shefflin had experienced many such wins in his days as the lynchpin of the Kilkenny team, so defeat hurt even more.

He said, “It’s a devastated dressing room. To lose like that, it’s hard to stomach because you don’t see that in the script. That’s sport unfortunately, the highs and lows. Galway hurlers get a lot more lows than highs so that’s why it would have been lovely to get over the line today.

“The goals Kilkenny kept on getting that hurt us the most. They were sucker punches, but to be fair to our lads they responded well to each of them. That’s Kilkenny, as I know too well, they’re never beaten until they’re on the bus and that’s what happened again today.

“There’s been questions about the character of this Galway team. I’ve been involved for two years and that’s never been the case. Last year we weren’t happy with the flat performance we brought to Croke Park on Leinster final day. We didn’t want that to happen today.

“In the first half, we were working extremely hard and giving it absolutely everything. The character they’ve shown this year – 12 points down against Dublin, six down against Kilkenny at Nowlan Park, and they’ve responded each and every time.

“A couple of days of major disappointment, I hope they can respond again. That’s the challenge.”

Tailteann results

Favorites Cavan will meet Ulster finals Down in the Tailteann Cup quarter-finals this weekend when Meath host Wexford, Limerick face Laois, and Carlow travel to play Antrim in Belfast.

Down booked their place in the last eight with a 1-20 t0 1-12 win over Longford while Laois were 1-11 to 1-9 winners over Fermanagh at Brewster Park. Wexford defeated Offaly by 1-22 to 2-14 to book their date with Meath in Navan this Saturday.

New York looked good in the first half against Carlow on Saturday, but faded in the end and lost by a score of 0-15 to 0-10.

Sports shorts

Hurling: Tributes have poured in all week following the sudden death of Teddy McCarthy, the Cork legend and the only player to win All-Ireland football and hurling medals in the same year back in 1990 . . . 

GAA: Jenny Rispin has been appointed as interim manager by ladies All-Ireland football champions Meath following the sudden departure of Davy Nelson after just eight months at the helm . . .

GAA: Munster title winning boss David Power has stepped down from his role as Tipperary senior football manager.

*This roundup first appeared in the June 14 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.