This week's GAA news from Ireland.
Derry Shocks Tyrone With Big Win
The summer is only a few days out and already the All-Ireland senior football champions are beaten, down if not out after Sunday’s shock 1-18 to 0-10 defeat to Derry at Healy Park sent them scurrying for the back door in their defense of the Sam Maguire trophy.
Derry manager Rory Gallagher was a livewire throughout as he masterminded his side’s first Championship win over Tyrone in 16 years, vindication of his methods after unhappy endings to his time with Donegal and Fermanagh in recent years.
For Gallagher though, the vindication of Derry as a footballing county was more important than any personal glory as he explained to RTE Sport afterwards.
“Derry have had a tough time in 4, and it’s not that long ago they were in Division Four of the league,” he said.
“We just spent a lot of time together and committed really well together. We beat Tyrone today and were better today but they have been an outstanding team over the last 25-30 years. They’re something I certainly aspire to and try to learn a lot from their commitment to each other.”
With Monaghan next in the semifinals and Donegal or Cavan awaiting the winner of that one, Gallagher was quick to play down the significance of one win in the context of a Championship summer.
He added, “It’s only a coming of age if we perform the next day but I have no doubt we’ll stay level-headed and get on with it. But we’ll enjoy today for what it is.
"Whether Tyrone are All-Ireland champions or not, they’ve had the Indian sign over these boys and given them a couple of severe hammerings, in 2015 and 2016.
“We’d like to think, even though there are a lot of those players playing, this is a new team, this is a new beginning, and we’re enjoying it.”
A hungry Derry were first out of the traps at Healy Park and Tyrone didn’t know what to do to react, their cause not helped by a senseless red card picked up by midfielder Brian Kennedy just before the break, Derry going in 1-8 to 0-4 ahead after Shane McGuigan netted from a penalty following a Niall Morgan charge on Paul Cassidy just two minutes after Kennedy was dismissed for kicking out at Gareth McKinless after the ball had been played.
By the time Conor McKenna was sent off for a second yellow card in the 65th minute, the game was long over.
Asked what his masterplan was, Gallagher insisted, “Just to play as a team, be absolutely united and do everything together. Just putting the team first, with or without the ball. I’m very impressed with the way they have committed to each other in the last 18 months.”
And asked about his own “committed” behavior on the sideline, Gallagher insisted, “I want to show our players what it means to us. We want to come here and fight and scrap for every ball. that’s the bottom line.”
For midfielder Conor Glass, back in the Derry colors after a spell of Aussie Rules, the celebrations at the end were significant.
“It’s extra special with the fans on the pitch. It’s been a tough two or three years with Covid but it’s great to see the smiles on the faces, not just the older generations, but the younger ones getting photos and things,” he said.
Tyrone joint manager Brian Dooher was honest in his appraisal of the biggest Championship defeat suffered by the reigning All-Ireland champions since Mayo beat Donegal by 16 points in the 2013 quarterfinal.
Now into the qualifiers alongside Mayo, Dooher proclaimed, “We have to look at ourselves individually and collectively and see where we want to go, what our ambition is. That’s the harsh reality of it. A few home truths maybe. Everyone has to look at it and say, ‘What do I want here and what am I gonna do?’ Management as well as players, because we’re all in this together.
“You hope that you can regroup and get over this and get it out of the system,” Dooher added. “We can dwell on it surely but there’s no point. We have to take the learning from it and move on, and see where we go.”
Cork Boss on Defense
Cork manager Kieran Kingston had to defend his players again after another Munster SHC defeat as they lost to Clare by 0-28 to 2-20 at Semple Stadium a week after their heavy defeat to Limerick, but for Banner boss Brian Lohan it was good on the day as they followed their Tipperary win last week with another big result.
In truth, an added-time goal from Darragh Fitzgibbon was more than Cork deserved, and Clare defender John Conlon was just happy his team built momentum on the back of that Tipp win.
He told RTE, “We backed up last week’s performance. That was our big motto all week. We’d often have a good performance and leave it behind us a week later, maybe not coming out with that intensity.
“That’s the thing we are delighted with today. From when the ball was thrown in, we were at the pitch of the game. A bit like last week, we started really strong. The encouraging thing this week was we kept it going throughout.”
Lohan added, “We felt we worked hard all year and Thurles is made for displays like that. We are really happy with how we played, particularly in the first half, and carried it on in the second and closed it out.”
In contrast, Cork boss Kingston had to issue a strong defense of his players again. He stated after the match he referred back to last year’s Championship and the recent league final defeat to Waterford.
“You get to an All-Ireland final as we did a year ago, there wasn’t any expectation around the group. You lose it obviously and you have a good League campaign and you get to another final, I think expectation increases among everyone and that’s understandable,” he said.
“With that comes plaudits when you win and criticism when you lose. We all know that, that comes with the territory, and you know that because you are writing it, or getting people to write it. You journalists know that well. After the Limerick game and all that happened in the two weeks since, what was said by different people has affected players as well. People are entitled to their opinions.
“I thought we showed a bit of nervousness on the back of that, definitely in the first 20 minutes and on the scoreboard, 11 points down at one stage with 14 minutes to go. I know there was a wind but there wasn’t that much of a wind.
“We all do this on a voluntary basis and we give our heart and soul to it, as do the players and that’s the way it should be. We’re proud to do it and we’re proud to be involved with Cork hurling. I know those players, they’re gutted in there, they’re really hurting, as we are. But we’re proud to be involved with Cork. Any pressure, any outside noise ain’t going to change how we feel about that.”
Cork must now beat Waterford away on Sunday, May 15 and Tipperary in Thurles on May 22 to stand a chance of reaching the All-Ireland series. “We can’t change what happened today or the last day. We’ve lost control of our own destiny,” added Kingston.
“It’s a big game, it’s a four-game round-robin and we expect that they represent that jersey in a proper manner when we go there irrespective of the League final. We can’t control that.”
Clare made it two wins from two in the Munster Hurling Championship as they were impressive in seeing off Cork in Thurles on Sunday afternoon - watch GAANOW highlights below! pic.twitter.com/CGEN4sCDbS— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 2, 2022
Cunningham Wants Change
Roscommon boss Anthony Cunningham has called on the GAA authorities to abandon the new look condensed All-Ireland football season after one summer after his team qualified for the 2022 Connacht final on the final day of April and will now have to wait until the last day of May for the decider against Galway or Leitrim.
Cunningham made his views on the new Championship format known after an impressive 0-23 to 0-11 win away to Sligo in Saturday’s semifinal, a game that saw 11 of his players contribute to the scoring statistics.
Even with a month to prepare for the provincial final, Cunningham feels the new season is too compact with the All-Ireland football final to be played in July.
“I think it’s too congested really for everybody and it’ll probably be tweaked after this year, hopefully,” he told RTE Sport.
“The other thing for supporters, I think the Championship will be over before people realize it. For everybody, it needs a bit of a better balance.”
Roscommon became the first team to secure their place in any of the provincial football finals for 2022 after defeating Sligo in the Connacht Football Championship Semi-Finals. Watch GAANOW highlights below pic.twitter.com/YYntKukpVV— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 3, 2022
Cody, Shefflin Barely Shake After Match
Brian Cody and Henry Shefflin were compared to the 2001 version of Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy, such was the apparent frostiness of their handshake at the end of Galway’s last gasp 1-24 to 3-17 Leinster SHC round-robin clash win in Salthill on Sunday, Conor Cooney’s pointed free separating the apprentice from the master on the scoreboard.
As Cody remonstrated with referee Colm Lyons about the awarding of that late free, his former talisman Shefflin stuck out a hand and the lukewarm response from the Kilkenny manager was captured by all the photographers present.
The Monday morning caption writers compared the handshake to that between Keane and McCarthy after the World Cup qualifier win over Holland in 2001, but Cody and Shefflin were quick to try and diffuse the situation after a big win for Galway and a damaging defeat for the Cats.
“I have no idea what’s tense about anything to do with anybody else, because whenever we play a match as long as I’m involved with it, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with who’s in charge of any team,” said Cody.
“It’s got everything to do with who is on the pitch. The Kilkenny players were out there representing Kilkenny today, and I’d be very happy with the way they represented Kilkenny.”
Shefflin also pushed away any suggestion of discord. He said, “I didn’t notice any tension. I shook hands. For me, I suppose there’s a lot of different emotions. The handshake happened, I didn’t see anything in it. After last weekend against Westmeath, the attention turned straight away to the Kilkenny game and that’s it. It’s done now. We can sit back and relax tonight and think of Laois then next.
“It was a unique opportunity for me coming up here but today was a unique occasion. That’s it, it’s done. I’m glad that really hurling and what went on on the pitch was the best thing about today.”
An emotional Shefflin did admit that his late brother Paul and the Galway camogie player Kate Moran, who died after an on-pitch accident recently, did cross his mind as Cooney prepared to take the match-winning free.
He added, “Very emotional occasion for a lot of different reasons, the way it panned out in the end. I suppose the last free there, there are moments to think about people. And I obviously think about my brother. It was nice to get TJ Brennan running on as well and obviously it has been a very hard time for TJ (Kate’s boyfriend) and the Moran family as well.
“Look, at the end of the day, it is a big game. But it is sport. That’s all it is. It’s a game or hurling. But we love it. We love it for those moments that you don’t know what is going to happen. That is why we all play from a young age and it is a brilliant game. I am glad just that the occasion today lived up to the billing.”
Elsewhere in Leinster, Wexford grabbed their first win of the round-robin series when they hammered Laois by 6-20 to 0-12 at O’Moore Park with five goals after the break from goalkeeper Mark Fanning (two penalties), Rory O’Connor, Conor McDonald, his second of the day, and Diarmuid O’Keeffe. Laois lost Fiachra Fennell to a red card midway through the second half and went to concede 4-15 from play before the much-needed final whistle.
Dublin continued with their 100 percent record as they beat Westmeath by 0-27 to 1-16 at Cusack Park, Donal Burke scoring 11 of their points with seven of them coming from frees.
Wins for Kildare, Meath
Meath boss Andy McEntee won’t buy into any theory that Dublin are a weakened force heading into the Leinster SFC double header at Croke Park on Sunday, May 15 when Westmeath against Kildare will serve as the second part of a headquarters double bill.
The Royals booked their place in the last four with a comprehensive 4-13 to 1-12 win against Wicklow in Navan on Sunday, early goals from Jack O’Connor – the fastest ever championship goal after just 10 seconds – and James McEntee doing the damage.
“I guess time will tell but everybody is wishful thinking that Dublin have gone down the pecking order,” stated McEntee afterward. “I don’t know and you won’t know until you’re up against them but they looked pretty decent against Wexford in all fairness to them. Our performance today was okay but it won’t be good enough next time.”
Substitutes Matthew Costello and Jack Flynn grabbed the second half goals that condemned Wicklow to the Tailteann Cup for the rest of their summer.
Kildare, meanwhile, were 2-22 to 0-12 winners over Louth in their Leinster SFC quarterfinal clash in Tullamore, a result that sends Mickey Harte’s Louth into the qualifiers. The Lilywhites hadn’t played in over a month but showed no signs of rustiness, much to the delight of manager Glenn Ryan.
It was a huge platform, no doubt about it,” said Ryan. “It was something we were very wary of terms of Louth having that platform themselves because they were coming in with huge momentum, huge confidence and huge belief. We didn’t want to give them the chance to stoke that any further. Thankfully, we got a couple of opportunities, the lads worked very hard and we got that platform.”
Westmeath ran in three goals via John Heslin, Ronan O’Toole and Robbie Forde and conceded none in a 3-13 to 0-14 win over Longford at Cusack Park on Saturday, a result as dominant as the performance as they eased into a Leinster SFC semifinal clash with Kildare at Croke Park on Sunday the 15th.
Jack O'Connor struck what will surely go down as the fastest goal of this year's Championship as Meath defeated Wicklow and secured their place in Leinster Football Championship semi-finals - watch below on GAANOW pic.twitter.com/fxt6SrQo8M— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 3, 2022
Dubs Back in Form
Dublin looked more like the All-Ireland record breakers of their recent past as they swotted Wexford away on a 1-24 to 0-4 scoreline in the Leinster SFC quarterfinal in Wexford Park on Saturday.
The nervousness of an NFL campaign that saw them relegated from the top flight was quickly forgotten in the sunny south east as Dessie Farrell’s team ran this game with an iron fist from start to finish.
Meath will next up for the Dubs in a Croke Park semifinal on the 15th, with Blues boss Dessie Farrell well aware there will be stiffer tests to come this summer than a Wexford walkover inspired by a goal and six points from the mercurial Con O’Callaghan.
“We struggled for long periods of the game last year when we came down here to play Wexford, so it was a little bit different this time around,” he said.
“We’re pleased with the consistency of the performance throughout the 70-75 minutes. At the end of the day, it’s still the first round of the Championship for us, there’s a big step up in class coming for us in two weeks’ time and we need to be ready for that.”
Limerick Makes History
Limerick made history as the first side in the history of Gaelic football to win a Championship match in a penalty shootout after a 2-16 to 1-19 Munster SFC quarterfinal draw with Clare in Ennis with Iain Corbett, Robbie Bourke, Brian Donovan, and James Naughton all netting their penalties to secure a 4-1 deadlock win and book a semi-final date with Tipperary.
“The extra-time finished and I picked out five lads and we went into a huddle and someone said ‘let lads put up their hands to take one and as it turns out the five I picked were the five who put up their hands,” said Limerick boss Billy Lee afterward. “We put them in order and loaded it at the front to make sure we had our strongest takers first, to get a bit of momentum, and the lads did the rest.”
Tipperary booked their place in the last four with a comfortable enough 2-13 to 1-8 win over Waterford at Fraher Field.
“I wouldn’t be writing home about the performance. I thought some of our shooting at times was very sloppy. But it is great, we are after winning by eight points,” said Tipp boss David Power afterward.
Limerick eventually prevailed on penalties in the Munster GAA Football Championship in what was easily their most extraordinary Shannonside derby with Clare on Saturday evening. - watch GAANOW highlights below! pic.twitter.com/UYF5Fvxku3— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 2, 2022
Down Makes Semis
Down got a goal either side of halftime from Caolan Mooney and Pat Havern and Monaghan failed to raise a green flag at all but there was still no doubt who was the better team as the Farney men qualified for the Ulster SFC semifinal on a 0-23 to 2-7 scoreline in Clones on Saturday evening.
Despite that brief Down surge ahead of the interval, Monaghan boss Seamus McAnaney was never bothered about the challenge his team faced, not even when those goals went in. “I’m absolutely not concerned with any part of the day,” he told the media afterward.
“If every day went like today we’d be very happy. The most pleasing part for me was how we recovered from the two goals. And how we controlled the game. There’s a lot of positives today…we’d a lot of scorers, 11 different scorers so those things are pleasing. Yes, we conceded two goals but you are going to make mistakes.”
Limerick have confirmed that Cian Lynch won’t play for the rest of the Munster SHC campaign but could return for the All-Ireland series after scans confirmed damage to his hamstring from the injury picked up in the recent win over Waterford. Deise defender Iarlaith Daly, meanwhile, will miss the rest of the championship with an ankle injury . . .
Tipperary coach Tommy Dunne has been hit with a 12-match sideline ban for the red card against Waterford in the recent Munster SHC game while Premier forward John McGrath will miss the rest of the 2022 season with the Achilles tendon injury picked up in the same game.
*This roundup first appeared in the May 4 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper sister publication to IrishCentral.
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