This week's GAA news from Ireland.
Walsh Points Propel Galway Victory
Shane Walsh inspired Galway to a 2-19 to 2-16 win over Roscommon in the Connacht SFC final at Pearse Stadium, his goal and six points earning a win he later described as “the sweetest yet” in his post-match interviews.
Five points ahead at the break, Galway needed all Walsh’s magic as Roscommon ran them close in a frantic finale, but Walsh was proud of the way his team stood tall against the team that beat them in April’s Division Two final.
He told RTÉ Sport, “We’d done our homework done coming into it. There was a bit of hurt after the League final, any final you get into, you want to win it. Everyone just dug in there today. That’s a credit to the backroom team right to the last player in the squad.
“All set-ups are pretty similar these days. From our point of view, we just wanted to move the ball really quickly, focus on transition speeds, you see all the top teams doing it, Kerry and Dublin, that’s what they’re doing when they’re trying to break a defense down.
“Our backs were excellent today. They’ve got a lot of stick over the last while. To a man there, they stood up. They were a driving force for the rest of us to finish it off.
“This is the sweetest one yet because we actually hadn’t won a Connacht title in Pearse Stadium. That was also a motivating factor coming in here today. No one in the squad had. Some of them there don’t even have a Connacht title.
“For everyone, it’s just a testament to all the work they’ve put in. The last few years, we probably didn’t get where we wanted to go to. But in fairness, everyone just dug in and we got the rewards.”
Roscommon boss Anthony Cunningham said afterwards his team’s fitness was an issue when it really mattered.
“We probably didn’t attack the game as much as we wanted to, early on in particular,” he said.
“I thought the subs did extremely well when they came in, and that’s a plus as well. But early on I thought we could have done better and with the breeze in the first half to go in six points down was disappointing really.
“We needed to have that bit more energy and drive in our game, that we had in the League. But Galway are a fine side, they are worthy champions but for us it’s back to the drawing board but it’s only tweaks.
“We’ve still got a fantastic chance of getting to an All-Ireland quarterfinal, win the next day and we’re up there. That will be difficult but still looking forward to it.”
Dubs March Over Kildare
Anyone writing off Dublin’s Championship hopes got a rude awakening as they blitzed Kildare with five first half goals in their 5-17 to 1-15 Croke Park win in Saturday’s Leinster SFC final.
A 12th successive provincial crown was already assured by the break as two goals from Cormac Costello and one each from Con O’Callaghan, Ciaran Kilkenny and John Small left them 5-7 to 0-6 ahead at the break.
After a League campaign and relegation that left many questioning his management and his team, Dublin boss Dessie Farrell was pleased with Saturday’s show of strength.
He said afterwards, “Even in the depths of your depression and failures there’s always some learnings and something to be taken from that. We had a lot of bodies missing during the National League. We were integrating new players, trying out new things in terms of the game plan and performance itself that weren’t really coming to fruition.
“We probably still should have held on in terms of staying in Division 1 but we didn’t and that gave us a reason to do some soul-searching and reflect upon what it is we’re about and what it is we’re trying to achieve this season.
“We went back to the practice ground and worked harder and we’re seeing some of that now. But, as I say, that’s the Leinster series done and dusted and we’re into the All-Ireland series and we know that’s going to be a different animal.”
For Kildare it was all a bit too much as they took their inevitable place in the qualifiers but manager Glenn Ryan put a brave face on it.
“I would say that everybody in the second half put in a hugely brave performance,” said Ryan.
“It was brave to be able to go out on that pitch in the second half. It was manly to be able to go out and play to the level that they did. We weren’t expecting to be in that position that we found ourselves in. We were disappointed obviously with the manner of the concession of those goals and how they came about.
“I’d like to go back and have a look at that first 35 or even 10 minutes. Just to see where we didn’t put in place what we wanted to get in place. Dublin are very clinical and were very clinical. There was very little we could do about it. When they got the opportunities they were very clinical and took them very well. It was a chastening experience I suppose. They absolutely went for the jugular and took it.”
Clifford Out in Kerry Win
Kerry hope to have star man David Clifford back for the All-Ireland series after medical advice saw him sit out the 1-28 to 0-8 Munster final win over Limerick in Killarney on Sunday.
“He picked up an injury against Cork, we weren’t being clever or anything but we thought it was going to come right,” said Kerry boss Jack O’Connor after the game.
“But it just took a bit longer to come around than we thought. The medical advice was not to play him in this game. He’s gone back doing a bit, away from the full training. I’d say he’ll be doing a good share of training next week hopefully.”
Kerry now have to wait four weeks for the All-Ireland quarterfinal and that is a concern for O’Connor. He added, “Of course four weeks is an issue. That’s why the system next year is going to be fairer for everybody.
“I’m not too concerned about the game today but I am relatively concerned about having four weeks off. I’ve gone on record as saying we played eight games in 10 weeks in the League and we’re playing three games in 12 weeks in the Championship. Sure that can’t be right? That system had to be fixed.
“What you’re trying to do is break it up. It can become a bit routine if you’re coming into Fitzgerald Stadium every night training, that’s what you’re trying to avoid, the thing becoming routine. We played Roscommon in a challenge last Saturday and it was a good game for us. We learned a few things. It’s always a help to break it up.
“I’d consider another challenge game yeah but like you’re running out of teams now at this stage. Thinking about it, how many teams are going to be available? So we’ll have a look at it, we’ll see.”
This weekend’s quarterfinals of the new Tailteann Cup will see Offaly host New York, Fermanagh against Cavan, Leitrim versus Sligo and Carlow versus Westmeath . . .
Dublin avenged recent defeats to Meath with a 1-7 to 1-5 win in the Leinster Ladies SFC final while Cork beat Kerry by 2-11 to 1-9 in the Munster final.
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