News from the GAA in Ireland this week.

Farrell praises Dublin’s strong start

Dublin won the first trophy available to them since their All-Ireland semifinal defeat to Mayo last year and the first silverware on offer in 2022 with a 1-13 to 0-11 win over Laois in the O’Byrne Cup final in Carlow on Saturday.

Armagh are next up for the Leinster champions in their Allianz NFL opener this weekend, and manager Dessie Farrell admitted to RTE Sport after the Laois win that tougher tests are around the corner.

“You’re moving into a different realm against Armagh and that’s no disrespect to Laois who were very, very competitive today,” said Farrell.

“Armagh would have been out the gap. They’re well organized with Kieran McGeeney and very fit, very physical with a good game plan. Our objective in the O’Byrne Cup was to try out some new players and we’ve done that through the various rounds but also to give some core players some preparation for the start of the National League next week.

“We’ve managed to do that quite well over the last couple of weeks which we’re happy with. There’s a proper test of character when you go a man down. It was something we spoke about at halftime in terms of upping the intensity and the work rate.

“There were some really encouraging performances from some of the newer players that started or were introduced. We’re happy with today’s exercise for sure.”

Dublin vs. Wexford in Walsh Cup

Dublin eased into the Walsh Cup final and a Croke Park date with Wexford next Saturday after a 2-23 to 1-20 victory over Offaly in Birr on Sunday, their third win on the bounce in the competition.

“I hear we’re playing in Croke Park next Saturday evening,” said Dublin boss Mattie Kenny afterward. “Any time you get to play there is a good day. It’s something we’re looking forward to now as we continue to build a squad with depth.

“That was our aim. That everyone is contributing. They’re happier players when they know they can come on and make an impact. As we move on in the year, we’ll have to see what our strongest 15 is. But now we know that to get on that 26 alone is very competitive.

“That’s what we want. That’s what we like. We know that anyone that comes off the bench can deliver for the team.”

Wexford will contest the final after their 2-25 apiece draw with visitors Kilkenny on Saturday when Galway were 1-23 to 1-17 winners against Antrim.

Kerry’s Good Problem

New Kerry boss Jack O’Connor is happy to have a selection headache going into the National Football League campaign after a number of players put their hands up for selection in the 2-17 to 0-11 McGrath Cup final win over Cork in Killarney.

David Clifford and Jack Savage both had to be content with substitute roles against Cork while Dara Moynihan should be fit after injury for this weekend’s league trip to Kildare.

“You have to get the balance right too,” O’Connor told the media after the McGrath Cup win. “You don’t want fellas quaking in their boots and looking over their shoulder either, but you certainly have to keep fellas on their toes. I think we have good competition now right throughout.”

Reid’s Magic Touch

Kilkenny hurling legend TJ Reid did it again with a last gasp wonder goal from a 20-yard free to break St. Thomas’ hearts and seal a one-point win for Ballyhale Shamrocks in their All-Ireland Club SHC semifinal at Semple Stadium.

Reid did the damage four minutes into added time to grab a 2-15 to 0-20 win for the Kilkenny kingpins against the Galway champions. 

Ballyhale will now meet first-time finalists Ballygunner of Waterford, 2-19 to 1-17 winners over Slaughtneill of Derry in their Parnell Park semi-final.

D’Arcy Joins Wexford Hurlers

Former Irish rugby international Gordon D’Arcy, originally from Ferns, Co. Wexford, has joined the Wexford hurling backroom staff. Darragh Egan, the Wexford boss, has welcomed the news.

Another famous name joining Wexford's backroom team is U.S. boxing coach Billy Walsh.

Egan is in his first year as Wexford manager and will welcome the additions to the squad. 

“Look, that man has been in dressing rooms (in) some of the biggest days in Irish rugby and Lions rugby and so on,  and he’s a good Wexford man. He really loves his hurling,” Egan said of D’Arcy.

“He’s some brilliant ideas for us and brilliant kind of match day tips and tricks for me. He’s imparting that information to us at the moment, so it’s great.

“Even pre-match and so on, Gordon would be keeping an eye on how warm-ups are going and things like that, some of the bits of information that he gives to me then, it’s real quirky stuff. It wouldn’t be run-of-the-mill GAA thinking but he’s looking at how the players are focused, what their application is like in the warm-up.”

GAA Shorts

A strong second-half performance from substitute Michael Murphy wasn’t enough to help Donegal overcome Monaghan as they went down by just a point, 1-11 to 0-13, in the Dr. McKenna Cup final at Healy Park, having trailed by nine at one stage...

All-Ireland hurling champions Limerick made it 11 trophies under manager John Kiely with an emphatic 0-27 to 0-18 win over Clare in the Munster Hurling Cup final at Cusack Park in Ennis on Sunday ...

Tiernan McCann is the latest player to quit the Tyrone senior football squad while Fermanagh will have to plan for the NFL season without the retired Eoin Donnelly. 

*This column first appeared in the January 26 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.

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