This week's GAA news from Ireland.

Dublin Hangs on to Defeat Wexford

Donal Burke scored 12 points as Dublin held off Wexford in a 0-24 to 0-23 Leinster SHC round two win at Wexford Park despite losing Cian O’Callaghan to a late and second yellow card. 

“It was one of those games for Wexford Park is a difficult place to come and get a result. We’re delighted to come away with two points,” said Dublin boss Mattie Kenny afterwards. “Hats off to all the guys, they put in a massive effort, showed great character and great pride.

“One would have thought that the game would have swung away from us when reduced to fourteen players, but the boys dug in, never gave up, stepped up the momentum, got in the crucial blocks while also picking off some vital scores.

“Coming down here was always going to be a massive task, for it’s a very difficult ground to get a result. We’re delighted to have won our second brace of points.”

Wexford Manager Darragh Egan said, "While disappointed with the defeat we will still take some positives from the game. We created some eighteen scoring chances but simply did not put them away while Dublin were far more clinical at the opposite end. There’s still a lot of points to be played for so no we’ll just look ahead to Laois next Sunday. We’ll take it one game at a time.”

Bonner Angry Over Bans

Donegal boss Declan Bonner again voiced his frustrations with the GAA’s disciplinary system after Sunday’s 1-16 to 0-12 Ulster SFC quarterfinal win over Armagh at Ballybofey.

Bonner opted not to appeal against the bans handed out to Odhrán McFadden-Ferry and Neil McGee for their part in the recent melee at the end of a National League game against Armagh.

But the Orchard County did successfully appeal against bans for Rian O’Neill, Aidan Nugent and Stefan Campbell from the same incident and all three featured on Sunday.

“We weren’t going to waste two or three weeks to see would we or would we not have players available to be quite honest,” Bonner told the BBC. “We made that decision and that was it.  Normally the referee’s report is not going to be overturned.
“I was very surprised, to be honest, that it did happen. It leaves the CAC and CCCC with a lot of questions to answer in terms of how they’re going to go around with the disciplinary hearing again because it’s in tatters to be quite honest.”

Louth on the Move

The Mickey Harte momentum gained more ground in Navan on Sunday as Division 3 champions Louth slammed five goals past Carlow in a 5-10 to 0-10 Leinster SFC clash to set up a quarterfinal date with Kildare this weekend.

Two goals from Sam Mulroy along with green flags from Conor Grimes, Tommy Durnin and Ciaran Byrne guaranteed a first championship win with Louth for Harte who expected more from his team.

“Overall we were disappointed with the performance in many respects,” said Harte. “That’s a strange thing to say when you win by five goals but I felt with the breeze we overplayed the ball a bit and got turned over too often.

“I think Carlow would have been very happy at halftime having played against a strong breeze to have been within touching distance. We’ll be meeting different stuff from here on in.

“So I don’t know how we’ll go until we go toe to toe with Kildare and we’ll see how much of a gulf there is between a team that is a regular Division 1 team, occasionally Division 2, though never staying there very long, and a team that has just come up from the basement. There has to be a gulf in class there so we have to see how much we can close that gulf.”

Kilkenny Wins Big

Kilkenny ran up another big win with a 2-34 to 1-14 victory over Laois in the Leinster SHC round two clash at Nowlan Park as TJ Reid hit 10 points on his first start of the year as Brian Cody’s side ramped up their championship intent.

“Look, it’s all systems go now and we knew it was going to be the case,” said Kilkenny manager Cody after the 23-point win when several players put their hands up to be selected for the Galway game this weekend.

“It’s a serious challenge coming up and picking the team is not going to be easy, from a good point of view. There are a lot of options there. We’re picking from a position of strength. We believe our panel is very, very strong. The 15 that may start from match to match may change, I’ve never been concerned about that, about getting a settled team.

“I’m more concerned about getting a settled attitude and a settled spirit and a settled workrate. If we get all that stuff right, regardless of the personnel that start on different days, I think we’ll be competitive.”

Solid Show from Wexford

Wexford were full value for their 1-15 to 1-12 Leinster SFC win over visitors Offaly, a result that sets them up for their big clash with Dublin in the quarterfinals this weekend.

“The overriding emotion is joy, with a bit of relief as well,” Wexford boss Shane Roche told RTÉ Sport.

“We had a tough league campaign, finishing third bottom in Division 4. We always felt going to the training field that that wasn’t a true representation of the work we were doing. For the last month all we were thinking about was a performance that could put us in the next round where we will play Dublin.

“They were a Division 2 team, playing at a higher level of football. We played against the breeze in the first half, with the aim of staying in the game.”

Cavan to Meet Donegal

Cavan will meet Donegal in the Ulster SFC semifinal after Saturday’s 1-20 to 0-10 win over Antrim at Corrigan Park in Belfast when Paddy Lynch scored eight points on his championship debut.

“Just delighted to come up here and get away with a win in the first round. As we’ve known down the years, there’s no easy place to come and first-half we probably were a wee bit wasteful, and in fairness Antrim came back at us,” said Cavan boss Mickey Graham afterwards.

“The second half performance, you couldn’t be more than happy. We upped the tempo a bit, got some runners in behind and the lads began to not give the ball away so cheaply. We started to take the opportunities when they came along whereas in the first half we didn’t take them.”Bad to Worse for Tipp
THE Tipperary demise continued in Semple Stadium as Clare hammered their hosts by 3-21 to 2-16 in round two of the Munster SHC series, the damage done by three first half goals for the Banner from Ian Galvin, Peter Duggan and Tony Kelly.

A week after their defeat to Waterford, Tipp struggled again and must now beat Limerick on Sunday, May 8 to keep their slim championship hopes alive as manager Colm Bonnar admitted his team had been left for dead by Clare’s hunger in Thurles.

“To play your home game and go in at halftime 13 points down, 3-11 to 0-07…we were unlucky with a couple of scores, could have had a goal or two at the start of the first half to keep us with Clare, but once they got the momentum, they were ravenous,” Bonnar told RTE.

“They attacked everything and were so hungry for the breaking ball. They brought a big game with them and we found it very hard to contain it. We regrouped in the second half and came at them, scored 2-09 to 0-10 but 13 points was a big deficit.”
Bonnar had no excuses as he digested this defeat and looked ahead to the must win clash with All-Ireland champions Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds. 

“It wasn’t the seven-day turnaround. We were in a good place, I thought. Mentally, we were strong inside the dressing room, we were going to come out and make Clare fight for everything but they came out with a bigger fight and they got the scores then with the breeze,” he said.

“We’re not buried yet though. We have to bring a bigger fight than we brought today. This is a big learning thing for us. We just weren’t at their level initially but we have to learn from it and regroup. We don’t have time to sit and feel sorry for ourselves.”
Having sat out the opening weekend of the championship, Clare were keen to hit the ground running in Thurles and did just that according to their manager Brian Lohan. 

“Our lads came to the game with a good bit of desire and a good bit of fight in them and played really well in the first half,” he told RTE Sport.

“It was a big worry, how we were going to react to not having a game and how were Tipp going to come into it, so we put a lot of focus on them not getting a jump on us. We thought we were in a very good position after the first half last year against Tipperary as well but then, before we knew it, the game was gone from us. So that was the big message, that we didn’t want to make the same mistake again.”

Limerick Edges Waterford

Limerick defeated Waterford by 0-30 to 2-21, but Sunday’s Munster SHC round two clash at the Gaelic Grounds was surely a taster for bigger championship battles to come this summer as these two served up a veritable feast at the Gaelic Grounds.

Stephen Bennett and Jack Prendergast hit late goals to finally offer Waterford real hope against the All-Ireland champions, but John Kiely’s team again showed real spirit to hold off their main title rivals.

“It was one of those crackers really,” Kiely told RTE Sport. “It ebbed and flowed. Waterford brought a fantastic challenge. We put daylight between ourselves and Waterford with 10 minutes to go but then they popped up with a couple of goals and all of a sudden the game was back on the table again.

“One would have thought the momentum had turned completely to Waterford but we dug in, won some dirty balls and kept our composure. We used the ball well and still created the last four scoring chances in the game. We might not have converted them all but we did create them and we're very happy with that.”

An early injury to Cian Lynch did spoil the day for Limerick, with Kiely now awaiting results of a scan on the player’s injured hamstring. 

“He’ll be out of training for a couple of weeks I would imagine but we’ll have to wait and see,” said Kiely.

That second-half show of character delighted the Waterford boss Liam Cahill who said, “A real good game for the supporters in the stands and at home I’d imagine but disappointed not to get something out of the match. These players in Waterford don’t give up easily and credit to them tonight, they hurled right to the death.

“But we’ll have a lot of learnings tonight that we’ll have to improve on if we’re to have any chance of progressing in the championship.”

Cats Next for Shefflin

Henry Shefflin admits it will be strange to face Kilkenny in the next round of the Leinster SHC next Sunday when he comes face to face with his old boss Brian Cody in his new role as Galway manager.

The Tribesmen warmed up for the big game with a comfortable 3-37 to 1-17 win over Westmeath in Pearse Stadium last weekend and Shefflin was inevitably asked about the game against his own Cats.

“I’ve a job to do. When I became Galway manager, it was to go up and try and manage and lead a group of players and that’s what I’m striving to do. It’ll be different, of course it will. But my job is to try and get the best from these players and that’s the ultimate aim of this group,” said Shefflin in response.

“It’s about preparing, preparing properly and preparing respectfully to the opposition and then trying to impose our game. And I think we’ve seen flashes of that over the last two weeks and it would be great to see a fuller performance. Obviously, that’s what we need when we’re coming up against a massive challenge that is Kilkenny.

“Of course, it will be strange but I made peace with that a while ago when I took on this job. I said I’ve a job to do and it’s to try and get the best out of this group of players and that’s what we’re striving to do. I think the players inside in the room are putting in a massive effort and any more than that, we can’t ask for.

“It’s a massive one for both teams, obviously. It’s game three.  It’s going to swing a lot in terms of where teams are going to finish at the end of this campaign so of course it’s a big game. But every game is. This match this evening was a big game for us. We’ll recover. It’s eight days now and we’ll recover properly and just try and be ready for the challenge that’s coming.”

Wicklow Shocks Laois

Wicklow produced the shock of the weekend football-wise with a 5-15 to 4-12 over Laois in Aughrim, a result manager Alan Costello always believed was possible as his team eased into the quarter-finals and a date with Meath in Navan this Sunday.

“Within our group we had huge belief,” said Costello afterward. “We worked very hard over the last number of weeks putting a game plan in place, Gary Duffy and I. We’re delighted it came through today, the lads worked extremely hard.
“They were focused, efficient and economic on the ball and we racked up a good score. We spoke about the history attached to this fixture, Wicklow against Laois, and we wanted to honor players that had gone before.”

GAA shorts

- Kerry are Munster under-20 football champions after a 1-11 to 0-7 over Cork in Monday night’s final.  Tyrone won the Ulster title with a 0-11 to 0-10 win over Cavan ...

- The Cork vs. Kerry Munster SFC semifinal has been confirmed for Páirc Uí Rinn in Cork on Saturday week after a ruling from the Munster Council. 

*This roundup first appeared in the April 27 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.

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