News from the GAA in Ireland this week.
Rough Loss for Shefflin’s Galway
Galway may have been beaten by a whopping 19 points by Dublin in the Walsh Cup at Parnell Park on Sunday – 3-29 to 0-19 – but new boss Henry Shefflin was in no rush to declare an emergency after fielding an understrength side in the capital.
Na Fianna’s Donal Burke scored 18 of those Dublin points to secure a second win in the tournament for the home side and a first defeat as Tribes boss for Shefflin, whose experimental team trailed 1-16 to 0-8 at the end of the first half.
Speaking to the media afterwards, Shefflin admitted, “Dublin were at championship pace and they gave us a lesson both on the field and off the field. Their style of play and the way they moved; they were just so impressive from the get go.
“It was a very difficult day for us as a management team, and for the players as well. We did stick at it and made the game a little bit more competitive in the second half. From a hurling point of view, and where we’re at, we were well, well back. We’ve lots of work to do. We’re only in a couple of months and you could see that Dublin were well down the tracks.
“To be fair we’re doing a lot of chopping and changing. There were seven or eight changes to the team from last week. It’s hard to get that pattern of play that Dublin have at the moment.
“It is concerning because we’re trying to find players. It’s about growing and learning, and we will not panic yet. Are we disappointed? Of course we are, and I’m sure Galway hurling is hurting because Dublin were just streets ahead of us.”
Having seen their team win a week earlier against Offaly, Galway fans will be discouraged by this result but Shefflin urged them not to read anything into it. He added, “Last week there was a bit of excitement around things, and a bit of expectation that built for whatever reason.
“I’m not quite sure because last year, and the last couple of years, Galway haven’t been where they were at before. It’s another disappointing step. We’ve made a commitment with the players and ourselves that we’re going to try to work hard and try and make inroads into that defeat today.”
In a separate blow, Shefflin is likely to be without experienced defender Shane Cooney for most of the season after he injured a knee in a challenge match for his club St. Thomas and is set to undergo surgery.
Elsewhere in the Walsh Cup, Brian Cody took charge of Kilkenny for a record-breaking 24th season as the Cats beat Laois by 1-27 to 0-24 in Callan and Offaly were 3-18 to 0-21 winners over Antrim at O’Connor Park.
Mullin Sticks With Mayo
Young Footballer of the Year Oisin Mullin has committed his future to Mayo after reversing his decision to join Aussie Rules AFL side Geelong as an international rookie.
“Going to Australia to play professionally was a really interesting opportunity and it was something I wanted to research and consider in detail,” said Mullin in a statement.
“It was a big decision for me as playing for Mayo with my friends is a huge honor and something I love doing, so I wanted to take the time to consider all aspects of it. After some careful thinking and a lot of support from family, I have decided to stay in Ireland and I am really excited about joining up with the Mayo senior football panel as soon as possible.”
Mullin’s decision echoes that of Cork’s Mark Keane who is to stay in Ireland and will not return to his AFL club Collingwood.
“Although a tough call, I know remaining in Ireland and being with my family is the right decision for me at this time,” said Keane.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Pies, and I thank the club for giving me the opportunity to play AFL football.”
Dubs for O’Byrne Final
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell spoke up the merits of the O’Byrne Cup senior football tournament in Leinster as his team booked their place in the final with a 0-16 to 0-5 win over Longford at Pearse Park just days after beating Louth in round two by 3-19 to 1-10.
As he rebuilds his squad following last summer’s Championship defeat to Mayo, Farrell was asked on RTE Radio if he sees any value in competitions like the O’Byrne Cup.
“Definitely,” he replied. “In terms of trying to blood players, and to see what is in the pipeline, I think it is very important for all managers around the country in the provincial competitions. They serve a great purpose in preparation for the national league and in trying to identify new talent.”
Laois or Kildare will meet the Dubs in the O’Byrne Cup final after Laois beat Wicklow by 2-14 to 1-11 at the weekend. Meath recorded a 1-15 to 1-10 win over Wexford in Ashbourne while Offaly were 0-15 to 2-6 winners over hosts Louth in Ardee.
Galway Wins FBD
Galway boss Padraig Joyce tasted Connacht FBD Football League glory with a 1-18 to 1-16 win over Roscommon in Friday night’s final at the Air Drome, but confirmed afterwards that full-back Sean Mulkerrin won’t play again this year after he suffered a serious knee injury on Sigerson Cup duty with NUIG last week.
“His season is over, the poor lad. It’s unfortunate. We will give him all the support we can here in Galway and try to get him back as quickly as possible,” said Joyce.
“It’s not good. We don’t know the full extent of it yet but it’s a knee injury and it’s not good. I know it’s not the cruciate thank God, but it is a serious injury with a dislocation and there is damage to the kneecap as well. It is serious, we are just waiting on the full scan. I know he had an operation on it.”
Other GAA Results
Cork champions St. Finbarr’s added the Munster Club SFC title to their collection with a deserved 2-9 to 1-10 win in the provincial final at Semple Stadium on Sunday when they stood up to an intense second-half fightback from Kerry’s Austin Stack to record a first win since 1986.
Kilcoo of Down were easy winners of the Ulster final, beating Fermanagh’s Derrygonnelly Harps by 3-10 to 0-3 at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.
A Rory Grugan goal helped Armagh beat All-Ireland champions Tyrone in the Dr. McKenna Cup senior football competition in Ulster thanks to a 2-15 to 1-15 win at Healy Park. Donegal maintained their good form with a 0-15 to 1-9 win over Antrim while Derry were 0-17 to 1-10 victors against Fermanagh at Roslea.
Clare hurlers will contest their first final under manager Brian Lohan when they meet All-Ireland champions Limerick in this week’s Munster Hurling Cup decider. Clare beat Waterford by 2-24 to 1-22 while Limerick hammered Kerry by 4-29 to 0-11 in the semi-finals last weekend.
Kerry booked a McGrath Cup final place against old rivals Cork with a 1-23 to 0-5 victory over Tipperary in the semifinal at Templetuohy, with Paudie Clifford grabbing the only goal of the game and Sean O’Shea and Killian Spillane contributing 12 points between them.
*This report first appeared in the January 19 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication from IrishCentral.
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