This week's GAA news from Ireland.
All over for Tipp as Cork romps
Cork battle on to fight another day, Tipperary’s All-Ireland season is already over and we’re not even into the month of June. Such was the drama on the final weekend of the Munster senior hurling championship round robin series on Sunday.
A stirring performance from the Rebels saw them beat Tipp by 3-30 to 1-24 at Semple Stadium and book a place in the All-Ireland series on the back of their third place finish in the table despite losing their opening two games of the summer.
Tipperary had led by 1-3 to no score after just five minutes, but that was a false dawn for Colm Bonnar’s side as eight points from Conor Lehane inspired the Cork men who led by 2-14 to 1-9 at the break and never looked back.
For Rebel manager Kieran Kingston this was vindication day.
“I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t believe in this group of players. I’ve massive belief in this group of players, massive belief,” said Kingston afterwards.
“And if we had lost the last two games, I would still have fierce belief in this group of players. I wouldn’t have come back into them a couple of years ago when they asked me to if I didn’t have belief in them and my belief in them has only grown.
“We’ve got out of Munster, that’s it. Our objective was to get to a Munster final, we haven’t done that. We got out of Munster and it’s no more than that, we’re certainly not going to get carried away.
“So, we are delighted to be in the All-Ireland series because it didn’t look like it a couple of weeks ago and the obituaries were written for the whole group, so that’s great. Our start was very poor. I thought the lads during that period never panicked, stuck to the gameplan, believed in what we were doing.”
Kingston praised his players for the manner in which they turned their season around. He added, “I think the key thing is even after losing those three big games in a row, the group never panicked, the players didn’t panic. We got harsh lessons, we didn’t panic. They believed in what they were doing.
“I think it has united the group actually in a funny sort of way. I think the group, players and management, are a lot tighter than maybe they were three or four weeks ago. Mixing up your game plan a bit as well and you learn those lessons through defeat, if you keep winning you don’t learn those.”
For Tipp manager Bonnar it was another day to forget as criticism flowed from all quarters.
“We’re in shock. Our hearts are just sunk here. We didn’t see that coming down the tracks. We thought we were building something. With the Limerick performance, we felt we put a big shift in there,” he told The42.ie
“The first 10 minutes went perfect. We got stuck into them and started well, scored 1-3 and seemed to be taking our chances. Cork came back with a few points but we were threatening with goals and got taken down for a penalty and were in a great place. The next thing, it hit the post, went up the field and it was a huge turnaround.
“I didn’t see what came from the next 20 minutes and that’s what’s so frustrating. Cork played a type of game that if you’re a yard off their little combinations…they’re probably at that two or three years. They have a huge confidence in terms of how they played it. They were full value.”
Wexford Stays Alive
A week is a long time in hurling – seven days after drawing with Westmeath in the Leinster SHC series, Wexford defeated Kilkenny by 1-22 to 1-18 at Nowlan Park to keep their All-Ireland hopes alive.
Darragh Egan’s team will not meet the Joe McDonagh Cup final losers in the All-Ireland preliminary quarterfinal after this sweet win over their fiercest rivals and neighbors, but Egan won’t take anything for granted.
“We went in as favorites in Mullingar last week as well, so we will be well aware of what’s coming down the tracks,” said Egan after the Kilkenny win.
“There’s a lot of drama in that Joe McDonagh, so the winners and losers of that are going to come out into the preliminary quarterfinals thinking they have a real, real big chance. We just need to be ready for that.”
Too many wides were a concern for Egan against the Cats. He continued, “We are not done yet. We have absolutely loads and loads of work to do. We still have to be more efficient in front of goals. Like, at half time we had nine wides on the board. That just isn’t good enough at this level and it’s hurt us over the last few weeks.”
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody wasn’t happy with the performance but he was already looking to the Leinster final clash with Galway when he spoke with Sky Sports at the final whistle.
“We were beaten tonight which of course we’re disappointed over but we are in the Leinster final in two weeks’ time against Galway,” said Cody. “We need to improve certainly of tonight’s performance.
“That’s the way games pan out really. We came back in the second half, we drew level but they went ahead. At the end of the day there was very little between the teams but like I said, it would be very, very hard to argue that we deserved to win the game.”
Clare Keeps Cruising
Clare added another scalp to their collection in this summer’s Munster SHC round robin series as their 3-31 to 2-22 win over Waterford at Cusack Park ended the Deise’s interest in the championship at the first hurdle.
Ranked by many as favorites to give All-Ireland champions Limerick a run for their money, League champions Waterford are now Championship tourists after just one win in Munster against Tipperary.
Sunday was the final nail in the coffin, Waterford trailing by 20 points at one point in the second half before finally succumbing by 12 with a performance that manager Liam Cahill found hard to fathom.
“We were really disappointing again today. The whole lack of energy around the field. Clare’s movement was exceptional today, they seemed to have a lot of players giving options on the ball and we couldn’t seem to cope with it. I’d love to have answers, I just have any at the moment,” Cahill told RTE after the game.
“To be fair to these players, they have performed a high percentage of the time, that’s just not them. I know that’s not them. They know that as well. There’s nobody hurting more than them.”
Dubs Bow Out
Dublin are out of the SHC on scoring difference, their fate sealed by a 0-27 to 0-21 defeat to Leinster finalists Galway at Pearse Stadium, a result that allowed Wexford to sneak ahead of the Dubs and into the All-Ireland series.
“We won our first three games and it was a healthy position to be in,” Dublin boss Mattie Kenny told RTE Sport afterwards. “We knew we had two big games coming after that, Kilkenny at home and then coming down here tonight. We knew we had to win one of those to get to a Leinster final; that was our target.
“Ultimately, we didn’t achieve that. We’re really disappointed going out of the championship tonight. It’s massively disappointing to lose out on scoring difference.”
Galway boss Henry Shefflin was pleased with his team’s scoring return ahead of their Leinster final date with his native Kilkenny.
“At the start of the year our aim was to be in the top three, as our League campaign wasn’t brilliant,” said Shefflin.
“They were four teams vying for those three positions. It was then a little bit comfortable for ourselves as we knew we had the cushion of seven points. If we got to nine points, we knew we had that Leinster final place booked. It’s always good to get to finals and that’s where we’ve ended up.”
Westmeath, meanwhile, concluded their Leinster SHC round robin series with a 5-24 to 1-18 win over Laois at O’Moore Park with Laois now likely to play Joe McDonagh Cup next season.
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*This roundup first appeared in the May 25 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.
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