This week's GAA news from Ireland.
Shanagher goal seals Clare win
Some Clare fans may have sent out the SOS calls early in the second half of a pulsating All-Ireland quarterfinal at Semple Stadium on Saturday, but Banner super-sub Aron Shanagher ensured there was no need to panic as he came off the bench to hit 1-2 of their unanswered 1-5 to put the seal on a 1-24 to 3-14 win over Wexford.
Clare will now meet Leinster champions Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semifinal on Saturday, July 2 after answering all the questions asked by a gallant Wexford before Shanagher’s 67th-minute goal made all the difference for the Banner.
The Munster men had trailed by six points with 59 minutes on the clock but then registered 10 of the last 12 scores of the day to deny a Wexford side that had burst out of the traps with a Jack O’Connor goal after just 25 seconds.
Level at 1-7 to 0-10 at the interval, Wexford were given huge hope by two goals inside three minutes, from a deflected 47th minute free from goalkeeper Mark Fanning and Lee Chin, but the Yellow Bellies couldn’t withstand the Clare rally in the final 10 minutes as Shanagher pounced.
Clare boss Brian Lohan praised his players for that resilience. He told the media, “Our players really toughed it out. They were really disappointed with how they played in the first half and things went against us in the second half but we’ve a great bunch, with a great spirit.
“Some of our marquee guys didn’t play well. But they are our marquee guys because they are marquee guys. And they keep going. There’s good stuff in them. You probably have some of the most exceptional talents that have ever been produced in Clare, and they’re really hard workers as well. So it was great to see them respond like that.”
The hurling summer is now over for Wexford but manager Darragh Egan was far from downbeat afterward. He told Sky Sports, “We had a 16-game run this year and we only lost three games. There’s not too many counties that can say that.
“But ultimately we finished the year with no silverware. It was on us that we weren’t in the Leinster final, that was a Leinster title that we could have competed for properly. So that one was on us.
“Again today we’re bitterly disappointed we didn’t get over the line because we came here thinking we were going to beat Clare today and we were very confident we were going to beat them. Unfortunately, a few things didn’t go our way and that’s not the way it panned out.
“We were six up and people say, ‘Oh, we left the lead behind us.’ That is not the way hurling works. There was 25 minutes left at that stage, we always knew we were going to be under pressure coming down the home straight.
“Ultimately, that is how it was. We lost a few bodies, a few lads in pivotal positions. But our lads gave it absolutely everything. They left blood, sweat and tears out on that pitch, we couldn’t have asked any more from them.”
Galway too good for Cork
Galway took their chances and Cork didn’t in Saturday’s All-Ireland SHC quarterfinal at Semple Stadium, which explains why the Tribesmen will play champions Limerick in the last four on Sunday, July 3.
Henry Shefflin’s side won by 2-19 to 1-21, more comfortably perhaps that the scoreline suggests after an early goal from Jack Grealish when his long-range effort was misjudged by Rebel ‘keeper Patrick Collins.
That set the tone for the day, a second goal from Conor Whelan helping Galway to a 2-6 to 0-7 interval lead as Cork wasted chance after chance in that opening half.
The Rebels did grab an early second-half goal courtesy of Shane Kingston and got the deficit down to three points with 20 minutes left on the clock then down to just a point in injury time through a Darragh Fitzgibbon score but the truth is that Galway deserved to win this by virtue of their better finishing.
That, however, won’t be good enough against the Limerick might on Sunday week, a fact acknowledged by RTE pundit and Galway legend Joe Canning in his post-match analysis.
“Galway will be up against it. If they perform the way they did today, unfortunately, I can only see Limerick winning but I think Galway will be up for it,” Canning stated on TV.
“You saw in the League earlier in the year, Galway performed and got a result when they beat Limerick 0-27 to 1-18, but how good Limerick were in the League is a different story.
“I think Galway have more to give, they do. In the second half, bringing out Conor Whelan – close to goal is his place and if you leave him with enough ball inside he’ll do damage but they brought him out around the 45 and he didn’t really have an impact from that position.”
As questions came in around his own future, Cork boss Kieran Kingston insisted afterward that he was proud that his team battled back to get within a point of Galway.
“We didn’t help ourselves in the first half,” Kingston told RTE Sport. “We had 24 shots, seven scores, that efficiency is really poor. Within that there were some missed goal-scoring and point-scoring opportunities which in the last few games we’ve been taking easy enough.
“I thought our lads showed real character in the second half, playing into that breeze, they never threw the towel in and I’m proud of the way they reacted to that first half because they could have thrown the towel in, conceding soft scores and then missing on the other side.”
Tailteann finals set
It may be a new competition for the lesser lights and it may be unheralded for now, but that didn’t stop Cavan and Westmeath enjoying their Tailteann Cup semifinal wins at Croke Park on Sunday, and it won’t stop them relishing next month’s decider back at headquarters.
Cavan booked their spot in the inaugural final with a 0-20 to 1-14 win over Sligo, while Westmeath advanced thanks to a clinical first half offering in their 3-22 to 2-16 win over neighbors Offaly.
Man of the Match Gearoid McKiernan scored four points in the Cavan win but acknowledged afterwards there will be work to be done before they meet a more prolific Westmeath side in the Tailteann final on July 9.
“It was a hard fought win,” McKiernan told RTE Sport afterward. “We’ve loads to work on. We know that performance won’t be good enough to beat Westmeath in the final. We’ll enjoy this win, get back to training Tuesday and take the learnings from it. We knew coming here that Sligo would fight to the very end, and they showed that but now we have a big game with Westmeath to look forward to.
“You see the crowd here today, getting up to Croke Park for an All-Ireland semifinal, we put pressure on ourselves. We’ve our own performances we want to meet. We’re delighted to come out on the right end of the result today.”
Westmeath boss Jack Cooney was delighted with his team’s first half display as they led by 2-11 to 1-5 at the interval in Croke Park, despite playing into the wind in that opening period.
“We were particularly happy in the first half,” said Cooney. “We played some really exciting football and created a lot of chances. We’d be happy with the go at it spirit and trying to play it on the front foot. There’s a lot of positives to take but there are things to work on. The great thing is that we’re working towards the last game of the year. We’re really going to enjoy the next three weeks.”
Meanwhile, John Maughan is expected to step down as Offaly football manager after his side’s defeat to Westmeath.
“Out of respect for the chairman Michael Duignan, he’s the first man I will talk to,” Maughan told Midlands 103 after the game.
"I’ve had four seasons in Offaly and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t anticipate that I’d be involved in inter-county management when I was asked to go for the interview. It was an honor and a privilege to be asked.”
Laois hurlers are on the lookout for a new manager after Seamus “Cheddar” Plunkett resigned the position and brought his second spell in charge of the county team to an end after they were relegated to the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2023 having lost all five Leinster Championship games this season ...
Tributes have been paid to Tyrone hurler Damian Casey who died aged 29 in a swimming pool accident in Spain where he was due to attend a wedding ...
*This roundup first appeared in the June 22 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.
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