This week's GAA news from Ireland.
Tipperary loses three straight
Tipperary can’t buy a win for love nor money in the Munster SHC round-robin series right now, their third straight provincial defeat under new boss Colm Bonnar coming on Sunday as they went down by 3-21 to 0-23 to Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds.
Bonnar’s squad was decimated by injuries ahead of this big clash, but Limerick still only pulled away in the closing stages when Conor Boylan and Aaron Gillane raised green flags for the home side.
“I don’t think the scoreline reflects our effort,” a disappointed Bonnar told RTÉ Sport. “I’m hugely disappointed because even with 10 minutes to go I felt we were going to win this game.
“We were three points up midway through the second half and had chances to go six or seven up but didn’t take them. But maybe that’s a young team and we have to learn to build that momentum. We knew we were under the cosh and had to come in with a performance. I thought we competed very well. But credit to Limerick, they came back and scored the goals when it mattered.”
A poor return from scoring chances was the Tipperary downfall according to their coach. Bonnar added, “We went in at halftime with 0-14 on the board and they scored 1-9. Michael Breen was unlucky for a goal when his shot was saved in the first half and we were unlucky for a goal in the second half. That’s been the story of our Championship so far. We’ve had goal chances and haven’t taken them.
“There were eight players who didn’t play in last year’s Munster final so that’s a huge turnover in terms of experience. But we have young lads that want to play and it’s days like this they’ll remember. That’s how you build your experience.”
Limerick manager John Kiely was happy to turn to his bench to finish out the job against Tipp on Sunday. “Tipperary were excellent today,” said Kiely. “They were very sharp, quick on the breaks and used the ball very well. Their tackling was very high and they put us under real pressure.
“It was only the last 15 minutes and the impact that our lads made coming off the bench that swung it in our favor. When we turned to the bench we were down two or three points and we finished seven up. That tells its own story.
Asked to summarize the game, Kiely added, “We struggled with their puckout big time in the opening 35 minutes. Both long and short but particularly the long ones. It was only in the second half when we got on top of their puckout that we got a bit of a foothold in the game and were able to create scoring chances.”
Even with a probable Munster final spot secured, Kiely is refusing to look beyond Sunday’s game against Clare in Ennis given that the unbeaten Banner have surprised everyone this season.
“We’re in a good position but there’s a long road ahead in this campaign. Next week we’ll go to Ennis. We’ve had some fantastic battles with Clare over the years and no doubt next Sunday is going to produce another one,” he concluded.
Donegal Bests Tough Cavan
Conor O’Donnell and Paddy McBrearty finally put breathing space between title favorites Donegal and underdogs Cavan when their late goals, scored in the 61st and 66th minutes, proved the big moves in Sunday’s Ulster SFC semifinal at Clones.
Mickey Graham’s plucky Breffni men were level on no fewer than five occasions before those late goals put the gloss on a 2-16 to 0-16 win for Donegal who will now meet Monaghan or Derry in the provincial decider.
“It was a tough battle but we expected nothing else from Cavan,” the winning boss Declan Bonner said.
“They’ve a real tough Championship pedigree behind them and we know from 2020 what they bring to the table. First half was nip and tuck. It was probably good to watch but we made a lot of mistakes in the first half.
“We were getting into the final third but getting ball turned over cheaply. We got ourselves together at halftime and the goal was a big turning point. It was fortuitous, from our point of view, but we’ll take that.”
Cavan shocked Donegal in the 2020 Ulster campaign so Bonner was happy to see his team through to their fourth final in five years. He added: “It was a proper Championship match out there today, no quarter asked or given,” he said.
“Both teams went at it in a very sporting manner. Clones, nice crowd, sunny day, real Championship football, great to have a crowd back in here today. We’ll get ready now for what will be a titanic battle with whoever comes out of the other side of the draw.”
Cavan boss Graham was proud of his players afterwards. “I couldn’t ask for much more to be honest with you, they gave it everything,” he said.
“I couldn’t be more disappointed for them. The two goals were a killer. They took their goal chances and we didn’t take ours, simple as. James Smith hit the crossbar just before halftime. If that goes in it’s a three-point game.”
The Tailteann Cup now awaits Cavan and Graham who continued, “I think the more games we can get the better, it will help us to keep developing. It will be an opportunity to give lads that are returning from injury more game time.”
Easy Win for Galway
Galway never looked in any trouble in Sunday’s Connacht SFC semifinal against Leitrim at Pearse Stadium, Padraic Joyce’s side turning a seven-point interval lead into a 4-20 to 0-9 final scoreline.
Incredibly all four Galway goals in the second half came from substitutes as Patrick Kelly grabbed two goals and Niall Daly and Owen Gallagher also got on the scoresheet in a 23-point win for the pre-match favorites.
For manager Joyce that 4-20 scoring tally was “brilliant” as he turned his sights to the Connacht final and another game against Roscommon.
“We’re ready for action. We know it’s going to be tough,” Joyce said.
“They’ve beaten us twice already this year. We won the two games last year. So, there’s nothing between the two teams. Roscommon are playing a much better brand of football than they used to, over the years. They’re minding the ball really well, they’ve got really potent inside-forwards.
“That’s something we have to nullify ourselves and get scores ourselves at the far end. It’s going to be a fascinating game and it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.”
Leitrim boss and Mayo legend Andy Moran was realistic when he discussed the game with the media afterwards.
“For the majority of the first half, up until the 31st/32nd minute, we did really, really well. We were really competitive, especially around the middle of the field,” Moran told RTÉ Sport.
“But at the end of the first half and into the second half, the conditioning and the skill level of the Galway boys just told. We struggled to go with it over the course of the 70 minutes.”
With the Tailteann Cup next up for Leitrim, Moran is looking for an extended run of games to build confidence within his squad.
“Great idea. I think they’ve changed it slightly from what we were sold at the start. I think they’ve made it north and south fixture paths and not round-robin. I’d prefer if it was an open draw in a round-robin format so that it guarantees us two to three games. But unfortunately, that’s not the way it’s going to be,” he said.
“But the essence of the tournament is a really good idea and hopefully we get more games out of it.”
Kerry Turns on the Style
Cork got their way and their choice of venue but the location didn’t matter a jot as Kerry ran up a 0-23 to 0-11 win over the Rebels in Saturday’s Munster SFC semifinal at Pairc Ui Rinn.
And this was a Kerry team slowly finding their Championship feet, Jack O’Connor’s side ahead by just a point in the 50th minute before establishing that 12 point margin at the final whistle.
Kerry leader Jack O’Connor acknowledged that lethargy when he told RTÉ, “We expected a big battle from Cork and at half-time, there was nothing in it. Two points, and around the 50th minute, they’d brought it back to one point. So, we really knew we were in a game at that stage.
“But I think we started controlling possession in the middle of the field, particularly on the Cork kickout. That basically changed the flow of the game and we kicked on well in the last quarter.
“We’re happy with a share of things but we know that there are areas we have to improve on. That’s what the next three weeks are about.”
Cork’s interim manager John Cleary told reporters stamina was an issue for his team.
“I thought we gave an awful lot for 50 minutes and we just ran out of legs,” said Cleary. “Kerry are more battle-hardened, they’re playing in Division 1. We’re not at that level yet but I thought the lads performed heroically.
“They had the class to bring off the bench. Paul Geaney, Micheál Burns, they were bringing on lads who have played at the top for a long time. We were still beaten by 12 points, the floodgates opened a bit in the end. But I couldn’t ask for any more from the lads."
*This roundup first appeared in the May 11 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.
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