This week's GAA news from Ireland.

Violence and penalties as Galway is victorious

Croke Park had never seen anything quite like it, and that’s really saying something as Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC quarterfinal was decided in Galway’s favor in the first penalty shoot-out to decide a senior championship game at headquarters. And that is only half the story.

This pulsating game finished Galway 2-21 to Armagh’s 3-18 at the end of extra time, witnessed a melee at the end of normal time that saw red cards for Armagh’s Aiden Nugent and Galway captain Sean Kelly, and then the most dramatic series of penalty kicks ever in GAA history.

Rian O'Neill keeps Armagh hopes alive with an 79th minute equaliser to force extra-time against Galway. An incredible fightback.

Violent scenes then erupt as the full-time whistle goes, including an apparent eye gouge, as the teams head for the tunnel.

— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 26, 2022

Shane Walsh, Damien Comer, Rob Finnerty and Matthew Tierney all scored from the spot for the Galway men but Rian O’Neill was the only Armagh player to convert – their three misses ensuring that the Tribesmen now play Derry in a July 9 semifinal back at Croker.

Oh, and Armagh came from six points down in injury time at the end of the match to force the extra time with goals from Aidan Nugent and Conor Turbitt before Rory Grugan and Galway’s Cillian McDaid traded extra-time goals and McDaid scored the point that sent the game to penalties.

The end was as cruel as the game was dramatic and e

ven Galway manager Padraic Joyce hit out at the GAA’s decision to send quarterfinals to penalty shoot-outs in their rush to finish the football and hurling championships in July this year.

“It’s a horrible way to lose it and that’s not the fault of the Armagh players, it’s the fault of the GAA and the condensed season,” said Joyce in an interview with RTE. 

“My heart goes out to Armagh. Kieran McGeeney and the boys have put in a savage effort; they have been the form team and their supporters brought fantastic color down here today. The roar when Rian O’Neill leveled the game in normal time was deafening.

“It beggars belief as to why we couldn’t have had a replay next weekend. That might sound simple for me to say because we won the game, but that was my over-riding feeling at full time.

“It such a hard way to lose a game after putting in such an effort. Kieran has put so much work in with them and we’ve also put in the work over the last two or three years, training Tuesdays and Thursdays, and at weekends. To decide the outcome on a penalty shootout.... we’re not soccer, we’re GAA. To me it’s disgraceful it had to happen.”

Joyce confirmed that Galway had prepared for a shoot-out ahead of their return to Croke Park. He added, “We put a lot of work into penalties, we were expecting them at some stage during the championship.

“Shane Walsh, Rob Finnerty, Mattie Tierney, Damien Comer and Kieran Molloy were our chosen takers and they practiced them every night. Conor Gleeson is a good shot-stopper so I felt confident going into the shootout. We had the game won several times so you don’t know how penalties are going to go.”

As for that ugly brawl at the end of normal time – subject of a CCCC investigation on Tuesday night – Joyce stated, “It has no place in the GAA. They were ugly scenes and Armagh will condemn it as much as I will. You had kids looking at it; it has no place in the GAA. I’m sure the incident will be dealt with during the week.”

A disappointed McGeeney also condemned the violent scenes at the end of the 70 minutes when one of his players appeared to gouge the eye of an opponent.

“It’s something Armagh don’t want to be a part of,” McGeeney told RTE. “I’ve found that there are a lot of things thrown on social media, and a lot of pictures. I could hear a lot of people commenting on it, and having different things to say. How a fight starts, and how it continues.

“I think it’s a very simple thing that they do in Australian rules, third man in gets automatically suspended. If I step three inches outside my box, I’m told I’m doing something wrong, and yet we find it difficult to do some of the bigger things.
“It’s something I don’t condone. It’s something we don’t want to be a part of.”

Horan out after Mayo loss

Kerry booked an All-Ireland semifinal showdown with the Dubs and ended James Horan’s reign as Mayo manager with their easy enough 1-18 to 0-13 win in Sunday’s last-eight clash at Croke Park.

Horan announced his decision on Monday, bringing an end to his second stint in charge after four years and with the All-Ireland dream dead for another year for Mayo fans. 

In a statement issued by the Mayo board, Horan said, Horan said, “It has been a brilliant journey and I feel very lucky to have worked with great players and people during that time.

“We had some great times and created brilliant memories that will live on. The initial focus was to make Mayo football consistently competitive on the main stage, I feel that has been achieved and the senior team have moved in the right direction.

“Hopefully, there is a strong base for Mayo football to be moved forward to new heights. I have worked with some amazing people over the last decade from support teams right through, there are too many to mention here, but I will ensure every one of them understands the tremendous contribution they have made to their county.”

Kerry boss Jack O’Connor, meanwhile, is already counting down the days to that semifinal date with Dublin after a game characterized by David Clifford’s first half goal for the Kingdom.

“The bottom line here is these Kerry players have been yearning to get a cut at the Dubs from as far back as three years ago to the 2019 All-Ireland final meeting,” said O’Connor. “They lost an All-Ireland out there that they would feel they could have won. We certainly won’t be lacking motivation but neither will Dublin.

“Dublin will want to show that they’re back as good as ever, the team that won the six in a row. They had a blip last year and they look to have rediscovered the hunger and the drive that got them to that six in a row.”

Kerry didn’t need to be much more than functional against a disappointing Mayo side, and O’Connor put their lack of sharpness down to a lengthy month-long time gap between the Munster final and Sunday’s quarterfinal.

“We needed a game. I mean, it’s ridiculous, we were sitting for four weeks watching our opposition playing games. It’s almost like you’re penalized for winning the provincial championship,” he said.

“Thankfully, that changes next year but it’s a crazy system. What do you do? You try to make training as intense as possible and hope for the best. From watching that first half I thought we were a fair bit off the pace.

“In a way I suppose it was a perfect storm. We were four weeks without a game and Mayo played two games in the interim. Plus the slippery conditions made it difficult to get up the pace of it. Not taking away from that, I thought we were rusty in the first half. We gave away an awful lot of ball.

“I don’t have the stats to hand but we must have given away nine or 10 possessions in our forward line that allowed Mayo to counter-attack and we can’t afford to do that the next day because with the running power that Dublin have they’ll punish you at the other end.”

Dubs too good for Cork

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan and James McCarthy are serious injury doubts for the All-Ireland SFC semifinal against Kerry after missing Saturday’s 0-21 to 0-10 win over Cork at Croke Park with hamstring issues.

Dublin boss Dessie Farrell told RTE, “It’s a tough one, obviously very disappointing for the lads. Injuries, unfortunately, they’re part and parcel of the landscape at this level. Getting an injury at this time of year is very challenging because the games are coming thick and fast.

“In many ways, it’s a race against time now so our medical team are doing everything possible to have both players available.”

With Kerry next up, Farrell could do with all hands on deck. “There’s a major step up in class coming and the question for us is are we going to be ready for that,” he said.

“We’ve come through, no disrespect to any opposition, we’ve had it relatively easy on this side and you’re always conscious that you could potentially be sleepwalking into something. There’s definitely a much bigger test coming in two weeks’ time and let’s hope we’re ready for that.”

Cork interim manager John Cleary didn’t feel the scoreline reflected the game. 

“To be beaten by 11 points, we’re bitterly disappointed,” he said. “I thought we put up a creditable performance in the first half but the scoreline doesn’t lie. We were well beaten in the end.

“Everyone could see the gulf in standards out there today. The most important to see it maybe are the players. Hopefully when they come here again, they’ll be fitter, faster and stronger.

“This Dublin team didn’t arrive overnight. They won six All-Irelands in a row and they’re hellbent on trying to win again this year, so that’s the standard that the Cork lads have to get to.”

*This roundup first appeared in the June 29 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.

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