Eoghan O’Gara was the star of the show with a 1-5 tally as Dublin scored a 1-14 to 1-9 win over Laois under the Portlaoise floodlights on Saturday night.
The big full-forward and Diarmuid Connolly ran the show as Pat Gilroy’s team made their class tell.
Manager Gilroy told RTE, “The two of them did well. Eoghan is a guy that we have a lot faith in. We always respect the contribution he makes because he always gives 100%.
“He has a lot of football in him and it’s the first time in the two years that we have been involved with him that he’s been clear of injury. We wouldn’t be shocked by him doing that.”
Conditions made good football difficult and Laois did put it up to the All-Ireland champions on occasion.
“It was not a great night to play football, it was hard to keep your feet and it was hard to keep hold of the ball at times,” added Gilroy.
“We made a lot of silly mistakes in the game but you expect that at this time of year. We did a lot of good things as well and when we had the six-point lead, we really should have pushed on.
“We gave away a very silly goal through our own mistakes really. But you have to be happy with the effort and enthusiasm for the battle that was there because Laois were good and they were up for it.”
Hosts Laois also came in for praise from Gilroy. “They caused us a lot of trouble at the start of the match. I think we should have had a couple of scores on the board before they started and they got a bit of a run on us,” he said.
MICHAEL Murphy celebrated his return to the Donegal team after injury with a 1-3 tally as his team scored their first win of the new NFL season at Cork’s expense on Sunday by a score of 1-7 to 0-6.
Murphy netted inside the first minute to send the Ulster champions on their way to victory.
“The first couple of results in the league didn’t really affect the boys, it was just in the media and now we have buckled down,” said Murphy afterwards.
“When you have a class act like Karl Lacey playing with you and setting up goals, it makes it easy and Colm McFadden made a lot of good movement for it too. It’s good to be back and I have had a lot of treatment.
Donegal boss Jim McGuinness was happy just to get some league points in the bag. McGuinness told RTE, “We had a difficult start to the league and we had key players missing for those first few games.
“So from our own point of view it was nice to get those players back on the field today and getting a game under the belt.”
KILDARE had the Indian sign over Meath again with a last minute point from defender Ollie Lyons settling the NFL derby game in Navan on Saturday night by a score of 0-18 to 2-11.
Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney said afterwards, “Eighteen points is good considering we probably missed a few and dropped a few short as well. It’s a good return.
“The thing for me was that Meath got two goals, and I wouldn’t be happy with the way they got them, but our fellas never quit. Even with a couple of minutes left they showed great character to come back and win it.
“It was great to get the likes of Morgan O’Flaherty back and Mick Foley, Emmet Bolton and those kind of players who were coming back from injury. Peter Kelly as well.”
Meath boss Seamus McEnaney didn’t know what to think after his team’s latest defeat at the hands of their neighbors.
“I’d say from a neutral’s point of view it was a fantastic match but I’m disappointed for us to lose it,” said McEnaney.
“I would be very encouraged by the performance but disappointed with the result. I couldn’t ask any more of those players tonight. They gave me everything.”
MAYO boss James Horan was more than happy with the way his team accounted for hosts Armagh in the NFL on Saturday night with a 1-14 to 0-11 win.
“We started very well, maybe we caught Armagh cold, but we had a few scares towards the middle of the second half,” said Horan.
“A few of the subs didn’t have the impact we’d have liked and we should have kicked on. But we finished strongly, which we’d be happy with. A six-point away to Armagh is okay.”
Armagh boss Paddy O’Rourke was unhappy with his team.
“We knew it was always going to be tough losing Ciaran McKeever through suspension and then losing Charlie Vernon early in the game was a massive blow,” he said.
“We played second fiddle to them for the first 15 minutes and we were chasing the game after that. When you do that at this level it’s very difficult to get it back.
“In hindsight, we didn’t deserve to win it because for most of the game we were playing catch-up.
The performance is disappointing me more than the result.”
BRIAN Cody wants Kilkenny to go all the way in the National Hurling League this year after losing the 2010 final to Dublin.
“We want to get the maximum out of the league. We will target winning matches and getting to the knockout stages,” said the Kilkenny boss, whose team beat Tipperary in the first round of league fixtures.
“We would love to win it obviously. At the same time it is important to look at players, to try one or two in every match. We will see how it goes.
“At the end of the league if we haven’t got the opportunity to look at players the competition won’t have been something which will have been of much benefit to us.
“We’ve one game down and four more to go. Beating Tipperary was important. Our intention in every game will be to try and win.”
KERRY bounced back from their shock NFL defeat at home to Armagh by easily accounting for Down in Newry on Sunday by a score of 0-14 to 0-8.
“We weren’t happy with the way we played against Armagh, we felt we didn’t work hard enough and you can’t play your football unless you work first,” said manager Jack O’Connor after his team’s second win of the season.
“We played Dublin under lights in the first game of the league and it was a big game. Fellas might have just dropped their guard a small bit against Armagh.
“In the last weeks we had a lot of soul-searching to do, but to be fair the lads worked hard, knuckled down and responded pretty well today.
“We wanted to put in a performance, up our attitude and our work-rate, and I think we achieved that. It is good for morale.”
WESTMEATH manager Pat Flanagan responded to recent criticism in the best manner possible by masterminding a shock if narrow one point win over Galway in their NFL Division Two game in Mullingar on Sunday.
Speaking after his team ended a two game losing run, Flanagan said, “The victory came by from one basic thing, self belief.
“I honestly believe that this is a good football team and I believe that we can compete at this level and it’s just to get the self-belief back into the Westmeath lads that they can compete and go on from there.
“Ger Regan came in there today which gave us an awful lift and John Heslin too was a major bonus. Micheal Hurley came back into the back line, those fellas coming back in gave us all a lift.”
TYRONE boss Mickey Harte is already looking towards the championship after his team maintained their impressive NFL Division 2 form with a 2-13 to 0-13 win over Louth in Drogheda on Sunday.
“We want to go back up, but every county has its eyes on the championship,” said Harte afterwards.
“We failed to get out of Division 2 at the first time of asking last season and we don’t want to fall again. There are young players coming along and they want to hold their places.”
Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick is looking to maintain his team’s Division 2 status.
“We play Monaghan and Kildare at home over the next fortnight and must pick up points. I think if we get to six or seven we’ll hold our position,” said Fitzpatrick.
CROSSMAGLEN captain Stephen Kernan has lost an appeal against a red card picked up in the All-Ireland club semi-final win against Dr. Crokes and will now miss the decider against Garrycastle . . .
AIDAN Kearney, Noel Connors and Shane O’Sullivan are close to a return to fitness with the Waterford hurling team ahead of their NHL clash with Kilkenny . . .
MICHAEL Hegarty has announced his retirement from the Donegal county squad after a record 50 championship appearances . . .
THE Monaghan County Board are to appeal their loss of home advantage for the forthcoming NFL game against Louth.