KILKENNY proved their undoubted class once again as they hammered a fancied Dublin side by 18 points in the Leinster SHC semifinal on Saturday night – and for once even their demanding manager Brian Cody was happy with his Cats.
“We played well today and it was a good performance in the first half,” said the normally modest and understated Cody.
“We played against a strong breeze, but went in at halftime with a bit of a lead.
“The two goals obviously in the first half were crucial scores and they were good goals as well. But the attitude of the players is very good and we are happy today, certainly.”
Galway are next up for Kilkenny in the Leinster final. “Everybody would prefer to go the direct route, but a Leinster final will be a big challenge for us,” he added.
“It’s against Galway and there’s going to be absolutely nothing in that game. Galway had a very big win the last day against Offaly but the challenge is there ahead of us and that’s what we are looking forward to now.”
Dublin manager Daly took no prisoners after the Kilkenny defeat. “If we gathered up 20 at the Red Cow Roundabout and came down this morning it could hardly have been worse,” he said.
“We couldn’t rise the ball. It must have been something between the ears, a psychological block of whatever it is. We never got of the blocks. Kilkenny showed how to do it again, you step up to the plate on the big day and you be an adult about it and be a man about it.
“We didn’t seem to do it at all. Being beaten by Kilkenny is not a shock to the system, but it’s just the way we played on the day.”
Dublin captain John McCaffrey also struggled to come to terms with his team’s poor performance against the All-Ireland title holders.
“We are absolutely devastated,” said McCaffrey. “It is hard to put the finger on what went wrong. I suppose the best thing about the qualifiers is that we now have a change to put things right in two weeks time.”
McCaffrey has vowed to pick up the pieces when his team resumes action in the All-Ireland qualifiers against Clare on Saturday, July 6.
“We’ll get nothing easy off Clare down in Ennis, they were unlucky against Waterford and I’m sure will fancy their chances against us,” he said.
TIPPERARY boss Declan Ryan refused to look beyond the victory as his team celebrated Sunday’s impressive comeback against Cork when they snatched a 1-22 to 0-24 win in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Not even the second half dismissal of John O’Brien for a second bookable offense could deny Tipp a Munster hurling final date with Waterford.
Ryan however was reluctant to talk about the July 15 provincial decider.
“We’re delighted to be in a Munster final again. It’s a huge achievement to get into the Munster final. We’re just delighted to get out of Cork today,” said Ryan.
“We don’t have a great record here over the years and we knew it was going to be a massive battle today. Full credit to Cork for the way they went about their business today. They are a credit to the GAA.”
Speaking to RTE Sport, Ryan praised his team for the character they displayed after O’Brien’s red card.
“When Johno went off we lost our shape for a little bit. The guys dug deep and won a few 60/40, 40/60 balls. In the finish, they showed real character,” said Ryan.
Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy must now contend with the All-Ireland qualifier series for the first time, but conceded after Sunday’s game that Tipperary’s greater experience saw them through.
“I thought we played well at times,” Barry-Murphy told reporters afterwards. “Maybe we showed a bit of inexperience at times, as well.
“Overall, I’m disappointed for the lads. We had chances to win it maybe. I suppose also, to be fair, the extra man helped us certainly.
“But I think you can’t deny Tipperary. They were just probably the better team on the day.”
Youngsters Cian McCarthy, Daniel Kearney and Luke O’Farrell all made a mark on the game when introduced as substitutes and their manager was happy with their contributions.
Barry-Murphy added, “I thought some of the lads who came in as substitutions worked very well for us. They made a difference and showed that they can play at this level.”
The consolation for Cork was the fact that their performance against Tipp was a big improvement on their league final defeat to Kilkenny.
“You’re never happy when you lose,” said Barry-Murphy. “But I suppose after the league final, which was a big setback for us, the way we played, or we never played on the day, that was a big improvement certainly.”
DOWN produced a stunning comeback as they overhauled a nine point deficit to beat Monaghan by just a point, 1-14 to 1-13, in the Ulster semifinal in Armagh on Sunday.
“It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve got to an All-Ireland final, but this is just as good,” said Down substitute Benny Coulter after he celebrated his comeback after injury with a second half substitute appearance.
“With five minutes to go in the first half, I said to Liam Doyle on the bench that it was all over. If someone had told me then we’d be going to an Ulster final I would have laughed at you.
“We definitely didn’t think there was any way back. Even at half-time we were six down and there were some harsh words said at halftime.”
Asked about his quick return from injury, Coulter said, “I have worked really hard in the last three weeks since I got the cast off. People told me that I shouldn’t play today and that I was made to play.
“I played for the club on Friday night, actually played 20 minutes. I wanted to show James McCartan I had some football in me and thankfully he gave me my chance to come on and get involved there at the end. It was a brilliant game to play in. I’m just delighted I was able to contribute something to it.”
Monaghan midfielder Dick Clerkin was sick after the result.
He tweeted, “Tough facing into Monday morning knowing you should be in an Ulster final. Worst defeat of career, words can’t describe the disappointment.”
WEXFORD must play in Dublin’s backyard when they meet the All-Ireland champions in Croke Park on Sunday – and star player Aindreas Doyle is none too pleased by the prospect.
The fact that Dublin will get to play the Leinster semifinal on what is effectively their home pitch irks the talented Doyle.
He told the Irish Examiner, “I’ve been known to bring this up in the past. I think last year Dublin played 14 games and 11 of them were here, between league and championship.
“That’d be unheard of in any other sport. If Kerry played 11 of their 14 games down in Killarney we’d probably be seeing Kerry win the All-Ireland every year. It has to be an advantage and it’s not right.”
The stats show that Dublin have played 37 of their last 38 championship games at Croke Park.
“Obviously there’s huge monetary conditions attached to it and the GAA are making massive money when Dublin play here,” added Doyle.
“But while mentioning it now, that won’t be something we’ll be looking at as we go towards Sunday.”
MAYO hammered Leitrim by 22 points in the Connacht semifinal on Sunday, but manager James Horan wasn’t jumping through hoops in Castlebar.
“We’ll look at the good things we did and we know we made a few mistakes, and we’ll look at that too,” said Horan ahead of a Connacht final clash with Sligo next month.
“It took us a while to get going, but when we did, and when we moved the ball, we looked quite good. Our subs that came on did well for us as well and added a little bit of impetus to the game.
“But when you are running away with it, it can be easy to come on to a team that is so dominant. But the guys that came on looked very, very sharp which is very pleasing. We looked a bit ring-rusty in the first 20 minutes, but we’re in a Connacht final and we’ll be ready to play Sligo.”