Bennett, Dunnion lead K/D to Title

Kerry/Donegal 0-11 Na Fianna 0-6

The double scoring duo of Sue Bennett and Denise Dunnion led Kerry/Donegal to the Anne Kearney Cup title last Sunday with nine points between the long time stars.

It was more than enough to take the title home as Na Fianna never got a head of steam after Benny Touhy made two saves that denied their only goal chances in the first half. K/D are now the outright favorite to do the double of championship and Kearney Cup on the strength of this dominant team display.

The game opened with K/D getting the first score from Dunnion. It was cancelled out when Molly O’Rourke slotted over, but certainly the opening was being dominated by K/D.

They had their second when Bennett slotted over to punctuate their superiority. Granted, three attacks that Na Fianna had were thwarted when frees went against them as they moved forward. Eventually O’Rourke had an equalizer, but it was against the run of play at this point.

After Bennett pushed K/D into a slim lead, O’Rourke had a huge chance to go ahead; she found Karena Richards and the former Cork senior player was denied by a brave Benny Touhy.

K/D responded to the chance by getting down the field and adding to their lead. Sharon Mulligan had their fourth point as they looked to put daylight between the sides. They were pulled back, however, in the last 10 minutes by a Na Fianna team that had now turned the momentum tide.

They had two points from Molly O’Rourke, and had another goal chance when Tuohy again made a good save this time to deny O’Rourke.

Both sides had points to open the second half, with Dunnion equalizing an Aine O’Dwyer score. Na Fianna had a glorious goal chance when Steph Tierney found Joanne McKenna; her shot was wide right, however, from a very dangerous location.

It set a precedent, however. Loretta Cunningham had the same type of opportunity at the other end after eight minutes. She crashed a shot of the crossbar after a solo run and within a minute she fired a goal chance low to the left and wide.

Bennett had a point from play before she fired a free over for a 0-7 to 0-5 lead, but they sandwiched a goal chance of her own that tailed wide. They pushed forward again over the ensuing minutes and had further points from Kelly Roche and Dunnion, an excellent point.

When Allie Kelly burst through in the 18th minute she had the fourth K/D wide when goals were on in the second half alone. Michelle Brennan had a point in reply, but it was easily cancelled out by a brace from Dunnion that gave the Annie Kearney Cup to K/D.   

John Madden had his team ready for action in this outing. The choice of Benny Touhy in goal again paid dividends. She made crucial stops when the game was still on the line.

Una Burke did well against the threat of Richards, while Aoife Gibson and Collette McElligott also had leading roles. They won midfield, with Kelly Roche getting a valuable point, while up front Loretta Cunningham was a perfect target for the defenders coming out. Dunnion and Bennett made all the right choices as the win was secured.

Allie Leydon had another strong game for Na Fianna. Michelle Brennan and Steph Tierney were the best of the defenders. Fiona O’Dwyer battled hard, with Molly O’Rourke and Karena Richards by far the most dangerous of the forwards.

The game was physical in nature, with both sides giving as good as they got. They were let have at it as well.

Kerry/Donegal: 1 Benny Tuohy, 2 Siobhan Neville, 3 Una Burke, 4 Kathleen Enright, 5 Anita McKenna, 6 Colette McElligott, 7 Aoife Gibson, 8 Michelle McVann, 9 Kelly Roche (0-1), 10 Marie Cassells, 11 Loretta Cunningham, 12 Sharon Mulligan (0-1), 13 Denise Dunnion (0-5), 14 Sue Bennett (0-4), 15 Allie Kelly.

Na Fianna: 1 Allie Leydon, 2 Tina Rodgers, 3 Joanne Monaghan, 4 Imelda Mullarkey, 5 Stephanie Tierney, 6 Michelle Brennan (0-1), 7 Karen Henry, 8 Ellen Cleary, 9 Fiona O’Dwyer, 10 Aisling Toolan, 11 Aine O’Dwyer (0-1), 12 Molly O’Rourke (0-4), 13 Joanne McKenna, 14 Karena Richards, 15 Mary O’Rourke.

Player of the game was Benny Tuohy (Kerry/Donegal). The saves came at crucial times. They were that important to the win.

Cross That Murtagh Can Bear 

Tyrone 2-12 Kerry 1-5

Johnny Murtagh put on a scoring display on Sunday at the Mecca that was glorious for Tyrone. It gave them what was an easy win over last year’s senior football champions Kerry, and keeps Tyrone firmly in the playoff race.

Crossmaglen native Murtagh fired over 1-10 from play and frees and his goal was a gem. He lasered the ball to the top corner of the net for the goal.

Kerry were ripped apart in the second half when they were outscored 1-6 to 0-2. But for some wides by Tyrone it would have been far more. 

Tyrone began this game in flying form. They had two of the first three points, with Murtagh getting both. After an equalizer from Ross Donovan, a brilliant score, Tyrone again attacked.

They were using the long ball into Murtagh to good effect, and it was working very well. Their next score came in a much more orthodox way, however. A long ball to the center of the field was secured by Darren Petit; he fed Paul Mulherne who in turn released Pakie McMullan on the forty. The center forward did not stop until he fired the ball to the net.

They had further chances that went awry before Murtagh again slotted over a point from play that extended their lead to 1-3 to 0-2. Further points by Gary Reilly, a gem on the run, and Murtagh again gave them a substantial advantage.

As the half approached they were using good play by Mulherne and Steve Keating to give them great advantages throughout.

Kerry were not about to sit down, however, and a point from Bingo Driscoll gave them the impetus to get going. It continued when Shane Carty found Dave McSweeney with a cross field ball; the veteran flicked to Kieran Bergin and The Kid blasted to the net. It cut the deficit in half as the break approached.

Tyrone started the second half in explosive form. They had four of the first five scores of the half. All their points came off the boot of Murtagh, who was now in brilliant form.

Two points for Kerry from Carty and Kavanagh, a free, gave the Kingdom a respite, but it did little to deter what was now a rampaging Tyrone side.

A long ball from impressive midfielder Gary Reilly found Murtagh in the right corner. His blast to the top corner left Shane Clifford motionless. An outstanding goal that punctuated his man of the match performance.

He followed a McMullan point with another point, his 10th of the afternoon on an outstanding personal performance.

Tyrone will be delighted that they won this in a regular fashion. The goals were very impressive, but the 12 points even more so.

Paul Mulherne was outstanding at the back, and a close second to Murtagh in the man of the match accolades. Gerard McCullough completely snuffed out the threat of Kavanagh, and Joe Bell also had a leading role.

Garry Reilly and Eamonn Lyons easily won the middle of the field. Reilly will have a marked effect on the championship this season. Pakie McMullan, Conor Downey and Darren Petit, who was a little unfortunate to be replaced, showed constantly. Murtagh was outstanding; the best individual display this year in football.

Kerry will have to regroup, and quickly. The easy wins are over with and the dog days of summer are upon us.

Eoghan O’Mahoney, Kieran Bergin in his second game of the day, and Bingo Driscoll were the few who left with reputations intact. 

Kerry: 1 Shane Clifford, 2 Niall Corbett, 3 Damien Walsh, 4 Enda Lally, 5 Collie Fearan, 6 Damien O’Reilly, 7 Eoghan O’Mahoney (0-1), 8 Damien Meehan, 9 Conor Wall, 10 Shane Carty (0-1), 11 Ross Donovan (0-1), 12 Kieran Bergin (1-0), 13 Bingo Driscoll (0-1), 14 Stephen Kavanagh (0-1), 15 Dave McSweeney. Subs: Sean Twomey.

Tyrone: 1 John McGinley, 2 Joe Bell, 3 Gerard McCullough, 4 Paul Mulherne, 5 Seamus Skeffington, 6 Stephen Keating, 7 Aiden Power, 8 Gary Reilly (0-1), 9 Eamonn Lyons, 10 Eunan Meyler, 11 Pakie McMullan (1-1), 12 Kevin McSorley, 13 Conor Downey, 14 John Murtagh (1-10), 15 Darren Petit. Subs: Paddy Maguire, Garth McGrory.

Man of the match: John Murtagh (Tyrone).

Referee: John Fitzpatrick.

Too Close for Down

Down 2-10 Sligo 1-9

Down were made to sweat long and hard in this senior football contest on Saturday when they allowed Sligo to come back from a 2-9 to 0-2 deficit and nearly steal a result. Had there been five more minutes Sligo could have easily won, such was there resurgence.

Down will be happy to have gotten out of jail, but they did have one major loss. Mark Dobbins received 20 stitches in the head when he was at the end of a knee from a Sligo player. The scenes that followed were not for the faint of heart, but certainly the former New York player was entitled to be very upset with the events of the evening.

Down completely dominated the first 10 minutes, but they just had three points to show for their efforts. They were halting Sligo on all their own kickouts, and by the 10th minute Sligo had still not crossed the Down 45.

Shaun Munnelly had their third point on the end of a run, but the gem of the trifecta was a screamer from Pakie Downey that tore the paint of the top of the crossbar.

Sligo had the fourth point of the game on their second foray into opposition territory when Conor Brady fired over, but that was easily cancelled out by scores from Robbie Moran when Downey set him up, and then Downey himself.

After a very good Trevor Boland point for Sligo to make the score 0-5 to 0-2, again Down took off. They put easy breathing space between the sides with the last three points before the break from Mickey Sloan, Downey and Moran. Moran’s arrived after a very good run by Brendan McGrourty before he released to the big center forward.

Sligo were battling a lot harder in the final 10 minutes of the half, but their rewards were wides on three occasions and good defensive play by Gary Cornyn and Sean Kelly that broke down their chances. As it was Down had a comfortable six point lead at the break.

The first nine minutes of the second half looked like it completed the victory for Down. McGrourty had a point when he linked with Moran and Downey.

After three minutes a long free from the back found Downey on the 45 tight to the sideline. He headed on a long solo run towards goal with a defender in his wake. As he approached the small square he fisted to Moran, and the ball hit the back of the net off his boot.

Four minutes later a rebound of a Barry Annett shot was foisted to the net by Moran, and the score line was 2-9 to 0-2. When Moran had his third point it left a deep hole for Sligo to climb out off.

They made a valiant effort to do that over the last 20 minutes. While Down added one further point to their total Sligo replied with 1-7, with six different scorers getting on the board.

Niall Moran had a point at each end of the revival while Brady also had a brace. Boland added two and also had the important assist when he lofted a pass to the Down square where Tony Woods pulled the ball down and planted it in the net.

With time running down, Sligo was still attacking. With four points between the sides, Brady found Paul Doyle in the box. He was fouled and a penalty resulted.

Sligo needed two scores from the kick, however, as the final whistle sounded, Mark Kelly stopped Moran’s shot and the hard fought victory was secured.

In the middle of the revival the altercation that involved Dobbins occurred. He seemed to get clipped by Brady as he left the defensive zone. He took offense to it, and as he discussed the issue with Brady he received a knee to the side of the head.

A horrible wound opened and some angry scenes followed. Suffice to say the wound needed 20 stitches.

Down will be delighted that the final whistle sounded when it did. They played a 40 minute game. Brian Murray, Gary Cornyn, Sean Kelly and James Mitchell excelled in those minutes. Shaun Munnelly did well; Robbie Moran, Mickey Sloan and Pakie Downey were excellent up front. 

Sligo will rue the Jekyll and Hyde performance. They started to play far too late. Brian Quillan did nothing wrong in goal, Colm Byrne, and Sean Pender were effective at the back. Niall Higgins had some tremendous catches, while Conor Brady, Trevor Boland and Niall Moran all had important contributions.

Down: 1 Mark Kelly, 2 Brian Murray, 3 Dermot Hayes, 4 Gary Cornyn, 5 Sean Kelly, 6 James Mitchell, 7 Mark Connolly, 8 Shaun Munnelly (0-1), 9 Brendan McGrourty, 10 Liam Farrell, 11 Robbie Moran (2-3), 12 Michael Sloan (0-3), 13 Pakie Downey (0-3), 14 Mark Dobbins, 15 Barry Annett. Sub: Cormac Doyle, Brian Annett, Ross Connolly.

Sligo: 1 Brian Quinlan, 2 Denis Kilkenny, 3 Sean Pender, 4 Peter Kelly, 5 Roy Henley, 6 Thomas Maher, 7 Colm Byrne, 8 Niall Higgins (0-1), 9 Tony Woods (1-0), 10 James Walsh, 11 Conor Brady (0-3), 12 Trevor Boland (0-2), 13 Paul Kelly, 14 Gearoid O’Flynn, 15 Niall Moran (0-3). Subs: Paul Doyle (0-1).

Man of the match: Robbie Moran (Down).

Referee: Lawrence McGrath (Donegal).

Second Half Surge for Leitrim

Leitrim 3-16 Donegal 1-6

Leitrim used a second half surge when they scored 3-8 to 0-2 to easily take the points in this senior football contest. 

With Jamie Doolin leading the way, Leitrim had far too many offensive weapons for a depleted Donegal side. Feeling no adverse affects for their own missing players, Paddy Kearney’s men continued their roll to the playoffs.

The teams had a point a piece to open the game, but it was followed by a 10 minute period of Leitrim dominance. They had three points that pushed them into the lead, with John Goldrick cantering forward for the first, Mike Creegan, who had replaced an injured Donal Hartnett for the second, and Scott Conroy had the third.

The battle between Conroy and Aiden Downes was intriguing to this point, with Downes ahead. Shane Carr had an excellent point after 12 minutes for Donegal, but it was followed in quick succession by four Leitrim replies.

They also had a goal chance by way of Mark Smith when he soloed in on goal and shook the net strings. It took a second for all in the stadium to realize that it was outside the post and not inside.

Smith was having a pronounced effect on the game, his best by far in the Leitrim shirt. It was now 0-8 to 0-2 with seven minutes left in the half.

Donegal could have sat back but they decided not to. In fact their recovery started after a Leitrim break out that the Donegal forwards made extremely hard.

They battled defensively, and the ball was intercepted by Eoin McNeill on the 21. He fed the ball out and C.J. Molloy converted a free when Gary Dowd was fouled.

After the kick out again Donegal attacked. Molloy was fouled and his quick kick found Brian O’Connor at full forward. He turned and blasted to the net.

An Anton Toner point before the break gave the intentions that a recovery was on, but it was not to be.

It began to rain scores on Donegal in the first minute of the second half on a glorious evening. By the 14th minute it was 3-12 to 1-4.

A brace of points started it before the first goal arrived. Doolin found a roving Conroy coming strong on the 21. His finish was top class to the top right corner.

When John O’Neill ran into trouble in the left corner moments later, Madden, Creegan, Doona, Conroy, and Shane Doolin and then Jamie Doolin finished it by casually placing the ball in the net.

Following a Doona point goal number three arrived. Mark Smith finished the ball too the net after Jamie Doolin was again involved.

Five further points showed the talent that is at disposal for Kearney, with Doona firing over the last three scores. The only reply from Donegal was two pointed frees by Dowd.

Alan Foley, Dermot Keane, John Goldrick and a very impressive Eoin O’Neill where the reason that Donegal could not find their way forward. Pat Madden had by far his best game of the year. Mark Smith likewise, and Jamie Doolin was outstanding when he went into the corner; he roasted his marker time and again. Dan Doona had a dominant second half.

James Huvane did well for Donegal under a lot of pressure. Aiden Downes and Shane Carr also had moments. Bobby McDonald was the best of the forwards.

Leitrim: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Dermot Keane, 3 Mark Delaney, 4 Alan Foley, 5 John Goldrick (0-1), 6 Shane Doolin, 7 Eoin O’Neill, 8 Pat Madden, 9 John O’Neill (0-1), 10 Mark Smith (1-1), 11 Scott Conroy (0-2), 12 Jamie Doolin (2-3), 13 Donal Hartnett, 14 Dan Doona (0-5), 15 Danny O’Sullivan. Subs: Mike Creegan (0-3), Tony Cullen.

Donegal: 1 Eunan Doherty, 2 Eoin McNeill, 3 James Huvane, 4 Kevin Purce, 5 Tony McMahon, 6 Aiden Downes, 7 Shane Carr (0-1), 8 Gary Dowd (0-2), 9 C.J. Molloy (0-2), 10 Bobby McDonald, 11 Conor Brosnan, 12 Anton Toner (0-1), 13 Brian O’Connor (1-0), 14 Justin Friel, 15 Paul Breslin.

Man of the match: Jamie Doolin (Leitrim).

Referee: Tommy Fahey (Waterford).