In a major weekend of Gaelic Football, Cork and Kerry came through their Munster Championship semi finals without too much trouble, although Tipperary did launch a challenge to Kerry in the first half. But Kerry, with Gooch Cooper back after a long injury, took control in the second half and were convincing winners. Donegal sent out a warning to all opponents with a very big win over Armagh. Nobody saw this coming but Donegal completely dominated the game from the off to win by 9 points putting Armagh into the playoffs. The game of the day turned out to be the clash of Mayo and Galway in the Connacht semi final. Galway were determined to improve on last years thrashing, and they did, pushing Mayo, who are going for 5 Connacht Championships in a row, to the final whistle with Aidan O Shea being the difference between the teams. Elsewhere, Kildare defeated Laois convincingly in their replay, Meath defeated Wicklow and Westmeath defeated Wexford.
Wexford, Galway, Laois and Waterford advance in first major weekend for hurling Championship.
Laois bridged a 43 year gap when they comprehensively defeated Offaly in the Leinster Championship Quarter final with Willie Hyland and Cha Dwyer striking the sliotar with great accuracy, scoring 12 pts. from play between them. Wexford had a comfortable win over Westmeath in their quarter final with Ian Byrne scoring 1-7 for Wexford, crashing the hurling ball to the net just after half time. In the game of the day, Waterford followed up their defeat of Cork in the League final with a good win over them again on Sunday. Maurice Shanahan was the star for Waterford, scoring 1-9 and hurling with great skill and endeavour, leading Waterford to a Munster final meeting with either Tipperary or Limerick.
Galway hurlers put on a brilliant display of finishing against a careless Dublin defence in this Leinster Championship replay in Tullamore. Galway scored 3 goals in the first quarter, all scored by Cathal Mannion, in an unforgettable performance by him when he made great use of his chances, crashing the hurling ball to the net three times. The game was almost out of Dublins reach by then, although if they had scored their 2 penalty chances in the first half they could have made it uncomfortable for Galway in the 2nd half. Galway go on to play the winners of Offaly and Laois in the semi-final.
Westmeath footballers follow their hurlers in keeping the County colours flying. In a mixed weekend for the Midland teams in the first round of the Leinster football Championship, Westmeath and Laois had good wins while Offaly had a disappointing defeat to Longford, whom they had trounced by 13 pts. only 3 weeks ago in the division 4 league final. Offaly were 7 pts. ahead early in the second half but allowed Longford to take control of the game and go on win by 3 pts. Westmeath meanwhile defeated Louth in their opening game and continued the counties good run in all grades at present. Laois also had a big win over Carlow in their opening round and will be hoping to improve on last year’s performances and win a Leinster football final.
Mixed luck for Midland teams in first round of Leinster Championship round robin series.
Laois senior hurlers were very unlucky to be beaten by a single point in a thriller with Antrim. There were 47 scores in the 70 mins including 8 goals with both teams playing some fantastic hurling. Laois were leading by a single point in the closing stages when Antrim were awarded a penalty. Ciaran Clarke, who ended up scoring 2-7, crashed the hurling ball to the Laois net for a memorable win for Antrim. Westmeath, on the other hand had a very good win against Carlow in a game that ebbed and flowed up until Westmeath went 2 points clear in the final few minutes. The teams had been level at half time but Westmeath were helped by the accuracy of Niall O’Brian, who scored 5 great points from play and 2 frees when he struck the hurling ball with great accuracy.
Both Laois and Westmeath supporters will be eagerly awaiting the next games and if Westmeath beat Antrim in Mullingar they will be on their way to the Leinster Championship proper. Laois must beat Carlow to have any chance of progressing.
Underdogs Waterford win their 3rd National Hurling League title in style while Tipperary U-21 footballers just fail to win All-Ireland Championship. Waterford laid down a marker for the Munster Championship with an outstanding performance against Cork. With a team made up of mainly U-21 players they led from start to finish, taking complete control in the 2nd half. The had some outstanding scores, non better than 19 year old Austin Gleesons 1st half point when he caught a high ball, soloed up the side line and struck the Hurling Ball straight over the crossbar. Tipperary U-21s just failed to create history when losing to Tyrone on Saturday evening by a single point, their fairytale run not quite coming through. The future of Football in Tipperary looks promising with players like these lads coming through.
Great weekend ahead for the GAA with the All-Ireland u-21 football final and the National Hurling League final taking place. Who would have thought at the start of the championship that Tipperary would beat Cork and Dublin on their way to the All-Ireland final against Tyrone. It would be a fantastic achievement for a county generally associated with hurling to win a football final. Best of luck to them. The Hurling League final is an all Munster affair with Cork and Waterford facing up against each other. If the two semi-finals are anything to go by, where both Cork and Waterford came from behind to win by a point, this final should be a great game.
Congratulations to Offaly footballers on winning the division 4 league final, and winning in great style scoring 4 fantastic goals. It’s great to see Offaly football winning silverware again and we’re looking forward to seeing Offaly back up at the top again where they rightly deserve to be.
Should be a great game between themselves and Longford in the Leinster Championship in three weeks time.