Category: Archive

Aussies hit century

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

For once, the Aussies relied less on brawn and more on brain as they gave the visitors a lesson in teamwork. Coach Kevin Sheedy had made the point that he would be selecting players with pace and skill, and so it transpired as the winners reached the 100 mark for the first time since the games were established.
A flat-footed and lethargic Irish side had no answer as Australia piled on the scores, and the agony. With one match to go in Melbourne on Friday, and with the series decided by an aggregate total, manager Pete McGrath and his panel will be playing for pride, and no more.
“We have to acknowledge that we didn’t perform,” said a dejected McGrath. “The players were very down after losing so badly, but as a management we have to admit that we got things wrong too. We’ll certainly need to look at the interchange. Australia were working on a time system whereby players came on for seven-minute stints. It was run like clockwork, whereas we were gauging our interchange on perception of who was struggling, and on who we needed to cover up deficiencies.”
While Ronan Clarke and Stephen O’Neill did reasonably well for debutants, there was little or no cutting edge from Ciaran McDonald or Sean Cavanagh who had been expected to make big impressions. Benny Coulter managed to score two goals, and Tom Kelly was strong in defense, however, captain Padraig Joyce and Matty Forde struggled to get into the game.
“It’s absolutely imperative that we win on Friday now,” said McGrath. “While the series is probably gone in terms of an aggregate win, we can raise spirits with a win in Melbourne. The most important thing is to be positive. Despite what happened in the game, we still have great squad which can turn things around.”
What was most galling for the Irish was that the winners, who normally play with an oval ball, kicked the round ball better. “We picked better ball handlers and decision makers,” reflected Sheedy. “It wasn’t just about speed.”

James Stephens became the first club to successfully defend the Kilkenny hurling title when they defeated fierce rivals Ballyhale Shamrocks by 1-18 to 2-12 in last Sunday?s final at Nowlan Park.

In the end, James Stephens? main tactic was to stifle the threat of Henry Shefflin and that they did superbly confining one of the country?s most prolific scorers to just two points from play. Between them, Philly Larkin and Barry and Martin Phelan marshaled Shefflin to such an extent that he failed to score from play.

?We wanted to prove that last year wasn?t a fluke,? said winning captain Peter Barry. ?We wanted to show that we?re not one-hit wonders.? Eoin Larkin top-scored for the champions with nine points, including six frees, while Eoin McCormack blasted in a vital goal before the interval.

Ballyhale?s goals came from TJ Reid and Eoin Reid, but both Shefflin and the normally reliable Cha Fitzpatrick were guilty of several costly wides. Shefflin trotted disconsolately to the dressing rooms at the final whistle instead of staying out on the pitch for the presentation.

Meanwhile in Clare, a highly fancied Wolfe Tones were surprisingly beaten by Clarecastle by 0-9 to 0-7 at Cusack Park. Derek Quinn and the promising Tyrone Kearse were the main marksmen for the winners while goalkeeper John Casey kept the Wolfe Tones? attack at bay with a number of fine saves.

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

In Wexford, Oulart the Ballagh survived the early dismissal of Paul Roche to get the better of St Martin?s by 1-14 to 1-9 at Wexford Park. Roche received his marching orders following a mass brawl, however, Oulart could rely on the experience and guile of veterans Martin Storey (41) and Liam Dunne (37) to see them through to a fifth title.

Stephen Doyle impressed for the winners with a total of eight points including six frees, and he also set up an early goal for Des Mythen. St Martin?s responded with a goal by Ruairi Quigley, but Oulart had much the better of the second half.

Teenager Zane Keenan emerged as the hero in the Laois decider as his late scoring exploits earned Camross a 1-10 to 0-13 draw in Portlaoise. Trailing by five points going into injury time, Camross narrowed the gap with point from sub Tomas Burke and then a free from Keenan, before the 16 year old smashed home a goal from 20 meters after his side had been awarded another free. The teams meet again on Monday.

Celbridge claimed a second Kildare title when they defeated Coill Dubh by 1-14 to 0-9 at Newbridge, while the Longford crown was won by Clonguish who got the better of Wolfe Tones by 3-11 to 3-5.

In football, Nemo Rangers had little trouble in securing the Cork title with a 1-14 to 0-7 victory over Muskerry at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Ahead by 0-8 to 0-3 at the interval, Nemo were always in control and with James Masters kicking six points, and with William Morgan adding a goal, the result was never in doubt.

The same could not be said about the Tyrone decider which saw Carrickmore edge out Omagh by 1-6 to 1-6 at Healy Park. Conor Gormley appeared to have given the winners a crucial advantage with a first-half goal, but when Mickey O?Neill replied in kind just after the break, a tight finish was always on the cards.

JACK MAHON, the well-known author and All Ireland football medal winner with Galway in 1956, died last weekend A native of Dunmore, Mahon retired as a school principal in 1993 and only recently published his 19th book.

?Jack Mahon made a huge contribution to the GAA both on and off the field,? said the Galway football chairman Pat Egan. ?He maintained his great sense of humour and great outlook on life right up to the end. He will be sadly missed as he made a great impact on so many people.?


WHEN an Ireland soccer manager loses his job, or fails to have his contract renewed as the euphemism goes, it usually sparks off speculation linking just about every coach living or dead to the vacancy. Yet this time, in the immediate aftermath of Brian Kerr?s termination, one name has dominated the headlines.

Not that there has been any confirmation or denial from the FAI regarding its preferred candidate, but it is strongly believed that Martin O?Neill is at the top of a list of one.

The Derryman, who quit as boss of Glasgow Celtic earlier this year when his wife fell ill with cancer, is currently gainfully unemployed, but it?s not as if he has made it known that he?s looking for work.

In fact, if the FAI does come calling, O?Neill may simply not be interested for personal reasons, for reasons of money, and then he may already be in negotiations with one of the top English clubs. It has already been suggested that if Alex Ferguson steps down as Manchester United manager at the end of the season, O?Neill will be his successor.

However, the fact that an international manager is working in short, intense bursts, and not seven days a week as in the club sphere, may be an attraction for O?Neill. The former Northern Ireland international who won an English championship and a European Cup as player with Nottingham Forest, may not be available to take up any appointment until next year, but the FAI might be prepared to wait as qualification for the 2008 European Championship finals does not start until the fall of 2006.

The FAI chief executive, John Delaney, in announcing the end of Kerr?s stewardship said the association would engage in head-hunting as soon as possible, a statement which indicated that a replacement for Kerr was being considered for some time.

While other candidates such as Roy Keane, who has said who he wants to go into management, Bobby Robson, Kenny Dalglish, Philippe Troussier and Guus Hiddink have been mentioned in dispatches, there seems little doubt that the story of the successions stakes will not gain any momentum until O?Neill rules himself out or in.

Meanwhile, on the domestic front Drogheda United qualified for the FAI Cup final with a 2-1 win over Bray Wanderers at United Park last weekend. In their two previous final appearances in 1971 and ?76, Drogheda lost on both occasions, so they have an opportunity of making history when they take on Cork City on 4 December.

Goals from Declan O?Brien and Jermaine Sandvliet gave Drogheda a deserved victory, while Cork had a George O?Callaghan penalty to thank for their narrow 1-0 win over Derry City at Turner?s Cross.


LEINSTER?S opening European Cup game ended in bitter disappointment when they were defeated 22-19 by Bath at the RDS in Dublin. The loss of Brian O?Driscoll, Denis Hickie, Eric Miller, Malcolm O?Kelly and Christain Warner from the starting line-up was too much to compensate for and Leinster failed to take the points from an average Bath side.

Worringly for the remainder of the campaign, the Leinster forwards were outplayed as Bath came more and more into the game during the second half, and despite the presence of experience players such as Keith Gleeson, Reggie Corrigan and Ben Gissing, it was newcomer Jamie Heaslip who made the biggest impact.

It had all begun so promisingly when Felipe Contepomi scored a try and kicked a penalty to give Leinster a 10-0 lead, but Bath gradually grew in confidence, and they took the lead with an Andy Beattie try early in the second half, and despite some sweeping Leinster attacks late in the match, they held out for a deserved victory.

?I actually thought our forwards stood up to the test,? said Leinster?s Australian coach, Michael Cheika, ?but you can?t get away from losing the line-outs we lost, as well as some of the ball we dropped towards the end. At this level you must take your opportunities and we didn?t.?

There was also frustration for Munster who lost 27-13 away to English club Sale, and who could now be without Alan Quinlan for the rest of the season. Quinlan injured his knee early in the second half and will certainly miss Ireland?s internationals against Australia and New Zealand next month.

Munster had the tonic of a first-half try by Frankie Sheahan, and led 13-9 soon after the interval, but Sale dominated the closing stages and sealed the result with tries by Silio Martens and Jason Robinson.

?It was very frustrating to come away without even a bonus point,? said Munster coach Declan Kidney. ?We gave away too many penalties which is something we?re going to have to look at carefully.? Munster take on French side Castres next in Limerick on Saturday.

There were more positive omens for the rest of competition for Ulster who were comfortable 27-0 winners over the Italians Treviso in Belfast. Tries came from Roger Wilson, Neil Best, Neil McMillan and Kevin Maggs, while David Humphreys landed two conversions and a penalty.

Meanwhile, as expected, Connacht proved much too strong for Catania from Sicily in the European Challenge Cup running out 62-17 winners in Galway. Keith Matthews helped himself to four tries and Darren Yapp crossed for two as Connacht ran in 10 in all with Paul Warwick and Chris Keane adding three conversions apiece.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese