By Mark Jones
Cork and Dublin had little to celebrate after their last game in Div. 1A of the National Football League. Though both teams qualified for the quarterfinals, there were three sendings off in a dismal encounter at Pairc Ui Rinn that Cork won by 0-10 to 0-7.
Dublin lost Paul Croft and Ciaran Whelan and it seems that Croft could be in for a possible 12-week suspension given referee Aidan Mangan’s indication that he had kicked an opponent.
"He had a made a place on the team and he has lost it as of and from today," said a rueful Dubs manager, Tom Carr.
Carr was somewhat more cheery when it emerged that Armagh had beaten Tyrone, so sending Dublin into the playoffs, but he had not been impressed by his team’s performance.
"Very disappointing," Carr said. "We had enough possession to win, but we couldn’t get scores."
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Cork also had Michael O’Donovan dismissed for a second bookable offense, but they finished strongly with Joe Kavanagh picking off a couple of vital late points.
Armagh 1-8, Tyrone 0-9
Armagh booked their place in the last eight with a hard-fought 1-8 to 0-9 victory over neighbors Tyrone at the Athletic Grounds. Thanks to a well-taken goal by Diarmuid Marsden, the winners were 1-7 to 0-4 in front at the break, but they were under pressure during the second half.
However, the absence of Peter Canavan and Mattie McGleenan meant that the Tyrone attack was nowhere near as potent as usual and Armagh battled through.
Galway 0-13, Offaly 0-10
Galway secured their place in the top flight for next season with a 0-13 to 0-10 over Offaly at Ballinasloe. However, the result meant relegation for the Leinster county, who have had a disappointing campaign.
Padraig Joyce, Derek Savage and Niall Finnegan were in good scoring from for Galway, as Offaly squandered a 6-point halftime advantage.
Donegal 2-11, Leitrim 1-9
Having parted company with manager Peter McGinnity and already consigned to relegation, it was going to be hard for Leitrim to lift themselves against Donegal at Ballybofey. However, the Connacht side put up a brave show before losing by 2-11 to 1-9.
Leading by two points early in the second half, Leitrim looked as if they might spring a shock, but Donegal got their act together and finished well with seven unanswered points to complement two earlier goals by Brendan Devenney.
Meath 0-10, Kildare 0-5
Everyone was happy enough after the top match in Div. 1B, which saw both Meath and Kildare qualify for the quarterfinals. Meath ran out comfortable winners by 0-10 to 0-5 at Navan despite the absence of Tommy Dowd, John McDermott and Brendan Reilly through injury.
Derry 1-8. Laois 0-8
Derry advanced comfortably to the last eight when they got the better of relegated Laois by 1-8 to 0-8 at Portlaoise, while Clare condemned Monaghan to the drop with an impressive 2-7 to 0-5 victory at Clones.
Down 3-7, Mayo 4-3
b Down secured their place in the top division when they edged out Mayo by 3-7 to 4-3 in a thriller at Newcastle. Mayo turned the game on its head toward the end of the first half with three quick goals by David Nestor, James Horan and John Casey. However, Down fought back and a dramatic late goal by James McCartan saved the day.
Kerry 0-15, Wicklow 1-8
In Div. 2A, favorites Kerry wobbled a bit on their way to a 0-15 to 1-8 success against Wicklow at Killarney, but they did enough to secure both a place in the quarterfinals and promotion.
Roscommon 4-15, Kilkenny 0-3
Roscommon piled on the points against Kilkenny, but their efforts to overtake Kerry on scoring average failed despite a 4-15 to 0-3 victory at Ballyragget. Even though the missed out on the knockout stages, Roscommon at least guaranteed themselves promotion.
Westmeath got the better of Louth by 1-6 to 0-8 at Cusack Park to finish third in the division, while London celebrated their second win of the campaign with a 1-8 to 1-7 verdict over Limerick at Abbeyfeale.
Sligo earned the double distinction of a quarterfinal spot and promotion from Div. 2B with a 0-12 to 0-7 triumph over Tipperary at Markievicz Park.
Fermanagh’s 0-15 to 0-6 success against Longford at Enniskillen earned them promotion, while Wexford saw their chance slip away after a controversial 1-15 to 2-11 loss to Cavan. Carlow consigned Waterford to a seventh loss on a scoreline of 0-13 to 1-5.
Kilkenny 3-14, Tipperary 1-13
There was a full National Hurling League program last weekend as Kilkenny made the headlines in the top game in Div. 1B. Last season’s defeated All-Ireland finalists staged a brilliant second-half recovery at Nowlan Park to see off the challenge of previously unbeaten Tipperary by 3-14 to 1-13.
Trailing by 10 points at the break, Kilkenny were in deep trouble, but the introduction of Niall Moloney, who scored 1-3, made a huge difference as Tipp were rendered helpless by an inspired home team.
The triumph moves Kilkenny to the top of the table.
Cork 3-9, Waterford 1-12
Cork kept up the pressure on Kilkenny with a 3-9 to 1-12 victory against Waterford at Pairc Ui Rinn. When Fergal McCormack swept home the vital goal in the closing seconds, it meant that Waterford, last year’s League finalists, were out of contention for the semifinals.
Wexford 2-18, Down 0-7
Wexford are also still in contention following an easy 2-18 to 0-7 demolition of Down at Enniscorthy. Paul Codd bagged seven points and there were goals from Martin Storey and Chris McGrath.
Galway 5-26, Kerry 0-8
Galway overwhelmed Kerry at Athenry to maintain their 100 percent record after four games. The facile scoreline of 5-26 to 0-8 meant it was no more than a training spin for the winners.
Clare 0-14, Limerick 1-10
It was much closer at the Gaelic Grounds, where Clare edged out Limerick by 0-14 to 1-10 in a bruising encounter.
Things got out of hand midway through the second half and Fergus Tuohy and Stephen McDonagh were both sent off after some reckless pulling. In the end, a long-range point by Seanie McMahon was enough to divide the teams.
Antrim 3-25, Dublin 1-13
Antrim achieved their goal of remaining in the top flight when they were too strong for Dublin at Loughgiel, where it finished 2-15 to 1-13. Once again, Alastair Elliott was in brilliant scoring form finishing with 1-8 to his credit.
In Div. 2, Roscommon kept up their unbeaten record with a 2-10 to 1-11 victory over Wicklow, while Sligo forged ahead at the top of Div. 3 when they defeated Longford by 4-8 to 1-11.