By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Two counties tested the barometer of progress, but only Cork reached an acceptable level. Last Sunday’s National Football League Div. 1A game at Pairc Ui Chaoimh had been billed as another Dublin step in the right direction under new manager Tommy Lyons, but the home team were much too strong, running out convincing winners, 1-13 to 0-10.
“This was a big test for us and we failed it,” Lyons said. “There’s no place to hide. We were flat and we were outplayed. They just cleaned us out at midfield and that was only part of the problem.”
On the back of an earlier success against All-Ireland champions Galway, Cork were full of confidence, and with Nicholas Murphy dominating centerfield, there were other excellent performances from Philip Clifford, Anthony Lynch and Ciaran O’Sullivan.
Ahead 0-7 to 0-4 at the break, Cork were in control during the second half despite the best efforts of Barry Cahill, Paul Curran and Alan Brogan. And while Dublin managed to narrow the gap in the closing stages, Brendan Jer O’Sullivan sealed the result with the game’s only goal 4 minutes from full time.
Tyrone 1-11, Offaly 1-4
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If Cork and Dublin are struggling to qualify for the knockout stages, Tyrone remain on course at the top of the table thanks to a victory over Offaly at Tullamore. A 1-5 contribution from Peter Canavan was crucial, but Offaly didn’t help their cause when Vinny Claffey was sent off for a straight red card 9 minutes from the end.
With his team now facing relegation with just one point from four matches, Claffey himself could be facing a possible 12-week suspension as he appeared to kick out at an opponent before referee Aidan Mangan gave him his marching orders.
Donegal 1-6, Westmeath 0-7
Donegal’s victory over Westmeath in Mullingar was marred by angry scenes at the final whistle with referee Charlie Collins needing a police escort to leave the pitch. Westmeath’s manager, Luke Dempsey, was particularly incensed by several of Collins’s decisions and later described the official’s performance as the worst he had seen since taking up intercounty management in 1995.
The game swung Donegal’s way when All-Star midfielder Rory O’Connell was sent off for a second yellow card offense in the 50th minute. Earlier, Adrian Sweeney had scored the game’s only goal from the penalty spot.
Mayo 4-5, Kildare 0-7
In Div. 1B, unbeaten Mayo moved closer to the knockout phase when they crushed Kildare at Newbridge. Marty McNicholas scored three of his side’s goals to leave the Connacht county needing just one point from their two remaining games, against Derry and Fermanagh.
After a bright start, Kildare inexplicably fell away with a series of wides, and a solitary John Doyle free was all the home team had to show for their disappointing second-half efforts.
Sligo 3-11, Clare 1-9
Sligo registered a third victory in the campaign to remain in second place when they overcame Clare at Markievicz Park. A strong second-half display, which produced two goals by Dessie Sloyan and another from Gerry McGowan, proved to be decisive.
Cavan’s solid form continued whey they were too good for Ulster rivals Down, 0-14 to 1-8, at Breffni Park. However, Derry failed to move off bottom spot when they were held to a 0-9 apiece draw by Fermanagh at Celtic Park, where Raymond Gallagher’s point in the fourth minute of added time earned Fermanagh a share of the spoils.
Fresh from their historic Div. 2A victory over Kerry, Limerick were full of confidence going into their match against unbeaten Armagh at Carrickcruppin, but they were given a harsh reminder by the division leaders who came through easily by 2-19 to 2-6.
Kerry moved into second place with an easy 4-13 to 0-4 triumph over London at Ruislip, while Antrim edged out Louth by 1-10 to 1-9 at Dundalk. Wicklow’s disappointing form continued when they were beaten 2-5 to 0-9 by Leitrim at Aughrim.
In Div. 2B, Wexford are heading for the playoffs following a comfortable 3-10 to 0-3 success against Tipperary at Ardfinnan, and Meath look to be back in contention after their 2-14 to 0-6 victory over Carlow at Navan. Laois also remain in the promotion shake-up thanks to a 1-14 to 1-11 victory against Longford at Portarlington, while Waterford scraped a first point of the season when they drew 0-8 each with Monaghan at Dungarvan.
Death postpones match
The Div. 1A game between Roscommon and Galway scheduled for Athleague last Sunday was postponed due to the death of one of the Roscommon players, Ger Michael Grogan. The 23-year-old was involved in a car accident outside Roscommon town just hours before the match.