Dublin 2-13, Kildare 2-11 By Mark Jones
The chorus from most of the 78,000 spectators was a redemption song. Dublin footballers are out of the wilderness and back into the limelight following last Sunday’s dramatic Leinster final victory over Kildare at Croke Park.
The road to a first provincial title since 1995 has been tortuous, and although there were moments in this fascinating contest when it looked as if Dublin would end up in yet another pothole, they held their nerve unlike in previous years.
The result proved to be an immediate vindication of the controversial decision to sack former manager Tommy Carr and replace him with Tommy Lyons. Since Lyons gambled on a younger generation of players, Dublin have played with both pace and swagger so far in this championship, and if they fail to capture the Sam Maguire in September, at least they can say that their archrivals Meath and Kildare were both sent packing on the way to Leinster success.
A tight, tense encounter was effectively decided by two Dublin goals in the space of a minute midway through the second half. First, the precociously talented Alan Brogan spun around a defender to finish brilliantly with the outside of his foot, and then as the Kildare defense tried to regroup, Ray Cosgrove burst through to sweep his shot home.
“I thought we would win,” confessed Kildare manager Mick O’Dwyer. “Like we were cruising midway through the second half and, bang, two goals and that was it. It’s hard to recover from a defeat like that.”
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O’Dwyer, who is almost certainly in his last season with Kildare, now comes up against his own county, Kerry, in the fourth round of the All-Ireland qualifier.
As for Dublin, this success earns them direct passage to the quarterfinals and at the end of a magnificent occasion watched by the biggest crowd of the year, Lyons was quick to put in a plea for both sets of players. “We should get a lump of money back from the Leinster Council into players’ funds so there’s none of this arseboxing around trying to get players away on holidays,” he said. “The money should just be delivered to the two county boards. The gate would’ve been euro 2 million, so euro 50,000 each would be a fair sum.”
What with the glorious weather and the massive attendance, it was as if summer had finally arrived. So, clearly, had Dublin, as their forwards jumped out of the traps in impressive style. Brogan, Cosgrove and John McNally were quickly on the scoresheet, but with Dermot Earley lording around midfield, where the injured Jonny Magee was sorely missed, Kildare were soon back in contention.
First there was a surging run by Killian Brennan, who gave Earley effective support, followed by a perceptive pass that found Tadgh Fennin with just one defender to beat, which he did to shoot past Stephen Cluxton in the Dublin goal. Fennin’s strike meant that Kildare went in only one point in arrears, 0-9 to 1-5, at the interval.
Despite the best efforts of full-back Paddy Christie, who dominated Martin Lynch, Kildare began the second half in a more threatening manner, and when substitute Darren Magee’s ill-advised pass was intercepted by Fennin, the corner-forward smashed a shot into the roof of the net for his second goal.
That made it 2-8 to 0-12, and with John Doyle on the way to a personal tally of 0-7, including five from frees, it looked as if Kildare were well set for victory. But then out of the blue, Brogan and Cosgrove pounced for those crucial goals to turn the game inexorably in Dublin’s favor.
“We wanted to win two Leinster titles this year and we have them with the under 21s and now this one,” said Lyons. “Who knows what develops from young men who have confidence. We ended up with five or six under 21s on the team, and some of the old faces performed brilliantly as well.”
Dublin certainly appear to have an exciting blend. While the ultimate accolade of an All-Ireland title is still some way off, they’re entitled to celebrate this win after a long seven year wait.
Cork 2-11, Tipperary 1-14
If the bookmakers around Thurles were any barometer, this was supposed to be a slaughter of the innocents. However, unfancied Tipperary almost produced one of the biggest shocks in the history of the Munster football championship when they held Cork to a draw in last Sunday’s final.
If it just happened to be the underdogs, in the unlikely figure of corner-back Niall Kelly, who snatched an equalizer in the dying seconds, it was the least they deserved after a display which mixed tenacity and skill in equal measure. Written off by everyone outside of their own camp, Tipperary were men on a mission, and once again Declan Browne led from the front.
While there are more fashionable football counties who would kill for a scoring forward of Browne’s class, he has been stuck with a side that has traditionally been overshadowed by their hurling brethren, but the former all-star ensured that Tipp would merit at least a chapter when the history of this GAA summer is written.
A total of eight points, five from play, off both the right and left feet, meant that Browne left an indelible mark on the game. At one stage, it looked as if he might have done enough to inspire Tipp to a famous victory, but then another prolific scorer took center stage.
Thanks to two soft first-half goal,s both scored by Brendan Jer O’Sullivan, Cork were in front by 2-6 to 0-8 at the changeover. But Tipperary produced a magnificent revival. A goal by substitute Benny Hickey, after Browne’s shot had been blocked, followed by points from Peter Lambert and Browne again sent Tipp into a 3-point lead.
At a time when they need him the most, Colin Corkery then took the contest by the scruff of the neck to earn his side a second chance. He hit four points on the trot, and ended up being Cork’s only scorer during the second half, before Kelly ranged upfield to cleverly fist over the equalizing point for Tipp.
The replay is set for Sunday at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, with the winners advancing directly to the quarterfinals and the losers meeting Mayo in the fourth round of the qualifiers.
Mayo 0-13, Limerick 1-9
Limerick’s adventure in this season’s championship came to a frustrating end at Hyde Park last Saturday when they were edged by Mayo in the third round of the football qualifier series.
Previous wins over Cavan and Offaly had boosted Limerick’s confidence and they were a point clear going into the final quarter. Following a patchy start, midfielders John Quane and John Galvin came more into the game and when Jason Stokes fired home a goal, Limerick deservedly found themselves in front by 1-5 to 0-5 at the interval.
Mayo’s manager, Pat Holmes, made several important switches with David Heaney moving from midfield to full-back and David Brady coming in to the center, and they paid off as the Connacht country’s greater experience began to tell.
“A bit too close for comfort, but we made it in the end,” Holmes said. “We made a huge amount of mistakes, particularly in the first half, and we were very concerned at half time. It was always going to be tough as Limerick are a fine side as they’ve repeatedly shown this year.”
Tipperary 2-19, Offaly 1-9
The wounds of their Munster hurling final loss to Waterford have begun to heal. Reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary proved that they are still on course to retain the title with a demolition of Offaly in last Saturday’s qualifier at Portlaoise.
From first puck to last, the result was never in doubt as Tipp overwhelmed their opponents.
“We didn’t have much to do to motivate the team,” manager Nicky English said. “You had proud players coming off very poor displays in the Munster final.”
And there was more good news for English and his players when they were drawn against Ulster champions Antrim in the All-Ireland quarterfinal.
Brian O’Meara’s early goal, thanks to an assist by John Carroll, set Tipperary on their way, and even though Stephen Brown responded with a goal for Offaly, the winners’ forwards were on top. There were too many wides for English’s liking. However, he put them down to “overanxiety.”
Carroll struck for a second goal after Tommy Dunne had created the opening, and Tipp were 5 points clear at the changeover. The second half was a procession of scores as Offaly struggled to compete. “Remember, until June 30, people said Tipperary were the best team in the country,” offered the losers’ manager, Fr. Tom Fogarty, “and I still think they will be the team to beat.”
Galway 0-21, Cork 1-9
Cork are out of the hurling championship after they slumped to a heavy defeat in last Sunday’s qualifier at Semple Stadium. If a recognition that Cork were not the force of recent years tempered Galway’s victory, the Connacht champions are still a force to be reckoned with.
With tradition suggesting that Cork would have the upper hand, Galway went about their task with admirable efficiency as their rivals were a major disappointment.
“We’ve nothing to be going home crowing about,” said Galway manager Noel Lane. “I wasn’t at all happy with our forwards, and Cork are not the team they used to be, so we’re not going to be fooled by this.”
With Kevin Broderick, Eugene Cloonan and Richie Murray in good form, Galway took some time to settle, but they showed their supremacy in the closing stages with a series of spectacular points from play. While Cork’s substitutes failed to change the pattern, the introduction of Joe Rabbitte and Rory Gantley during the second half made an obvious difference.
Cork’s cause wasn’t helped when Timmy O’Leary was sent off 25 minutes from the end following a dangerous swing at Diarmuid Cloonan.
“We can come back, but it will be hard work,” said Cork manager Bertie Og Murphy. “My own contract is two years, and this is still the first year, so it’s not the day to be thinking about that. There’s no panic anyway.”
None certainly for Galway, who go on to meet Clare in the All-Ireland quarterfinal.
Clare 3-15, Wexford 3-7
If the loss of three goals will be of some concern to Clare, they were still good enough to come through with 8 points to spare over Wexford in last Sunday’s hurling qualifier at Portlaoise.
Galway will have taken note of Clare’s purposeful display and the meeting of the two counties in the quarterfinal could be one of the games of the summer. Certainly, there was little doubt that Clare would be the team to advance as Wexford appeared to still be suffering from the hangover of their Leinster final defeat a week earlier.
“Clare were deserving winners, I wouldn’t take anything away from them,” Wexford manager Tony Dempey said. “But I had reservations about our ability to play a match seven days after losing the Leinster final. I don’t think it would have been fair to ask any team to do that. I suppose we paid the penalty for not beating Kilkenny.”
Despite those goals from Paul Codd, who hit two, and Rory Jacob, Clare were always in control. Seven points ahead at the break, the had goals from Tony Carmody (2) and Niall Gilligan, while John Reddan and Colin Lynch each scored three points.