Category: Asset 2Sports

Dubs win double header against hurling, football champs

February 23, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Kieran Rooney

Kevin McManamon scores Dublin's second goal past Cork's Paudie Kissane at Croke Park on Saturday.

QUITE predictably, Dublin football manager Pat Gilroy refused to get ahead of himself when summing up his team’s fine 3-13 to 0-16 National League success over Cork at Croke Park last Saturday evening.

In secret through, Gilroy must have been delighted with the way his somewhat under-strength side performed. They had, after all, won a hugely entertaining match against the reigning All-Ireland champions in front of a more than satisfied home crowd of 35,028.

What’s more, they are top of Division One of the National Football League after the opening two games. Not bad by any standards.

Only Gilroy realizes that the worst thing he could do at such an early stage is to add to the expectation level. He also appreciates that a National League game in February is a very different thing to a championship encounter.

“When you are playing at Croke Park, and fitness isn’t at championship level, it tends to be an open game.” stressed Gilroy.

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“It was a good win, but we mixed the good with the bad. We were lucky not to concede any goals out there as Stephen Cluxton’s saves were exceptional. But, from a spectators point of view, it must have been a very open and attractive game.”

It was.  Not only did the Dublin fans see their side score three goals, but they also witnessed a much more controlled performance in terms of their defensive play. Gone was the tendency to concede easy frees.

In truth, the whole evening, which included Jedward singing between the two matches, worked out remarkably well.  Initially, a fog looked like spoiling matters but it lifted during the opening hurling between Dublin and Tipperary.

The fact that the Dublin hurlers defeated the All-Ireland champions by 1-16 to 1-15 left everyone in a hugely positive mood when the football encounter started. It didn’t really matter that the Dubs had to draft Barry Cahill into midfield as a late replacement for Michael Darragh McAuley.

Cahill played well, as did most of his colleagues. But no one was more influential than last year’s Player of the Year Bernard Brogan.

Brogan finshed with 0-6, four of them coming from frees. It was though his contribution to his team’s three goals that proved to be most vital.

The ability to score goals was the difference between the two sides. Dublin took them in exceptional fashion while Cork could not find a way past Cluxton.

Mind you, Cork manager Conor Counihan also felt that his team didn’t match the hunger shown by Dublin. “Conceding three goals at this level isn’t good enough.” he snapped. “We also created quite a few opportunities, but we didn’t take them and clearly Dublin were the hungrier team.”

The fact, of course, is that all sport is about taking your chances.  Dublin managed that with nine of their players figuring on the scoresheet.

The Dubs led by 2-5 to 0-8 at the interval. Brogan’s deft flick provided the chance for Tomas Quinn to get the first goal and this was followed by a superb effort which saw Brogan again involved.

He exchanged passes before Kevin McMahamon rifled a shot into the Cork net.  The third goal was perfectly timed in the second half with Brogan putting Barry Cahill clear to make it 3-7 to 0-12.

In between,  Cork just could not get the goal they needed. So, they had to depend on points with Daniel Goulding (0-5) being their main contributor.

In the end, however, what appeared to be a very decent points total of 0-16 was not enough. That, as Counihan puts it, is how things go when you concede three goals.

Either way, Dublin head the Division One table with four points, one ahead of Down. Last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists weren’t at their best but still proved good enough to defeat Galway by 2-11 to 1-9 in Newry.

It took a goal in the final minute by midfielder Peter Fitzpatrick to settle matters after what was a hard fought game. Galway, hit by the sudden retirements of Kieran Fitzgerald and Niall Coleman, now lie bottom of the table after two defeats.

Early on, they led by 0-5 to 0-1 but Down gradually found their feet. Monaghan, Kerry, Armagh and Cork are all grouped together on two points with one victory and a defeat.

Kerry got going with a somewhat controversial 1-9 to 0-8 success over Mayo at Castlebar. Mayo manager James Horan is still fuming over the decision to award Kerry a penalty in the 64th minute.

It looked as though the Mayo goalkeeper Robert Hennelly and Kerry’s Darran O’Sullivan has simply collided. But Laois official Maurice Deegan judged that O’Sullivan had been fouled.

Barry Sheehan duly slotted home the penalty. So, Kerry, who had trailed by a point, were now two points clear.

“Hennelly should have been awarded a free out, he was barged.” insisted Horan.

Understandably, Kerry boss Jack O’Connor didn’t want to talk about the penalty, other than to stress that sometimes decisions go your way, and sometimes they don’t.

Either way, it was a disappointing end to a match Mayo could so easily have won. For Kerry it was a much needed, if somewhat fortunate, victory.

In the remaining Division One game, Armagh got their campaign going with a hard earned 1-11 to 0-13 victory over Monaghan. Substitute Brian Mallon got the all-important goal four minutes from time.

Laois and Derry lead the way in Division Two with four points, ahead of Donegal on three. Laois saw off Antrim 1-12 to 0-10, while Derry recorded a fine 0-13 to 0-11 away victory over Kildare. Elsewhere, Meath beat Sligo 1-12 to 0-8, and a much-improved Donegal had a surprisingly comfortable 1-10 to 0-6 victory over Tyrone.

Wexford top Division Three on points difference from Louth, with Wicklow and Roscommon heading Division Four.

Cats, Galway are 2/2

TO no one’s great surprise, Galway and Kilkenny have made excellent starts to the National Hurling League winning their opening two games.

What will surprise quite a few people, however, is the fact that Tipperary have gone down to successive defeats. While Saturday night’s effort under the lights at Croke Park on Saturday evening was an improvement, it still didn’t suffice to the reigning All-Ireland champions a victory.

The fact that they lost out by 1-16 to 1-15 to Dublin was mainly down to the contribution of a former footballer. Conal Keaney contributed 14 points, four from play, with the remainder coming from frees.

It was a brilliant performance that suggests he could be the missing ingredient for the Dubs. Of course, championship hurling will prove very much a different matter but this is a good start for the Dublin boss Anthony Daly.

He must be delighted to have convinced Keaney to have switched codes. Tipperary, disappointed to have conceded so may frees, simply cannot afford another defeat.

“There are no easy games in the league, and I suppose Tipperary are a scalp for everyone. We have a lot of work to do, that’s for sure,” admitted losing manager Declan Ryan.

The win leaves the Dubs in joint third, on the same points mark as Waterford, after one victory and a draw. Galway lead on points difference from Kilkenny after hammering Offaly by 1-24 to 1-10.

The form of Iarla Tannian, who scored six points from play, was a highlight.  At Nowlan Park, meanwhile, Kilkenny seemed on their way to a very big victory over Cork when they led by 0-10 to 0-2 at the interval.

Yet, they needed up relieved to have come away with a 0-14 to 1-10 win. The sending off of J.J. Delaney didn’t help, but it also didn’t explain the dramatic turnaround.

To give them their due, Cork were hugely improved after the break, and when Pat Horgan crashed home a penalty, they must have envisaged  a possible victory. In fact, the sides were level into the closing minutes but Richie Hogan then sent over the winning point for Kilkenny from a 60-meter free.

It was fitting as Hogan was brilliant throughout. He finished with a total of 0-10, four of which came from play.

Waterford maintained their challenge with a 1-11 to 0-12 away victory over Wexford.  Seamus Prendergast got the only goal in a game that was very hard fought from start to finish.

Limerick continue to head Division Two after beating Westmeath 1-20 to 0-15. Surprisingly, they are the only unbeaten team remaining after two games.


to meet Gaels

O’LOUGHLIN GAELS from Kilkenny and Galway’s Clarinbridge will contest the All- Ireland Club Hurling final.

In two contrasting sem-finals, O’Loughlin Gaels comfortably beat Antrim’s Loughgiel Shamrocks 3-10 to 0-10 while Clarinbridge needed extra time before accounting for De La Salle from Waterford by 3-22 to 1-27 after a thrilling encounter.

It makes for a very interesting final. De La Salle will be hugely frustrated they won’t be there having come within a whisker of beating Clarinbridge.

They looked likely to come out on top for much of normal time, and again in extra-time, but Clarinbridge just would not go away.  The game was decided in the very last attack when Clarinbridge midfielder Eanna Murphy found the net after a shot had been blocked down.

“Total devastation.” remarked De La Salle manager Michael Ryan afterwards. It was hard to blame him.

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