IF the best of the summer’s vintage has yet to be uncorked, the Gaelic football championship still got off to a flying start with Longford staging a magnificent recovery to defeat Westmeath, and with Down grabbing a last-ditch point to earn a replay against Cavan.
Most of the plaudits must go to Longford who looked down and out when they trailed by eight points at half-time at Pearse Park, however, two second-half goals by Brian Kavanagh inspired the home team to a dramatic 2-13 to 1-13 victory.
While Kavanagh’s marksmanship undoubtedly caught the eye, manager Luke Dempsey’s interval team-talk was the subject of most of the post-game interrogation. Behind by such a margin, how had Dempsey galvanised his players?
“I asked them did anyone think they had played up to the standard they were capable of,” he explained. “There was a 100 per cent response that they hadn’t. I didn’t take off any players and gave them the chance to show what they were capable of. We needed the goals. They gave us such a lift and the lads played with their hearts from then on. Tactics went out the window.”
The reward for Dempsey, who once guided several of the Westmeath contingent to both All Ireland minor and under 21 success, and his Longford team is a meeting with Laois on June 2, again most likely at Pearse Park.
If there was joy unconfined for unfancied Longford, the hurlers of Offaly were consigned to Division Two for the 2008 National League campaign.
In an appeal against the new structure of next year’s competition, Offaly had asked the GAA’s Central Council to consider a proposal that they would be a part of a 10-county format in Division One. Although their motion was passed by 23 votes to 17, they failed to win a two-thirds majority.
“I’m devastated,” said Offaly manager, John McIntyre. “You can call it a moral victory for us because we got plenty of support, but at the end of the day Offaly hurling has suffered immensely because of this vote. The GAA are not sure about his new league format, and we do feel very let down by the powers that be. This is a kick in the teeth.”
Open gets no big mo from Ryder
In the heady aftermath of Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at the K Club last September, you would expect interest in this week’s Irish Open to be at a premium. But you would be wrong.
There is no denying that Ireland’s national golf championship is being staged at the highly impressive Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed Adare Manor just outside of Limerick city – rated by many as the finest parkland course in the country – and there is no denying that the event boasts an increased prize fund of