They were saved by the Mortimer brothers and James Nallen, but also by less established soldiers like Billy Joe Padden and Conor Moran, all of whom took a rattling good game to Tyrone. And yet again, young goalkeeper David Clarke kept them in it with a couple of magnificent saves.
For their part, an experimental enough Tyrone lost their way through uncharacteristic carelessness as much as anything else, with only in-form Stephen O’Neill doing his reputation any justice.
DUBLIN 1-11, DONEGAL 0-13
Paul Caffrey spoke afterward of swings and roundabouts and things leveling themselves out over the course of a season, so we’ll be sure to remind him of that come high summer. The truth is, his side robbed a win at Parnell Park on Sunday through the awarding of both a clearly wide Conal Keaney point and a dodgy last-minute 45 converted by Mossy Quinn. Brian McEniff was incandescent afterward, with every right on his side. Donegal will likely end up relegated at the end of the league and the point (or maybe even points) lost here through the ineptitude of the officials will hurt when the cards eventually fall.
KERRY 2-11, WESTMEATH 0-7
Another Saturday night, another win for Kerry under the 50-watt bulbs down at Austin Stack Park in Tralee. Paidi O Se got no sympathy from his countrymen and nor would he have expected any. The game was decided by two goals in the space of a minute early in the second half from Tomas O Se and Liam Hassett. The rest of the evening was spent emphasising the yawning gulf between the two provincial champions. Kerry are looking ominous.
OFFALY 1-13, CORK 2-10
Neither side was particularly happy with the draw here as both felt they left the win behind them for one reason or another. Offaly, despite having needed a last-minute equaliszing point from Jimmy Coughlan to get out of jail, knew they should have made more of the fact that they had held Cork scoreless for 25 first-half minutes when Billy Morgan’s side had a strong wind at their backs at Tullamore. As for the visitors, they should have closed the game out after overcoming their initial sloppiness to be six points up with 20 minutes left.
KILDARE 1-17, LIMERICK 0-9
Kildare strolled their way through this game, ending up scoring for fun and at will at St. Conleth’s Park in Newbridge. Tadgh Fennin, Ronan Sweeney, James Kavanagh and Eamonn Callaghan had themselves an afternoon of target practice as Limerick’s rotten campaign got no better.
ARMAGH 0-16, SLIGO 0-8
Sligo will try hard all year under Dominic Corrigan and will test a lot of middle-ranked teams if they come across them. But when they come up against forwards of Steven McDonnell’s caliber as they did Sunday at Markievicz Park in Sligo, they’re doomed. He score five of Armagh’s points but was at the center of pretty much everything else. Had he not been playing, Sligo would almost certainly have finished within three or four points. Not on this day, though.
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WEXFORD 2-13, DOWN 1-13
Wexford’s progress continues apace and top the table now. Best part is, it isn’t even just the Mattie Forde show these days. At Newcastle on Sunday, John Hudson stepped up contributed 2-1 to their winning total, with Forde managing only four points.
LAOIS 1-17, GALWAY 2-13
The best finish to any game in the country last Sunday took place in Salthill, where Michael Meehan’s last-minute goal looked to have grabbed a draw for Galway. But Laois knuckled down, won Fergal Byron’s kickout, and fed the lanky figure of Shane Cooke, who knifed one over the black spot. It was a win the visitors, and especially their exciting young duo of forwards, Ross Munnelly and Donie Brennan, (who kicked 12 points between them), ultimately deserved.
Longford remain top of Div. 2A but only just after they got away with draw — 0-11 apiece — against a wasteful Letrim side at Pearse Park on Sunday. Elsewhere, there were convincing wins for Fermanagh over London and Monaghan over Roscommon, with a last-minute free earning Carlow a one-point win over Clare.
Derry and Meath both had easy wins on Sunday to keep them sitting together at the top of Div. 2B but the eye-catching result of the day was Cavan’s 7-15 to 0-8 win over hapless Waterford. In the day’s other game, Wicklow squeezed out a two-point win over Tipperary.
CLARE 2-13, KILKENNY 1-8
Don’t be fooled by the scoreline — Kilkenny were never in this game at Nowlan Park. They trailed by 2-10 to 0-3 at halftime and that was with the wind at their backs. Clare, helped thanks to revelatory performances from Davy Fitz, Brian Lohan, Colin Lynch and especially Niall Gilligan, blew them away completely and utterly. Time will tell if it means anything.
Elsewhere in the division, Glaway ran out 0-18 to 0-11 winners over a lethargic-looking Waterford side in the first part of the Pearse Stadium double-header, and Laois easily disposed of Humphrey Kelleher’s beleaguered Dublin side on Saturday afternoon.
WEXFORD 3-10, LIMERICK 0-17
Poor old Limerick. Living proof of the old saw that says just because your wife leaves you doesn’t mean your house can’t burn down. They were the better side in Wexford on Sunday, but two silly goalkeeping mistakes ruined all their good work. Looks like a long year ahead.
Elsewhere in Div. 1B, Cork and Tipperary had easy wins over Down and Antrim, respectively.