Category: Archive

Games of the Gael: Clare hurlers retain Munster crown

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

Clare 2-16, Waterford 0-10

There was never much doubt about the outcome this time as Clare retained their Munster hurling title following last Sunday’s replay at Thurles, but this victory was not all sweet.

If a coveted place in the All Ireland semifinal was secured, Clare know that Brian Lohan will be on the sideline for that next month’s game. Sent off, along with Waterford’s Michael White, in the opening minutes, the All-Star defender is certain to face a four-week suspension.

While the contest eventually settled down, the glamour of the occasion was severely marred by an early outbreak of hostilities. Even before referee Willie Barrett’s first whistle, rival players were getting acquainted all around the pitch.

Jamesie O’Connor’s hurley was broken, Anthony Daly and Dan Shanahan clashed and Colin Lynch and Tony Browne were swapping insults. Within minutes of the throw-in, all hell broke loose in front of the Clare goal as up to 12 players charged in.

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

Lohan and White were dismissed and although Lynch was also booked, the Clare midfielder was fortunate not to have been sent off as well. Soon, anarchy gave way to more honest hurling and if heavy rain meant that there was no chance of replicating the skill and dash of the opening encounter, Clare improved enough to make no mistake at the second attempt.

“The whole team had one mind that we were going into battle,” was the way winning manager, Ger Loughnane, put it. “That was the cause of the row with everyone so keyed up. I know there will be all kinds of nutters ringing in to radio stations about it, but it settled down to a tremendous game.”

Clare made the right strides in almost every sector. If Shanahan had got the better of Daly first time out, it was Daly’s turn to dominate. Browne had also ruled the roost at centerfield, but Ollie Baker and Lynch turned the tables in no uncertain manner.

Frank Lohan and Seanie McMahon were in mean mood at the heart of the defense and the dangerous solo runs of Paul Flynn seemed like a distant memory from the drawn encounter. That extra edge gave Clare a deserved interval advantage by 0-7 to 0-5.

Then a Conor Clancy goal 6 minutes into the second-half scuppered Waterford’s fading chances. McMahon’s 65 dropped into the goalmouth and Clancy got the all-important touch. “Once they got that goal, our problems were obvious enough,” admitted Waterford’s manager, Gerald McCarthy.

Under the new regulations, Waterford get a reprieve as beaten Munster finalists and now meet Galway in the All Ireland quarterfinal, while the Leinster runners-up, Offaly, take on Antrim.

Following Clancy’s strike, Clare had some vital breathing space and the last half hour saw them outscore Waterford by 2-9 to 0-4. The points tally quickly built up as David Forde, McMahon, Fegal Hegarty, Forde again, Alan Markham and Baker all found the range.

When Niall Gilligan drove home his team’s second goal after O’Connor’s shot had been half smothered and that was that. Ten Clare players had got on the scoreboard. “There was a singled mindedness about the lads,” Loughnane said.

No argument with that. Without Brian Lohan for the moment, Clare march on.

Derry 1-7, Donegal 0-8

You have got to hand it to Joe Brolly. Shackled by the Donegal defense for much of last Sunday’s gripping Ulster football final at Clones, Brolly popped up in the first minute of injury time to score the match-winning goal.

Donegal were devastated. If anything Brolly’s brilliant strike came against the run of play. It was Derry who had been holding on, but in the end, it was the arch-predator who wrapped up his county’s first provincial title since 1993.

It was hard not to sympathize with Brolly’s marker, Barry McGowan, who only let his man away once previously in a fascinating tussle. But that one lapse of concentration was enough to finish Donegal’s summer.

“Yes, it was a good goal,” muttered the losing manager, Declan Bonner, “but you could talk about it until you’re blue in the face.” Brolly, meanwhile, wasn’t getting carried away with his effort that sent the Derry fans home delirious. “Sure, when was the last time you remember me missing one like that?” asked the Belfast based barrister. “That’s right, never. The goal was an easy one.”

Apart from Brolly’s one moment of magic, it was largely a game of two defenses. McGowan and Noel McGinley personified a composed rearguard display by Donegal, while at the other end, Sean Martin Lockhart kept tabs on Tony Boyle and Paul McFlynn and David O’Neill were outstanding.

With precious little give or take, it was 0-3 apiece at the break and it wasn’t until 15 minutes from the end that Donegal appeared to have made the breakthrough when John Duffy palmed the ball into the net only to have his effort disallowed for pushing.

A replay looked inevitable in a frenetic closing period, but Brolly had other ideas and Noel Hegarty’s late, but ultimately futile point, was no consolation for Donegal.

Galway 0-11, Roscommon 0-11

Galway came away from a sodden Tuam mighty relieved that they survived to fight another day following this tense Connacht football final. A late free from Niall Finnegan set up a replay at Hyde Park a week from Saturday.

Galway will signal an unacceptable total of 17 wides as a major part of their failure to live up to expectations, while Roscommon were none too pleased with referee Seamus Prior.

They believed that Galway fullback Gary Fahy picked the ball off the ground in the lead up to the equalizing point. Roscommon’s Eddie Lohan, who was top scorer with an impressive 8 points, was adamant Fahy should have been penalized. “He definitely lifted the ball off the ground, it was plain to see,” he said. “I shouted at the ref, but he just waved play on.”

Roscommon, who had substitute Jason Neary sent off in the second half when he caught Jarlath Fallon with an elbow in the face, battled back with their 14 men in the closing minutes. Two points down, Lorcan Dowd kicked a point and then the accurate Lohan hit the target with two frees in quick succession.

But when Clifford McDonald was penalized for a foul on Michael Donnellan, Finnegan held his nerve to loft a free straight between the uprights. Galway were lucky to stay in the race, but if they bring their shooting boots to the replay, then Roscommon could suffer.

Kildare 2-13, Laois 0-8

Laois forward Michael Lawlor launched a stinging attack on several of his teammates following Kildare’s easy victory in last Sunday’s Leinster football semifinal at Croke Park.

Lawlor wasn’t in any way upset about his own sending-off during the second half, but he was fiercely critical of his colleagues.

“We have guys who won’t train or who think they can train when they like,” he said. “Certain players are putting in the hard work, but there’s another group who have given no effort. Someone is going to have to stand up and say play football or get lost.”

Rumors of unrest in the Laois camp had been doing the rounds before the game and Kildare took full advantage. Playing the game in a different gear to their hapless opponents, Kildare must have given Meath, their opponents in Sunday week’s provincial decider, plenty to think about.

Ahead by 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval, with Declan Kerrigan and Eddie McCormack, the catalysts for most of the scores, Kildare thumped in two second-half goals through Padraig Graven and Niall Buckley to ease home by an 11-point margin.

“I thought we were outstanding in the first half,” said Kildare’s manager, Mick O’Dwyer. “The amount of running we did was unbelievable.”

Laois were already well out of the running when the straight-talking Lawlor was sent off for a second bookable offense.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese