By Mark Jones
Kerry 0-8, Cork 0-8
The summer weather stayed away, and so did many who would normally have made the pilgrimage to Killarney for one of football’s traditional contests. The thousands who voted to watch Ireland’s World Cup soccer odyssey come to an end on TV ended up warmer and drier than the attendance at a saturated Fitzgerald Park, where Kerry and Cork couldn’t be separated following last Sunday’s Munster championship semifinal.
Consider the apocalyptic conditions, the standard of play was surprisingly good, with an understandable number of wides counterpointed by some fine scores. In the end, neither side was complaining about the draw, although Cork had a case for a late free when Fionan Murray appeared to be fouled. They then had a chance to snatch victory, but Brendan Jer O’Sullivan’s shot sailed wide of the target.
The postmortems won’t shed any blinding light on the two managers’ subsequent strategies. Cork defended stoutly with Eoin Sexton and Ciaran O’Sullivan particularly impressive, while Colin Corkery mixed the wild with the accurate to contribute 0-5 from full forward. Kerry took a while to get into their stride, but once Paidi O Se made a reshuffle of personnel after 25 minutes, they looked a more potent force.
The most of important of the switches brought Seamus Moynihan up to midfield, where his partnership with Darragh O Se blossomed. The perfect foil for O Se, Moynihan linked the play superbly as O Se began to dominate with some impressive high fielding. Soon, Mike Frank Russell, Johnny Crowley and Aodhan MacGearailt were involved in the game, and Kerry kicked five unanswered points which left them leading by 0-7 to 0-5 with a quarter of an hour remaining.
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Commenting on his move from full-back, Moynihan admitted that he never expected to wind up at centerfield. “I suppose it gave me more of a chance to get involved,” he said, “but the conditions were so bad out there that it was just a case of working hard and hoping for the best. In the end we were all delighted to get a second chance.”
With Kerry having edged ahead going into the final minutes, it looked as if Cork were going to experience a third successive defeat championship defeat by their old rivals. However, they hit back with three points — one a vintage effort by Corkery — before Russell levelled matters from a free with five minutes left.
“It was only justice that neither team lost,” said Cork’s manager, Larry Tompkins. “I was happy with everyone who wore a red jersey out there. They showed great guts, as this team has over the past couple of years.” On the subject of the disputed foul on Murray at the end, Tompkins, who continues to serve a touchline ban, was, understandably, diplomatic. “We haven’t always got the decisions, but please God the penny will drop some day,” he said. “At least we didn’t lose which is an improvement on recent years.”
The replay is scheduled for this weekend at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Tipperary 1-8, Clare 0-8
Tipperary clawed their way back into the Munster football final for the first time since 1998 when they edged out Clare in last Sunday’s replay at the Gaelic Grounds. As at Killarney for the star attraction, the conditions were abysmal and they were a contributory factor in the dismissal of three players.
Clare had two sent off, Brian Considine and Mark O’Connell, while Tipp’s Kevin Mulryan joined them for an early shower. Yet perversely, when Clare were reduced to 13 men, they had their best spell, outscoring their opponents by six points to two in the closing stages.
But the damage was done just after the interval when Peter Lambert smashed home a goal and Declan Browne continued his run of scoring to put Tipp eight points clear at 1-7 to 0-2. The contest looked as good as over, but even with a numerical disadvantage, Clare found a second wind with points by Michael O’Shea, Colm Mullen (two), Ger Quinlan, Brendan Crowley and Padraig Gallagher.
As the Tipp defense struggled to cope with the sudden onslaught, Clare were still unable to find the goal they needed to keep the game alive.
Donegal 1-9, Derry 0-10
Derry dispatched to the All Ireland qualifiers, and manager Eamon Coleman on the warpath. That was the aftermath at Clones where Donegal deservedly booked an eagerly awaited meeting with Armagh in the Ulster football final.
Coleman wasn’t best pleased at the penalty award that ultimately turned out to be the difference between the teams. Early in the second half, Brendan Devenney was bowled over close to the Derry goal-line and Adrian Sweeney stepped up to fire a perfect spot kick past Michael Conlon.
“The penalty award was a really bad decision,” Coleman said. “I know you can get suspended for talking about a referee in this way, but the player in possession was clearly going nowhere.”
Coleman, however, admitted that Donegal were the better team, and their cause was made easier by the second half sending off of two Derry players, Johnny McBride and Conleth Gilligan. To compound Derry’s woes, Anthony Tohill failed to produce his best form in midfield where Fergal Doherty was more impressive.
On a slippery pitch, referee Michael Collins flashed nine yellow cards as well as the two dismissals during a game which produced little sparkling football. With Devenney and Sweeney well marshalled by the Derry defense, Brian Roper and Christy Toye took up the slack with two excellent performances in attack.
Kildare 1-9, Offaly 1-9
Kildare probably should have won it; Offaly certainly could have won it; and the referee could have played two more minutes of added time. Such are the vagaries of championship football, and the teams meet again in the Leinster semifinal at Nowlan Park on Saturday.
Once the evergreen Vinny Claffey, in his 17th successive championship season, had equalized for Offaly with a clever fisted point, it seemed that Offaly had the momentum with those two minutes remaining. However, for reasons best know to himself, referee Seamus Prior decided that enough was enough once the ball was kicked back into play.
“Ah sure it’s more money for the association,” laughed Kildare manager Mick O’Dwyer. “You never know what’s going to happen in those situations, but it was the referee’s decision and he chose to blow it up. We’re not out of the championship yet and that’s the main thing.”
Trailing by 1-6 to 0-1 at the break — Tadhg Fennin had Kildare’s goal — Offaly worked their way back into contention with significant contributions from Ciaran McManus and Claffey and when Pascal Kelleghan was taken down in the square with five minutes left, McManus fired home the penalty.
That meant Offaly were only one behind, but substitute Padraig Hurley increased Kildare’s advantage, before a nerveless McManus 45 and Claffey’s key score set up a replay.
Limerick 2-8, Cavan 0-11
Substitute Johnny Murphy and Conor Mullane each scored goals in Limerick’s surprise 2-8 to 0-11 win over Cavan at Breffni Park in last Saturday’s All-Ireland football qualifier first-round replay. The result earns Limerick a second round tie with the losers of the Kildare-Offaly replay.
Elsewhere following the draw for the second round, Mayo clash with Connacht rivals Roscommon, Tyrone should progress at the expense of Leitrim, Wicklow meet the losers of the Kerry-Cork replay, Louth take on the losers of the Dublin-Meath Leinster semifinal game, Derry travel to Longford, Laois are up against Clare and Westmeath play Fermanagh.
Clare, Offaly and Galway all made progress following last weekend’s games in the first round of the All Ireland hurling qualifiers. Clare were comfortable 3-22 to 1-8 winners over Dublin at Parnell Park, where Niall Gilligan and Jamesie O’Connor both played highly influential roles. Asked about his future, Dublin manager Kevin Fennelly said he’d “go home and think about it”.
Offaly were hard pressed by Meath before coming through 1-20 to 1-11 at Navan. Meath were trailing by only a point with a quarter of an hour remaining, but the introduction of Johnny Dooley proved crucial and Offaly were able to hit nine points to the losers’ one in the closing stages.
Meanwhile, there was a mismatch at Casement Park as Galway ran riot scoring seven goals in a 7-15 to 0-13 rout of Down. Fergal Healy ended up top scorer with a total of 3-2.