It turned out to be a tense, tetchy quarter-final at Croke Park with a
host of yellow cards and one dismissal, but if questions remain over the
attitude of some of the players, there was no doubt that the better team
Despite having Ronan Sweeney dubiously sent off as early as the 20th
minute for a second yellow-card offense, Kildare exhibited more desire than
their opponents. Unyielding at the back where veteran Glenn Ryan was a tower
of strength, they had more ball-winning capability around midfield thanks to
Dermot Earley, Michael Foley and Killian Brennan, while the eager John Doyle
hit six points from corner forward.
Westmeath by contrast failed to take full advantage of Sweeney’s early
departure, and with the notable exception of Dessie Dolan who scored 0-7
(0-4 from play) the attack misfired badly. They also missed a penalty coming
up to the interval when Alan Mangan drove his shot straight and tamely at
Enda Murphy after David Glennon had been fouled by James Lonergan.
“We’re very disappointed,” sighed Westmeath manager Paidi O Se, “but at
the same time I don’t want to take anything away from Kildare, they were the
hungrier team on the day. Certainly, we had a lot of chances in the second
half to keep in touch and maybe on other days we would have scored them. But
I think the Kildare defense had the measure of some of our forwards who we
expected would do the business.”
Even after Mangan’s penalty miss, Westmeath were still able to take a
one-point lead into the dressing room, however, with only Dolan to rely on,
they found it hard to keep the scoreboard moving. Kildare, meanwhile, were
much more lively going forward and there were good performances from Tadhg
Fennin and sub Derek McCormack to complement the excellent Doyle.
“When you’re a man down and you get ahead,” explained Kildare manager
Padraig Nolan, “the opposition have to come at you and we were ready for
that. It was a case of getting organized and working very, very hard. Once
we got ahead in the second half, the pressure was on Westmeath. It’s easy to
make mistakes when you’re chasing the game.”
Set head for inside page : A measure of revenge for O’Dwyer
Laois 1-10 Offaly 1-8
THERE was probably some justice from the climax of this Leinster
quarter-final at Croke Park. Undone as Kerry manager by a famous late Offaly
goal at the Hill end, Mick O’Dwyer extracted a measure of revenge last
Sunday in his current incarnation as Laois boss.
Having trailed for the entire game, and heading for the qualifiers in
the second minute of injury time, Ross Munnelly capitalized on a mistake in
the Offaly defense to crack home the winning goal. The looks of delighted
disbelief on the faces of the Laois players, and the contrasting looks of
despair from their Offaly counterparts told the story.
This might have been larceny on a grand scale, but in the heel of the
hunt, Offaly have only themselves to blame. The losers somehow contrived to
hit a total of 20 wides, in addition to blowing a six-point half time
advantage. They had an easy enough free on the stroke of full time which
would have probably killed Laois off, but Niall McNamee’s shot drifted wide,
and then Scott Brady inexplicably spilled the ball to give Munnelly his goal
Despite dominating in every area of the pitch, there was a sense that
Laois were being allowed to stay in the contest due to Offaly’s
wastefulness. If Ciaran McManus was his usual bustling self around the
middle of the pitch, he was guilty of a series of awful wides, and the
otherwise impressive Neville Coughlan was also culpable when he shot over
the bar with a goal for the taking.
“We really got out of jail there,” said O’Dywer whose side now meets
Kildare in the semi-final, “but of course it’s the score at the end that
counts not what happens earlier. We played terrible football in the first
half, but our fellas kept fighting and kept challenging. Maybe we didn’t
deserve it, but we got the goal at the end and we won, and in football
that’s all that matters.”
Offaly had the tonic of a goal by Mark Daly within the first minute, and
they should really have been further ahead than 1-5 to 0-2 at the
changeover. With Conor Evans putting in a superb display in defense, Offaly
looked likely to run out comfortable winners, but instead of settling down,
their shooting became worse and worse. Laois grew in confidence, managed to
close the gap, and Munnelly did the rest.
“Let me see, how do you put it into words?” asked Offaly manager Kevin
Kilmurray. “I really don’t know, but it was gift-wrapped for Mick O’Dwyer,
and I’d no intentions of giving him an early Christmas present. I suppose
you’re going to be punished if you don’t convert your chances into scores.”
Kerry 2-22 Tipperary 0-13
Kerry’S defense of their All Ireland title began in the most stark of
contrasts with where it might finish in four months time. Less than 5,000
hardy souls were in attendance at Semple Stadium last Sunday to witness a
Munster championship first-round game that quickly transformed into an
The winners could afford to leave Dara O Cinneide as well as their
form-forward from the National League, Declan Quill, on the bench, and when
talisman Seamus Moynihan withdrew with a calf injury before the start there
was still no apprehension. Tipp gave it their best shot – Declan Browne
contributed 0-9 including three points from play – but even that was way
short of the required mark.
“What can I say except that we did as well as we possibly could,” said
Tipp manager Seamus McCarthy. “I’d suggest there’s a huge gap between Kerry
and a lot of teams on that form.” The losers’ 13-point haul was not to be
sniffed at in the circumstances, but the problem was at the other end,
Kerry’s forwards were scoring at will.
If Colm Cooper was his usual opportunistic self with 1-5, Mike Frank
Russell appeared rejuvenated as he weighed in with eight points. Kerry’s
movement and accurate passing was particularly impressive despite the lack
of opposition. “It didn’t tell us anything but it does help us tune in for
the next game against Limerick,” said manager Jack O’Connor. “That’s going
to be a horse of a different color altogether. It’s a one-off game for
Limerick, they’ll treat it like an All Ireland final.”
Clare 2-14 Waterford 2-10
This Munster championship game in Ennis appeared to be heading for a
replay when Enda Coughlan struck with a late goal which earned Clare a
semi-final meeting with Cork.
There was more than enough evidence that Waterford would upset the
formbook and register a first championship win since 1999; however, Coughlan
killed off their chances of an upset in the 68th minute.
The teams were level at the break with Gary Hurney scoring a goal for
Waterford, but Clare then pulled clear thanks to a Rory Donnelly goal and
points from Coughlan and Peter O’Dwyer. There was still plenty of life in
Waterford, however, and they drew level when Niall Curran found the net only
for Coughlan to deliver the vital blow.
Antrim 0-11 Cavan 0-11
There was a reprieve for Cavan and frustration for Antrim as the two
sides finished level at 0-11 apiece in last Sunday’s Ulster football
quarter-final at Breffni Park. With eight debutants, Antrim went so close to
winning a championship game outside of Casement Park for the first time in
35 years, while Cavan were fortunate to earn a second chance at the Belfast
venue on Saturday.
It should never have been so tight as Cavan squandered three good goal
chances before the interval with Larry Reilly, twice, and Jason O’Reilly the
culprits. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the home team also kicked eight
wides in that disappointing first half.
Even though they were under heavy pressure, Antrim only trailed by 0-7
to 0-5 at the break, and even though Kevin Brady missed a penalty seven
minutes into the second half, Antrim began to grow in confidence. With their
manager Eamonn Coleman confined to his sick bed, Cavan’s health was looking
equally poor when Kevin Madden gave Antrim the lead.
However, in the third minute of injury time, Dermot McCabe was fouled by
Andrew McClean and Dominic O’Reilly tapped over the equalizing point.
Meanwhile, Roscommon had a lucky escape in the first round of the
Connacht championship when they edged out London by 0-12 to 1-8 at Ruislip.
Without a championship win since beating Leitrim in 1977, this was one of
London’s best performances in recent years.
The result could have been very different had Roscommon goalkeeper Shane
Curran not made a superb save from Barry Solan just after half time, and
then four minutes from the end, London’s Barry Niblock saw his fisted shot
bounce back off the crossbar. Roscommon now face Mayo in the semi-final.
In the only hurling championship game of the weekend, Down booked their
place in the Ulster final with a 3-21 to 4-9 replay win over Derry at
Casement Park. Martin Coulter emerged as the star of the game with all three
of Down’s goals while Gareth Johnston added seven points.