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Limerick, Tipp put on dominant hurling displays

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Limerick 0-23, Clare 0-9

OK, so it’s only the league. And yes, sprinting in spring is never preferable to swanning in summer. But boy were Limerick’s hurlers impressive in Sunday’s National Hurling League quarterfinals Sunday at Semple Stadium in Thurles. They were ferocious, they were feverish and although they came up against as tepid a Clare side as has been seen for a decade, they were nonetheless fantastic. So much for off-the-field arguments being a distraction.

Clare, on the other hand, were abysmal. They looked tired and rudderless, weary and leaderless. They’ve been on the end of March and April hidings before, of course, and have worked through them to be a force in the sun-splashed days. But this time it looks serious. This is no time of the year to be leaden-footed and when even leviathans like Brian Lohan, Ollie Baker and Seanie McMahon yawn their way uninterested through the afternoon, you know there’s something amiss.

Their nemisis-in-chief on Sunday was Mark Keane, the Limerick corner-forward, who outscored them on his own. His 11 points were picked off from all angles and all distances, eight of them coming from frees. Ollie Moran and the Foleys, Barry and Mark, also wove neasr-perfect performances into the afternoon, but the top marks would have to go to veteran corner-back Stephen McDonagh. He simply owned the great tracts of Thurles turf he covered throughout the match and was the outstanding presence in a Limerick defense that gave up only four points from play.

So what does it all mean? Probably nothing. It’s worth remembering that around this time last year, Clare dished out a similarly emphatic timbering to Limerick, who then went away, licked their wounds and came back strong and stellar for the summer. Clare, in contrast, were kicking their heels by June.

Limerick 0-23: M. Keane 0-11 (8 frees), O. Moran 0-3, M. Foley 0-2, B. Foley 0-2, B. Begley 0-2, C. Fitzgerald 0-2, M. O’Brien 0-1.

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Clare 0-9: J. O’Connor 0-3 (all frees), D. Forde 0-2, S. McMahon 0-2 (both frees), J. Reddan 0-1, T. Carmody 0-1.

Tipperary 4-13, Galway 1-17

Noel Lane must be fairly keen for the championship to start soon, just so he can get his head down and get on with the job. No distractions, no controversies, just him and his hurling team sitting down and working out a way to win. Because as of now, having lost a selector, a talented player and a quarterfinal all in the space of 10 days, the league must be something of an irritation to him. His team certainly played as though it was on Sunday.

A halftime score of Tipperary 2-10, Galway 0-2 tells you just about everything you need to know about this game. Tipperary strolled through the first half, spearing scores with laughable ease. They laid off a bit for the second half and Galway mustered something of a challenge, even coming within three points at one stage. But it would have been a complete travesty had they forged ahead at any stage and when Tipp woke up again near the end, they killed the game quietly and efficiently.

Mischievous whispers flew around about Mark Kerins’s absence from the Galway side, but Lane doused whatever speculation there was about the Clarinbridge forward showing solidarity with his brother Alan. Kerins was sick, according to Lane, but not many around Thurles believed him. This one could run a while yet.

On Sunday, though, it was only the Tipperary players who were running. A goal up inside 20 seconds, 14 points clear by the break, it was all too easy for them. Nicky English said afterward he was a bit disappointed with the performance, but he was being a bit harsh, especially on the likes of John O’Brien and Lar Corbett, both of whom were sprightly in attack. O’Brien looked especially promising at full forward, scoring 2-1, but a broken thumb is going to keep him out for a month or so.

Tipperary 4-13: E. Kelly 0-11 (9 frees), J. O’Brien 2-1, L. Corbett 1-1, B. O’Meara 1-0.

Galway 1-17: E. Cloonan 1-8 (6 frees), J. Rabbitte 0-3, D. Hayes 0-3, R. Murray 0-2, R. Gantley 0-1 (free).

Football

Tyrone 3-12, Mayo 0-11

Tyrone’s footballers are looking dangerous in Div. 1. Really dangerous. They’re the youngest, fittest and most skillful team in the country, with the canniest, craftiest management team. They absolutely destroyed Mayo in Sunday’s semifinal at Enniskillen. Their only worry now is the fact that they might have come to the boil a touch prematurely. But that’s a worry for another day.

For now, they’ll just rejoice in what they have. Stephen O’Neill was astonishing in attack, scoring a picture-perfect goal as well as a slew of points. Cormac McAnallen was a towering presence in midfield and Kevin Hughes controlled everything at full forward. Mayo were dire and, having gone two years without losing a league game, this was their second defeat on the trot. The fact that only goalkeeper Peter Burke could be happy with his day’s toil tells its own story.

Tyrone now meet Cavan in the final on April 28.

Tyrone 3-12: S. O’Neill 1-3 (1 free), P. Canavan 0-6 (3 frees), K. Hughes 1-1, C. Holmes 1-0, G. Cavlan 0-1, B. McGuigan 0-1.

Mayo 0-11: C. Mortimer 0-6 (3 frees), D. Tiernan 0-2, J. Gill 0-1, S. Carolan 0-1, M. McNicholas 0-1.

Cavan 5-13, Roscommon 3-12

Cavan and Roscommon rattled into each other at Cusack Park in Mullingar on Sunday and out of the chaos sprung a relentlessly entertaining semifinal. Eight goals, 25 points (the majority of them from play) and a helluva lot of fun along the way made this a great afternoon’s viewing.

Cavan are through to their first league final in 42 years as a result of it, and although they’ll rarely come up against a defense as slipshod as Roscommon’s was on Sunday, they must be a decent bet to carry on dancing throughout the summer. Jason Reill and Mickey Graham were the chief twisters and tormenters, but it was Pierce McKenna and Cathal Collins who supplied the ammunition from out the field. In this form, Tyrone will have a tough job stopping them winning their first league since 1948.

Cavan 5-13: M. Graham 2-1, P. Reilly 2-1, (1-0 pen., 0-1 free), J. Reilly 1-2, L. Reilly 0-4, F. O’Reilly 0-2 (both frees), P. Galligan 0-2, P. McKenna 0-1.

Roscommon 3-12: N. Dineen 2-4, J. Dunning 1-1, S. Lohan 0-4 (2 frees), R. Cox 0-1, J. Egan 0-1, D. Connellan 0-1.

Div. 2

Kerry 0-11, Meath 0-8

Amazingly, there was nothing to see here at Limerick. The dampest of damp squibs, this one. Kerry didn’t look interested and won almost in spite of themselves. Meath really didn’t look interested and have obviously not started cranking up the heat for the summer yet.

Kerry 0-11: N. Kennelly 0-4 (2 frees), S. O’Sullivan 0-2, M.F. Russell 0-2 (both frees), M. + ST 0-1, L. Hassett 0-1, A. MacGearailt 0-1.

Meath 0-8: G. Geraghty 0-3, T. Giles 0-3 (all frees), O. Murphy 0-1, A. Kenny 0-1.

Laois 0-12, Armagh 0-8

This one was pretty poor as well. It was a foul-ridden, mistake-littered dog of a game at Pearse Park that Laois won only because they were worse at hitting wides than Armagh. They meet Kerry in the final in a fortnight.

Laois 0-12: C. Conway 0-4 (3 frees), I. Fitzgerald 0-3 (1 free), B. McDonald 0-2, G. Ramsbottom 0-2, M. Lalor 0-1.

Armagh 0-8: P. McGrane 0-2, P. McKeever 0-2, S. McDonnell 0-2, O. McConville 0-1 (free), D. Marsden 0-1.

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