By Mark Jones
A draw doesn’t always cheer, but both Kilkenny and Tipperary were looking on the positive side following last Sunday’s National Hurling League stalemate at Nowlan Park. And not surprisingly, because the two counties made light of atrocious conditions with impressive performances as it finished 1-12 to 0-15, a result that leaves Tipperary a point clear at the top of Div. 1B.
Tipp manager Nicky English was satisfied with the outcome as his team builds up toward a Munster championship clash with Clare in early June.
"On the way to the game, I was wondering how in God’s earth we could play in this weather, but it was a great contest," English said. "But we won’t be getting carried away with it. In Tipperary we’ve a tendency to delude ourselves at times and this is only April and we all know how much has to be done before the championship."
So far, English appears to have discovered a highly promising talent in full-forward Lar Corbett, who scored 0-3. Despite trailing by 1-6 to 0-8 at the interval, Tipp had the better of the second half as Eugene O’Neill, Eddie Enright and Corbett soon opened up a 3-point gap. However, Kilkenny responded through Henry Shefflin, who had struck for an early goal, while the outstanding Dermot Grogan, Alan Cummins and Alan Geoghegan all made important contributions.
Cork 1-17, Waterford 1-15
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Cork kept themselves in the hunt for the knockout stages with a victory over Waterford at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, where some brilliant attacking play by Joe Deane and Seanie McGrath made the difference during the second half.
The winners were four points behind at the changeover and as Deane and McGrath, who hit 0-7 and 0-4, respectively, began to torment the Waterford defense, Alan Browne smashed home the all-important goal following some good approach work by Neil Ronan and Kevin Murray.
Waterford could have been well clear before Cork’s resurgence if their shooting had been more accurate, but Paul Flynn’s contribution of 1-6 wasn’t matched by any of his colleagues
Wexford 4-20, Derry 1-7
Wexford are also in contention for the playoffs after a convincing win over an understrength Derry at Enniscorthy. In third place in the division with six points, they soon had the upper hand thanks to the contributions of Colin Byrne, who struck 2-5, and Paul Codd, who had five points from frees.
Galway 3-25, Meath 1-6
In Div. 1A, Galway continue to lead with the way after Sunday’s crushing success against Meath at Ballinasloe. Missing three of their leading players, Meath were soon swamped by the home county’s forwards, who scored at will. Alan Kerins did most of the damage with 2-5 from play, while Liam Burke clipped over 10 points including nine frees.
Dublin 3-14, Antrim 2-15
After three defeats in succession, Dublin were at last able to savor a first win under manager, Kevin Fennelly, when they defeated Antrim at Casement Park. Despite conceding five points in the opening quarter, Dublin got into their stride with goals by Damien Russell, David Donnelly and David Henry.
Kerry missed the chance to open up a three-point margin at the top of Div. 2 when they were held to a 1-12 to 1-12 draw by Down at Ballycran, and Wicklow now only trail the leaders by two following their 2-13 to 1-11 success against Roscommon at Hyde Park. Westmeath, who have a game in hand, are not yet out of contention thanks to a 2-11 to 0-12 win over Kildare in Mullingar.
Donegal, who defeated Leitrim by 0-11 to 0-8, lead Div. 3 by scoring average from Fermanagh, 3-10 to 1-7 winners against Tyrone, and Sligo whose promotion chances were boosted by a 3-11 to 1-9 verdict over Longford.