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Winners & Losers: Kilkenny & Tipp, Westmeath & Mayo Football

This week’s column featured a fantastic league clash in Nowlan Park, Cavan football climbing to new heights and Mayo down in the dumps.

WINNERS

Galway

What a time to be a Galway supporter. Joint-top and unbeaten in football’s Division 1, joint-top and unbeaten in hurling’s Division 2. A terrific one goal win in Austin Stack Park has Kevin Walsh’s men flying alongside Dublin in football’s top tier. They’re starting to reflect their hurling counteparts; big, strong, pragmatic but with a deadly eye for scores. Damien Comer is quickly establishing himself as a top tier forward, while Barry McHugh and Eamonn Brannigan – who scored the all important goal – are deadly in front of the posts.

They meet Monaghan next in what’s sure to be another close but hard-fought clash, but the real test will come against Dublin. They may be a few levels below the Dubs at this stage, but they shouldn’t fear anyone else in the country at the moment.

Speaking of the Dubs, they’re certainly a few levels below Galway in the hurling. Galway barely had to pull out of third gear to gain a six point win in Parnell Park, with their goal for promotion back to 1A well on track.

Kilkenny & Tipperary

You could probably park 30 of the most random hurlers from Kilkenny and Tipperary on a field and get a good game, but in a fixture that was seen as a possible write-off, a blooding of youth and inexperience, as both sides juggled the weight of injuries and collegiate finals on Saturday, it was a cracking game in Nowlan Park on Sunday afternoon.

A mighty over and back that we’ve become accustomed to when these two meet, Kilkenny seemed to have the better of their neighbours and rivals after a flurry of goals early into the second half. But Tipperary rallied. Without in-form Jason Forde, the injured John O’Dwyer and Seamus Callanan, and probably their entire starting forward line for the championship, they stormed back with a brace from Michael Breen.

But Kilkenny steadied and led by the imperious TJ Reid, struck beautiful points from Alan Murphy and Richie Leahy, who popped over the winner from an acute angle. You’d imagine both teams will be fairly thrilled, if the result didn’t go Tipp’s way – Kilkenny got the win on home turf, continued their superb record against Tipperary, and had fine performances from youth across the field. Tipp were missing a plethora of starters and were drawing the game in injury time, without having to call upon the likes of Noel McGrath on the bench.

Limerick Hurling

Limerick were the team most effected by college and club games this weekend and had to travel all the way to Antrim with just 21 players. They still put up 3-21 to Antrim’s 0-12 points and stayed strong on the road for Division 1B promotion and perhaps more success down the road.

The Shannonsiders have won seven competitive games in 2018 and are beginning to discover a bit of strength in depth and a youthful platform of talent. The future is bright in Limerick.

Westmeath Hurling

A win over in London keeps Westmeath unbeaten at the top of Division 2A. They’ll be a welcome addition to 1B.

Cavan Football

We mentioned before that Division 2 is the most exciting division in the Allianz league this year. Since then, Clare have felled Down while Tipperary beat Meath. Meanwhile, Cavan travelled to Páirc Úi Caoimh and beat Cork by three points, having beaten Meath two weeks prior.

LOSERS

Kildare Football

Kildare’s losses:

Donegal – 1-15 to 3-07
Tyrone – 1-16 to 0-18
Monaghan – 1-10 to 0-12
Dublin – 2-17 to 2-10

Bar the Dublin game in week one, Kildare have been missing that winning fight with an aggregate loss of four points from three games. They’ve been competitive but can’t find a result, and with Mayo and Kerry next it’s not looking good for the Lilywhites.

Antrim Hurling

Sunday was a great opportunity to get a scalp over a majorly depleted side. Instead, they only found 12 scores and conceded 3-21. As mentioned above, Limerick have decent depth and did have the likes of Aaron Gillane and Cian Lynch still available, but you’d have expected a bigger fight from the Antrim men. Their time in 1B may be short lived.

Mayo Football

Sitting dangerously close to the bottom of 1A, Mayo haven’t really got going so far in this year’s league. They slumped to their third successive defeat on home turf against their old foe Dublin, against which you’d expect a much better fight.

Stephen Rochford’s side missed a handful of important frees and at one stage, went twenty minutes without finding the target. They now face Kildare next week in what’s suddenly a must-win game.

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