All-Ireland Club Champions
Beaufort and Kilcummin of Kerry. Dunnamaggin of Kilkenny and Galway’s Oranmore-Maree. These four proud clubs will forever go down in legendary folklore as All-Ireland champions. Not a bad week at all. Hats off also to TG4, who provided incredible coverage of all games on their YouTube channel so fans who couldn’t travel, or who had been forced abroad, could still revel in their club playing in Croke Park. One to be savoured, they don’t come around too often.
Ballyhale and St Thomas’
A fine week also for Kilkenny’s Ballyhale Shamrocks, who beat Ballgunner in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling semi-finals in Thurles. They’re on the hunt for an incredible seventh hurling title and it took teenager Evan Cody to help them over the line, who nailed 1-4 in a 1-15 to 13 point win over the Déise side.
On the other side of the draw, just a point separated St Thomas’ of Galway and Antrim’s Cushendall. Corner back David Sherry was the hero as his late point secured the Tribesmen their first final since 2013. Ballyhale and St Thomas’ will meet on St. Patrick’s Day to crown the next All-Ireland hurling champion.
An important first win to get them back on track in Division 2. Not many would have given them a chance against a soaring Donegal side, but Tipperary found their knack for scoring crucial goals, with two late strikes which helped get them over the line. What was even more encouraging was the performance delivered by some of their big players, including Ballina’s Stephen O’Brien who was imperious in midfield, scoring 1-1, and Éire Óg Annacarty man Brian Fox who scored two points. Tipp need to continue getting the best out of their more experienced players and once the ship stays steady, their league campaign won’t be as disappointing as first feared.
They just keep rising. We wrote about the possibility of Leitrim becoming the greatest Division 4 team of the decade, albeit a little bit tongue and cheek, but this latest win over Antrim was their most impressive yet. The Ulster side led by six points at one stage, until a flurry just before half time gave Leitrim a fighting chance in the second half. And they eventually clawed it back, before leveling the game at 13 points to Antrim’s 1-10, and then Domhnaill Flynn held his nerve to point the Leitrim men ahead. That’s three wins from three now and promotion to Division 3 very much in their own hands.
You could strike out “Kerry” and say this game was a huge win for football in general, given the cliché whenever the game is played to the fullest of its potential. It was indeed a cracker of a match, end to end with drama and a bite that wouldn’t look out of place in an All-Ireland final. The rebirth of football? Maybe tap the breaks just slightly, as other league games on Sunday gave us a stark reminder of how poor football can get at times and that this was a bit of an anomaly in the grand scheme of things.
Irregardless, it was a major win for Kerry and no matter how little or how much work Dublin have done up until now won’t matter a jot to a lot of Kerry players and fans – this is one over on Dublin that will taste sweet now, but imagine how beautiful it would taste later on in the year.
Tyrone are regrettably becoming a permanent fixture of this feature every week. But until they start winning games, last year’s All-Ireland runners-up will continue to have bad weeks by their very high standards.
Having clawed a draw from the clutches of defeat in Roscommon, you’d argue that Mickey Harte’s men should be in the “Good” side of this piece, especially having come from seven points down. A draw isn’t a disaster by any means, especially against Roscommon who showed their ability with a fine win against Monaghan last week, yet they were lucky to get that result as a very scoreable free deep in their half of the field to win the game was overruled for an off the ball altercation. Niall Morgan was the hero with a last second equalising strike from miles out the field, but why are Tyrone relying on their ‘keeper to get them out of a hole? It’s going to be an important two weeks now to try and get their house in order before welcoming Monaghan to Healy Park in round four.
Clare fans have been quick to point out that this result isn’t a shock by any means, that Clare have had the better of Cork for quite some time now and should regarded as on par, if not ahead of their Munster rivals. That all is true, but it doesn’t deny the fact that a nine-point loss is a dreadful result for the Rebels. Cork are staring Division 3 in the face now with just a single point from their opening three fixtures. I don’t think the county board had intended on Corkness being revived in Division 3.
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