A reprieve at last for the rebels, who will, privately at least, be fairly content with being written off so early in the year. They commanded a lot of the game, crucially, in front of a whopping 13,000+ attendance away from home, and played with a new found confidence that had been lacking to date. Predictably, the All-Ireland champions stormed back, having been behind by 9 at one stage in the opening half, but Cork showed impressive character to see out the match and claim their second victory on the trot. A welcome breather from the barrage of negativity that has surrounded the county of late, and much deserved.
Rory Gallagher’s current team scored a fine victory over his former charges, claiming Donegal’s scalp in Letterkenny at the weekend. Many thought that Fermanagh’s impressive Ulster final run last year may have been a fluke, but their 2019 league form suggests otherwise. They are top of Divison 2 now along with Meath, and can look forward with confidence to the beginning of the championship. Ciaran Corrigan, in particular, was in sparkling form, notching four points from play, as the Erne men continue to impress.
A remarkable year for college’s GAA down in Cork was cemented over the weekend, when UCC claimed the Fitzgibbon Cup title to go along with the Sigerson crown that was secured during the week. It’s their first time claiming the duo of coveted third-level titles since 1988, and, in conjunction with the Cork’s hurlers success, generates a feel-good factor surrounding the county this week. A particularly heart-warming moment saw a bus load of supporters from the hurling stronghold of Lixnaw in North Kerry come to support their stand-out talent, Shane Conway, who managed to bag himself 0-6 (0-5 frees). It was a facile victory in the end for the Mardyke-based side, who will be delighted to have prised the crown away from the Limerick region for the first time since the 2-13/14 campaign.
Coming out on top in a dogfight builds confidence and boosts morale more than any amount of funding or hollow words ever could. Granted, it took an excellent save from Alan Nolan to deny Waterford the 2 points, and you’d have to admire the liathroidí it took for him to pull it off – having conceded four already. It halts Waterford in their tracks, having beaten the three weaker teams in Division 1B already, but they’ll take comfort from the fact that they were, literally, within a puck of a ball of winning the game. It gives the Dubs a real boost heading into the last round of league games before the quarter-finals, and gives Mattie Kenny a welcome victory over top-tier opposition.
We knew that Murphy was a serious talent. To win the goalkeeper All-Star in 2018, despite not making it beyond the quarter-finals, was a testament to that. What we may not have been so aware of, however, was his accuracy from long-distance placed balls. A last minute 85m free gave Kilkenny an extremely satisfying victory over Tipperary in Semple Stadium, in what was an entertaining, if not quite full-tilt encounter. The free was struck with purpose and with confidence, and split the posts, with some distance to spare. It’s a weapon that has been added to the arsenal of several teams in recent years, and one that Kilkenny will use with more regularity as the season progresses and more crucial games go down to the wire.
Early doors, yes, but it is appearing more and more likely that the challengers that the footballing population desperately seek will come clad in either blue and white or green and gold. The men from the West were quashed without too much fuss in Croke Park on Saturday evening, yet will be content in the knowledge that they still remain second-placed on the table, ahead of their vanquishers. It was a statement from Dublin – whose league form to date had given rise to questions being asked as to whether they were as invincible as people were making out.
GAA Congress Motion
Another week, another negative PR story coming from the top. Donegal has tabled a motion requesting that Dublin be allowed to play one of their three Super 8’s games in Croke Park. However, only 36% of the delegation backed the proposal. Nobody from outside Donegal supported it. Dublin cannot be blamed for this – democratic protocol was followed, and procedures upheld. Yet, there is an undeniable, sour tasting unfairness to this, and a growing discontentment between the powers that be and the clubs, in particular. It’s a festering wound that needs attention.
The only senior inter-county football team with no points after four rounds. Louth are an in-form side, but few would have predicted a fifteen-point winning margin in the fixture between the sides at the weekend. Serious intervention will be needed if the Yeats’ county are to make any inroads in this season’s Connacht Championship.
Tipp will certainly be glad there is no relegation from Division 1A this year, as they would be staring it directly in the face were that the case. Certainly, they were unlucky to come away with nothing against Kilkenny at the weekend, and fans certainly won’t be rushing to press the panic button as of yet. But there’s a bottled-up pressure waiting to erupt. Their failure to qualify from Munster during what was popular deemed “The most exciting hurling championship ever” will have hurt Tipperary players and fans deeply. They have a key role to play in any exciting championship, and you get the sense that Liam Sheedy couldn’t give a hoot about league results, with championship fever the only target on his horizon.
It would be remiss of us not to mention the dismal state football on Leeside finds itself in. Less than 2,000 at a home football double-header – simply bizarre for a county many would deem the standard bearers over the years for dual fans, albeit, admittedly, hurling always did edge it in terms of sheer numbers. It appears as though the fairweather fans have thrown their lot in with the hurlers, and the lazy analysis revolving around the themes of “they’re finished” or “sure football is for west Cork” are back in fashion. One point from four games means they are strong contenders for the drop to Division 3, the lowest in their proud history. Yet what chance have they, if the gulf in support is so paramount?
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