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Winners & Losers: Michael Murphy, Limerick, Tiernan McCann

Donegal lay down a marker in Ulster, while Limerick and Galway roll on in the hurling championships.

Winners

Donegal

Condemning Tyrone to the back door is a huge statement of intent from Donegal, especially considering the Red Hand men were tipped to be closer to Dublin than anyone else in the country. Donegal dominated, with Michael Murphy laying down a firm marker to be regarded as one of the best footballers in the country, if not the best in terms of controlling and dominating a game.

Limerick

Bogey team? Think again. After Clare were the only team to wound Limerick last year, the Shannonsiders were leaving nothing to chase on Sunday and absolutely demolished the Banner from start to finish. They had more hunger and fight from numbers 1 to 15, barely giving their rivals a second to breath on the ball. Defensively they were like hyenas, with Sean Finn and Mike Casey superb in a suffocation role of Clare’s best marksmen in attack. In midfield, William O’Donoghue has solidified his standing in the depth chart and is appearing undroppable after an all-action display, to the dismay of Darragh O’Donovan. The half-forward line gave another impeccable example of industry and class in scoring situations. Limerick are rolling once again.

Galway

Micheál Donoghue has beaten Brian Cody three times, on the way to what looks like possible be three Bob O’Keeffes in a row. It’s an impressive domination of the once great power of Leinster hurling, who made Kilkenny look like a one-man team versus what we thought was the real one-man team. In fairness, the much maligned Galway contingent minus Joe Canning really stepped up to the plate, even if they were scrappy and misfiring in moments. Jason Flynn may have let a few frees sail on him, but he was impactful in a full forward line that featured moments of sheer brilliance from Conor Whelan. The star of the show was Cathal Mannion, however, who seemed to take on the mantle in terms of taking the game by the scruff of the neck, with some outrageous point taking. A hugely encouraging win for the Tribesmen, with the caveat being it was against 13 men for a period of the game, as they await the return of Canning later this summer.

TJ Reid

What a player. He may have cemented his status as the best in the country, if it was up for debate in the first place. There are very few that match his combination of point taking, free prowess, power, skill, positioning and intelligence. Aside from maybe the aforementioned Joe Canning, TJ Reid is on an island of eliteness in hurling right now.

Cavan

Cavan ended their 17-year wait for Ulster final action with a six point win in Clones. Having been taken to a replay, at one point nailing nine consecutive scores in an attacking display that would envy many counties around the championship. Now they meet Donegal and will have a genuine belief that they can win their first title since 1997.

Cork

A win’s a win, regardless of the opposition, and now Cork are getting hot at just the right time as they await Clare in a do-or-die fixture next weekend. The Rebels will be extra pleased that the dynamic duo of Mark Coleman Darragh Fitzgibbon finally look to be finding their feet after a heavy few weeks, although concerns remain over a potentially porous full back line.

Losers

Clare

A truly dismal display. Thirteen scores at this level will win no game; scoring from three players certainly won’t. And now questions will linger over Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor this week, despite still having a chance of progressing into the All-Ireland series and possibly even a Munster final. They seem to be carrying too many passengers and aren’t getting consistent tunes out of undoubtedly talented players like Shane O’Donnell and Podge Collins.

Tiernan McCann

Foolish, disgusting, and deserving of a lengthy ban.

Leinster Football

36,000 fans showed up to see a relatively competitive semi-final, and an utterly uncompetitive Dublin demolition of Kildare. How many more Leinster titles for Dublin before no one bar the Dubs start to show up?

Waterford

Another season in the books before the spring grass has even dried. It’s hard to see where the Déise go from here, as things look to be rotting from within and player mutinies may need to be dealt with, which in turn may seal Paraic Fanning’s fate.

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