Minor Hurling Team Of The Year Announcement: Michael Fennelly – The Irish Examiner – September 20 2018

Club player workload almost at county levels, claims Michael Fennelly

By Daire Walsh

Former Kilkenny midfielder Michael Fennelly believes the demands of club hurling are beginning to match that of the inter-county game.

In the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report entitled “Playing Senior Inter-County Gaelic games: Realities and Consequences”, it was revealed that GAA stars are spending up to 31 hours per week on their senior inter-county commitments.

However, nine months on from bringing his glittering career with the Cats to a close, Fennelly still finds himself with an extensive workload.

“It follows inter-county. That’s the kind of sequence, the way it goes. That’s getting more serious and club gets more serious. It’s a hobby at the end of the day and we have to realise that. But at the same time, you’re there to put in work,” Fennelly remarked at the Minor Hurling Team of the Year announcement in Dublin yesterday.

Before, you’d three sessions a week maybe, which is grand, but now the gym is an important aspect of preventing injuries. Of getting stronger. People are asking me had I loads of time off since I left with Kilkenny? I was like ‘I’m training four, five nights a week still!’

“That doesn’t change, time didn’t change. You’re still putting in the same workload, you still have to mentally be preparing for your training sessions.”

In addition to accumulating an extraordinary haul of eight All-Ireland titles under Brian Cody, Fennelly has also claimed three national crowns with Ballyhale Shamrocks (2007, 2010, and 2015).

They remain in the hunt for county honours in 2018 as they face the newly-promoted Ballyragget in a senior championship quarter-final this Saturday. The fixture list continues to be a source of frustration for the LIT lecturer, though, who is in favour of condensing the club season into a six-month period.

“The fixtures are a major problem. I’m sick of talking about fixtures. I don’t think we’ll ever come to a fixture list where people are 100% happy. There will always be disagreement. The championship for the senior inter-county was super this year for supporters, absolutely brilliant.

And all the games were close as well because there is not much between most of them. But for the player, it’s a bit of disaster to be honest. I’d love to scale down the club season to maybe six months max and actually do it all then. Actually hit it hard. Then you have time off and you’re hungry to go again at it. Instead, it’s just dragged out.

While he stressed it isn’t a short-term objective, Fennelly has a stated ambition to eventually move into management.

“I’m eager to get into it. But I’m conscious of the fact I’m doing a PHD, lecturing and doing some leadership work with companies as well. So I’ve loads on, to be honest. We’ve a little nipper coming in January as well, so that’s going to cause problems,” Fennelly said.

“I’d love to get into it at some stage, as quick as possible, but I have to be smart with my time. I need to be in with a team, first of all. Maybe a club team and build up from there. To go straight in would be a huge task.”

Fennelly’s uncle Kevin, who preceded Brian Cody as Cats supremo, previously had a two-year stint as Dublin senior hurling manager — a position that is available once again in the wake of Pat Gilroy’s shock resignation.

The Sky Blues chief sighted a “considerable amount of overseas travel” as his principle reason for stepping away after just one season at the helm and Fennelly feels inter-county management now requires a full-time devotion.

“It is a serious role. The amount of hours that goes into that. I’d like to see a report on that, because it’s a lot more than 31 hours I’d say. A lot more pressure, a lot more stress.

“For me, it should be a full-time role and it should be a job actually in itself. Where you step away from nearly work or you’ve a part-time job or something. Because again, that’s the way it’s going.”

Posted in Hurling | Comments Off on Minor Hurling Team Of The Year Announcement: Michael Fennelly – The Irish Examiner – September 20 2018

Women’s All-Ireland League Launch: Michelle Claffey – The Irish Examiner – September 19 2018

England decision on full-time contracts pleases Michelle Claffey

By Daire Walsh

Irish international Michelle Claffey has described the reintroduction of full-time contracts for England players as “a positive step” for women’s rugby.

The RFU controversially opted against renewing the deals of their 15-a-side stars after the 2017 World Cup, focusing instead on the development of sevens rugby.

However, from January 2019, 28 permanent contracts will be made available — alongside seven elite player squad agreements.

“You have it in New Zealand, you have it in France. You have it in England now coming back. It was sad to see it taken away, but I’m glad that they’re brought back,” Claffey said at yesterday’s AIL launch in the Aviva Stadium.


“It’s great to see, it is a positive step. All you want are forward steps.”

“You don’t want anyone going back. If it ever comes [to Ireland]… I don’t think you’ll see it in my playing career, but it’d be great to see that kind of professional set-up. Rugby players getting paid as their full-time jobs.”

The Offaly native won four caps off the bench during this year’s Six Nations Championship. Despite acknowledging that Ireland’s amateur status will put them at a distinct disadvantage for future meetings against England, she doesn’t view it as an insurmountable obstacle for Adam Griggs’ squad.

“At the minute now, going into Six Nations, it will be Ireland versus England — who are full-time professionals. We’ll have to step our game up.

“I want to play. I will sacrifice whatever I need to sacrifice, in order to get to play and perform at a proper level,” Claffey added.

Posted in Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s All-Ireland League Launch: Michelle Claffey – The Irish Examiner – September 19 2018

Rugby Column Number 124: The Kildare Nationalist – September 18 2018


Carbery wasting no time in making his mark at Munster

By Daire Walsh

ATHY’S Joey Carbery enjoyed a dream first start for Munster at Irish Independent Park (formerly Musgrave Park) last Friday evening, as he contributed 15 points in a facile Guinness PRO14 victory for the Red Army.

Because the Ospreys had opted to rest a number of their first-choice operators for this visit to Cork, it was an ideal opportunity for Carbery to stake his claim for a more permanent out-half role. Eadestown native Tadhg Beirne was included in a Munster starting line-up for the first time, as he lined out in the second-row alongside Darren O’Shea.

After Munster had broken the deadlock with a 15th-minute penalty, Ospreys narrowed the gap courtesy of a Sam Davies penalty. This was Carbery’s cue to fully ignite the Munster challenge, however.

He secured a superb seven-point salvo at the opposite end and generally acted as a nuisance to the Welsh outfit’s defence. The burgeoning Irish international added conversions to tries from James Cronin and hooker Rhys Marshall, which helped Munster to establish a seemingly unassailable 28-6 interval lead.

Despite already having a bonus-point to their name, the Red Army maintained their high level of attacking aggression on the restart. Further five-pointers followed through Marshall (his second) and Arno Botha – Carbery supplied the extras to both scores to retain his 100% success rate off the kicking tee.

A Luke Morgan touchdown on the hour mark did provide the Ospreys with some form of solace, but Darren Sweetnam’s sharp finish ensured that Munster had the final say in a comprehensive 49-13 triumph.

In the absence of their Kildare contingent on Saturday, Leinster made light work of the Dragons to register a 52-10 success. James Tracy and Fergus McFadden were missing from the matchday squad, while Adam Byrne was on the scoresheet for the ‘A’ selection in their comfortable Celtic Cup win over Cardiff Blues ‘A’.

Sean Cronin got the ball rolling for Leo Cullen’s men with a converted ninth-minute try – and this was supplemented by a stoppage-time effort by a returning Josh van der Flier. Jonathan Sexton’s seven-point haul off the kicking tee also contributed handsomely to the Blues’ 17-0 half-time advantage – which was significantly bolstered after the resumption.

Either side of a Jordan Larmour score, Jamison Gibson-Park bagged a brace of tries for the rampant hosts. Dragons finally crossed the whitewash via Jordan Williams, to give head coach Bernard Jackman some form of satisfaction on his return to the RDS.

It did little to curb the influence of Leinster, though, as Tadhg Furlong and Scott Fardy completed the scoring inside the final-quarter.

Meanwhile, there was late drama in the Women’s Interprovincial Championship decider at Energia Park on Saturday evening. Leinster entered the proceedings knowing that a draw would be enough for them to reclaim their crown. A stoppage-time try from Rachel Allen-Connolly restored parity to a tense affair (14-14), but following a wayward conversion by Munster centre Niamh Briggs, Leinster squeezed through on score difference.

Posted in Rugby Column | Comments Off on Rugby Column Number 124: The Kildare Nationalist – September 18 2018

Dublin Senior One Football Championship Group Two: St Vincent’s V Lucan Sarsfields – The Evening Herald – September 17 2018

Vins cruise to victory

ST VINCENT’S………………………………..4-19

LUCAN SARSFIELDS………………………..0-12

Daire Walsh

HOLDERS St Vincent’s made it three wins from three starts in Dublin SFC1 Group 2 with this commanding triumph over Lucan Sarsfields at O’Toole Park on Saturday afternoon.

Although Lucan had an outside chance of reaching the knockout stages, goals by Adam Baxter (two), Cormac Diamond and Enda Varley helped Vins to ease over the line after they led 1-10 to 0-8 at half-time.

Scorers – St Vincent’s: A Baxter 2-1, C Diamond 1-3, E Varley 1-1 (0-1f), T Quinn (2f), J Feeney 0-3 each, S Lambe, L Smyth 0-2 each, G Brennan, E Fennell, S Carthy, S O’Meara 0-1 each. Lucan Sarsfields: C Gallagher (2f), E O Conghaile 0-3 each, B Gallagher 0-2 (1f), P Casey, S Newcombe, J Carey, D Shanahan 0-1 each.

ST VINCENT’S: M Savage; M Concarr, F Breathnach, C Wilson; S Lambe, G Brennan, B Egan; E Fennell, L Galvin; J Feeney, L Smyth, C Diamond; A Baxter, S Carthy, T Quinn. Subs: E Varley for Carthy (34, BC), A Giblin for Fennell (42), R McBride for Feeney (47), T Diamond for Smyth (52), C O’Brien for Baxter (54), S O’Meara for Diamond (55).

LUCAN SARSFIELDS: C O’Flynn; L Walsh, S Cleary, D Newcombe; P Casey, D Gallagher, D O’Shaughnessy; E O Conghaile, D Gavin; S Newcombe, B Gallagher, J McCormack; S O’Shaughnessy, C Gallagher, H Ladd. Subs: CJ Smith for D O’Shaughnessy (28), K Moran for McCormack, D Shanahan for Ladd (both 41), J Carey for C Gallagher (50).

Referee: James King (Garda/Westmanstown Gaels).

Posted in Gaelic Football | Comments Off on Dublin Senior One Football Championship Group Two: St Vincent’s V Lucan Sarsfields – The Evening Herald – September 17 2018

Women’s Interprovincial Championship: Leinster V Munster – The Irish Examiner – September 17 2018

Heartbreak for Munster as Leinster survive late drama in women’s interpros

By Daire Walsh at Energia Park

Women’s Interprovincials

Leinster 14 – 14 Munster

Leinster women’s head coach Ben Armstrong heaped praise on his side after they reclaimed the Interprovincial Championship at Energia Park on Saturday evening, in the most dramatic of fashions.

While the Blues entered this contest knowing a draw would be enough to edge out arch-rivals Munster on score difference, they had to wait until Niamh Briggs’ stoppage-time conversion went off target to secure their fifth title at this grade.

We knew that a draw was coming down our way with the for and against. Certainly you were always trying to look to win the game, but momentum in that game shifted. They had it, we had it and then they had it. It was just one of those things, the momentum finished in our way,” an ecstatic Armstrong remarked.

“Delighted with the effort from the girls and the effort from everyone. The coaching staff, the backroom staff, the support from the branch. It has been outstanding. It’s nice to see smiles on faces.”

The decision to move the championship forward from December was taken with a view to increasing the profile of women’s rugby at provincial level. With a healthy crowd in attendance, Armstrong believes it expertly showcased what the sport can offer.

“As Sene [Naoupu, Leinster captain] said in her speech, that was a great game of footie and everyone got their money’s worth there. It was outstanding.”

Even though the influential Briggs converted a brace of penalties during a tight and tense opening period, a nine-point haul from fly-half Nikki Caughey offered Leinster a 9-6 interval advantage. Following much persistence in attack on the resumption, Briggs restored parity with a superb strike in the 63rd minute.

Leinster — who didn’t concede a single point in their opening two fixtures — looked set for victory when flanker Juliet Short finished off a sweeping move in the left corner. A late Munster surge increased the tension in Donnybrook, however, as Briggs released UL Bohemian club-mate Rachel Allen-Connolly for a final-minute try.

They were now primed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat but, with the final kick of the tie, Briggs narrowly missed the target at a right-hand angle.

Although it was a heartbreaking way for Munster to miss out on back-to-back interpro crowns, Reds head coach Laura Guest was “incredibly proud of their efforts” on the night.

It was probably a little disappointing, but the performance was incredible from my girls. It was bodies on the line stuff all day long,” Guest acknowledged.

“You look right across the team, there’s internationals, there’s former internationals the whole way through. Even the current international captain there, Ciara Griffin, has had the most incredible series. She’s a machine and it’s just a joy to have players like them involved in the squad.”

Scorers for Leinster: J Short try, N Caughey 3 pens.

Scorers for Munster: R Allen-Connolly try, N Briggs 3 pens.

LEINSTER: H Tyrrell; G Matthews, M Claffey, S Naoupu, E O’Byrne; N Caughey, E Murphy; L Peat, E Hooban, K O’Dwyer; A McDermott, M Kendall; J Deacon, J Short, H O’Connor.

Replacements: R Horan for Kendall (23), N Purdom for O’Connor (50), L Djougang for O’Dwyer (55), N Griffen for Murphy, LF McCabe for O’Byrne White (both 68).

MUNSTER: E Considine; L O’Mahony, A Staunton, N Briggs, L Sheehan; R Allen-Connolly, N Cronin; F Hayes, K Sheehan, F Reidy; R Ormond, S McCarthy; E Murphy, C Griffin, C Pearse.

Replacements: E Breen for Allen-Connolly (h-t), Allen-Connolly for Staunton (55), S Quinn for Reidy (58), C Keohane for Cronin (73).

Referee: Chris Lough (IRFU).

Posted in Women's Rugby | Comments Off on Women’s Interprovincial Championship: Leinster V Munster – The Irish Examiner – September 17 2018

Celtic Cup Round Two: Leinster ‘A’ V Cardiff Blues ‘A’ – Leinsterrugby.ie – September 15 2018

Leinster ‘A’ reeled off four tries in each half as they ran out comprehensive 57-10 bonus point winners over Cardiff Blues ‘A’ at Energia Park this afternoon.

The province’s strong start to the new Celtic Cup development competition continued with a second successive bonus point victory, and today’s eight-try display moves them onto 10 points at the top of the Irish Conference table.

Jordan Larmour played in these teams’ British & Irish Cup clash at the same Donnybrook venue last October, a game Leinster ‘A’ won 29-10. Keen for a blend of youth and experience against Richie Rees’ Blues, Leinster ‘A’ head coach Peter Smyth included another Ireland international, Adam Byrne, in the back-three alongside captain Jack Kelly and Michael Silvester.

Out-half Harry Byrne, who scored 18 points in last week’s 43-28 success away to Ulster ‘A’, opened the scoring with a ninth-minute penalty, having attempted a cross-field kick to his namesake Adam before that. Cardiff made the trip across on the back of a 37-21 win over Dragons ‘A’.

Cardiff lock James Down was sin-binned on the quarter hour mark, and Leinster ‘A’ responded with their first try at the end of a lengthy attacking spell. Scrum half Patrick Patterson, the latest Blackrock College graduate to make his mark at provincial ‘A’ level, touched down against the base of the post, with his half-back partner Byrne converting.

Before Down came back on, the hosts had added try number two. Ben Jones’ box kick was blocked down by number 8 Ronan Foley who hacked the ball through and won the footrace against Sion Bennett to score a smashing individual try. The conversion followed for a 17-0 lead.

The bonus point was secured by half-time thanks to further tries from lively hooker Ronan Kelleher and Patterson. Kelleher plunged over from a powerful lineout maul and then it was his devastating 33rd-minute burst up the left wing – and well-timed offload – that sent the supporting Patterson over for a try which he converted himself.

Leinster ‘A’ were eager to add to their 31-0 half-time lead when play resumed. Josh Murphy and Peter Maher entered the fray and just two minutes had elapsed when Foley joined Patterson on a brace of tries with a clinical drive over the line from close range.

Harry Byrne turned creator soon after, dangling a pinpoint kick out to the right wing for Adam Byrne to collect and dot down for a deserved try. The young number 10 added his fifth successful conversion for a 13-point tally before making way for David Hawkshaw.

Cardiff’s own replacements gave them more of a foothold in Leinster ‘A’ territory. The home defence initially held out following Ben Jones’ penalty to touch in the 56th minute, but the Blues managed to force a series of scrum penalties, leading to the sin-binning of prop Michael Milne and an eventual five-pointer from flanker Bennett.

Blindside Oisin Dowling responded with the province’s seventh try, popping up at the end of a well-constructed attack, and Hawkshaw opened his account with the conversion. Winger Tom Williams crossed in the right corner to take Cardiff into double figures, but Leinster ‘A’ fittingly had the final say through the equally fleet-footed Silvester.

REFEREE: Rob O’Sullivan (IRFU)


LEINSTER ‘A’ TRIES: Patrick Patterson 2, Ronan Foley 2, Ronan Kelleher, Adam Byrne, Oisin Dowling, Michael Silvester; CONS: Harry Byrne 5, Patrick Patterson, David Hawkshaw; PEN: Harry Byrne

CARDIFF BLUES ‘A’ TRIES: Sion Bennett, Tom Williams


Jack Kelly CAPTAIN: Adam Byrne, Hugo Keenan, Conor O’Brien, Michael Silvester; Harry Byrne, Patrick Patterson; Michael Milne, Ronan Kelleher, Vakh Abdaladze, Mick Kearney, Ian Nagle, Oisin Dowling, Scott Penny, Ronan Foley. REPLACEMENTS USED: Josh Murphy for Penny, Peter Maher for Keenan (both half-time), David Hawkshaw for H Byrne (48 mins), Dan Sheehan for Kelleher (52), Jack Dunne for Nagle (59), Jack Aungier for Abdaladze, Cormac Foley for Patterson (both 60), Giuseppe Coyne for Silvester (65), Silvester for Milne (76).


Dan Fish; Tom Williams, Max Llewellyn, Steven Shingler, Tom James; Ben Jones, Lewis Jones; Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Keiron Assiratti, Alan Lawrence, James Down, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Sion Bennett, Cai Devine. REPLACEMENTS USED: Ben Thomas for Shingler (half-time), Luke Crocker for Lawrence (51 mins), Fraser Young for Domachowski (52), Dane Blacker for L Jones, Ioan Davies for James (both 61), Ioan Rhys Davies for Devine (63), Will Davies King for Assiratti (68), Iestyn Harris for Belcher (70).

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on Celtic Cup Round Two: Leinster ‘A’ V Cardiff Blues ‘A’ – Leinsterrugby.ie – September 15 2018

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Match Analysis: Bohemians V Cork City – The Evening Echo – September 15 2018


Daire Walsh

THEY remain mathematically in the running, but with just five games left to play and a six-point gap to close, last night’s surprise 4-2 defeat to Bohemians may well have ended Cork City’s Premier Division title hopes for 2018.

Just seven days out from the visit of arch-rivals Dundalk to Turner’s Cross, City were expected to maintain their push for back-to-back crowns.

The Gypsies weren’t prepared to be a footnote in the latest saga between the two clubs, though, and they stunned City with a stunning display of attacking football.

The damage was done in the opening period, when Bohs exploited their opponents’ defensive frailties in a devastatingly ruthless fashion. In addition to being six adrift, City have played a game more than Stephen Kenny’s Lilywhites.

This means that, even if Cork manage to pull a result out of the fire on home soil next week, they will require favours from other teams in order to remain top of the pile.

The occasional misstep aside, Dalymount Park had proven to be a happy hunting ground for City in recent seasons. You have to go back to July 25 2014 for the last time they tasted defeat in a league fixture at the north Dublin venue, when current City full-back Steven Beattie was on target for Bohs in a 2-0 victory.

Yet, in spite of the 30-point gap that separated them in the table, it was Bohs who were arguably the form team heading into the game.

Including a 1-0 triumph over Peterhead in the second round of the IRN-BRU Cup last Saturday at Balmoor, they had registered six straight successes in all competitions. In comparison, City’s post-Europa League performances had been decidedly mixed.

Although they comfortably overcame the challenges of Maynooth University Town and Longford Untied in the FAI Cup, a 2-1 defeat to Sligo Rovers on August 31 was preceded by a frustrating home draw with St Patrick’s Athletic.

Indeed, given the ‘must-win nature of the tie, it was understandable that there was some nerves within the City ranks. However, it was a real shock to the system for their travelling supporters when they fell 3-0 behind inside the opening half-hour.

The return of former Republic of Ireland defender Damien Delaney for his second spell at the club has been a bonus for John Caulfield in the second half of the season, but it was a breakdown in communication between the towering defender and Peter Cherrie that inadvertently handed the initiative to the hosts.

There appeared to be little danger when Delaney picked up possession close to the left-hand touchline, even if Gypsies striker Dinny Corcoran ensured an easy pass out of defence wasn’t an option.

The ex-Avondale United youth star instead opted to pass the ball back to Cherrie – but with the City netminder out of position, his overhit ball drifted into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. This was the first goal Bohs scored in this fixture since May 2015 and they were eager to make up for lost time.

Though both sides set up in identical 4-2-3-1 formations, Bohs proceeded to dictate the play with their high energy levels and controlled aggression. There achieved a perfect balance in attack, where the physicality of lone striker Dinny Corcoran dovetailed superbly with the pace and trickery of Daniel Kelly, Keith Ward and Kevin Devaney.

Cutting inside off the right-wing, Kelly glided past the challenges of Aaron Barry and Delaney before doubling his side’s lead with an unstoppable left-footed drive.

He subsequently showed that he is equally adept on his right foot moments later, after a through-ball by Keith Ward (who toiled effectively between the lines) left him one-on-one with Cherrie.

With their title aspirations hanging by a thread, City needed to get some kind of foothold in the game. They had an aerial advantage over their opponents for much of the contest – and Beattie’s 36th-minute delivery on the right-flank was powerfully headed home by the ever-dependable Graham Cummins.

They needed to shore up their defence if they had designs on executing a season-defining comeback, however, and Derek Pender subsequently linked up with Devaney for a well-worked fourth in first-half stoppage-time. Heading for a sixth league loss of 2018, the City management introduced Conor McCarthy for a struggling Delaney on the restart.

While there wasn’t a drastic alteration to the City approach, greater attacking urgency provided them with a pathway back into contention in the 57th-minute.

After swapping wings with Barry McNamee, Karl Sheppard produced an inch-perfect cross on the left-hand side for Jimmy Keohane to head past a helpless Shane Supple.

While it wasn’t exactly a case of ‘game on’, there was now a sense of anxiety amongst the Bohs faithful. Further chances ensued for City in an often frantic final-quarter, most notably a glancing header by Gearoid Morrissey that floated inches wide of the target.

A third goal for City would have heralded a gripping finale to an already engrossing affair. As it was, City couldn’t bridge the two-goal gap and consequently slipped further behind Dundalk with the finishing line very much in sight.

Posted in League Of Ireland | Comments Off on SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Match Analysis: Bohemians V Cork City – The Evening Echo – September 15 2018

Rugby Column Number 123: The Kildare Nationalist – September 11 2018

Reversal of fortunes for Kildare’s rugby stars

By Daire Walsh

THERE was a reversal of fortunes for Kildare’s contingent in the Guinness PRO14 Championship as the second round of the competition took place this weekend.

After tasting defeat to Glasgow Warriors seven days earlier, Ballymore Eustace native Craig Ronaldson appeared off the bench in Connacht’s comprehensive 32-13 bonus point victory over Zebre at the Sportsground on Saturday.

In addition to a brace of tries from Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin and Niyi Adeolokun also crossed the whitewash for the western province. They had already completed their scoring for the day by the time Ronaldson was introduced as a 70th-minute replacement.

He deputised for Kyle Godwin at inside centre and managed to execute three tackles in his short time on the field. While Giulio Bisegni’s late try for the visitors may have taken some of the shine off the overall performance, Connacht have now moved up to third place in Conference A.

Just behind them in the rankings are interprovincial rivals Munster, who suffered a 25-10 reversal to Glasgow at Scotstoun on Friday. Despite his impressive cameo against the Toyota Cheetahs on the opening weekend, Carbery was once again listed amongst the Red Army replacements.

He was joined on this occasion by Eadestown’s Tadhg Beirne, who made his Munster debut as a 41st-minute substitute for blindside flanker Dave O’Callaghan. Carbery soon followed in an out-half role that was initially filled by JJ Hanrahan.

It was not an ideal scenario for either player, though, given Glasgow had established a commanding 22-0 interval lead. Hanrahan finally act of the game was to open Munster’s account off the kicking tee and a Rhys Marshall try on 69 minutes offered them a glimmer of hope.

However, Glasgow remained in control and eventually cruised home with the help of a Stuart Hogg penalty.

Following their narrow success at the expense of Cardiff Blues last Friday week, Leinster found themselves on the opposite end of the result in an away encounter with Scarlets on Saturday. Fergus McFadden (Suncroft) was handed a start alongside Jordan Larmour and James Lowe in the back-three.

Although he got his name on the scoresheet in round one, Kill’s James Tracy had to be content with a place on the Blues’ bench. In recent seasons, Leinster and Scarlets have developed a strong rivalry in both the Celtic League and Champions Cup competitions.

The Welsh outfit raced into a seven-point lead courtesy of Ken Owens’ converted try, before McFadden responded with a five-pointer of his own on 24 minutes. Indeed, after Scarlets regained momentum through a Leigh Halfpenny penalty, Lowe crossed over in stoppage-time to give Leo Cullen’s men a 14-10 cushion at the break.

Yet, eager to bounce back from an earlier loss to Ulster, Scarlets were the sharper of the two teams on the resumption. A brace of Halfpenny penalties was supplemented by a Gareth Davies try in the latter stages.

Rhys Ruddock’s converted score set up a thrilling finale, but Leinster ultimately fell to a two-point defeat (23-21).

Posted in Rugby Column | Comments Off on Rugby Column Number 123: The Kildare Nationalist – September 11 2018

Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge 2018: Thomas Barr – The Irish Examiner – 11 September 2018

Thomas Barr eyes the Diamond lights as he looks to build on Euro medal

By Daire Walsh

He made the podium at last month’s European Championships and now Waterford hurdler Thomas Barr is hell-bent on reaching greater heights in his blossoming athletics career.

After falling agonisingly short at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the 26-year-old Dunmore East native secured a bronze at the 400m hurdles final in Berlin.

And already his focus is turning towards the Tokyo Olympics in just under two years’ time.

In order to build towards that objective, Barr yesterday confirmed he will be competing abroad on a more regular basis in advance of the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

I have a really good training group in Limerick and that’s actually what keeps me going through the winter. I was training predominantly with Paul Byrne and Ben Kiely this year, who are two of the best hurdlers in Ireland at the moment. I’m well able to push myself at training,” Barr explained.

“I’m happy with my set-up, but when it comes to competition then, I’ll be going abroad a lot more often.

“I’ll be trying to get into the Diamond leagues or the IAAF challenge meets because that’s where I’m going to get the best races. It’s a later season this year, because Doha is not on until October, which is the World Championships. It’ll probably be June, July before I open my season,” Barr said at the launch of the Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge for 2018.

While he acknowledged his European heroics will help him to make the invitational list for forthcoming race meets, it is nevertheless important he hits the ground running during the opening weeks of the new season.

“I have a race agent based in the UK [David Scott, Stellar Athletics], who has all the contacts with all the meet organisers and meet directors. He puts out my name and pushes for me to be in those meets.

Obviously the medal is going to help in getting me into those early meets, but if I don’t run well early on, they won’t be keen to invite me back.

“It’s key that I get one or two good races in at the start and that’s what will start the ball rolling then as well. Hopefully I’ll be fit and fast enough to get into some of those bigger races. Keep building that profile and just let it become the norm that I’m racing against the best guys in the world. So that when it comes to the Worlds, it’s like any other day.”

Currently, in the midst of a five-week break from all forms of training, Barr reiterated his ambition to reach the hurdles decider at Tokyo 2020. But the UL graduate is acutely aware of all potential pitfalls.

“Do you know what, there’s always more pressure on the heats and semi-finals. Because if you mess them up, you’ve missed out on the chance to even get a medal. At least when you’re in the final, the hard work is done. All you have to do go out and run and trying to execute the best race you can. If you mess it up there, then it’s unlucky.

“But I think if you’re in a position where you mess it up in the heats or the semi-final, and you do something stupid, then it’s really, really annoying. Because you’ve missed that chance. Getting to the final, it’s a fresh sheet. It’s anyone’s game to play for on the day.”

Even before Barr medalled in Germany, the profile of Irish athletics had been enhanced by the country’s incredible success at underage competitions. With Limerick teenager Ciara Neville and her fellow athletes making waves, the Ferrybank AC club man has been delighted to witness the encouraging direction the sport is heading in.

“All the news this year in athletics has been so positive. Because the youths, juniors, and the U18s have performed so well, and it was great. It generated such a buzz and it’s great to have medal winning talent, Irish girls in particular, winning medals on the World and European stage.”

Posted in Athletics | Comments Off on Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge 2018: Thomas Barr – The Irish Examiner – 11 September 2018

All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship Final: Cork V Down – Cork Player Reaction – Saoirse McCarthy – The Evening Echo – September 10 2018

Award tops glorious year for McCarthy


Daire Walsh

COURCEY ROVERS star Saoirse McCarthy capped off an unforgettable year when she was named player of the match in Cork’s All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship success over Down at Croke Park yesterday.

Having already secured an All-Ireland minor crown with the Leesiders, McCarthy amassed four points over the course of the hour to help Paudie Murray’s side end a 12-year wait for the second-tier crown.

She was also named on the Cork bench for their heart-stopping senior triumph against Kilkenny in the showcase event at Jones’ Road and was quick to pin-point the special bond that exists between both squads.

“We train on the same pitch, the same nights. We’re always in contact with them.

With those people on that team. Ashling Thompson, Briege Corkery, and Gemma O’Connor, they’re all superstars,” McCarthy explained in the players’ tunnel after the game.

“They’re all All-Stars. Coming onto that team at the start of the year was mental. They’re an inspiration to everyone.”

While they had seven points to spare (1-13 to 0-9) over the Mourne county in the end, it was a much closer affair than their comprehensive group stage win at the expense of the same team in July.

The gap was 12 points (0-18 to 0-6) on that occasion, but McCarthy felt Cork’s superior fitness was one of the key reasons why they were able to push on in the second half.

“We knew that they were going to put it up to us,” she said.

“At the end of the day, I kind of knew we were going to have the legs on them.

“I wasn’t confident, but I was definitely not afraid. I knew how to work our away around them.”

Given this was her first year on the panel, McCarthy didn’t suffer the heartache of final defeats to Kilkenny and Meath in the past two seasons. She is acutely aware of what this win means for the older members of the squad, however, and also believes it can be a stepping stone for greater achievements in the years to come.

“The girls definitely deserved this and I’m so happy for them. Especially the older ones, who have lost the couple in the last couple of years.

“The intermediate team is very young yet. There’s loads of girls like me and we’re all minors. We have many years ahead hopefully,” McCarthy added.

Posted in Camogie | Comments Off on All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship Final: Cork V Down – Cork Player Reaction – Saoirse McCarthy – The Evening Echo – September 10 2018