Rugby Column Number 111: The Kildare Nationalist – April 3 2018

RUGBY

Leinster set up home semi-final after dethroning European champions

By Daire Walsh

LEINSTER produced the goods on Easter Sunday at the Aviva Stadium, dethroning previous winners Saracens in the quarter-final of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

With the Kildare triumvirate of Fergus McFadden, James Tracy and Joey Carbery all playing their part in a 30-19 success, Leo Cullen’s side maintained their charge for a first European top-tier title since 2012.

McFadden featured in the Blues’ back-three alongside Rob Kearney and James Lowe, while Tracy and Carbery were vital back-up options for Irish internationals Sean Cronin and Jonathan Sexton.

Superb combination play between Lowe, Isa Nacewa and Garry Ringrose provided the platform for the latter to break over the Sarries whitewash, and a Sexton bonus strike helped to increase their lead.

A six-point haul by Owen Farrell kept the visitors in touch, before the English fly-half cancelled out a subsequent Sexton penalty. It was a mixed end to the opening period for Ireland number ten-in-chief, who followed up a 34th-minute effort by immediately giving away a penalty at the opposite end.

Outside centre Marcelo Bosch brilliantly split the posts from long-distance, leaving the bare minimum between the teams at the break (13-12). Sexton regained his composure with a third penalty on the resumption, however, and a superb Dan Leavy try edged them a step closer to the penultimate round.

James Lowe also got over on 57 minutes for a five-pointer that was supplemented by a McFadden conversion. With Tracy, Carbery and a succession of replacements providing fresh impetus, Leinster remained in the driving seat.

Saracens did claim a maul try through Blair Cowan, but it couldn’t prevent their three in-a-row aspirations from coming to an abrupt end.

Scarlets had already booked their spot in the last-four on Friday evening, when Tadhg Beirne delivered another outstanding performance in a 29-17 victory over European rookies La Rochelle. The Eadestown native has switched effortlessly between second-row and blindside flanker during his time with the Welsh region and recently past the 50 cap mark for Wayne Pivac’s side.

In addition to tries by Rhys Patchell and Scott Williams, 19 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny helped last season’s PRO12 champions to overpower their French counterparts.

At the end of the current term, Beirne will transfer to Munster in a bid to boost his international prospects ahead of next year’s World Cup. The Red Army enjoyed a memorable success against Toulon at Thomond Park on Saturday – a devastating 75th-minute try from Andrew Conway setting up a mouthwatering semi-final encounter with Racing 92.

Meanwhile, there was disappointment for Ballymore Eustace man Craig Ronaldson at the Sportsground on the same day. Despite recording five-pointers through Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki, Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy, Connacht came out on the wrong side of an eight-try thriller (33-28) in the Challenge Cup.

Ronaldson replaced Jack Carty in the 57th-minute, and ensured the westerners remained in touch with a five-point haul off the kicking tee.

Posted in Rugby Column | Comments Off on Rugby Column Number 111: The Kildare Nationalist – April 3 2018

Post-Match Reaction: European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final – Leinster V Saracens – Leinster Captain Isa Nacewa – Irishrugby.ie – April 3 2018

Nacewa: The Hunger Is Huge After Last Year

Leinster captain Isa Nacewa believes the pain of last season’s semi-final defeat to Clermont Auvergne can drive his side onto greater heights in the Champions Cup.

Following their 30-19 last-eight win over Saracens at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, Leo Cullen’smen will return to the Lansdowne Road venue for a mouth-watering semi-final showdown with GUINNESS PRO14 rivals, the Scarlets, in three weeks’ time.

With the reintegration of Ireland’s Grand Slam winners enhancing the depth of their squad, Isa Nacewa highlighted the province’s desire to go a step further in Europe in 2018.

“We’ve got a real motivated squad. A lot of guys coming off the back of a Grand Slam. They’ve come back in and added another level of intensity and hunger to the team. We’re a strong squad. There’s a lot of guys that missed out on playing (today) that would have been itching to be there. The hunger is huge,” said the 35-year-old skipper.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow, losing in a semi-final like we did last year away to Clermont. That’s etched in the back of our head. Something that we don’t like feeling and something we talked about a lot in the off-season to learn from. We took another step today to earn another 80 minutes of footy. We’re happy to be in the semis.”

With Munster taking care of previous Champions Cup kingpins Toulon at Thomond Park 24 hours earlier, it was the turn of Leinster to knock out defending champions Saracens. Mark McCall’s side did not go down without a fight and Nacewa praised the resolve shown by Sarries as their three-in-a-row dreams came to an end.

“We respect everything that Saracens do. We knew they’re a champion side. They’re going to fight and keep fighting, and they did that. I think a lot of credit goes to our bench. They came on and stuck to the systems, and gave everyone a lift when needed.

“They’re a team that are very good at chipping away. Three (points), six, nine to stay in a game and claw at a game. They did that, but a big moment at the end of the (first) half there to keep them out. We got into the half, took a deep breath and just started again really.”

Just twelve months after winning his third European Cup title with Leinster in 2012, Nacewa announced his retirement from professional rugby. The absence of several international stars during the 2015 World Cup prompted the Auckland native’s return to the fold in Dublin, and he has been a key player during Cullen’s coaching reign.

As the elder statesman of the squad – and the on-field leader-in-chief – the versatile back is ideally placed to run the rule over the young prospects that are currently making waves at senior level.

“You look at guys like James Tracy, Dan Leavy, these guys went through those times (last season’s semi-final losses in Europe and the PRO12), went on to win a Grand Slam. James Ryan, in particular, and those guys. They come back and the hunger is huge. It’s up to learning from those places that you fell down and going again. A lot of the young guys add a huge level of enthusiasm to the squad at the moment.”

While they have come up against a number of English and French clubs in recent European campaigns, Leinster are now preparing to do battle against a familiar foe.

In addition to last season’s PRO12 semi-final meeting at the RDS, Cullen’s charges recently played the Scarlets in two league fixtures during the Six Nations Championship. Nacewa accepts this is a considerable advantage, but knows Leinster will need to be on their game against Wayne Pivac’s free-running outfit.

“You definitely know a lot of the players a hell of a lot more. Obviously three times in the last calendar year alone we’ve played them. It has been a bit of a rivalry for us in the last while. They definitely got one up over us in the RDS last year, in the semi.

“They’re such a good, attacking side these days. They showed that the other evening (in their quarter-final win over La Rochelle). It’s a really big challenge for us and one we’ll have to learn from today and build for,” he explained.

 

 

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final – Leinster V Saracens – Leinster Captain Isa Nacewa – Irishrugby.ie – April 3 2018

Post-Match Reaction: European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final – Leinster V Saracens – Leo Cullen – Irishrugby.ie – April 2 2018

Cullen: Getting Our Noses In Front Was Crucial

Nonetheless, a high penalty count against Leinster ensured that a third consecutive European crown remained within Saracens’ grasp prior to those crucial converted scores from Leavy and Lowe. Cullen felt his side were quite ‘passive’ at times during the first half, which was something they addressed in a powerful third quarter showing.

“It was probably more off the back of us being a little bit passive. We just sat off them a little bit, which allowed them to play. They were just eking out yards, and when you start giving up those yards, you’re more likely to concede a penalty off the back of that. It was just be a little bit braver.

“Making sure we got good amount of numbers on our feet, so we can be a little bit more aggressive. I thought for the most part of the second half we were a lot more aggressive. Obviously they got in from that lineout maul, which was disappointing. But for the most part in our defence, we were a lot more aggressive coming off the line together.”

While Leavy was a deserving winner of the man-of-the-match award, the increasingly-impressive James Ryan produced another sterling display alongside Devin Toner in the Leinster second row.

Following an outstanding Six Nations campaign with Ireland, the former St. Michael’s College and Ireland U-20 captain maintained his extraordinary record of never losing a game with the Leinster and Ireland senior teams (19 and counting).

Although he has barely put a foot wrong since his making his provincial and international debuts last year, Cullen believes the best is yet to come from the 21-year-old Dubliner.

“James has been great since he’s come in. He’s been someone that’s been earmarked for quite a while. Such a big, physical specimen, but he’s got a great mindset in terms of looking to improve. Very, very competitive on the field as well.

“I thought he put in a very, very positive performance. He’s an unbelievably young man. Hopefully he’s going to get better and better,” added the Wicklow man.

For Leinster’s semi-final date with the Scarlets in three weeks’ time, another full house is expected to flock to the Aviva Stadium. They are seeking to right two wrongs from their disappointing end to the 2016/17 season, and in particular their GUINNESS PRO12 semi-final loss to the Welshmen at the RDS last May.

Cullen’s men also fell short in the last-four of the Champions Cup to Clermont Auvergne last term, when Cullen acknowledged that their defence was not as tight as it needed to be.

“Defence wins Championships. We got exposed a little bit, when you think back to the Clermont semi-final last year. The start of that game. We got exposed a little bit with probably some defensive lapses in the game against Scarlets, in that (PRO12) semi-final.

“You concede a few tries in each game and you’re suddenly chasing the game – and you’re doing things that’s probably a little bit out of character. It’s important that we’re controlled and that comes to the preparation and I suppose the mental energy in the middle side of the game as well. Just important that we have clear, calm heads in these big games.”

Posted in European Rugby | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final – Leinster V Saracens – Leo Cullen – Irishrugby.ie – April 2 2018

British & Irish Cup Quarter-Final: Leinster ‘A’ V Munster ‘A’ – The Irish Independent – March 31 2018

Leinster dethrone Reds

B&I Cup: Leinster ‘A’ 17 Munster ‘A’ 6

Tries in each half by Peadar Timmins and Jack Kelly helped Leinster ‘A’ to dethrone Munster ‘A’ in this British & Irish Cup quarter-final at Energia Park.

During a lively start to the contest, fly-half Bill Johnston edged Munster into the lead from a close-range penalty. The concession of this early score forced the hosts into life and flanker Timmins crossed the whitewash on 12 minutes – after an initial break for the line by scrum-half Charlie Rock.

This excellent score was supplemented by a Ciaran Frawley conversion, giving Noel McNamara’s side a four-point platform. However, following a subsequent attacking surge by the visitors, Johnston split the posts with a superb long-range place-kick.

Frawley had an ideal opportunity to extend Leinster’s lead, but his 22-metre penalty rebounded off the left-hand post and away to safety. With just one point separating the teams (7-6 in favour of Leinster), it was anyone’s game after the break.

Yet, following Frawley’s three-pointer on the hour mark, the Blues created significant daylight between the sides. Thanks to excellent approach work by Gavin Mullin and Tommy O’Brien, full-back Kelly finished off a converted try in clinical style.

This left Munster too much of a mountain to climb in the closing stages, as Leinster deservedly advanced to the next stage.

They will now face Jersey Reds in the penultimate round of the competition, after they defeated fellow English Championship outfit Doncaster Knights in their last-eight encounter at St Peter yesterday.

Leinster ‘A’ – J Kelly; T O’Brien, G Mullin, C O’Brien, B Daly; C Frawley (H Byrne 80), C Rock (R Foley 80); E Byrne (P Dooley 62), B Byrne, V Abdaladze (M Bent 45); M Kearney, I Nagle; Ó Dowling (H O’Sullivan 76), P Timmins, Josh Murphy.

Munster ‘A’ – S Fitzgerald (J Power 60); C Nash, D Johnston, A McHenry, R O’Mahony (A Tynan 73); B Johnston, J Stafford (J Poland 62); J Loughman (B Scott 55), K O’Byrne (M Sherry 40), B Scott (C Parker 48); S O’Connor, D O’Shea; D O’Callaghan (J Daly 80), C Oliver, J O’Sullivan (J Foley 69).

Ref – K Dickson (RFU).

Posted in British & Irish Cup Rugby | Comments Off on British & Irish Cup Quarter-Final: Leinster ‘A’ V Munster ‘A’ – The Irish Independent – March 31 2018

British & Irish Cup Quarter-Final: Leinster ‘A’ V Munster ‘A’ – Irishrugby.ie – March 30 2018

Timmins And Kelly Touch Down As Leinster ‘A’ Reach Last-Four

Munster ‘A’ produced a big push in the closing stages, and the defending O’Brien brilliantly fielded a dangerous cross-field kick above Jack Power, seven minutes from time. The visitors struggled to break down the well-organised Leinster ‘A’ defence, as Kelly’s crucial try propelled his province into their first semi-final since 2015.
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Posted in British & Irish Cup Rugby | Comments Off on British & Irish Cup Quarter-Final: Leinster ‘A’ V Munster ‘A’ – Irishrugby.ie – March 30 2018

British & Irish Cup Quarter-Final: Leinster ‘A’ V Munster ‘A’ – Leinsterrugby.ie – March 30 2018

Tries from Peadar Timmins and Jack Kelly helped Leinster ‘A’ to dethrone defending British & Irish Cup champions Munster ‘A’ in a 17-6 quarter-final win at Energia Park this afternoon.

Noel McNamara’s men finished with 11 points to spare over their provincial rivals, and can now set their sights on a semi-final trip to Jersey Reds, the 22-10 conquerors of Doncaster Knights, in three weeks’ time (20th/21st/22nd April).

This was the first meeting between the Leinster and Munster ‘A’ sides in the knockout stages of the cross-border competition since April 2014. With Cathal Marsh helping himself to a 27-point haul, Leinster ‘A’ secured a comprehensive 47-15 quarter-final victory on home turf that day.

Although the Leinstermen progressed to win their second B&I Cup title against Leeds Carnegie the following month, Munster ‘A’ entered this contest as reigning champions. Peter Malone’s charges edged out English Championship outfit Jersey in last season’s final, adding to their 2011/12 success.

Ian Nagle was a key member of the visitors’ squad during that campaign, but he partnered Mick Kearney in the Leinster ‘A’ second row on this occasion at Energia Park. Both provinces included a number of senior squad members, while there was also space for several players from the current Ireland Under-20 set-up.

With five wins each from their respective pools, there was little to separate the teams on paper. Some handling errors by the hosts allowed Munster ‘A’ to establish an early foothold and this led to a close range penalty.

Playing alongside his brother Dave in the Munster ‘A’ back-line, young out-half Bill Johnston made no mistake with his opening effort from the tee. Yet, once they put some early jitters behind them, Leinster ‘A’ started to express themselves in attack.

After Ciarán Frawley kicked to touch from a long-range penalty, the home side built through the phases in the 22. An initial incision by scrum-half Charlie Rock put them within inches of the whitewash before flanker Timmins drove over in powerful fashion.

This score was followed by a routine Frawley conversion, giving Leinster ‘A’ an encouraging 7-3 cushion. However, Munster ‘A’ quickly got themselves back on the front foot, as Darren O’Shea combined effectively with fellow lock Fineen Wycherley.

English referee Karl Dickson awarded the visitors another place-kick, this time just outside the 10-metre line. It was an awkward kick for Bill Johnston in wet conditions, but the Tipperary native split the posts to reduce the deficit to 7-6.

Moving into the second quarter, Munster ‘A’ were able to retain possession in an efficient manner. They struggled to penetrate a tight-knit Leinster defence, however, and looked set to fall further behind just past the half-hour mark.

Frawley stepped forward to attempt a 22-metre penalty to the left of the uprights. Although firmly-struck with his right boot, the Skerries man could only watch as his effort rebounded off the left-hand post and it remained a one-point game.

With the heavy rainfall making life difficult for both sets of players, it came as no surprise that try-scoring opportunities were at such a premium. As the half-time whistle sounded, Leinster ‘A’ held onto their slender advantage on the scoreboard.

Hooker Kevin O’Byrne’s withdrawal through injury saw Munster ‘A’ call on the services of one-time Ireland international Mike Sherry. Similarly, Michael Bent added his considerable experience to the Leinster ‘A’ front row when he replaced Vakh Abdaladze in the early stages of the second period.

Munster ‘A’ threatened to turn the game on its head as Johnston kicked to a 49th-minute penalty to the left corner, but Leinster ‘A’ held their own from the ensuing lineout. With the hour mark quickly approaching, the hosts chipped away through a number of attacking phases.

A second try was not forthcoming on this occasion, though another kicking opportunity for Frawley was just reward for their endeavours in the final third. A crisp strike by the former Ireland U-20 international got Leinster’s second-half account up and running at 10-6, and it was quickly supplemented by an outstanding team score.

Centre Gavin Mullin, who made a fleet-footed initial break, connected with winger Tommy O’Brien out wide and he picked out full-back Jack Kelly on his inside for a clinical 62nd-minute try. Frawley added the extras to increase the gap between the sides to 11 points.

Munster ‘A’ produced a big push in the closing stages, and the defending O’Brien brilliantly fielded a dangerous cross-field kick above Jack Power, seven minutes from time. The visitors struggled to break down the well-organised Leinster ‘A’ defence, as Kelly’s crucial try propelled his province into their first semi-final since 2015.

Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU)

MATCH SUMMARY

Tries: Peadar Timmins, Jack Kelly; Cons: Ciaran Frawley 2; Pen: Ciaran Frawley

Pens: Bill Johnston 2

LINEUPS

Jack Kelly; Tommy O’Brien, Gavin Mullin, Conor O’Brien, Barry Daly; Ciaran Frawley, Charlie Rock; Ed Byrne, Bryan Byrne, Vakh Abdaladze, Mick Kearney, Ian Nagle, Oisin Dowling, Peadar Timmins, Josh Murphy.

Replacements used: Michael Bent for Abdaladze (45 mins), Peter Dooley for E Byrne (62), Hugh O’Sullivan for Dowling (76), Ronan Foley for Rock, Harry Byrne for Frawley (both 80). Not used: Sean McNulty, Sean O’Brien.

Stephen Fitzgerald; Calvin Nash, David Johnston, Alex McHenry, Ronan O’Mahony; Bill Johnston, Jack Stafford; Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne, Brian Scott, Sean O’Connor, Darren O’Shea, Dave O’Callaghan, Conor Oliver, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements used: Mike Sherry for O’Byrne (half-time), Ciaran Parker for Scott (48 mins), Scott for Loughman (55), Jack Power for Fitzgerald (60), John Poland for Stafford (62), John Foley for O’Sullivan (69), Alan Tynan for O’Mahony (73), Jack Daly for O’Callaghan (80).

Posted in British & Irish Cup Rugby | Comments Off on British & Irish Cup Quarter-Final: Leinster ‘A’ V Munster ‘A’ – Leinsterrugby.ie – March 30 2018

Post-Match Reaction: SSE Airtricity League U17 Southern Elite Division – Cork City Manager Brendan O’Sullivan – The Evening Echo – March 27 2018

O’Sullivan: We were beaten by a better side

SOCCER

Daire Walsh

CORK CITY U17 manager Brendan O’Sullivan acknowledged that his side were second-best to Shamrock Rovers in their SSE Airtricity League Southern Elite Division meeting at Roadstone last Saturday.

The concession of two goals in the space of 60 seconds during the opening half left the Leesiders with too much ground to make up and they eventually fell to a 5-1 reversal. “They were better than us all over the park.

“They were better than us, they were hungrier than us.

“They had a lot more commitment in everything they did,” O’Sullivan remarked after the game.

“It was a killer [to concede two goals in a minute] and we lost a big player in the same movement as well.

“Our centre-half, Colin Hanifin, came off with an injury. We were already missing our first-choice centre-half, Josh Honohan, and our other keeper Adam Cantwell.

“They’re away on a school trip, but we don’t want to make any excuses really.”

Facing into a 3-0 deficit at the start of the second half, Josh Lombardi’s 49-minute goal offered City some degree of solace.

Although he accepted the game was already beyond them, O’Sullivan was disappointed to concede a fourth goal to Rovers striker Jack Kelly within minutes of opening their account.

“That was the disappointing thing. We said at half-time we’d try and win the second half. We weren’t going to get back into the game at that stage, but we wanted to win the second half. We started very brightly and scored a good goal to get back into it at 3-1.

“Unfortunately, we conceded again. Long ball over the top where we were caught out. That sets you back again and you’re on the back-foot again.”

As reigning league champions at the U17 grade, City will be concerned that their opening two games of the campaign have ended in defeat.

O’Sullivan is not prepared to push the panic button just yet, though, and believes the squad can push forward in the coming weeks.

“Experience tells me that we can get there. Last year we were not so good at the start.

“We got a little bit better towards the middle of the season. We hit our momentum towards the end of the season, and we went on and won the League of Ireland. I’m by no means writing these boys off.

“There’s a lot of good players there. This is our first trip away ever. The first time the boys are on a bus together.

“First time they’ve experienced this level of football. It’s a real eye-opener for them,” O’Sullivan added.

Posted in League Of Ireland | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: SSE Airtricity League U17 Southern Elite Division – Cork City Manager Brendan O’Sullivan – The Evening Echo – March 27 2018

All-Ireland Schools Senior ‘B’ Football Championship Semi-Final: Holy Trinity College, Cooktown V Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine, Kenmare – The Irish Examiner – March 29 2018

Holy Trinity advance as Kenmare run out of steam

Drummond Cup

Holy Trinity College, Cookstown 4-11

Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine, Kenmare 2-8

Daire Walsh

Abbotstown

Holy Trinity, Cookstown produced a stunning display of attacking football to defeat Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine, Kenmare in the All-Ireland Schools Senior ‘B’ Championship semi-final at Abbotstown yesterday.

Kenmare were on course for a place in the Paddy Drummond Cup decider when they led 2-5 to 0-1 in the 13th-minute.

However, devastating scoring blitzes either side of the interval ensured the Tyrone school advanced to face St Nathy’s, Ballaghaderreen at Croke Park on Saturday week.

Following early points from Cian O’Connor and Donal O’Sullivan (two), midfielder Daniel Casey and Dylan O’Connor (penalty) rattled the back of the Cooktown net to give Kenmare their 10-point cushion.

However, in space of six minutes at the beginning of the second-quarter, Cookstown amassed 2-4 without reply. Well-worked three-pointers arrived through Tiernan Mackle and Tiernan Quinn, as Cookstown found themselves on level terms (2-6 apiece) at the break.

The Kerry outfit appeared to have weathered the storm when O’Sullivan and substitute Tom Murnane added points after the restart, but goals by defenders Oran Mulgrew and Sean McKenna helped Cookstown to take control of the contest.

Kenmare failed to register a single score after the 32nd-minute of the action – and thanks to additional points by Mark Devlin (two), Eoin Gallagher, and full-back Tarlach Quinn, Holy Trinity eased over the line.

Scorers for Holy Trinity College, Cookstown: M Devlin 0-6 (2f), Tiernan Quinn 1-1 (0-1f), S McKenna, O Mulgrew, T Mackle 1-0 each, Tarlach Quinn 0-2, E Gallagher, P Lagan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine, Kenmare: D O’Sullivan 0-4 (3f), D O’Connor 1-1 (1-0 pen), D Casey 1-0, C O’Connor 0-2 (2f), T Murnane 0-1.

HOLY TRINITY COLLEGE, COOKSTOWN: C Loane; P Quinn, Tarlach Quinn, S McKenna; O Mulgrew, C Donnolly, M McKearney; E Gallagher, P Lagan; K Robinson, E Devlin, S Murphy; Tiernan Quinn, T Mackle, M Devlin.

Subs: C Quinn for Mackle (51), A Moore for Lagan (54), T Mackle for Robinson, P Quin for E Devlin (both 59).

POBALSCOIL INBHEAR SCEINE, KENMARE: M Looney; J Foley, J McCarthy, J Harrington; Cormac O’Sullivan, D McCarthy, Cian O’Sullivan; G Lynch Wharton, D Casey; D O’Sullivan, T O Siochru, C Crowley, C O’Connor, D O’Connor, T Cronin.

Subs: L Twomey for Cian O’Sullivan (22), T Murnane for Cronin (h-t), B Nikic for O’Connor (45).

Referee: S Mulhare (Laois).

Posted in Schools GAA | Comments Off on All-Ireland Schools Senior ‘B’ Football Championship Semi-Final: Holy Trinity College, Cooktown V Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine, Kenmare – The Irish Examiner – March 29 2018

All-Ireland Schools Senior Football ‘B’ Championship Semi-Final: St Nathy’s Ballaghaderreen V Lucan CBS – The Evening Herald – March 29 2018

ALL-IRELAND SENIOR ‘B’ FC SEMI-FINAL: ST NATHY’S BALLAGHADERREEN 1-11 LUCAN CBS 2-7

Brave Lucan denied at death by slenderest of margins

Daire Walsh

THERE was heartbreak for Lucan CBS last Saturday afternoon in Moate where they were cruelly denied a place in the All-Ireland Schools Senior Football ‘B’ Championship decider by a gritty St Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen side.

Following goals in each half by Matthew Dunne and Luke Walsh, Lucan looked set to progress to the upcoming final at Croke Park. Their Connacht opponents had other ideas, however, and a stoppage-time finish by Luke Hester helped them advance by the slenderest of margins (1-11 to 2-7).

This penultimate-round clash arrived at the end of a hectic period for the Lucan footballers. In addition to a county final triumph over St Joseph’s, Rush on March 16, CBS got the better of Gallen CS, Ferbane in a Leinster SF ‘B’ showpiece.

Eoin Dunne’s side registered eight goals over the course of these games, which placed the Nathy’s defence on high alert for this Paddy Drummond Cup encounter. With the notable exception of St Pat’s, Palmerstown corner-forwards Evan Walshe and Evan Dowling, CBS’ starting line-up was almost entirely comprised of players from the Lucan Sarsfields club.

Nathy’s were the dominant team in the first-quarter, as captain Kuba Callaghan (two), James O’Hara (two) and Oisin Phillips helped them to open up a four-point lead. Yet, Lucan are nothing if not resilient and a clinical Dunne goal cut their deficit to the bare minimum (0-6 to 1-2) in time for the break.

This was the catalyst for Lucan’s powerful start to the second half when they threatened to turn the game on its head. After they twice developed a slender advantage, Walsh’s 46th-minute goal moved them into the driving seat.

In spite of a three-point haul courtesy of O’Hara, Lucan remained in the ascendancy on the hour mark.

The never-say-attitude of Nathy’s ensured that their spot in the final wasn’t certain and Hester’s decisive goal brought Lucan’s memorable season to an agonising conclusion.

Posted in Schools GAA | Comments Off on All-Ireland Schools Senior Football ‘B’ Championship Semi-Final: St Nathy’s Ballaghaderreen V Lucan CBS – The Evening Herald – March 29 2018

Adult Football League Division Two Round-Up (March 25): Dublingaa.ie – March 28 2018

AFL DIV. 2 ROUNDUP – 25TH MARCH

ADULT FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION TWO ROUND-UP: MARCH 25

By Daire Walsh

Following their respective victories on Sunday morning, Skerries Harps, Clontarf and Naomh Mearnog have established themselves as the early pace-setters in Division Two of the Adult Football League.

With maximum points from the opening two rounds, the northside trio are just ahead of Whitehall Colmcille and Templeogue Synge Street in the second-tier table – after they played out an entertaining draw at Collins Avenue.

Skerries – who had 11 points to spare (2-13 to 0-8) over O’Toole’s at Blunden Drive in mid-February – played host to a Scoil Ui Chonaill side that were searching for their maiden win of 2018. Although their Clontarf Road opponents were competitive for large spells, Skerries entered the interval with a six-point interval buffer.

Donal McIlgorm and Kevin Gilmore raised green flags for Harps during the opening period and maintained a same distance between themselves and Scoil after the break. They ultimately secured a comprehensive 2-13 to 0-10 victory, as they aim to make a swift return to Division One.

Clontarf also suffered relegation at the end of a difficult 2017 campaign, but a hard-earned success against Scoil Ui Chonaill got them up and running in round one. They faced Raheny in another local derby at St Anne’s Park on Sunday.

Despite fielding without the injured Jack McCaffrey (Raheny duo Brian Fenton and Brian Howard featured for Dublin in their Allianz League defeat to Monaghan), former Dublin minor Kevin Lillis enjoyed another productive outing.

His second goal in as many games helped ‘Tarf to develop a 1-7 to 0-2 lead at the midway point. Though Raheny found a way back into contention on the resumption, they eventually succumbed to a 0-7 to 1-9 reversal.

Skerries and Clontarf currently occupy the top-two places in the division – just in front of Naomh Mearnog on score difference. The Portmarnock side followed up their opening day triumph at the expense of Fingallians by registering a 1-13 to 1-7 win at the expense of Round Tower Clondalkin.

Meanwhile, a late surge by Templeogue Synge Street ensured they shared the spoils with Whitehall. The hosts looked set to maintain their winning start to the league when they led by five points in the closing stages of their contest.

However, with Sky Blues star Eoghan O’Gara (who was playing alongside his brother Killian) leading by example, Templeogue refused to thrown in the towel. Moving into stoppage-time, a Ger Vickery goal restored parity (2-11 to 1-14) for the southside outfit in timely fashion.

The newly-promoted Ballyboughal got the better of St Anne’s – 1-19 to 2-9 – on their home turf, while Fingal Ravens and St Patrick’s Palmerstown edged past St Mary’s Saggart (1-14 to 0-13) and Na Fianna (2-11 to 2-10) respectively.

Elsewhere, Fingallians bounced back from their previous loss to Mearnog by defeating O’Toole’s on a scoreline of 4-13 to 3-7. Niall Tormey, TJ Howard, Brian Waller and Donall Keane all found the net in a convincing victory for the Swords side.

Posted in Gaelic Football | Comments Off on Adult Football League Division Two Round-Up (March 25): Dublingaa.ie – March 28 2018