ALL THINGS IRELAND: 2012
IRELAND BEAT NEW ZEALAND FOR THE 1ST TIME 40-29 IN HISTORIC WIN IN CHICAGO...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

CONNAUGHT LOSE-OUT TO LEINSTER

Tries in each half from Ian Madigan and Jack McGrath helped Leinster overcome Connacht 17-0 to record their first victory in four matches.
Joe Schmidt's men ended 2012 on a winning note, with McGrath's 73rd-minute try - his first in this season's RaboDirect PRO12 - confirming the result at the RDS Arena.
Connacht had a strong wind at their backs in the opening half, but failed to register any score to reflect their dominance of territory.
It was left to out-half Madigan to clinically pick off a converted try closing in on the break, profiting from his own quickly taken penalty.
He added a second-half penalty and the extras to McGrath's late score as Connacht suffered their second festive derby defeat in a week.
Eric Elwood's side were unable to build on a fine early break from winger Danie Poolman as Leinster regrouped in a physical first 10 minutes.
Leinster's forwards grew into the contest, carrying well at close quarters, but the Michael Swift-inspired Connacht were finding holes in the hosts' defence.
Poolman just miscued a grubber kick as he latched onto a cross-field delivery from Dan Parks and Leinster snatched a crucial turnover after a dangerous catch and run from Robbie Henshaw.
Having gained ground in a scrum, Parks was presented with his first shot at the posts but pulled the 14th minute penalty to the left and wide.
Lacking any territorial hold, Leinster had to maintain their discipline in defence and Jordi Murphy and Ben Marshall put in some meaty challenges.
Smart running from Andrew Conway and Fergus McFadden got Leinster into firing range near the half hour mark, and they showed the visitors exactly how potent they can be.
Andrew Goodman and Dominic Ryan both barged defenders as the men in blue gained further momentum and a quick tap penalty from Madigan saw him break out of a tackle to score from close range.
The out-half added a tricky conversion from the right and boosted by the seven-pointer, Leinster continually got over the gain-line as half-time approached.
On the restart, Brendan Macken went close to intercepting a high pass from Parks as Connacht looked to move the ball wide.
There was no sign of the midfield traffic giving way until Leinster sparked a series of pick and goes with 50 minutes on the clock.
Dominic Ryan, McFadden and stand-in captain Isaac Boss were heavily involved before Devin Toner was held up over the try-line. Connacht held out though, winning a turnover from the resulting scrum.
Madigan did increase Leinster's lead with a well-struck penalty towards the end of the third quarter.
Connacht showed flashes of clever attacking play, most notably when scrum half Kieran Marmion broke from a ruck near halfway and chipped towards the corner.
However, solid Leinster defence and cheap turnovers kept Connacht away from the whitewash and without a score to show for their efforts.
Having turned down a kickable penalty, Brett Wilkinson knocked on a pass from the ensuing lineout.
Marshall then blocked an attempted kick from Parks and Leinster broke downfield.
The hosts pulled Connacht through phases of strength-sapping defence in the closing stages and the pressure told when McGrath, supported by Toner, thundered over to the right of the posts.
Leinster hunted for a third try in the dying minute with teenage replacement Adam Byrne threatening on the right wing, but they had already done enough to get their play-off push back on track.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

CONNAUGHT BEAT BIARRITZ IN GALWAY

Dan Parks was the driving force behind Connacht as they claimed the scalp of French giants Biarritz with a 22-14 win in their Heineken Cup clash at the Sportsground.


Parks kicked 17 points, including the conversion of Fetu'u Vainikolo's early try, to seal the province's second win in Pool Three.
Dimitri Yachvili kicked three penalties to leave the visitors 10-9 behind at the break, but Biarritz were decidedly brittle as Connacht's younger forwards outworked them.
Although Imanol Harinordoquy came off the bench to score an injury-time try, Yachvili missed the conversion for a losing bonus point.
It was a tremendous result for Eric Elwood's men, with Parks guiding a hard-running back-line and Mike McCarthy marshalling the young guns up front.
With Gavin Duffy, John Muldoon and Nathan White heading the province's 13-man injury list, Parks skippered Connacht and varied the play superbly early on.
After Yachvili nudged Biarritz ahead, Vainikolo struck for a superbly-taken try that really lifted his team-mates and the vocal home crowd.
David McSharry intercepted a pass from Charles Gimenez near halfway and offloaded for the Tongan winger to charge away for a score against the run of play.
Parks converted to put Connacht 7-3 ahead and the westerners missed out on a second try when Ireland lock McCarthy failed to spot Robbie Henshaw looping around him in plenty of space.
A series of penalties failed to budge the scoreline with the wind-backed Yachvili missing two shots at the posts, and Parks drifting a long-range attempt wide.
The Biarritz talisman was back on target at the midway point of the half, his second successful penalty following a decent bout of territory for the visitors.
But Connacht looked the more dangerous of the two sides off limited ball and Takudzwa Ngwenya had to concede a lineout as Tiernan O'Halloran chased hard.
The hosts pressed and Parks took the drop-goal option, in front of the posts, to reopen the four-point gap.
Biarritz looked lacklustre in thought and deed, and tigerish tackling from the likes of Willie Faloon, Michael Kearney and Eoin McKeon helped Connacht keep their defensive line intact.
However, the penalty count took its toll. Number eight McKeon was sin-binned for taking an airborne Iain Balshaw out and Yachvili snapped over a classy penalty to make it 10-9 at the interval.
Despite their greater experience and strength up front, Biarritz failed to hammer home their numerical advantage and Parks restarted the scoring in the second period with a penalty.
Connacht countered again moments later, tournament debutant Danie Poolman punching down towards the 22. Parks hung up a cross-field kick which O'Halloran was inches away from collecting.

Biarritz introduced the fit-again Harinordoquy as they tried to reassert themselves, but strong carries from McSharry and Henshaw preceded another Parks three-pointer.
Parks and company kicked cleverly to keep Biarritz pinned back and McCarthy and hooker Jason Harris-Wright kept the home forwards on the front foot.
They forced a scrum penalty that Parks missed to the right, yet further chances came and in the final 10 minutes the former Scotland fly-half landed an inspirational drop goal and a third and final penalty.
Biarritz's game descended into niggly phases, with their questionable attitude and temperament resulting in a couple of scraps between the forwards.
They did lift the tempo late on, powerhouse Harinordoquy piling over after O'Halloran was sin-binned during some desperate Connacht defence.
But Connacht deservedly failed to cough up the losing bonus point and they will head to south-west France for next week's return encounter with renewed confidence.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

GAA: GALWAY'S PADRAIC JOYCE RETIRES FROM COUNTY FOOTBALL

Joycey, A Galway Legend
An era in Galway football has come to an end with Pádraic Joyce deciding to retire after a 15-year career in which he won almost every major honour in the game.

The decision by the 35-year old brings a glorious period for Galway football to an end.

It started in 1998 when Joyce and a host of other young players burst on the scene to end over three decades of frustration for Galway and Connacht football when they stormed to All-Ireland glory.

But the last remaining member of that team has now decided to leave the stage after 15 years of top flight football.

Most of Joyce’s inter-county success came in the early years but he continued to soldier on in the fast few seasons despite a series of heartbreaking narrow defeats and Galway's propensity to frequently keep changing their manager.

Joyce also seems likely to retire from club football after winning four county titles with Killererin, but he has not made a final decision on this.

A combination of increased work commitments – he has his wife Tracey run a busy recruitment company PJ Personnel Ltd – and elevated demands of training are the primary factors in him reaching his decision.

“Of course I can't go on playing for ever and I gave it some thought as other lads called a halt in recent years, but decided to persevere. But now the time is right to get out.

“I have been very fortunate to have played with some great teams at club, schools, college, inter-county and international. I have also been blessed to have had some great managers and some great playing colleagues so I can have no complaints. The county board also has always offered great support.”

Joyce first emerged on the scene as part of the St Jarlath's College Hogan Cup winning team of 1994, which also provided the Meehan brothers Declan and Tomas, Michael Donnellan, John Divilly and his own brother Tommie for the Galway team which ended a 32-year barren wait for All-Ireland glory when they defeated Kildare in the 1998 All-Ireland final.

That was Joyce's debut season for Galway and was also John O'Mahony's first year in charge. Joyce had some managers — starting with the likes the late Fr Ollie Hughes and Joe Long at St Jarlath's and Val Andrews in IT Tralee — in his career but O'Mahony will always hold a special place.

“He was so well organised. This was before mobile phones and email, but he would give us a sheet with the entire month planned and nobody deviated from that.

“He had a great way with players and I am extremely grateful to him for giving me the chance. He achieved an awful lot for Galway football and it is only as time goes on that you really appreciate what he did,” said Joyce.

That first year was geared entirely towards dethroning Mayo in the first round — it was knockout back then with no second chance — and once that was achieved, Galway went on to defeat Leitrim and Roscommon in a replay to win the Connacht title.

They then accounted for Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final and defeated Mick O'Dwyer's Kildare in the final.

It was some debut season for Joyce — six championship matches, five wins and a draw, a Connacht medal and an All-Ireland. There were some on the coach back to Galway, the likes of Kevin Walsh, Tomas Mannion and Sean Og de Paor, who had chalked up close on 40 championship matches at that stage.

But disappointment soon followed for Galway. Mayo gained revenge in 1999 in Tuam and then one of Joyce's most disappointing days when he captained Galway in the 2000 All-Ireland against Kerry, but had to watch his good friend and former IT Tralee colleague Seamus Moynihan collect Sam.

A year later there was glory again for Joyce when they became the first team to win the All-Ireland through the back door against Meath, and Joyce picked up his third All-Star and the Texaco footballer of the year.

Since then four Connacht titles have been the extent of the reward. The county has not won a game outside Connacht since their qualifier win over Louth in 2003.

“That's hard to believe because we have had good teams in those years, but sometimes it just doesn’t go for you. Changing the manager so often probably hasn’t helped but we still should have won a lot more.”

Success with Killererin kept Joyce motivated, while the regular changing of the Galway manager also set challenges which he reveled in, but now he feels it is time to step aside.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

IRELAND 46-24 ARGENTINA WITH TRIES VIDEO

Sexton touches down
Ireland guaranteed a place among the second seeds for the 2015 World Cup draw after cruising to an impressive 46-24 victory over Argentina at Aviva Stadium.


The hosts ran in a total of seven tries, with Jonathan Sextonand Tommy Bowe each grabbing a brace and Craig Gilroy, Richardt Strauss and Simon Zebo also crossing.

Coach Declan Kidney came into the contest under pressure after a run of five Test defeats but a dominant display against a Pumas side which beat Wales two weeks ago will be a big help to the under-fire boss.

Ireland took the lead in the 11th minute as Test debutant Gilroy, who was a threat all afternoon, came racing off his wing to take an inside pass from Sexton before beating three defenders to score.




Five minutes later centre Gordon D'Arcy fed Sexton and the Leinster fly-half showed good strength as he broke two tackles to crash over the line.

Argentina remained in touch through two Nicolas Sanchez penalties but the home side took a firm grip on the contest when Strauss grounded in the corner following a line-out drive.

The fourth try came when Bowe caught a high kick to start a move which ended when Sexton threw a miss pass out to full-back Zebo, who dived over in the left corner.

Sanchez kicked two more penalties and Sexton sent one of his own through the posts to make the score 27-12, but Bowe ended any hopes of a comeback when he collected a Sexton kick to score.

Sexton added his second try soon after and Bowe completed his own double in the last 10 minutes as he pounced on another chip kick, this time from Keith Earls.

Ireland emptied the subs bench, giving every squad player some game-time in the closing stages, which gave the Pumas a slight advantage.

Tries from Tomas Leonardi and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe in the dying minutes salvaged some pride for Argentina, who had prop Maximiliano Bustos sin-binned for throwing the ball into the face of Cian Healy.

Ireland:

Tries: Gilroy, Sexton (2), Strauss, Zebo, Bowe(2)
Cons: Sexton 3, O'Gara 1
Pens: Sexton 1


Argentina:

Tries: Lobbe, Leonardi
Cons: Sanchez (1)
Pens: Sanchez (4)


IRELAND V ARGENTINA TEAMS






   IRELAND V ARGENTINA

Ireland have it all to do to beat Argentina at the Aviva Stadium at 2pm today.

The Pumas joined the ranks of the Tri-Nations of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia to form the inaugural Rugby Championship earlier this Season.

Despite being guided by Graham Henry, they failed to win a game in their first season down-under.

However, match-day games will give them an advantage over Ireland for this encounter.

The added incentive of World Cup points will make sure that this will be a keenly contested encounter.

The result will decide the outcome of the seedings for the next Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, it may also decide Declan Kidney's future as Ireland coach.


                                 Ireland

                               Simon Zebo

  Tommy Bowe,  Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy, Craig Gilroy

                 Jonathan Sexton,  Conor Murray

       Cian Healy,  Richardt Strauss,  Mike Ross
        Mike McCarthy,  Donnacha Ryan,
  Peter O'Mahony,  Chris Henry  Jamie Heaslip

Replacements:  S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, M Bent, D O'Callaghan, I Henderson, E Reddan, R O'Gara, F McFadden.

                        

                   Argentina

                        J M Hernandez

    G Camacho, M Bosch, S Fernandez, J Imhoff

                      N Sanchez, M Landajo

                   M Ayerza, E Guinazu, M Bustos,
                         M Carizza, J F Cabello,
  J M Fernandez Lobbe, J M Leguizamon, L Senatore

Replacements: A Creevy, N Lobo, F Gomez Kodela, T Vallejos Cinalli, T Leonardi, N Vergallo, G Tiesi, M Montero



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IRISH RUGBY TEAM: RATINGS ANALYSIS

Craig Gilroy, hat-trick on debut
By Brendan Cole

The bare facts show that Ireland must beat Argentina on Saturday to stay in the top eight with both Scotland and Samoa in position to overtake them if they cannot do so.

In fact, Ireland would drop as low as 11th if they lost and Italy managed to beat Australia in Rome. On the other hand, if Ireland can win, they will probably climb up to sixth place in the rankings.

To recap briefly, Ireland’s points total (79.04) was unaffected by the thrashing of Fiji in a non-cap international on Saturday, but Ireland actually climbed one place to seventh because of Wales’ loss to Samoa. But while Ireland climbed a place, the overall picture actually changed for the worse.

First, Samoa's victory meant they climbed up to ninth place overall, where they are poised to overtake Ireland if Ireland slip up. Meanwhile, Scotland managed to stay within 15 points of South Africa, while Tonga beat the USA on Saturday evening.

 That combination of results means that if Scotland beat Tonga by 15 points or more and Ireland lose to Argentina, Scotland will also overtake Ireland. Wales: also in the fight to stay 'up' Wales are also in a fight to stay in the top eight, but their position is actually less relevant to Ireland as even if they lose twice over the next two weeks, Wales will almost certainly not drop low enough for Ireland to stay ahead of them in the event of a loss to Argentina.

But Wales can be caught by Samoa and know they must secure a positive result against either New Zealand or Australia to stay 'up'. An Irish defeat to Argentina would also be enough for Wales to stay in the top eight, as Scotland cannot catch Wales.

Does it all matter? The answer to that question at both micro and macro level is undoubtedly ‘yes’.

Firstly, as everyone knows, the draw for RWC 2015 happens next month. It has been pointed out that Ireland could end up with a similar draw regardless of whether they are in the second or third pot. But that has actually changed significantly over the last fortnight.

Now, staying into the second pot will mean Ireland cannot be drawn with host nation England, Argentina or Samoa. Instead, they would get a top seed and either Wales, Scotland, Italy or Tonga. Vastly different.

It is also worth mentioning the unfavourable playing schedule Ireland would get by falling into the third rank of seeds. It definitely matters. Broadening the picture further, it is worth considering how the IRB ranking affects Ireland’s standing in the rugby world.

Dropping to 11th in the world would represent a serious setback to the progress that has been made on that front since 1999, decisively separating Ireland from the bracket of nations immediately behind the SANZAR trio.

Ireland are at a low ebb and there is no doubt that the slew of injuries just before this series came at just the wrong time; the presence of Brian O’Driscoll or Paul O’Connell alone would probably have been enough to secure a win against South Africa.

Beating Argentina in Saturday’s Test is important in its own right. Surviving the current slump and staying in touch with the top nations is equally crucial.

IRB World Rankings (19 November)

1. New Zealand 92.91
2. South Africa 86.05
3. Australia 85.94
4. France 84.99
5. England 81.96
6. Argentina 79.89
7. Ireland 78.95
8. Wales 78.95
9. Samoa 78.79
10. Scotland 77.42
11. Italy 76.61
12. Tonga 74.5


Monday, November 19, 2012

IRELAND PUT 53 PAST FIGI AT THOMOND PARK

craig Gilroy scores three tries on debut
 A crowd of over 20,000 at Thomond Park on a drizzly and cold  was a good turnout. For their investment in the occasion they were rewarded with a game Ireland had sewn up by the end of the first quarter, when they were 17-0 in front. It was 29-0 by half-time, and when referee Leighton Hodges wrapped it up the try count stood at eight.
In truth, it was barely above the status of a training run, a comfort zone for the fresh faces to get their international careers started. Just as Jonny Sexton made his debut in similar circumstances three years ago, Paddy Jackson had the enjoyable experience of getting a stream of ball going forward from a pack who were miles ahead of their opponents. The only danger to him was the chance of being clobbered late, which increased as the tourists fell further out the back end of the game.



Unfortunately for the Fijians, understrength and under-resourced, they have to stop off in Tbilisi on the way home so the Georgians can have a go off them. It may well be snowing there by then. Just what the south sea islanders are after.

For Ireland, meantime, this exercise had no relevance to their clash with the Pumas in Lansdowne Road on Saturday. Unfortunately for Eric Elwood and Connacht however it may have a whole lot of relevance for them given that John Muldoon was stretchered off, early in the second half, after an accidental collision with Conor Murray.

Otherwise, Declan Kidney didn't seem to have any other notable casualties on his list. The coach gave starts to Ulster quartet Jackson, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy, with Paul Marshall joining them off the bench for the last quarter. Strangely he passed on the opportunity to give Simon Zebo another start at fullback. He had done well there last weekend and surely another spin would have been useful ahead of the Argentina game.

Instead the slot went to Denis Hurley, making his second international appearance three years after his first. That sequence would suggest Hurley is not exactly centre stage, whereas Zebo could well be there, or pretty close to it. He got the last 20 minutes, by which stage Ireland were 36-0 ahead.

At that point the Fijians were ratty and disjointed and looking to leave a mark on someone if not the game itself. Replacement Saula Radidi tried harder than most to do damage to anything in green. Toulouse flyer Timoci Matanavou was binned for a tip tackle on Conor Murray, and he was followed in the final quarter by the replacement hooker Tuapati Talemaitoga for a late tackle on man of the match Craig Gilroy. Luckily it didn't take a lot out of the Ulster wing.

He had already scored one try by that stage, added a second a few minutes after a late hit, thanks to a nicely delayed pass by Zebo, and then ran all of 95 metres to get hat-trick, dodging white shirts along the way.

It was Gilroy who had started the rout on 10 minutes when a good combination between Jackson, Luke Marshall and himself ended with a try by the corner flag. With Jackson having tapped over a penalty on six minutes, you felt that a 10-point lead was a huge issue for the Fijians.

They had nothing to offer and seemed to appreciate the fact better than anyone, so we weren't given one of those performances where the underdog keeps yapping away, oblivious. More like a lie down with the odd snap when they became grumpy. Only once over the 80 did they look like they might get across the Ireland line. In fairness to the home they defended the series of attacks close-in, mid way through the second half, as if there was more at stake.

The sight of the impressive Iain Henderson ripping the ball clear was the final nail for the away side, who would have left reasonably happy if they had got over the line just once.

Instead they had to suffer some more, with Gilroy's two strikes, and then Marshall rounded off the night by getting over in the corner, to make it five tries from the Ulster backline contingent alone. Given their profile these days, that was about right.

 For their investment in the occasion they were rewarded with a game Ireland had sewn up by the end of the first quarter, when they were 17-0 in front. It was 29-0 by half-time, and when referee Leighton Hodges wrapped it up the try count stood at eight.
 
In truth, it was barely above the status of a training run, a comfort zone for the fresh faces to get their international careers started.
 Just as Jonny Sexton made his debut in similar circumstances three years ago, Paddy Jackson had the enjoyable experience of getting a stream of ball going forward from a pack who were miles ahead of their opponents. The only danger to him was the chance of being clobbered late, which increased as the tourists fell further out the back end of the game.



Unfortunately for the Fijians, understrength and under-resourced, they have to stop off in Tbilisi on the way home so the Georgians can have a go off them. It may well be snowing there by then. Just what the south sea islanders are after.

For Ireland, meantime, this exercise had no relevance to their clash with the Pumas in Lansdowne Road on Saturday. Unfortunately for Eric Elwood and Connacht however it may have a whole lot of relevance for them given that John Muldoon was stretchered off, early in the second half, after an accidental collision with Conor Murray.

Otherwise, Declan Kidney didn't seem to have any other notable casualties on his list. The coach gave starts to Ulster quartet Jackson, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy, with Paul Marshall joining them off the bench for the last quarter. Strangely he passed on the opportunity to give Simon Zebo another start at fullback. He had done well there last weekend and surely another spin would have been useful ahead of the Argentina game.

Instead the slot went to Denis Hurley, making his second international appearance three years after his first. That sequence would suggest Hurley is not exactly centre stage, whereas Zebo could well be there, or pretty close to it. He got the last 20 minutes, by which stage Ireland were 36-0 ahead.

At that point the Fijians were ratty and disjointed and looking to leave a mark on someone if not the game itself. Replacement Saula Radidi tried harder than most to do damage to anything in green. Toulouse flyer Timoci Matanavou was binned for a tip tackle on Conor Murray, and he was followed in the final quarter by the replacement hooker Tuapati Talemaitoga for a late tackle on man of the match Craig Gilroy. Luckily it didn't take a lot out of the Ulster wing.

He had already scored one try by that stage, added a second a few minutes after a late hit, thanks to a nicely delayed pass by Zebo, and then ran all of 95 metres to get his hat-trick, dodging white shirts along the way.

It was Gilroy who had started the rout on 10 minutes when a good combination between Jackson, Luke Marshall and himself ended with a try by the corner flag. With Jackson having tapped over a penalty on six minutes, you felt that a 10-point lead was a huge issue for the Fijians.

They had nothing to offer and seemed to appreciate the fact better than anyone, so we weren't given one of those performances where the underdog keeps yapping away, oblivious. More like a lie down with the odd snap when they became grumpy. Only once over the 80 did they look like they might get across the Ireland line. In fairness to the home they defended the series of attacks close-in, mid way through the second half, as if there was more at stake.

The sight of the impressive Iain Henderson ripping the ball clear was the final nail for the away side, who would have left reasonably happy if they had got over the line just once.

Instead they had to suffer some more, with Gilroy's two strikes, and then Marshall rounded off the night by getting over in the corner, to make it five tries from the Ulster backline contingent alone. Given their profile these days, that was about right.

Ireland: D Hurley; F McFadden, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, C Murray; D Kilcoyne (C Healy 47), S Cronin (R Strauss 53), M Ross (M Bent 53); D O'Callaghan, D Tuohy; I Henderson, J Heaslip (capt)(M McCarthy 76), J Muldoon (C Henry 44; yc 64-74).

Fiji: M Talebula; S Koniferedi (S Radidi 37), V Goneva, R Fatiaki (T Manatavou h-t; yc 47-57)), W Votu; J Ralulu, N Matawalu (K Bola 68); J Yanuyanutawa (S Semoca 70), V Veikoso (T Talemaitoga 45; yc 67-77)), D Manu (capt); L Nakarawu (A Ratuniyarawa 45), A Naikatini; I Ratuva, N Nagusa (J Domolailai 61), M Ravulo.

Referee: L Hodges (Wales)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

IRELAND LOSE TO GREECE 1-0



Ireland v Greece at oddsJose Holebas ensured the Republic of Ireland ended 2012 without the victory they craved as Giovanni Trapattoni's youngsters were undone 1-0 by Greece at Aviva Stadium.


The Italian's experimental side, which featured Ciaran Clark, James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady from the start and Wes Hoolahan after the break, competed well for long periods, but were unable to carve out the openings to take something from the game.
In front of a sparse crowd at the Aviva Stadium, where they were battered 6-1 by Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month, Ireland showed plenty of endeavour and at times craft, but they could not find the killer touch in front of goal.
As a result, Holebas' sweet 29th-minute strike was enough to win the game for the visitors and leave Trapattoni's detractors with enough ammunition to maintain their opposition to his continued presence at the helm heading into March's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.

The 73-year-old, finally bowing to mounting pressure, handed youth a chance as his side brought an end to their 2012 campaign and tried to do so in style against the national currently ranked 12th by FIFA.
Ireland slipped significantly in FIFA's ranking table - to 36th place, 24 behind the Greeks - in the wake of their humiliation at the hands of the Germans, and the Italian's response was to include Aston Villa defender Clark, Wigan schemer McCarthy and wingers Brady and McClean in his starting line-up.
He was also forced to make a late change when goalkeeper Keiren Westwood withdrew with a groin injury and Millwall's David Forde was handed an unexpected fourth senior cap.
It all started relatively promisingly for the home side with McCarthy finding space in the middle of the field to feed Brady and McClean on the flanks, and the movement of strikers Shane Long and Simon Cox troubling the Greek defence.
Ireland had strong claims for a first-minute penalty waved away by Israeli referee Eitan Shmuelevitz and defender Konstantinos Stafylidis could consider himself extremely fortunate not to be penalised for his less-than-effective attempt to deal with Stephen Ward's deep cross.
Cox went to ground inside the box under Sokratis Papastathopoulos' challenge three minutes later, but the appeals on that occasion were more muted and also ignored, and McClean scuffed a long-range effort wide.
But the Republic looked certain to take the lead with 10 minutes gone when full-back Seamus Coleman, whose combination with Brady proved a repeated threat down the right during the opening 45 minutes, collected the winger's return pass and crossed.
Cox had found a yard of space and climbed to meet the ball unopposed, but he was unable to hit the target with just keeper Orestis Karnezis to beat.
Greece had offered little in response, but gradually worked their way into the game and called Forde into action for the first time when Sotiros Ninis took aim from 25 yards and forced a diving 23rd-minute save.

However, the Republic failed to heed the warning and fell behind six minutes later when skipper Georgios Samaras, who had earlier had to leave the pitch for treatment to a head wound, turned Konstantinos Mitroglou's pass into the path of Holebas, who span John O'Shea and thumped the ball into the bottom corner.
Long and Clark were both booked for clumsy challenges as the game unfolded in anything but friendly fashion, but the home side had rather lost their way.
They might have levelled in injury time when Brady tested Karnezis with a left-foot strike after being set up by Long, but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.
There was warm applause from the sparse crowd when, on their return, Ireland were joined by in-form Norwich star Hoolahan, winning just his second cap, a fact which had not gone unnoticed by Trapattoni's critics.
Brady departed along with Long to accommodate his arrival and that of Kevin Doyle, who was asked to play a lone striking role ahead of Hoolahan with Cox dropping in on the left and McClean moving to the right.
Ironically Glenn Whelan, the man who had pleaded with his manager earlier in the week to field an extra midfielder, was back in the dressing room having limped off injured before the break.
However, it was McCarthy who almost dragged the Republic back into the game two minutes into the second half when Karnezis failed to hold his long-range shot, although Papastathopoulos prevented Doyle from converting the rebound and Cox's follow-up was blocked.
But while perspiration was not in short supply, inspiration was and the Irish failed to make the most of the possession they were allowed as the game passed the hour-mark with Greece's narrow lead intact.
Ward hacked a 69th-minute shot harmlessly across the face of goal after the Greeks had failed to clear a McClean free-kick, and Greece coasted to the final whistle and victory with few alarms.
(c)RTE


Saturday, November 10, 2012

IRELAND 12-16 SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa overcame Ireland for just the second time in 12 years at Lansdowne Road in a game that saw a complete turnaround after the break. Ireland led 12-3 at half-time but Jamie Heaslip’s spell in the bin after the restart ultimately cost the hosts.
It took just four minutes for Richardt Strauss to leave his mark on the international rugby landscape. Or, rather, it left its mark on the new Irish hooker who had to go off for treatment on a burst lip. If there is still some debate about granny rules and naturalisation, no-one will be unhappy about the recruitment of players such as Strauss if they offer quality options.
There was a time when the end-of-year international series were, quite simply, a nightmare.
Between 1993 and 2001 Ireland lost six tests (to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, all twice) by an average margin of almost 20 points. The nearest Ireland got to any of them was 10 points, against Australia in 1996 and against South Africa at the turn of the century.
Horror defeats against the All Blacks (expected) and Italy (not so much) in 1997 eventually did for the Brian Aston regime. Warren Gatland was in charge and almost masterminded a win over New Zealand in 2001 before one of the best generations of Irish rugby players enjoyed a breakthrough 18-9 win over Australia in 2002. In the period that followed, there were three wins against South Africa -- in 2004, 2006 and 2009 – so this game held happy enough recent memories.
But Declan Kidney has found himself under increasing pressure since 2009. The statistics aren’t kind to him since the Grand Slam season: Eight wins in 15 Six Nations games; only three in nine against the ‘Big Three’ home nations.
It’s a rarity now in modern international rugby that teams can put out full-strength sides, such is the usual injury toll. Kidney’s character indicates a less experimental side would have been chosen if certain players had been available but circumstances meant the home fans were able to assess potential future options. There were some worries about the lack of ball-carriers going into Saturday’s game in the absences of Stephen Ferris and Sean O’Brien, in particular, but early robust surges from Strauss and Mike McCarthy offered renewed hope.
Conor Murray went into the game under pressure but some early snappy passes and a couple of tidy box-kicks took him into the groove. Ireland were reading the Springboks attack with almost psychic precision and if McCarthy was landing opponents on their backsides, Chris Henry at openside was hungry for work at the breakdown.
Although Ireland were offering more in an attacking sense, there were mistakes in possession on both sides. The home side struggled to make any clean breaks and when Henry found himself isolated (how many times have we been frustrated with that aspect of our game in recent years?), South Africa threw away the chance to make it 9-6 approaching the half-hour.
As if to reinforce the point above, when Keith Earls did make ground down the right with a sprightly run, the support was again slow to show. Simon Zebo, at full-back and starting authoritatively under the high ball, if a little off radar with the boot, involved himself twice in a move that led to a penalty under the posts.
It was scrappy stuff, though, and it wasn’t a great surprise when the mercury rose a degree or two after Sexton’s successful kick. JP Pietersen, who made that eyebrow-raising claim about David Skrela during the week, made himself even less popular with the home support when he charged into Henry under a high ball, a misdemeanour that put him in the bin but could easily have been red. There were no handbags damaged in the exchanges that followed but the numerical advantage meant Ireland were able to keep their opponents pinned in their own half.
The first serious maul of the game saw Strauss scamper forward towards the South Africa 22 but possession was wasted out wide. Play was called back only for Sexton to make his first mistake of the evening, pulling his shot wide.
South Africa are coming off the back of a tough recent series in the southern hemisphere and, at times, they didn’t look all that interested. Jaco Taute and Jean de Villiers tower over Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls but the Ireland midfield duo were under no physical pressure in the opening period when logic says they should have been primary targets for the away side.
There was an immediate improvement after the break, though, and Jamie Heaslip was rightly sent to the bin as South Africa pummelled the Irish line following a destructive maul. The Springboks ran the resulting penalty and Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar stretched to touch down under the posts and the conversion reduced the margin to two.
Before Heaslip returned, the away side made it 10 points in 10 minutes to go a point up. Ireland finally made inroads in the direction of their opponents’ 22 only for another error to send the South Africans mauling down the other end. Taute and de Villiers were finally making yards and Ireland defended desperately to turn a ball over on their own line.
Murray, who had a decent game, was replaced with Eoin Reddan on the hour, just after Sexton failed with a long-range penalty. Reddan has had his case made for him by those who say he gets his backline moving quicker, and he needed to prove that as Ireland rarely threatened to out-flank the visitors.
South Africa were dominating territory now and Stauss and Mike Ross showed the physical toll of the war up front when they were slow to rise following the concession of another penalty at scrum time. Patrick Lambie put South Africa four points up before Kidney sent for the substitutes, Iain Henderson and Michael Bent among them.
The latter made an immediate impact, helping his new side win a penalty at the next set-piece between the packs.
From the resulting phases Ireland probed but there was little creativity and the ball was again easily turned over by a now physically dominant opponent. Ireland had a couple of remaining chances to run but South Africa comfortably held out to complete a comeback that looked very unlikely at the break.
Over all, there were positives. McCarthy and Strauss were excellent at times and Bent shored up the scrum late on. But there is also plenty to worry about and it will be the Pumas relishing the test that will round off the series following their impressive win in Cardiff.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

GALWAY GET SIX ALL-STARS THIS YEAR

Iarla Tannion in action v Kilkenny
Beaten All-Ireland finalists Galway topped the hurling All-Star list with six players chosen on the team, while Kilkenny's Henry Shefflin was named Hurler of the Year.

Champions Kilkenny had five representatives on the XV selected, while Waterford (2), Clare (1) and Cork (1) were also represented.
Shefflin was named Hurler of the Year as the mercurial forward won his ninth Liam MacCarthy Cup this summer and was named on the elite team for an eleventh time.

Galway’s Johnny Coen received the Young Hurler of the Year award after flourishing for the Tribesmen on their run to the All-Ireland final.

Just reward for a new Galway team that beat, drew and finally lost to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland replay


2012 GAA / GPA Hurling All-Stars:


Goalkeeper: Anthony Nash (Cork)
Full-backs: Paul Murphy (Kilkenny), JJ Delaney (Kilkenny), Fergal Moore (Galway)
Half-backs: Brendan Bugler (Clare), Brian Hogan (Kilkenny), David Collins (Galway)
Midfielders: Iarla Tannion (Galway), Kevin Moran (Waterford)
Half-forwards: TJ Reid (Kilkenny), Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny), Damien Hayes (Galway)
Full-forwards: John Mullane (Waterford), Joe Canning (Galway), David Burke (Galway)
Goalkeeper: Anthony Nash

Thursday, October 25, 2012

GALWAY'S JOE BERGIN RETIRES FROM COUNTY FOOTBALL



Galway football legend Joe Bergin is to hang up his boots after 13 years with the Tribesmen.

The Mountbellew/Moylough clubman cited work commitments and a desire to focus his remaining years on football with his club as the deciding factors.

Bergin also revealed that Galway’s recent downturn in fortunes, including July’s 0-11 0-10 defeat to Antrim in the All-Ireland qualifiers played a part in his decision.

"I have been thinking about it for some time. The loss to Antrim was a huge disappointment and I feel now is the time to go," Bergin said.

"I have been fortunate to have a long inter-county career and while the last few seasons have been disappointing I was lucky enough to win a lot in the early years."

Sorry to see you go Joe, best of luck in the future.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

IRELAND BOSS KEEPS JOB AS FAI BACK TRAPATTONI

FAI
Welcome news for many Irish fans about Giovanni Trapattoni has come with the issuing of an official statement from the FAI on Wednesday night, declaring their continued support for the Italian boss.

The statement read: "While disappointed like everyone with the poor result and performance against Germany and understanding the frustration of some of our supporters, we believe the current position in the group means that qualification for Brazil in 2014 remains a realistic and achievable prospect.
"We reaffirm that Giovanni Trapattoni is to remain in charge of the national team."

The Italian’s position had come under severe pressure following a disappointing run of results and performances from the European Championships, where the team lost all three games, to a 6-1 hammering at the hands of Germany on Friday night.

"We believe the current position in the group means that qualification for Brazil in 2014 remains a realistic and achievable prospect" added the FAI.

After yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Faroe Islands, Trapattoni, 73, was adamant that he would stay on for the duration of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

The statement continued: "The Board recognises the depth of feeling surrounding the team, the performances, the results and the manager, reflecting the passion which everyone in Irish football has for the game and will continue to work closely with the manager."

I personally think it is right that the manager should continue in his job and I am happy with the FAI's decision, as he is the right man for the job.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

AFTER THE FAROE'S VICTORY, TRAP SHOULD STAY ON

O'Dea scores Ireland's fourth
Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland recovered from Friday's 6-1 humiliation against Germany by defeating the Faroe Islands 4-1 in Torshavn in World Cup qualifying Group C.

The result was not always a comfortable one for Trapattoni's men though, with the sides going in scoreless at the break.

Nonetheless, the Boys in Green produced a much-improved performance in the second half and wrapped up the win with goals from Marc Wilson, Jon Walters and Darren O'Dea as well as an own goal from Pol Johannus Justinussen.


The Faroes made Ireland sweat by pulling proceedings back to 2-1 midway through the half but the manner in which his players exerted control will have pleased the Irish manager.
Trapattoni is often criticised for playing inverted wingers in his 4-4-2 formation, especially as goals from out wide are a rarity from his Ireland side.
 
 However, surprise starter Robbie Brady showed his confidence early on, cutting in after nine minutes to try to curl the ball past Gunnar Nielsen. Luckily for the former Manchester City goalkeeper, the ball evaded both him and the goal as Brady over-hit his shot.

On the other wing, Aiden McGeady looked much sharper after putting in one of his worst shifts in an Ireland jersey in Friday's defeat. McGeady showed some neat touches, and offered the short option for Brady's corners.
 
 Two of his first-half crosses were perfectly flighted for Keith Andrews and Jon Walters, but neither could get their headers on target.

Faroe Islands manager Lars Olsen had said that he hoped his side could get a result from the game, and offered attacks of their own.
 
 The minnows looked dangerous from set-pieces and long-throws, but Keiren Westwood was only tested on a couple of occasions, with Daniel Udsen and Simun Samuelsen attempting shots from range.

The game evened out towards the end of the opening 45 minutes, with the Faroes restricted to shots from distance and Ireland relying on Brady and Coleman down the right to create.
 
A great through pass from Walters found Andrews in the box, but his cross went straight to Nielsen when both Robbie Keane and McGeady were free in the area with the goal gaping.

Trapattoni surprised many by sending Simon Cox on for Robbie Brady at half time, but looked to be vindicated as Cox was involved in the move that led to Marc Wilson's first international goal on 47 minutes. Wilson cut in from wide to launch a long-range effort which was deflected on the way into the net.
 
The goal reinvigorated Ireland, with Jon Walters doubling the score five minutes later, heading in Wilson's cross. Robbie Keane tried to claim he got a touch as Walters nodded down into the six-yard box but replays confirmed the Stoke City man's second international goal.

Ireland stepped off the gas a little after the second goal, and saw the Faroes claw one back on 68 minutes. Substitute Arnbjorn Hansen rose above John O'Shea to head the ball past Keiren Westwood after a clever dummy from Christian Holst opened up the Irish defence.

Unlike in other games where Trapattoni's men collapsed after conceding, Ireland restored the two-goal advantage less than five minutes later.
 
 Robbie Keane was unlucky not to be given a penalty, but the Faroes handed the advantage back to Ireland when Pol Johannus Justinussen put the ball into his own net from Walters' cross after a rapid counter-attack.

Trapattoni sent on Shane Long near the end, and with the Faroe's tiring, Darren O'Dea scored his first international goal in the 88th minute from McGeady's corner.

The 4-1 victory may be too little, too late for Trapattoni to convince his doubters, and many will be watching closely to see if he keeps his job. However, despite Fridays' aberration, the Irish have six points from nine and still have it all to play for on the road to Brazil 2014.
 
I really believe that Trapattoni should remain as Ireland Manager, he has limited resources at his disposal and has maximised a limited squad to over-achieve during his time as Ireland Manager.
 
Surely, we cannot return to the dark days of Steve Staunton and Brian Kerr when we lost to lowly Cyprus under both Managers.
 
The highly successful Italian must be allowed to remain in his job as Ireland Manager.
 
 
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

KEANE FIT FOR TRAP'S SWANSONG?

Trapattoni under intense pressure to stand-down
Robbie Keane will be back to start for the Republic of Ireland when they take on the Faroe Islands in their World Cup 2014 qualification game on Tuesday evening.

Keane will again captain Ireland after he recovered from the Achilles injury that kept him out of Friday’s 6-1 humiliation at home to Germany.

The 32-year-old LA Galaxy striker has had an injection to ensure he can start the game at the Torsvollur Stadium in Torshavn.

Under-pressure manager Giovanni Trapittoni has made two other changes with Manchester United youth player Robbie Brady starting along with Stoke’s Marc Wilson.

Keith Fahey and Stephen Ward are the two to miss out to Brady and Wilson, while Simon Cox makes way for the returning Keane.

I thought Keith Fahey was having a good game in midfield against Germany, we were 2-0 down when he was taken off.

Still, its great to see Man Utd youngster Robbie Brady start against The Faroe Islands, the boy has got real talent.

I don't think Trapattoni should be sacked, we were missing several players against Germany: Richard Dunne, Sean St. Ledger, Glenn Whelan and Robbie Keane.

Germany had 8 shots in the game and the scored 6 goals, freakish statistics.

Lets hope for a big win against The Faroes.


Republic of Ireland team to play Faroes Islands: Westwood, Coleman, O'Shea, O'Dea, Wilson, Brady, Andrews, McCarthy, McGeady, Keane, Walters.








Friday, October 12, 2012

IRELAND THRASHED AT HOME BY GERMANY

Trap under severe pressureGermany humiliated the Republic of Ireland 6-1 on a disastrous night for the hosts in the World Cup Group C qualifier at the Aviva Stadium.
 
Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus scored twice in the first half to set Germany on their way.

Ireland were left chasing shadows as the visitors eased to victory with further goals from Mesut Ozil (pen) and Miroslav Klose, as well as a brace by substitute Toni Kroos.
Andy Keogh headed in a consolation goal in injury-time.

 Keogh headed in fellow sub Robbie Brady's corner for a consolation in injury-time.

It was always going to be a difficult task for Giovanni Trapattoni's side against a team of Germany's calibre, but they played a significant part in their own downfall.

There was no evidence of any disharmony in the German camp in this display.
In truth, Ireland never tested them and were guilty of some woeful defending.

A combination of retirements and injuries forced Trapattoni into a change of formation, but the new approach had little effect as the Euro 2012 woes linger and the pressure on the manager grows.

The one bright spot was the late cameo by Brady, but it will not stop the critics rounding on Trapattoni.
Germany were also missing several regulars, but they always had the strength in depth to cope and their mix of speed and skill was far too much for a disorganised Ireland.
It had been a bright opening ten minutes by the home side, but they retreated to the edge of their box as Germany got into their stride.

With Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira zipping the ball about with ease, Ireland's wide men, Simon Cox and Aiden McGeady, were forced to come inside to help out the midfield trio of Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey and James McCarthy.

This only encouraged Germany's full-backs Marcel Schmelzer and Jerome Boateng to roam forward into the space.

John O'Shea was fortunate to get away with not conceding a penalty after a tug on Reus, who had nicked the ball off him on the edge box.
Reus was booked for diving by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli, but he answered the boo boys within minutes by putting Germany ahead.

The winger capitalised on slack marking by Ireland and fired in the opener off underside of the bar.

Reus doubled the lead before the break when he finished a brilliant counter-attack move that spread across the pitch and back again.
It started with Schweinsteiger at the back, went through Ozil and Boateng, before Reus took the ball in his stride and found the far corner.

A few forays forward and Shane Long's introduction lifted the home crowd for a brief moment after the break.
It was not to last however, as Germany restored order with ruthless efficiency before the hour.

Darren O'Dea needlessly dived in on Miroslav Klose to give away a penalty and Ozil nonchalantly stroked the penalty past Westwood.

O'Dea was caught out again moments later as Schweinsteiger slipped the ball into space for Klose.
Westwood may have narrowed the angle but Klose is one of the most accomplished strikers at this level and he found the target from a narrow angle.

Kroos got in on the act with a stunning volley after O'Shea's poor defensive header dropped to him on the edge of the box.

The olés that echoed around the ground were coming for the away end for a change as the away fans revelled in their team's dominance.

Kroos gave another example of his long-range shooting ability for the sixth of the night when he stepped into space and whipped the ball past Westwood at his near post.

Keogh's late, late consolation brought the crowd to its feet but it is a sombre squad that head to the Faroe Islands for Tuesday's crucial qualifier.


survey service

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IRELAND INJURY CRISIS AHEAD OF GERMANY GAME

Trap's injury crisisRepublic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni was tonight facing the prospect of having to piece together a team for a daunting World Cup qualifier against Germany at The Aviva Stadium on Friday evening.

The 73-year-old Italian has been hit by a series of withdrawals through injury and will head into the clash with the Group C favourites in Dublin without six of the men who started the 2-0 defeat by Italy in their final Euro 2012 fixture.

With Shay Given and Damien Duff having retired, Sean St Ledger, Glenn Whelan, James McClean and Kevin Doyle have joined Richard Dunne on the casualty list.

McClean's absence was confirmed early this afternoon when the Football Association of Ireland revealed that a scan on Wearside had revealed a hip flexor strain which will prevent the Sunderland winger from playing against the Germans and could yet keep him out of next Tuesday's trip to the Faroe Islands.

An FAI spokesman said: "The results of James McClean's scan this morning in Sunderland showed a grade one hip flexor strain which will certainly rule him out for the Germany match and may exclude him for the Faroe Islands. McClean will remain at his club to receive treatment."

He was swiftly, and not unexpectedly, joined on the sidelines by St Ledger and Whelan when scans confirmed the full extent of the hamstring injuries the pair suffered on club duty with Leicester and Stoke respectively over the weekend.

The spokesman said: "Further to scans earlier in the day, both Sean St Ledger and Glenn Whelan have been confirmed as out of both matches against Germany and the Faroe Islands."

As a result, Trapattoni has drafted Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark, not before time, I might add, into the squad with Sunderland's David Meyler and Manchester United's exciting young talent, Robbie Brady having already joined up as additional players.

Los Angeles Galaxy striker Robbie Keane and Spartak Moscow midfielder Aiden McGeady will arrive in time for training tomorrow as Trapattoni attempts to plot a path through an increasingly littered minefield.

However, he is simply not prepared to run the risk of starting a player who may break down within minutes of kick-off in such a big game.

Trapattoni said: "I can't speak as doctor - I am manager. But muscle injuries need time, time, time.

"You don't want a player to play 10, 15, 20, 70 minutes and then have hamstring injury again. I don't want to take risks.
"It's very important, this game. We also need to make our three substitutions to change the game, not because of injuries from before."

The absence of Dunne and St Ledger mean it is likely that error-prone: John O'Shea will be asked to move into central defence and that Stephen Kelly could replace him at full-back.

James McCarthy, Meyler and Keith Fahey are candidates to fill the berth vacated by regular central midfielder Whelan, although Trapattoni has hinted that Germany's pace and power could prompt him to opt for five men in the middle of the pitch behind a lone striker.

Trapattoni is yet to make hard and fast decisions either on system or personnel, but he knows the Germans will provide the sternest of tests of his side's qualification credentials.

He said: "Germany is strong team. We know their quality, their offensive potential. They are first in the table and one of the strongest teams in Europe, the world maybe."

Meanwhile, Trapattoni played down suggestions that he and assistant Marco Tardelli were still trying to talk Duff out of his international retirement.

The pair suggested that Fulham midfielder could return last month, but have now accepted that he will not.
Trapattoni said: "We asked him once. He said 'No'."



Sunday, September 30, 2012

GALWAY LOSE HURLING FINAL REPLAY

 Joe Canning goes up for a catch

Kilkenny were crowned All-Ireland senior hurling champions for the 34th time with a convincing 3-22 to 3-11 replay win over Galway.

It was a personal milestone for Henry Shefflin, who became the first player to win nine All-Ireland medals on the field of play, and he marked a special occasion with another special performance, contributing nine points to the Kilkenny cause.

And championship debutant Walter Walsh also wrote his name in large print over the showpiece occasion, claiming a 1-3 haul to announce his arrival on the senior stage in spectacular fashion.

Galway stunned the champions with two first half goals, but their task became impossible 20 minutes from the end when they were reduced to 14 men.

Shefflin stroked over a couple of frees, with Walsh also getting his name on the score sheet as the Cats settled into an early rhythm.
While Joe Canning converted two frees, there was no indication that Galway would trouble a dominant Kilkenny defence until the game suddenly exploded into spectacular drama with three goals in as many minutes.
Galway’s David Burke bagged two of them with a quickfire double strike. First he flicked to the net from Iarlaith Tannion’s booming delivery and a minute later he finished off a wonderful move to stun the champions.

Cyril Donnellan and Damien Hayes combined to slice open the Kilkenny defence, and Burke applied a clinical finish past David Herity to give the Tribesmen a three-point lead.

But Kilkenny’s response was quite devastating  a 1-7 salvo without reply as they seized back control with ruthless efficiency.

James Skehill, a major pre-match doubt due to a shoulder injury, saved from Eoin Larkin, but Richie Power reacted to finish to the net from close range in the 19th minute.

Shefflin, Walsh, Richie Hogan and TJ Reid all tagged on points as they moved six clear, but Galway, who failed to score a point from play in the first half, closed the gap with two Canning points.

Kilkenny led by 1-11 to 2-4 at the interval, and Richie Hogan’s star quality continued to shine as he knocked over his second score.

Substitute goalkeeper Fergal Flannery, who came in at half-time, Skehill’s damaged shoulder forcing him out of the game, had to make a smart save from Richie Power, with Shefflin converting the resultant ’65.
Brian Hogan, dominant at the heart of the Kilkenny defence, frustrated Galway’s efforts to revive their challenge, but the Westerners did register a first point from play through Andy Smith.

Galway had the ball in the net again, but referee James McGrath opted not to allow Damien Hayes an advantage and called play back, to the fury of the Tribesmen, awarding a free which Canning converted.

The Galway full forward executed a sublime skill, steering a sideline cut between the posts to narrow the gap to three.

Galway were now performing with passion and belief, and Canning came close to grabbing a third goal when he rifled a shot against the butt of a post.


The chance was lost though, and the Connacht men suffered a blow moments later when Cyril Donnellan received a straight red card in the 48th minute for catching JJ Delaney with his hurl.

Kilkenny seized the opportunity to regain control and points from Richie Power, Michael Fennelly, Walsh and Shefflin eased them eight clear.

And Walsh completed a dream debut with a 58th minute goal, finishing from close range after Flannery had saved from TJ Reid.

Substitute Colin Fennelly made absolutely certain of McCarthy Cup retention with his side’s third goal, opening out a massive 15-point lead.

Galway restored some pride late on with a superb goal from teenage substitute Johnny Glynn, but this was another day that belonged to Brian Cody’s Kilkenny team.

Galway's exciting young team will surely go all the way in the near future under manager, Anthony Cunningham.

Kilkenny scorers: W Walsh 1-3, R Power 1-2, C Fennelly 1-0, H Shefflin 0-9 (5f, 2 ’65), R Hogan 0-3, E Larkin, TJ Reid, C Buckley, M Fennelly, K Joyce (f) 0-1 each


Galway scorers: D Burke 2-0, J Glynn 1-0, J Canning 0-9 (5f, 1 ’65, 1 s/l), A Smith, T Og Regan 0-1 each.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

DONEGAL DOWN MAYO


Donegal beat Mayo

Donegal have won their second All-Ireland Football Championship title in a wave of emotion at Croke Park, beating Mayo 2-11 to 0-13 this afternoon.

Forwards Micheal Murphy and Colm McFadden hit 1-04 each as the Ulster champions piled more final agony on Mayo.

Early goals from Murphy and McFadden had Donegal seven points clear, but three Cillian O’Connor points narrowed the gap to three (2-04 to 0-07), at the break.

 O’Connor and Enda Varley kept Mayo in touch, but they held on to claim the Sam Maguire.

A crowd of 82,269 watched Jim McGuinness’s side silence the critics who had lambasted their defensive strategy last season, and lift Gaelic football’s richest prize, 20 years after the county had won a maiden title.

Just two and a half minutes had elapsed when Murphy rose above marker Kevin Keane to fetch Karl Lacey’s delivery, turn and blast a rocket to the roof of the net.

History weighed heavily on Mayo shoulders when they conceded a second goal after 10 minutes.

McFadden displayed alertness and deadly finishing power to collect after Paddy McBrearty’s effort had come off the post, and drilled a low shot past David Clarke.

Moments later it could have been three, when Murphy slipped the ball inside to McFadden, but Clarke was quickly off his line to make a smart save.
Fears that the Connacht champions would crumble were well off the mark, for they displayed courage an character to play their way into the game.

Donegal’s early midfield dominance was challenged by the emergence of Aidan O’Shea and Barry Moran.

Kevin McLoughlin finally got them off the mark in the 16th minute, and while McFadden and Ryan Bradley fired over further Donegal scores, it was Mayo who carried the greater attacking threat throughout the second quarter.

Cillian O’Connor converted his third free, and two delightful Kevin McLoughlin points, along with a gem from Michael Conroy, narrowed the gap back to three.

Unusually, Donegal’s defensive system was creaking, and basic mistakes were creeping in, and they had gone 16 minutes without scoring when McFadden thumped over a 45 metre free.

Enda Varley responded instantly to leave the Westerners just three points adrift at the break, 2-04 to 0-07.

But the Ulster champions pushed on in the third quarter, with corner back Frank McGlynn running forward for a trademark point.

Barry Moran performed heroics at midfield in an effort to keep his side’s challenge going, and scores from Enda Varley and O’Connor kept their hopes very much alive.

But a couple of mighty fetches from Neil Gallagher helped Donegal get back on top in the central area.

Murphy powered over a couple of long range frees, and punched over Rory Kavanagh’s cross to make it a six-point game going into the final eight minutes.

Mayo gave it their best shot, scores from substitutes Richie Feeney and Jason Gibbons and defender Lee Keegan, narrowing the gap, but there was to be no denying Donegal as they completed their mission to bring Sam back to the Hills.

Donegal scorers: M Murphy (0-03f), C McFadden (0-03f) 1-04 each, R Bradley, N Gallagher, F McGlynn 0-1 each.

Mayo scorers: C O’Connor 0-05 (5f), E Varley (1f), K McLoughlin 0-02 each, L Keegan, M Conroy, R Feeney, J Gibbons 0-01 each.

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn, E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson, N Gallagher, R Kavanagh, R Bradley, L McLoone, M McHugh, P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden
Subs: D Walsh for Bradley, M McElhinney for McBrearty, C Toye for McLoone

Mayo: D Clarke, K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle, B Moran, A O'Shea, K McLoughlin, J Doherty, A Dillon, E Varley, C O'Connor, M Conroy.
Subs: A Freeman for Doherty, J Gibbons for Conroy, R Feeney for Varley, S O’Shea for Moran