ALL THINGS IRELAND: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012


 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 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

Monday, September 17, 2012


Ireland defender Richard Dunne is to backbone the World Cup qualification bid after answering Giovanni Trapattoni’s SOS.
Trap met the Aston Villa star in England on Saturday in a bid to persuade him not to quit international football.
The big Dubliner is vital to the team’s World Cup campaign after the retirement of goalkeeper Shay Given and winger Damien Duff.
Trap feared that Dunne would follow suit after the player said his future was unsure after the Euro 2012 disappointment in Poland.
But the talks in Birmingham were described as positive with Dunne keen to carry on for at least another two years.
An FAI statement confirmed: “Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli held a positive meeting with Richard Dunne.
"Richard reconfirmed that he will be available again for international duty once he makes a full recovery."
The 33-year-old expects to be fit again in time for the visit of Germany to Dublin in October.
Great news as Darren O'Dea and Sean St Ledger need more time to gel as a partnership and Dunne is a colossus at the heart of the Irish defence.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Robbie Brady Scores his first for IrelandJames McClean received the biggest cheer of the night at Craven Cottage, but it was debutant Robbie Brady who stole the show as he scored one and set up two more as the Republic of Ireland comfortably beat Oman 4-1.

Brady lit up the London friendly by crossing for Kevin Doyle's opener early in the first half.

The winger smacked home a volley to make it 2-0 and he set up Shane Long for the Republic's third while Alex Pearce added a fourth after Eid Al-Farsi had grabbed Oman's only goal.

McClean was also highly impressive during his 30 minutes on the pitch.

The Sunderland winger vented his fury at Giovanni Trapattoni after he was left on the bench during Friday's drab 2-1 win, and he showed the Italian just how devastating he can be during his cameo from the bench.

The 23-year-old look lively on the left flank so often occupied by Fulham and former Republic man Damien Duff over the years, and had it not been for Ali Al-Habsi in the Oman goal, the winger would have notched his first international goal and could have even had a second when he fired a sweet volley just over.

Even though Oman are ranked 53rd in the world, tonight's result and performance will do the world of good for Trapattoni.

The normally conservative 73-year-old urged his team forward throughout, and there were lively performances from Shane Long, Doyle, Seamus Coleman and Brady.

The win will give the former Juventus manager more confidence that he has the strength in depth to make the country's World Cup qualifying campaign a successful one.

Like in Astana on Friday, the Republic started brightly. Doyle peeled down the left and his cross flew towards goal off the knee of Mohammed Al-Balushi but Al-Habsi showed great reflexes to prevent an own goal.

A moment of hesitation from David Forde in the Republic goal almost cost Trapattoni's team, but the defence cleared their lines and the men in green found themselves in front after six minutes.

Brady pumped a 40-yard free-kick towards the back post and Sean St Ledger nodded back across goal for West Brom man Long to head home.

Oman looked confident going forwards, and almost tested Forde twice through Ahmed Al Muhaiyri and Amad Al Hosni, who both shot just over.

The Republic were 2-0 up after 22 minutes, however, when Seamus Coleman's cross was cleared into the path of Brady, who lashed home a low volley that beat Al-Habsi as he scrambled across his line.
Abdullaziz Al-Muqabli thought he should have had a penalty just before the half hour after going down under pressure from St Ledger but Andre Marriner waved play on.

Brady's incredible debut continued 12 minutes before the break when the 20-year-old sent over a peach of a flat cross which Doyle headed in from six yards to make it 3-0.

Trapattoni brought on Reading defender Pearce and Motherwell goalkeeper Darren Randolph at the break and the Republic remained in control.

Andy Keogh picked up Doyle's pass on the right wing and cut inside before firing a wicked curling shot that Al-Habsi athletically tipped wide.

Oman still looked confident going forward, however, and Randolph had to pull off a terrific diving save to deny Eid Al Farsi from 25 yards.

The loudest cheer of the night came when McClean came on for Doyle.

The Sunderland winger, his every touch greeted by a cheer, looked keen to make an immediate impression, beating Al-Muhaiyri to the byline, but his cross was hooked clear.

McClean almost scored his first international goal soon after when he fired a wicked free-kick over the wall that Al-Habsi saved brilliantly to his right.

McClean came within inches of making it 4-0 in the 69th minute when he smacked a peach of a volley just over Al-Habsi's goal after a pin-point pass from his Sunderland colleague Meyler.

Oman pulled one back after 71 minutes when Al-Farsi lost his marker and found some space in the box before shooting beyond Randolph.
Amad Al-Hosni almost scored another for the Gulf state when he beat Stephen Kelly but rippled the side-netting.

David Meyler, like Brady, wanted a debut goal and he almost got it seven minutes from the end when he smacked a fierce shot that Al-Habsi parried.

Two minutes later and it was 4-1. Substitute Aiden McGeady swung in a deep cross and Pearce leapt to head home from 10 yards.

In a worrying development for Nottingham Forest, Simon Cox hobbled off in injury time after suffering an ankle injury from a heavy tackle, but otherwise it was smiles all around.

Man of the Match: Seamus Coleman

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Joe Canning scores
Galway and Kilkenny have to do it all again after an enthralling All-Ireland Hurling Final ended in a draw.

Joe Canning struck a stoppage time equaliser to send the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final to a replay for the first time since 1959.
Canning smashed home a brilliant 10th minute goal, and his 1-6 tally helped the Tribesmen to a 1-09 to 0-07 interval lead, with Henry Shefflin converting four Kilkenny frees.

The Cats went in front, before Niall Burke fired in Galway’s second goal.

 Shefflin finished with 12 points, but Canning’s 1-09 tally dictated that two great teams must meet again following a superb encounter.

Croke Park erupted when Canning conjured a piece of magic with a Galway goal in the tenth minute.
The 23-year-old full forward appeared on the shoulder of James Regan to sweep around three approaching defenders and smash a sweet angled shot past David Herity.

Shefflin had opened the scoring, but his accuracy was well below standard as he struck a handful of wides.

Canning also sent a couple wide of the target, but eased the Tribesmen 1-03 to 0-02 ahead from a free, after Niall Burke had beaten Brian Hogan to a high delivery.

The pressure exerted by Fergal More and Tony Og Regan forced the champions into a rash of misses, and once again, Burke rose high to collect and finish with a point.

Kilkenny were struggling in many areas, but pulled back a point through TJ Reid, but once again, Galway had the Liam McCarthy Cup holders under pressure, and when wing back Niall Donoghue finished off a composed passage of possession play with a long range point, they led by 1-07 to 0-03.

Constantly forced onto the back foot, Kilkenny were forced to concede another free as Damien Hayes ran strongly into the danger area, and Canning obliged with his fourth placed ball conversion.

Kilkenny staged a late flourish, with Shefflin nailing three frees, a welcome respite that reduced the deficit to five, Galway ahead by 1-09 to 0-07 at the break.

Kilkenny built momentum in the early stages of the second half, cutting the deficit through Reid and Richie Power, with Shefflin hitting the target twice more from frees.

Paul Murphy and Jackie Tyrell were solid at the back, with Brian Hogan now performing with assurance following a shaky first half, and now it was Galway who struggled for scores.

Aidan Fogarty darted through to narrow the gap to a single point in the 49th minute, and it was Shefflin who brought the Cats level with his first point from play, before adding the lead point from a monster free.

Galway had managed just a point in the previous 20 minutes, but they struck a major blow when Niall Burke picked up a loose ball and set off towards goal with intent and blasted a fierce shot past David Herity in the 55th minute.

Galway goalkeeper kept his side in front with a stunning save from Colin Fennelly, but Shefflin brought his side level again with his tenth score.

Larkin had the champions back in front, thanks to another inspirational intervention at the back by Brian Hogan.

Two Canning frees kept Galway hopes very much alive, but Shefflin was the man who was destined to decide this gripping decider.

When Kilkenny were awarded a penalty for a foul on Larkin, King Henry opted to tap the ball over the bar, but Canning held his nerve to level it in stoppage time from a free.

The replay is to be on Sunday 30th of September.

Kilkenny scorers: H Shefflin 0-12 (10f, 1 pen), E Larkin, TJ Reid 0-02 each, A Gogarty, R Power, R Hogan.

Galway scorers: J Canning 1-09 (0-08f), N Burke 1-02, A Smith, N Donoghue 0-01 each

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Trap gets The Result again
The Republic of Ireland staged a dramatic late comeback to beat Kazakhstan 2-1 away from home in their opening World Cup qualifier.

Giovanni Trapattoni's men, looking to push on to Brazil after reaching Euro 2012, appeared set to start with a surprise defeat when Kairat Nurdauletov broke the deadlock in the 38th minute.
It was a frustrating second half until Robbie Keane equalised with a penalty in the 89th minute after being brought down in the box.
Kevin Doyle then snatched a last-gasp winner to give the Irish three points at the beginning of their Group C campaign.

There was no indication that the Republic were going to put on such a first-half horror show in the opening minutes as they started strongly.
James McCarthy, making his first competitive start, saw his low, curling shot tipped wide and John O'Shea's deflected header just missed the target.
The Kazakhs started to settle in to their rhythm, however, and threatened through Tanat Nusserbayev.
The FC Astana forward drove at the Republic defence, but his threaded pass to Alexandr Kirov went to waste after the full-back mis-timed his run.
Panic spread in the Republic defence moments later when a cross trickled through to the back post where Ulan Konysbayev was lurking, but Keiren Westwood sprang off his line to come to the rescue.
The Republic were struggling to make any impact on the game and often resorted to lumping the ball to Jon Walters - a tactic that failed almost every time.
The one time the Stoke man did look effective in the first half was when he played a neat one-two with Simon Cox, but the Nottingham Forest man, playing out of position on the wing, fired in to the side-netting.
Keane had a quiet first half, with his only contribution of note a darting run which led to a penalty appeal that was turned down after a challenge by Mikhail Rozkhov.
The 300 travelling fans bellowed at their team, but they did very little, with Sean St Ledger's weak header summing up the visitors' limp first-half performance.
The opening goal that had been coming for a while arrived shortly before half-time when Genrikh Shmidtgal swung in a wicked corner and Nurdauletov glanced home from 10 yards.
It was almost 2-0 moments later.
 Westwood parried Konysbayev's shot in to the path of Nusserbayev but he could only hit a post.
Despite their sub-par performance in the opening 45 minutes, Trapattoni did not make any changes at half-time.
Worryingly for the Italian, the Kazakhs remained on top. Shmidtgal probed the Republic defence with a foraging run and Nusserbayev powered a volley over the bar as the away side struggled to get in to the game.
Trapattoni finally made a change just before the hour when the ineffective Cox was replaced by Doyle.
The Wolves man scurried straight in to the box and went down under a challenge but his penalty appeal fell on deaf ears.
Trapattoni nervously checked his watch on the touchline as his team kept failing to trouble the hosts.
Nusserbayev fired a low shot just wide of Westwood's goal before being substituted to a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Glenn Whelan tried a long shot that summed up the Republic's desperation as the clock ticked on with no equaliser.
Baurzhan Jolchiyev managed to wrestle his way through a dormant Republic back four but Westwood pulled off a terrific save to deny the substitute what surely would have been the winning goal.
The away side plugged away and were handed a way back in to the tie three minutes from time when Keane was bundled over in the box by Rozhkov and the referee pointed to the spot.
The former Tottenham striker showed nerves of steel to calmly dispatch the spot-kick to the Kazakh goalkeeper's right.
The Republic completed their stunning comeback in the final minute when Doyle latched on to Stephen Ward's knock down and volleyed home from close range.

A valuable away win after our dismal Euro 2012 Finals.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Rory McIlroy overturned a three-shot final-round deficit to squeeze past South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and win the Deutsche Bank Championship by one stroke at TPC Boston in Norton, Boston, Massachusetts.
The world number one's final-round 67 gave him victory with a 20-under-par total of 264, just ahead of former Open champion Oosthuizen, whose late surge was not quite enough as he finished with a 71.
McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship by a record eight strokes three weeks ago, had made a blistering start to his final-day challenge with three birdies in his first four holes.
The 23-year-old  Irishman was fortunate to pull back on the fifth hole when his bogey five beat a costly double-bogey by Oosthuizen, who fell further behind when McIlroy birdied the sixth and eighth.
A run of seven straight pars from Oosthuizen promised little before birdies on the 13th and 15th hauled him back within a single stroke. After both bogeyed the 17th, pars on the last were enough to give McIlroy the title.
Tiger Woods shot a strong five-under-par final round of 66 to finish just one shot behind Oosthuizen on 18 under - four shots clear of Phil Mickelson, who also finished with a 66, and Ryder Cup hopeful Dustin Johnson (70).
Lee Westwood's three-under-par 68 left him with an eight-under total of 276, while Luke Donald and Ernie Els both shot disappointing 70s to finish on five-under 279.