By Martin Breheny
Clare 1-20, Tipperary 1-11
Clare and Cork will meet in the 1999 Guinness Munster hurling final at Semple Stadium in Thurles on July 4. Clare manager Ger Loughnane and his Cork counterpart, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, played in the last provincial decider between the counties in 1986 when Cork won on a 2-18 to 3-12 scoreline.
Fortunate to earn a second chance against Tipperary, defending provincial title holders Clare made no mistake in a sometimes bruising replay before an attendance of 34,030 at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork on Saturday.
From the moment center back Sean McMahon landed a huge free in the first minute — awarded after a late tackle by Paul Shelly on Clare goalkeeper Davy Fitzgerald, which left him with a damaged wrist — the Banner were in control.
They led 1-4 to 0-1 after eight minutes, were 1-12 to 0-8 ahead at the break, and the game was over as a contest as early as the 48th minute, when Clare were 1-17 to 0-9 in front. Veteran Declan Ryan, who was controversially dropped only to be introduced before half time, did hit a Tipp goal direct from a free, but it was too late to spark a revival.
"Taking everything into consideration, that was our best performance for the last five years," Loughnane said. "When we’re focused, there isn’t a team that can beat us."
Loughnane’s tactic of pulling Tipp center back David Kennedy all over the place played a key part in the Clare success. The return to form of midfielder Ollie Baker helped, too, though it was his partner, Colin Lynch, who really caught the eye, scoring four delightful points from play — two more than the entire Tipperary team managed.
Victory was achieved at a cost, however, with Jamesie O’Connor suffering a broken right arm. He was operated on in a Cork hospital on Sunday. A steel plate was inserted and he looks certain to miss the Munster final.
Clare: A. Markham (1-3), S. Mahon (0-5 all frees), C. Lynch (0-4), B. Murphy (0-3), D. Forde (0-2 frees), A. Daly, O. Baker, J. O’Connor (0-1) each.
Tipperary: T. Dunne 0-10 (nine frees), D. Ryan (1-0 free), E. Enright (0-1).
Cork 0-24, Waterford 1-15
The sight of the normally reserved Cork coach Jimmy Barry Murphy bounding onto the field to celebrate his team’s 0-24 to 1-15 victory over Waterford in the second semifinal at Semple Stadium on Sunday underlined how much the win meant to him.
Barry-Murphy and his selectors had gambled all their chips with their decision to introduce six newcomers to championship hurling. The move yielded rich dividend with one of them, midfielder Mickey O’Connell hitting a remarkable eight points, four from play, a sideline cut, a 65 and two long-range frees.
It was a disappointing end to Waterford’s campaign, but their overdependence on full forward Paul Flynn for scores was exposed.
Flynn did score a goal direct from a free in the 56th minute, and when Dan Shanahan added a point a minute later to cut the deficit to a single score, the Waterford fans among the huge attendance of 45,806 must have felt a revival was possible. But Cork reeled off six successive points in the next 12 minutes to secure their passage to their first provincial final since 1992.
"I wanted to get to a Munster final at least," Barry-Murphy said. "If I hadn’t managed that, the last four years would have been considered a waste of time by a lot of people. I had great faith in the players. I picked a team of hurlers."
Cork: M. O’Connell (0-8, two frees, one sideline, one 65) J. Deane (0-7, four frees), T. McCarthy (0-3), M. Landers (0-2), B. Corcoran, F. McCormack, B. O’Connor, K. Murray (0-1) each.
Waterford: P. Flynn (1-4, 1-3 frees), K. McGrath (0-4, one 65), D. Shanahan (0-3), S. Frampton (0-1 free), M. White, D. Bennett, M. Molumphy (0-1) each.
Laois 1-16, Westmeath 1-8
More than 40,000 fans witnessed two surprise results in the Bank of Ireland Leinster football championship at Croke Park at the weekend.
Last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists, Kildare, crashed out at the first hurdle to the 1997 Leinster champions, Offaly, while the form team of the championship, Westmeath, received a rude awakening from Laois, whose preparations had been disrupted when talented U-21 player Colm Parkinson left the squad when he wasn’t selected.
Parkinson plans to spend the summer in Chicago, but his ex-colleagues can now prepare for a semifinal showdown against Dublin for the second season in a row.
Westmeath fulfilled much of their pre-match hype in the first half. A Dessie Dolan penalty helped them to a 1-5 to 0-6 advantage at the break. But once Chris Conway hit a 47th-minute goal for Laois, Tom Cribben’s men never looked back. Corner-forward Damien Delaney was in sparking form, scoring six points, and Laois ran out very convincing winners on a 1-16 to 1-8 scoreline.
Laois: D. Delaney (0-6, three frees, one 45), C. Conway (1-2), I.
Fitzgerald (0-4, two frees), H. Emerson and S. Kelly (0-2 each).
Westmeath: D. Dolan (1-5, 1-0 pen., three frees, one 45), M. Flanagan 0-2, G Heavin (0-1).
Offaly 0-11, Kildare 0-7
Without injured midfielder Niall Buckley, Kildare began well racing into a three-point lead by the end of the first quarter. But even though Offaly had failed to score in that spell, they had created three goal-scoring chances only to be denied by Kildare keeper Christy Byrne.
By halftime, Offaly had reduced the deficit to a point and they dominated the second half, during which Kildare could manage only two points while Offaly kicked seven. Tommy Lyons’s side now meet Meath in the Leinster semifinal.
Offaly: P. Brady (0-3), C. McManus (0-2, frees), C. Quinn (0-2 frees), V. Claffey, B. O’Brien, D. Connolly, F. Cullen (0-1).
Kildare: K. O’Dwyer (0-4, three frees), D. Kerrigan, D. Earley, M. Lynch (0-1 each).
Derry 2-15, Cavan 2-15
The Ulster football championship continues to produce tales of the unexpected. Defending champions Derry looked set for a quarterfinal place when they led Cavan by five points with three minutes of normal time remaining at Casement Park.
Then all hell broke loose. Donegal referee Mick McGrath awarded Cavan a controversial penalty, which top scorer Ronan Carolan converted. Worst was to follow for Derry in the final minute when Dermot McCabe rose above the defense to fist a cross to the net to give Cavan the lead for the first time since the 27th minute.
Still, the drama wasn’t over. Two minutes into lost time Derry introduced three substitutes, including Joe Brolly. who wasn’t fit enough to start the game due to a bout of scarlet fever.However, as the game ticked into a fifth minutes of lost time, Brolly kicked the equalizing point to send the sides to a replay at Breffni Park in Cavan next Sunday.
Derry: A. Tohill (0-6, five frees, one 45), J. Cassidy (1-1), H. Downey (1-0), E. Muldoon (0-3 frees), R. Rocks, G. McGonigle, J. McBride, D. Dougan, J. Brolly (0-1 each).
Cavan: R. Carolan (1-8, goal from pen. five frees), D. McCabe (1-1 one free), L. Reilly (0-2), A. Forde, J. Coffey, B. Morris, M. Greham (0-1 each).
Armagh 2-11, Donegal 0-12
A late goal also decided the replay between Donegal and Armagh in Clones. Once again it was Diarmuid Marsden, who wasn’t fit to start the game but was sprung off the bench eight minutes into the second half, who did the damage, hitting a 64th-minute goal that broke Donegal’s resistance.
Armagh had Oisin McConville sent off in the first half and Donegal center back Martin Coll also went for an early shower. Final score was
Armagh: C. O’Rourke (1-1), J. McEntee (0-3), D. Marsden (1-0), P. McKeever (0-2), O. McConville (0-2, frees), P. McGrane, A. McCann, A. O’Neill (0-1) each.
Donegal: T. Boyle (0-5, four frees), M. Hegarty (0-2), A. Sweeney, D. Devenney, J. McGuinne, M. Crossan, J. Gildea (0-1 each).
Mayo 0-21, Roscommon 0-10
Mayo ran riot in the second half against Roscommon at McHale Park to qualify for their eighth Connacht final in nine seasons. Last year’s beaten provincial finalists, Roscommon lost fullback Damien Donlon at the end of the first half and were overwhelmed in the second period.
The sides were level at 0-6 at the break. The often maligned Mayo forward division hit an impressive 15 points in the second half, while
bewildered Roscommon could manage only four. Mayo’s experiment of using Kenneth Mortimer at center forward worked well while another hero was youthful cornerback Gordon Morley.
Mayo: M. Sheridan (0-9, eight frees), J. Casey (0-6), N. Connelly (0-2), C. McManamon (0-2), K Mortimer, J Horan (0-1 each).