Clare limerick rsz
Limerick’s Dan Morrissey and David Reidy of Clare in action during the Munster final. INPHO/JAMES CROMBIE

Limerick, Cats favored in semis

In the old days Gaelic football and hurling inter-county teams had a trainer, who ensured that teams were in good shape for big games like provincial finals, All-Ireland semi-finals and finals. Now all the focus seems to be on inter-county managers and the tactics they employ. Gone are the days of six forwards, six backs and two midfielders. Now the goalkeeper can be the most important player with precise short puck outs. Gone are the days of the goalkeeper pucking the sliotar 70 yards down the field. And in football, apart from the short kick-outs, the goalkeeper has become the main free-taker in many county teams. 

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Heading into this weekend’s All-Ireland hurling semi-finals once again the main focus is on the managers. On Saturday, Brian Cody, who recently led Kilkenny to their 18th Leinster senior hurling title under his watch, take on Clare in the first of the semi-finals at Croke Park at 5.30 p.m. on Saturday. In the opposing dug-out will be another former great full-back, Brian Lohan, now manager of his native Clare. This is Lohan’s third season in charge and the Banner have not yet won any title under his guidance as yet. This year Clare were not expected to trouble the other big names in Munster, but they got to the final where they were level with Limerick after 70 minutes; however, the reigning champions won out in extra time. The current crop of Clare players don’t have much experience of Croke Park. Tony Kelly is their main man and if he hits form then Clare have a good chance. But Croke Park is like a second home to Kilkenny and they seem to shoot points with ease at GAA headquarters.

 On Sunday afternoon Limerick will be favorites to qualify for their fourth final in five years. The Limerick players are powerful athletes and their manager John Kiely and coach Paul Kinnerick have instilled a great work ethic in the men in green. They should be too strong for a Galway team, who just scraped past Cork in the quarter-final. Galway are managed by one of the youngest inter-county managers in Henry Shefflin. This is the former Kilkenny great’s first season in charge and he has had to cope with the retirement of the brilliant Joe Canning. I’m going for a Limerick-Kilkenny final on July 17.

IRELAND TO PLAY 

ISRAEL IN PLAYOFF

The Republic of Ireland Under-21s have been drawn to play Israel in the 2023 European Under Championship qualification play-offs. Jim Crawford’s team will be home in the first leg, which will be played in Tallaght Stadium probably on Sept. 19, with the second leg in Israel the following week. Victory over the two legs will send the young men in green to the European under 21 Championships for the first time. The tournament will be jointly hosted by Romania and Georgia in June and July 2023.

LEINSTER SIGN NGATAI

Leinster have completed the signing of New Zealand international Charlie Ngatai from European Challenge Cup winners, Lyon. The 31-year-old has played 88 times for Lyon in the last four seasons in the TOP14 and in the Heineken Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup. Ngatai played against Leinster Rugby for Lyon in the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup and most recently starred in Lyon’s Challenge Cup final victory over Toulon in Marseille. The Gisborne-born native played 12 times for the Māori All Blacks and was capped by New Zealand against Samoa in 2015. He will arrive in Dublin ahead of pre-season training this summer.

HOME DRAW 

FOR SAINTS

FAI Cup holders St Patrick’s Athletic have got a home draw in the first round of this season’s competition and should be too strong for first division Waterford at Inchicore. Beaten finalists last November, Bohemians travel to Ballybofey to play Finn Harps, in what is the only all-Premier Division tie. Cork City, who are looking good for promotion back to the Premier Division this season, make the short journey to St Colman’s Park to play Cobh Ramblers in a Cork derby. Junior club Bangor Celtic from Crumlin have been drawn at home to Shamrock Rovers the most successful club in the history of the FAI Cup, but that game is likely to be played at Tallaght Stadium, with the minnows being compensated by The Hoops. 

HEFFERNAN WILL

SIGN MILAN DEAL

Cork City’s Cathal Heffernan is set to complete a permanent move to Serie A club AC Milan after a successful loan period with the Italian club. The Irish under-17 captain had been on trial with the club in 2021 and joined them on loan in February this year after receiving FIFA clearance. Heffernan made his Cork City debut in the final game of the 2021 season. Prior to that, he played at under 15, under 17 and under 19 level for the club after joining them from Ringmahon Rangers in 2019. Cathal is the son of Olympians Rob and Marian Heffernan.

PAIRC TAILTEANN

AT A STANDSTILL

The redevelopment of Pairc Tailteann in Navan is at a standstill and will be for the foreseeable future. Meath County Board chairman John Kavanagh said: “Inflation in the construction sector, the shortage in the housing sector, the war in Ukraine which has impacted on energy, all this has had a knock on effect meaning that the cost of the Pairc Tailteann development has increased by anything between 40 and 50 per cent from what was originally budgeted back in 2019.”  

MEATH’S LALLY JOINS 

RULES CONTINGENT

There will be at least 19 Irish women playing Aussie Rules football this year after a second member of Meath’s All-Ireland winning team, Orlagh Lally, signed for Fremantle. Lally follows team mate and player of the year Vikki Wall, who is joining North Melbourne when Meath’s interest in the championship ends. Lally joins Leitrim’s Aine Tighe at the Dockers. Lally said: “I’ve heard great stories about Australia and it was really nice to get to know Aine and put a face to the name. She told me how great it is over at Fremantle and in Perth. It added an extra bit of excitement and reassurance as well knowing that you have someone from home over there as well.” Last week Mayo’s Cora Staunton and Brid Stack from Cork confirmed that they were both staying with GWS Giants for another year.

   

PHELIM MURPHY, 91

The death occurred recently of the ‘Godfather of Galway hurling’ Phelim Murphy, who pioneered the setting up of the underage structures in Galway in the sixties. Murphy, who was 91, ran Galway hurling in his role as hurling board secretary from 1982 to 2004, but also gave distinguished service to club, county, province and nationally for decades either side of that stint. He was a selector when Galway won the All-Ireland senior title in 1987 and ’88 and also served as president of the Connacht Council. A native of Waterview in Turloughmore where he farmed, Phelim moved from his playing career into administration and became chairman of the Turloughmore club when he was just 29 in 1960.

Also the death occurred in Dublin of Kerry-born athlete and journalist Tom O’Riordan after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 84. In 1956 while attending Tralee CBS Tom won an All-Ireland schools title over a mile and that earned him a scholarship to Idaho State University. He represented Ireland at multiple cross country events and also competed in the 1966 European Championship and the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. He late wrote on Athletics and GAA for the Independent Group of newspapers for 38 years. His son Ian is Athletics correspondent for the Irish Times...

The redevelopment of Pairc Tailteann in Navan is at a standstill and will be for the foreseeable future. Meath County Board chairman John Kavanagh said: “Inflation in the construction sector, the shortage in the housing sector, the war in Ukraine which has impacted on energy, all this has had a knock on effect meaning that the cost of the Pairc Tailteann development has increased by anything between 40 and 50 per cent from what was originally budgeted back in 2019.”  

MEATH’S LALLY JOINS 

RULES CONTINGENT

There will be at least 19 Irish women playing Aussie Rules football this year after a second member of Meath’s All-Ireland winning team, Orlagh Lally, signed for Fremantle. Lally follows team mate and player of the year Vikki Wall, who is joining North Melbourne when Meath’s interest in the championship ends. Lally joins Leitrim’s Aine Tighe at the Dockers. Lally said: “I’ve heard great stories about Australia and it was really nice to get to know Aine and put a face to the name. She told me how great it is over at Fremantle and in Perth. It added an extra bit of excitement and reassurance as well knowing that you have someone from home over there as well.” Last week Mayo’s Cora Staunton and Brid Stack from Cork confirmed that they were both staying with GWS Giants for another year.

PHELIM MURPHY, 91

The death occurred recently of the ‘Godfather of Galway hurling’ Phelim Murphy, who pioneered the setting up of the underage structures in Galway in the sixties. Murphy, who was 91, ran Galway hurling in his role as hurling board secretary from 1982 to 2004, but also gave distinguished service to club, county, province and nationally for decades either side of that stint. He was a selector when Galway won the All-Ireland senior title in 1987 and ’88 and also served as president of the Connacht Council. A native of Waterview in Turloughmore where he farmed, Phelim moved from his playing career into administration and became chairman of the Turloughmore club when he was just 29 in 1960.

Also the death occurred in Dublin of Kerry-born athlete and journalist Tom O’Riordan after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 84. In 1956 while attending Tralee CBS Tom won an All-Ireland schools title over a mile and that earned him a scholarship to Idaho State University. He represented Ireland at multiple cross country events and also competed in the 1966 European Championship and the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. He late wrote on Athletics and GAA for the Independent Group of newspapers for 38 years. His son Ian is Athletics correspondent for the Irish Times
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