Derry's Niall Loughlin, right, scores a goal as Rory Brickenden of Mayo looks on. Inpho/Laszlo Geczo

Derry show character in Mayo

Derry 3-15; Mayo 2-13

The marriage of Mickey Harte and Derry senior footballers has a special look about it this year despite the Oak Leaf squad having won Ulster titles in 2022 and ‘23.

You can see it is national titles that is foremost in this side’s sights now and this win guarantees them a foot in one of those - the National League Final.

Such a win in that game will give them added impetus to complete a grand slam of Ulster and Sam Maguire victories, but there will be many bends on those roads for ambushes along the way.

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Still, the one thing you need in charting such a route is character and they showed they had this in spades in Castlebar on Sunday.

Cruising to victory with nine points to spare on the home opposition, they suddenly found themselves under the cosh as Mayo made a huge effort to reel them in. A Paul Towey green flag 14 minutes from time saw the green and red cut the deficit to two points before Harte’s boys went back to work and by game’s end had eased out the margin to five points.

The white flags from Conor Glass, Shane McGuigan (free) and Niall Toner (two) showed the new manager that when the going gets tough, he has the leaders in his ranks to steer the ship back on course.

The crowd of close to 10,000 saw the visiting team ease into action with well-worked first-half goals from Niall Loughlin and McGuigan, who seems to be more and more remarkable with each passing game.

The six-point interval lead was augmented by a smashing Conor McCluskey strike nine minutes after the restart which normally would have seen neutrals heading for the exit signs early. 

Except there were few non-committed supporters present and when Mayo began to fight back, the crowd gave them huge verbal backing and the atmosphere rose to fever pitch when it looked like they could upset the applecart.

Towey’s major together with points from Aaron McDonnell, ‘keeper Colm Reape ('45), Towey and Ryan O’Donoghue has the hound within smelling distance of the hare, which found renewed energy in adversity to kick on to another well-deserved victory.

Derry: O Lynch; C McCluskey (1-0), C McKaigue, D Baker (0-1); G McKinless (0-1), E McEvoy, P McGrogan (0-1); C Glass (0-1), B Rogers; E Doherty (0-1), C McFaul (0-1), Paul Cassidy; N Loughlin (1-0), S McGuigan (1-6, 0-3f), L Murray Subs: N Toner (0-3) for Loughlin (HT); D Gilmore for McKinless (41); C Murphy for Murray (45).

Mayo: C Reape (0-2,0-1f, 0-1 ‘45); A McDonnell (0-1), R Brickenden, S Callinan (0-1); D McHugh, S Coen, E Hession; J Carney (0-1), M Ruane; B Tuohy, F Boland (0-1), J Flynn (1-0); A O’Shea (0-2, 0-1f), T Conroy (0-1), R O’Donoghue (0-3, 0-2fs) Subs: C Loftus for Tuohy (44); J Coyne for Hession (47); P Towey (1-1) for Boland (55); F Kelly for McDonnell (65); K Quinn for Loftus (67, inj).

Ref: S Lonergan (Tipperary).

Dublin 0-22; Galway 0-14

If Derry are playing the role of Tweedle-Dee, then Dublin is the Tweedle-Dum of the great Gaelic football conundrum which begs the question - which is the likelier side to prevail this year?

All things being equal after next week’s final round of games, we should get an early season indicator when/if they come face to face in the League Final.

As was evidenced in Celtic Park, both managers are clever enough to know that while they want to win, they also need to hold something back for high summer when the pursuit of the big one - the Sam Maguire - is what it is all about.

After two unlucky losses to Monaghan and Mayo, Dublin have upped their league preparation and have a four-out-of-four win rate since those opening reverses. In Galway on Saturday, they were so far ahead of Padraic Joyce’s side that you wondered how much they could have won by if Stephen Cluxton, Mick Fitzsimons, Eoghan Merchan, James McCarthy, Paddy Small, Lee Gannon and Cormac Costello among others were available? Manager Dessie Farrell gave Paul Mannion his first tentative outing as a sub along with Jack McCaffrey and current All Star Colm Basquel -- and hinted that some of the other big names and fringe players could see action in this week’s final home game against Tyrone.

Galway were missing Sean Kelly, Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Matthew Tierney among others, too, but they are so far off the top two as was evidenced by reverses in recent weeks that surely all they can hope for now is provincial honors this season?

Of more pressing concern for the Tribesmen is that they are now in the relegation zone and could find themselves operating out of division two next season unless they can defeat Kerry in the Kingdom this weekend - an unlikely story on the evidence of the league to date.

Dublin meanwhile are playing really well despite the mixture of old and new and it is noticeable that once again Con O’Callaghan  was their star turn with nine points to his personal tally, three of which he poached from play.

Manager Farrell will also be happy with the returns from play of Tom Lahiff and Killian McGinnis, who both landed a brace of points while Daire Newcombe and Killian O’Gara showed up well at opposite ends of the pitch.

While Galway was up for it for sure, Dublin’s galloping ability between defense and attack had them sprinting to keep up and by half-time, the visitors to Salthill were 0-10 to 0-6 to the good.

The highly-impressive center-forward Seán Bugler and  the ubiquitous Brian Fenton added to that advantage , while replies from Rory Cunningham and the scorer-in-chief on the day for the home side Cillian Ó Curraoin kept the maroons within touching distance.

Dublin kicked on in the final quarter with the industrious Ross McGarry, recalled ‘keeper  Comerford (free), Ciarán Kilkenny, Lahiff, Basquel and the irrepressible O’Callaghan (two) bagging scores to put the blues eight to the good.

Galway fought valiantly to the end as subs Liam Ó Conghaile and Jack McCabe got their names on the score sheet while Ó Curraoin brought his tally to eight. Dublin had the last word as two more Con frees and a fine point from play by Bugler showed the winners mentality of not giving up to the final whistle.

Dublin: E Comerford (0-1f); S MacMahon, D Newcombe; C Murphy, J Small,  B Howard, K McGinnis (0-2); T Lahiff (0-2), B Fenton (0-1); R McGarry (0-2), S Bugler (0-3), C Kilkenny (0-1); K O’Gara, C O’Callaghan (0-9, 0-5fs, 0-1m), N Scully Subs: C Basquel (0-1) for O’Gara (48); J McCaffrey for McGinnis (51); P Mannion for McGarry (54); L O’Dell for Scully (54); T Clancy for MacMahon (68).

Galway: C Gleeson; J McGrath (0-1), S Fitzgerald, S Mulkerrin; E Kelly, J Daly, D O’Flaherty; C Darcy, J Maher (0-1); J Heaney, D McHugh, C Sweeney (0-1); C Ó Curraoin (0-8, 0-5fs), N Daly, R Cunningham (0-1) Subs: P Conroy for N Daly (HT); L Ó Conghaile (0-1) for Darcy (57); J McCabe (0-1) for Ó Curraoin (57); P Egan for Heaney (61).

Ref: B Cawley (Kildare).

Louth 6-17 Fermanagh 0-11

Louth showed they had gotten over the Mickey Harte departure soap opera as the team presented new manager, Dublin’s Ger Brennan, with a winning margin and manner of victory he could only have dreamt of before the throw-in at Defy Páirc Mhuire on Saturday afternoon.

It means the Wee County have leapfrogged Fermanagh in Div 2 thanks to this emphatic 24-point winning margin.

Fermanagh’s gameplan of high press can carry high reward but also high risk and once Sam Mulroy got the first of his goals from 40 yards after a turn over which left the Erne men unable to defend an inviting empty net, it was one-way traffic all the way for the home side.

Mulroy would end the day with 2-5 to his credit with a performance not bettered anywhere across the four divisions of the league.

Instead of regrouping, Fermanagh kept doing the same back-firing plays which Louth defender Peter Lynch capitalized on for the second goal before Mulroy weighed in with his side’s third. 

Talk about playing into someone else’s arms. Brennan’s plan was to back off and once a Fermanagh move broke down, to hit them hard on the counter attack.
Garvan Jones and Seán Cassidy worked the umpires for Fermanagh before the visitors were caught for a fourth time in the half when Conor Grimes shot home to make the scoreline 4-6 to 0-6 at the break.

Grimes hit two fine points at the start of the second half to quieten talk of a Fermanagh revival. Then Ciarán Downey added a fifth to cap a fine personal performance and almost immediately Tom Jackson drew a big cheer in his home pitch in Ardee by scoring Louth’s sixth.

Despite the result both teams are still in relegation trouble with Louth heading to Carlow at the weekend to face already relegated Kildare in the hope of securing their own safety. Fermanagh meanwhile entertain Ulster rivals Cavan hoping a victory will keep them in the second division for another term.

Louth: N McDonnell; D McKenny, D Campbell (0-1), P Lynch (1-1); L Grey, A Williams, C McKeever; C Downey (1-3), T Durnin (0-1); C Murphy, C Keenan (0-3), C Grimes (1-2); R Burns (0-1), S Mulroy (2-5, 0-2f), T Jackson (1-0)
Subs: L Jackson for T Jackson (51) D Corcoran for McKenny (51) W Campbell for Murphy (59), J Hughes for Burns (63), N Sharkey for Grey (66)

Fermanagh: R Bogue; L Cullen, C Cullen, O Smyth; D McCusker (0-1), S McGullion (0-1), R McCaffrey; B Horan, J McDade; C McGee, C McShea, J Largo Elis; U Kelm (0-1), G Jones (0-3f), S Cassidy (0-3, 0-1f) Subs: F O’Brien (0-1) for Elis (ht), D King (0-1) for McCaffrey (44), J McMahon for McCusker (51) C Love for Jones (51) JCassidy for Smyth (68)

Ref: S Hurson (Tyrone).

Galway, Limerick tie Pearse thriller

Galway 0-17; Limerick 0-17

Hurling aficionados believe that the team most capable of ending Limerick’s current dominance is Henry Shefflin’s Galway - and a drawn league encounter at Pearse Stadium on Saturday would tend to add credence to such an opinion.

However on close examination, Galway had a home crowd and an extra man for 40 minutes and yet were hanging on for much of the second half.

Yes, they have some fine hurlers and were missing the likes of Conor Whelan to boot, but Limerick are still in experimental stage as could be evidence from the fact that they only called on Diarmuid Byrnes and Gearoid Hegarty, William O’Donoghue and Peter Casey for cameo roles on this occasion.

The draw was a fine result for both sides but more pertinently it means that Limerick top Division 1B  and will play Kilkenny in the league semi-final proper while Munster rivals Clare and Tipperary will contest the other after the weekend results.

Shane O’Brien’s red card aside, Limerick handled everything that Galway threw at them and it will be interesting to see how they fare against Kilkenny who have run them close in the past two All Ireland finals.

Galway: D Fahy; J Grealish, F Burke, P Mannion (0-1); A Tuohey (0-1), C Fahy, R Glennon (0-2); D Burke (0-1), S Linnane; G Lee (0-2), T Monaghan, J Cooney; C Mannion (0-4), C Cooney, E Niland (0-6, 0-4fs) Subs: B Concannon for Lee (50); J Ryan for J Cooney (57); D Morrissey for Tuohey (63); D O’Shea for D Burke (68).

Limerick: N Quaid; F O’Connor, M Casey, B Nash; C O’Neill, D Hannon, C Coughlan; D Reidy (0-1), B Murphy; S O’Brien (0-1), C Lynch, T Morrissey (0-2); A Gillane (0-4f), S Flanagan, A English (0-5). Subs: D Byrnes (0-4f) for Coughlan (inj, 35); P Casey for Flanagan (47): W O’Donoghue for Murphy (47); G Hegarty (0-1) for Gillane (57); A Costello for O’Connor (inj, 63); R Lyons for M Casey (65); G Mulcahy for Reidy (67).Referee: T Walsh (Waterford).

GAA Results

Division 1 Table


Div 1 

Dublin 0-22; Galway 0-14 

Kerry 1-17; Roscommon 1-11

Tyrone 1-19;  Monaghan 2-13

Derry 3-15; Mayo 2-13

Div 2

Cork 1-15; Meath 1-11

Armagh 2-21; Cavan 0-11

Donegal 0-17; Kildare 1-8

Louth 6-17; Fermanagh 0-11

Div 3

Sligo 0-13; Offaly 1-10

Clare 0-15; Antrim 0-12

Wicklow 0-9; Limerick 0-8

Westmeath 0-13; Down 1-10

Div 4

London 1-13; Waterford 0-11

Longford 0-14; Carlow 0-8

Leitrim 0-17; Laois 1-13

Wexford 4-10; Tipperary 0-8


Div 1A

Cork 3-21; Wexford 1-15

Clare 0-23; Offaly 1-19

Kilkenny 0-18; Waterford 2-9

Div 1B

Galway 0-17; Limerick 0-17

Tipperary 2-21; Antrim 0-12

Dublin 2-22; Westmeath 0-15

NHL Semi-final this coming weekend

Limerick v Kilkenny

Tipperary v Clare