Cathal Hickey scoring for Meath against Monaghan at Breffni Park, Cavan. Monaghan won 1-17 to 1-14. For Ireland GAA coverage, check the rest of the sports section. [Inpho/James Lawlor]

Westmeath excel in 1s half

Westmeath 1-19   Brooklyn 2-8

Westmeath boss John Moore has made no secret about his football plans for this year. He readily admits that a once-off championship is nice, but a repeat is a lot sweeter. Then judging from the first-half performance, the Lakelanders would seem to be on target for a repeat. With the pacey Frank Reilly operating very effectively on the “forty”, coupled with the majestic fielding of midfielder Kieran Murphy, an avalanche of scores coming from Jackie Robinson and a strong supporting cast, the maroon squad looked to be major stakeholders in the championship race. 

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Westmeath were almost totally dominant in the first half, they led by 1-10 to 0-2 at the short whistle. There’s the noted Jackie Robinson Parkway in Queens, but a Jackie Robinson had a pathway of scores in the Bronx on Saturday. He had five straight points in the opening quarter and would end up with a personal tally 1-7. Brooklyn eventually got a piece of the action as they had a shot scrambled off the line before Dan Cibotar and Brian O’Hanlon pointed despite intense pressure.  Then it was back to the Westmeath scoring script and Murphy displaying the finest fielding seen in a long time at Gaelic Park. Frank Reilly, Shane Carty, Gavin O’Brien and Sean Nolan all hit over minors before Robinson banged in a goal as Westmeath looked to be running away with the game.  

That perception seemed to continue after the break as Westmeath hit three straight points courtesy of Murphy, O’Brien and Darragh Carmody. However, the stats tell a very different story for the rest of the game, Brooklyn would score 2-6 while limiting Westmeath to six points. Was it a question of Westmeath easing off the throttle a bit or Brooklyn realizing that they were an awful lot better than their meager or measly two points first half? Perhaps it was a confluence of both variables — time will tell.  

Meanwhile Rob Carr broke the stalemate and Ryan quickly followed with a brace. Westmeath came back with a trifecta courtesy of Reilly, Robinson and Adam Loughlin-Stones.  The last 10 minutes was Brooklyn’s best period as they would hit two goals.  The first one came from a quick free with Andrew McGowan getting the major strike after tardiness was exploited in the Westmeath defense. Dan Cibotar, who had a very effective second half, managed to nail a very well-earned minor and major to put a much more plausible appearance on the scoreboard. Darragh Carmody and Thomas O’Connor finished out the scoring for a more competitive second half. Overall, Westmeath were very dominant in the first half, while Brooklyn seemed to keep their good wine till the second half to partially  stymie or thwart Moore’s men.  

Wesmeath: Pat Guerin, Robbie McDaid, Israel Ilunga, Shane Fagan, Robert Wharton, Eric Downes, Sean Moore, Shane Carty(0-1), Kieran Murphy(0-2), Gavin O’Brien(0-2), Frank Reilly(0-3), Jordan Ajani, Killian Butler, Brian Travers, Jackie Robinson(1-7), . Subs Darragh Carmody(0-2), Adam Loughlin-Stones(0-1) Dan Sullivan, Shane Nolan(0-1), Stephen Grogan, Eamon Kelly, Peter McKinny, Alan Curran.

Brooklyn: Ryan Corrigan(0-2), Diarmuid Bennett, Alan Campbell, Cian O’Dwyer, Fintan Corbett, Andrew McGowan(1-0), Ethan Lennon, Ted Regan, Padraic Patton, Senan Price, Dan Cibotar(1-2), Brian O’Hanlon(0-1), Rob Carr(0-2), Daire O’Brian, Tomas O’Connor(0-1). Subs. Colm Doherty, Sean Smith, Mikey Cullen. Rory Goode, John McSorley, Adam George, , Niall Curran. Man of Match Jackie Robinson, Referee Peter McCormack.

Donegal dominant

Donegal 1-13   Rangers 0-4

Donegal rebounded well from their last outing to have a comprehensive win over an under-strength Rangers squad.  Donegal went on the attack straight from the throw-in, and Peter McNiffe looked set to rattle the net in the opening minute but for the timely intervention of keeper Joey Grace. 

Donegal, a fit and slick moving combination, were totally dominant in the opening quarter but they squandered several chances to build up a commanding lead.  Eventually, their best player, Justin Tiernan, got the scoreboard moving.  Indeed by the end of the first quarter he had four straight points on the board. Then Joey Grace got Rangers’ account moving with a pointed free after Dan Lehane was fouled.  Indeed the keeper, would be Rangers’ scorer-in-chief as he pointed two frees from very acute angles to stay on Donegal’s heels despite being greatly out-played all over the field.  Midfielder Aaron Laverty belted over a fine long range point, and Justin Kiernan saw a goal-bound effort just sizzle outside the post as halftime approached to leave Donegal just ahead by 0-5 to 0-3 despite having the lion’s share of possession.  The scoreboard changed quickly on resumption as fullback Daragh Toal sent over a point and man of match Justin Kiernan enhanced his scoring statistics with a well-executed goal. Rangers, on this occasion, didn’t have the requisite firepower or manpower to slow down this swift and slick moving Donegal outfit, so the game just petered to its very inevitable conclusion. Could Donegal be returning to the glory days of yore ?

Donegal: Conor Tinney, Sam McCabe, Daragh Toal(0-1), Eoghan Doody, Ruairi Slane, Ronan McNamee(0-1), Peter McNiffe(0-1), Conor Daly, Aaron Laverty(0-1), Matthew Gallagher, Justin Kiernan(1-7), Sean Conroy, Tiernan McLoughlin, Shay Travers(0-1), Tommy Carpenter. Subs Lochlain Byrne, Bradley Doherty, Patrick McColgan, Kaelan Walsh, Declan Hughes, Stephen Quigley, Evan McGrew, Peter McNeilis.

Rangers: Joey Grace(0-3), Shane Doheny, James Breen, Danny Burke, Tommy Hanaway, Niall McStay, PJ King, Daragh Quinn, Conor Reddy, Blaine Malone, Chris Mulvihill, Brian Twomey, Dan Lehane, Kevin Loane(0-1), Shane Homan. Man of Match Justin Kiernan, Referee Shane Hogan.

Kerry edge it

Kerry 1-12  Sligo  1-11

The highly touted Sligo squad started very impressively and had three points on the board in the first five minutes. Galway transplant Peter Cooke led the way and Matt Moyles and Daniel Corridan followed suit.  For the next 10 minutes Kerry assumed control and with the assistance of good support play, the Kingdom had four answered points courtesy of Bobby Regan(2), Niall Madine and Jack Murphy. 

After the water break Kerry increased their lead with a Donal Hunt point. Sligo’s midfielders Peter Cooke and Niall Dolan swung over points to have the sides level, but not for long.  A sequence of slack defending set the scene for Bobby Regan to goal for Kerry. Then on a counter attack Brian Coughlan goaled for Sligo to maintain stalemate. Kerry finished the period strongly as they registered a further three points courtesy of Cillian Langan, Barry Mahoney and Bobby Regan. 

Sligo had a few bone fide goal chances but a combination of rebounds and deflections denied them at least two goals. Upon resumption Kerry added two quick points from Jack Murphy. Sligo then stepped up their performance with Cooke’s role becoming more pronounced, hitting four consecutive points to be at 1-9 to 1-10 approaching the last water break. Midfielder Cooke had a brace while Brian Coughlan and Connell Aherne had singles. 

After rehydration Niall Dolan sent over a superb point and the scene was set for an exciting finish as tempers became a little inflamed at times.  Kerry went goal hunting but their attempts were denied before a Niall Madine free had his team back in front. Galway’s Cooke struck another point to have the sides level at 1-11 a piece with just five minutes left on the clock.  Oliie McLean came off the bench and scored a critical point for the lead. Sligo went in search of a score, and they were awarded two frees, one they hit short and the other one wide. Kerry just deserved to win and if the adage that a team is more than the sum of its parts has any validity, that definitely was the situation with the Kingdom.

Kerry: Keith Leary, Aidan Lang, Niall Collins, Mike Cronin, Donal Hunt(0-1), Pa Warren, Thomas Kearins, Liam Kearney, Michael Dorgan, Barry Mahoney(0-2), Niall Madine(0-2), Eoghan McElligott, Cillian Langan(0-1), Bobby Regan(1-2), Jack Murphy(0-3). Subs Ollie McLean(0-1), David Langan, James Kilgariff, Ed Myers, Michael McCarthy, James Walsh, Kealan Hickey.

Sligo: Vinnie Cadden, Andrew Flynn, Noel Hatton, Mike Diskin, Rory Dwyer, Shane Queenan, Peter Cooke(0-5) Niall Dolan(0-2), Daniel Corridan(0-1), Mathew Moyles(0-1), Dylan Rooney, Michael Argue, Brian Coughlan(1-1), Connell Aherne(0-1). Subs Daniel Cox, Colin Keane, Sean Corridan, Niall Feehily, Dan Connell. Man of Match Liam Kearney, Referee Mike Reilly.

Exciting draw

St. Barnabas 3-5 Cork 2-8

Though this game ended all-square, the early chain of events would hardly have predicted that. The stats show that the Bronx Boys hit for 2-3 against nothing from the Rebels in the first quarter.  Shane Brosnan opened the scoring, and then a brace of goals from Paudie Studdart opened the Rebel defense. The first was scrambled over the line, and the second he scored when falling to the ground. Cathal Fleming had a pair of points with good assists from Kevin Rafferty. 

Well if the first quarter belonged to Barnabas, the second belonged to Cork as they ran off six consecutive points, courtesy of Pearse Lillis(3), Collin O’Connor, Morgan Kenny and Ryan Hillard. Still, Barnabas led by 2-3 to 0-6 at the short whistle. On resumption Cork were awarded a penalty which Lorcan Kennedy struck. It was saved by keeper Kennedy, but the rebound was scrambled over the line to tie the game. Barnabas answered the major strike with a well-executed goal from newcomer Jordan Reynolds. 

The exchanges were becoming tenacious  and tempestuous, with the overflow spilling in and out from the densely packed  mobile sidelines crews.  Barnabas still had their noses in front on the back of points form Jordan Reynolds and Kevin Rafferty to lead by 3-5 to 1-7 with five minutes left. Well if Barnabas started strongly, Cork finished strongly. Liam Grainger finished with a goal and a point to bring a hard fought encounter to a draw.  Overall, quite an exciting game, if not a bit overly robust at times (and the sideline shenanigans have to be seriously addressed). 

St. Barnabas: Gearoid Kennedy, Nolan Kelly, Dylan Curran, Peter Cronin, Mike Boyle, Kevin Rafferty, Ian Kavanagh, James Donovan, Shane Brosnan, Cathal Fleming, Paudie Studdart, Tommy Cahill, Jordan Reynolds, Tiernan Mathers, Shane Hogan. Subs Jack Dennis, Conor Rafferty, Shane Rafferty, Paudie Mathers, Brendan Cole, Adam Powers, Liam Rafferty.

Cork: Donal Casey, Sean Tierney, Sean Wilson, Jamie Doris, Jack Sheedy, Morgan Kenny, Pearse Lillis, Dara Walsh, Alan O’Donoghue, Ryan Hillard, Colin O’Connor, Aaron Traynor, Liam, Fintan Gould, Fintan O’Reilly. Subs. Eoin Coulter, Lorcan Kennedy, Shane Fitzpatrick, Enna Barry, Sean Carthy, Ryan Scanlan, , Den Keating, Tadgh O’Connell.  Referee Peter McCormack