Kerry manager Jack O'Connor with Adrian Spillane after the county’s win over Derry. See elsewhere in the Sports section for Ireland GAA coverage. [Inpho/Ryan Byrne]

Donegal win game of 2 halves

Donegal 0-12   Kerry 0-10

This was another hard-fought senior football clash in Gaelic Park in the Bronx as Donegal seemed to improve with every outing. It was also a game of contrasting halves, Kerry dominated the first half, while Donegal had much the better of exchanges in the second. They scored nine points, while limiting Kerry to just three.  

Meanwhile Kerry started smartly and Niall Madine capitalized on a turnover to get the opening score. It was quickly followed by a pointed free from Bobby Regan. They soon doubled their tally, as aided by a strong breeze, both James Walsh and Liam Kearney sent over long-range points. Justin Kiernan, Donegal’s best player and former Armagh player, Justin Kiernan, finally got his team on the scoreboard with a brace. The speedy corner forward would end up scoring ten points, either from frees or play. 

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Still, Kerry finished the period strongly as they would add another three points courtesy of Pa Warren, Cillian Langan and Niall McCarthy to lead by 0-7 to 0-3 at the short whistle. Upon resumption, Donegal had points from Shay Travers and scorer-in-chief Kiernan, but Jack Murphy and Niall Madine replied for the Kingdom. Then there was a very animated discussion about whether a Donegal shot had crossed the goal-line or not, but the officials ruled it hadn’t.  Donegal were undaunted as for the remaining 20 minutes they would record eight points while limiting a beleaguered Kerry outfit to a solitary point.  The exchanges were tight, tough and robust with one player having his jersey yanked off in a melee. Justin Kiernan’s performance was spectacular as he accounted, either from play or frees the bulk of the scores. Of course he got great help from team-mates, and perhaps none more than Ronan McNamee as he got the insurance point as Kerry were hunting furiously for the equalizer as time ebbed away. 

Donegal: Conor Tinney, Eoghan Doddy, Dara Toal, Paddy Carpenter, Peter McNiffe, Ronan McNamee(0-1), Kaelan Walsh, Conor Daly, Matthew Gallagher, Stephen O’Quigley, Shane McGrath, Aaron Laverty, Justin Kiernan(0-10), Shay Travers(0-1), Bradley Doherty. Subs Patrick McColgan, Lochlain Byrne, Sam McBride, Peter McNeilis, Sean Conroy, Evan Mulgrew, Ruairi Slane, Declan Hughes, Tiernan McLaughlin.

Kerry: Keith Leary, Sean Horan, Niall Collins, Donal Hunt, Pa Warren(0-1), James Walsh(0-1), Tom Kearns, Liam Kearney(0-1), Mike McCarthy, Barry Mahoney, Cillian Langan(0-1), Niall McCarthy(0-2), Bobby Regan(0-1), Niall Madine(0-1), Jack Murphy(0-1). Subs Tom Harte, Mike Cronin, David Langan, Sean Dwyer, Tomas Shalvey, ED Myers, James Kilgariff, Adrian Lang. Man of Match Justin Kiernan, Referee Enda Henry.

Hard-fought draw

Cork 0-13 Westmeath 2-7

The other senior championship match on Saturday was another tough contested battle with little quarter being asked or given.  Though Cork dominated the possession stakes, it was Westmeath who got the goals to keep them in the hunt. Darragh Carmody opened Westmeath’s account, but Cork quickly replied with points from keeper Casey and Pearse Lillis. Westmeath looked to be set for an early goal when Frank O’Reilly was downed in the penalty box, but custodian Casey brilliantly saved Darragh Carmody’s spot kick.  Shane Carthy followed with a fine long range effort to tie the game. However Cork looked to have taken control as they hit four unanswered points courtesy of Fintan O’Reilly (2), Morgan Geary and Mark Buckley to lead by 0-6 to 0-2 with five minutes left in the period. Westmeath struck for two goals in the last minutes of the half. 

Gavin O’Brien banged in the first one and Killian Butler the second one to have the Lakesiders lead by 2-2 to 0-6 at the short whistle. The Rebels started the second half well with Colin O’Connor hitting two points. Indeed they looked on target to get in front but keeper McKinney saved a blaster from mid-fielder Keating. Still quite similar to the first half Cork were winning the possession and scoring stakes with Colin O’Connor and Fintan O’Reilly being quite impressive.  However for the last quarter Westmeath stepped up their performance as Shane Carthy, Gavin O’Brien, Kieran Murphy, Dan O’Sullivan and company becoming more prominent. O’Brien and Ajani added points but Mark Buckley pointed to maintain parity after a penetrating by Liam Grainger. 

In the last 10 minutes it was tit for tat as both sides battled to get the edge or score. Kiernan Murphy sent over from long range and Jack Robinson accentuated his skill with a superb score. Well the Rebels were not to be outdone, as Cork’s best forward Colin O’Connor, hit a brace to level the game. Overall a fair result, with Westmeath’s forte being goal-scoring opportunities while Cork’s penchant was for well executed points.    

Cork: Donal Case(0-1), Colum Fallen, Sean Wilson, Enna Barry, Aaron Traynor, Matt Queenan, Morgan Garry(0-1), Alan O’Donoghue, Dan Keating, Liam Grainger, Fintan O’Reilly(0-3), Pearse Lillis(0-1), Aidan Mooney, Mark Buckley(0-2), Colin O’Connor(0-5). Subs Gary Lowney, Fintan Gould, Daragh O’Sullivan, Sean Tierney, Jack Sheedy, Tadgh O’Connell, John Conefrey, Ryan Willard, 

Westmeath: Peter McKinney, Alan Curran, Rob Wharton, Israel Ilunga, Daniel O’Sullivan(0-1), Kieran Murphy(0-1), Sean Moore, Brian Travers, Frank O’Reilly(0-1), Adam Loughlin-Stones, Jordan Ajani(0-1), Gavin O’Reilly(1-1), Killian Butler(1-0), Darragh Carmody(0-1). Subs Stephen Gargan, Jack Robinson(0-1), Man of Match Colin O’Connor, Referee Peter McCormack.

Barnabas have it easy

St. Barnabas 5-15   Rangers 2-5

If the two senior football championship games on Saturday evening were closely contested and passionate encounters, Sunday’s football games at Gaelic Park were very one-sided and lackluster affairs. St. Barnabas, with the help of a few new forwards, easily had the measure of an under-strength Rangers side. However there was little between the sides for the first quarter, the tally stood at 0-4 to 0-3. On the mark for the Bronx Boys were Jordan Reynolds, Dara Quinn, Mikey Brosnan and Ian Kavanagh. 

However for the second quarter Barnabas stamped their authority on proceedings by hitting over a half dozen points as well as banging in two goals. The first major came from Dara Quinn after a timely turnover, and the second was finished after a goal-mouth scramble to the net by Jamie McWeeney. Rangers’ condition was further acerbated by a black card penalty. St. Barnabas went in leading by 2-9 to 0-3 at the intermission.  

Upon resumption Ian Kavanagh set up chief striker Quinn for the third goal. Well in fairness to Rangers they refused to capitulate as Mike Kelleher worked his way in for a goal and Emmett Loughran was unlucky to see his goal-bound effort scratch the upright. Then it was basically back to Barnabas’ playbook as newcomers James McWeeney, Dara Quinn and Cathal Fleming blended in well with seasoned performers such as the Brosnans, Boyles and Mathers brothers.  Two more goals, courtesy of Quinn and Reynolds would be added to the tally along with points from Hogan, Fleming, Kavanagh and company while Mike Kelleher netted a late second goal to give the scoreboard a more engaging appearance.

St. Barnabas: Gearoid Kennedy, Nolan Kelly, Dylan Curran, Paudie Mathers, Mikey Boyle, Jamie Boyle, Peter Cronin, Shane Brosnan, Shane Hogan, Cathal Fleming, Mikey Brosnan, Ian Kavanagh, Jordan Reynolds, Dara Quinn, Jamie McWeeney. Subs Jack Dennis, Jack Gleason, Johnny Reynolds, Caolan Mathers, Adam Power.

Rangers: Joey Grace, Shane Doheny, James Breen, Shane Homan, Emmett Loughrane, Danny Burke, Daragh Murphy, Niall McStay, Tom Hanaway, Blaine Malone, Kevin Loane, PJ King, Mike Kelleher, Brian Twomey, Daragh Quinn. Man of Match Dara Quinn, Referee Michael O’Reilly.

Super Sligo dominant

Sligo 2-18   Brooklyn 0-8 

This was another very one-sided affair, apart from early on, as attested by the score-line. Both sides hit four points in the first quarter. Flag-raisers for Sligo were Niall Dolan, Daniel Cox, Mike Argue and Peter Cooke, while Robert Carr(2), Ryan Kelly and Daniel Cibotar answered for Brooklyn. The flow of events took a dramatic turn after the water break.  Peter Cooke, Mike Argue and Brian Coughlan began operating very effectively as Cooke set up Coughlan for the first goal, and he quickly followed with a fine point.  Later a good delivery set the scene for him going one on one with the keeper and goal number two was in the bag.  Sligo went in leading by 2-8 to 0-6 at the break. Garvan Quigley tapped over two for Brooklyn. 

Sligo continued to dominate in the second half, hitting a further 10 points while limiting Brooklyn to just two. Cooke continued to float over some fine scores while Connell Aherne, Dylan Rooney, Brian Byrne, Ruairi O’Caoilean also got on the scoring sheet.  Ryan Kelly and Garvan Quigley replied with odd points as a superlative Sligo squad had a beleaguered Brooklyn brigade besieged for most of the match. 

Fixin’ what ain’t broke

Now as an aside from a sports writer I have to draw attention to the newly recently designed team sheets. I cannot understand why the chief organizers of the GAA would change the format of team sheet that served its purpose well through these years. Well, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it – it’s a pity the GAA administrators didn’t heed that.  The newly designed team-sheet looks more like a table of random numbers, a recipe for confusion, with no correlation with the names on the sheet and playing positions. Names are listed alphabetically. The old team sheet gave you an immediate over-view of players’ positions on the play field. The current sheet requires a study session for a few minutes to apprehend playing positions, and that may not clarify everything. Indeed players with pivotal playing and central numbers in the past may now be amongst the subs but you won’t be aware of that till you see them sitting on the bench. Time to regrade the new team-sheet to the dustbin or shredder.