There were no surprises across the GAA world as all the expected teams made it through to the next round of their provincial championships in both hurling and football. There was almost a shock of epic proportions in Fraher Field in Waterford as the home side were on the brink of an historic win against Cork in the Munster football championship only for two late points to see the Leesiders through by the slimmest of margins.
Had Tom McGlinchey's men beaten Cork it would have been one of the biggest shocks in GAA history, certainly in my lifetime anyway. Whatever is happening in Cork is worrying for the greater good of football. Football needs a competitive Cork team. It is only seven years since they were the best team in the country winning Sam Maguire and accumulating three division one league titles in a row. Their fall from grace is staggering. I felt after their embarrassing loss to Tipperary in last year's Munster championship that they were going to hit the ground running this year and be a threat to Kerry’s Munster domination. On last Saturday's evidence Tipperary will be fancying their chances when they meet again on June 10.
Back in the early 2000s the thought of Derry and Tyrone going head to head would have the whole country on the edge of their seats in anticipation, however the situation in Derry has meant that their county team have become proper whipping boys for whomever they come up against. Word of turmoil and unrest among county board, management, clubs, and players will only result in your county team putting in a performance as Derry did last Sunday. Tyrone were impressive winners all the same scoring 22 points to Derry's 11 however they are still very much dependent on the experience of Sean Cavanagh who scored seven points (six frees ), but they seem to have found a proper wingman for Colm Cavanagh in the middle of the field in Conal McCann who scored two points and got the man of the match accolade on his début. We will certainly know if he has potential after a duel with Michael Murphy and co when they take on Donegal in the next round. Word of Michael Murphy and Neil McGee being very doubtful for Donegal’s clash with Tyrone after both having to leave the field injured in the same club game have been dismissed by the Donegal management. Whatever hope Donegal have they need a fit Murphy, McGee is not so indispensable.
Leitrim have to dig deep in London
Leitrim got the scare of their lives in Ruislip holding out for a three point winning margin over London in what was a keenly contested game. The 3-10 to 0-16 scoreline would suggest a real dogfight. The introduction of Leitrim substitute Ronan Kennedy proved to be the match winning move as he bagged himself 2-02 despite only having 30 minutes on the pitch. London captain Liam Gavaghan also had a fine game scoring eight points for his team, five of which were from play. Leitrim now qualify to play Roscommon in the semifinal on June 18, a game we will all be keeping an eye on if we get over Galway next weekend.
The Galway hurlers showed why they are the 11/4 favourites to lift the Liam McCarthy Cup, backing up their trouncing of Tipperary in the league final with an impressive 14 point winning margin over Dublin in the Leinster Championship. For those of you feeling patriotic towards your province you can get a Galway-hurling and Mayo- football double at 23/1. Interestingly Cillian O'Connor is the short priced favourite for top scorer in this years championship at 5/2 just ahead of Dean Rock at 11/4. I expect Rock to fill his boots against Carlow on Saturday evening and his odds to shorten considerably.
A bit of local congratulations
Congratulations, albeit a biased one, to the Charlestown U16 team and their managers Gareth O'Donnell and Ronan Kenny who won the U16 division 2 league title defeating The Neale on Tuesday evening, playing some super football along the way to the title. Hopefully some of these talented players will be pushing hard for a place on our senior team in a few years, and Aidan Higgins can then eventually hang up his boots before he turns 50 knowing the club is in safe hands. Well done boys.
On a much sadder note sincere condolences to Tom and Petrina Lavin and family and to the greater Breaffy GAA family on the sudden passing of Faye Lavin who was a member of the Breaffy U14 girls team. Rest in peace.