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Westmeath SFC Final
Mullingar Shamrocks will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky as they booked their place in the county senior decider for the third year running thanks to a 3-7 to 1-10 win over neighbours St Loman’s last Sunday.
Salthill-Knocknacarra were far too strong for a disjointed looking Killererin in the county senior semi-final last Sunday at Tuam Stadium, winning comprehensively on a scoreline of 3-10 to 0-10.
Mayo were 10 points to the good on Sunday early in the second half, leading 0-17 to 0-7, and yet they were reduced to stumbling over the finish line to win by three. Had David Clarke not made a tremendous save in a one-on-one with Bernard Brogan near the finish, which would have levelled the game, it would probably be Dublin who would be facing Donegal in the All-Ireland final.
Mayo were 10 points to the good on Sunday early in the second half, leading 0-17 to 0-7, and yet they were reduced to stumbling over the finish line to win by three.
Westmeath’s first ever All-Star Rory O’Connell is auctioning the jersey (signed by the 2001 All-Star team) on ebay from August 18-28 to raise money for South Westmeath Hospice. All-Star jerseys are a rare commodity especially in these parts so there is sure to be huge interest in the former midfielder’s shirt.
There’s something heart warming about Donegal. Their team ethic is not based on fancy individuality that can so often lead to failure, but on the values of hard, honest toil and a simple, effective game plan. They have a manager who doesn’t care in the slightest what the football fraternity think of him or his team. He has set out his stall and is sticking by it. The whole world was down on top of them last year, (myself included) because of their ultra defensive dour style of play. Jim McGuinness was vilified for tarnishing our ‘beautiful game’ with such an ugly conservative style of defensive system that saw supporters, including many from his own county, walk out in disgust from Croke Park, when Donegal missed a glorious opportunity to defeat a Dublin side that were there for the taking. In fact, I spent most of last summer hoping they would be beaten as I genuinely hated their style of play. The reality is, they have some fantastic forwards, last year, inexplicably, they utilised them so far from goal that they rarely got an opportunity to do serious damage to any opposition. Six points against Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final is a case in point. This year they are unquestionably easier on the eye and appear to have realised that they have the ability to be serious contenders for an All-Ireland title if they are prepared to play a more attacking expansive brand of football. I admire them for that and for the fact that they have refined their system which now has seen them score an average of 18 points per game in the five games they have played in this year’s championship. They have also retained their air tight defensive system, only conceding a single goal from open play. And to be fair Jim McGuinness deserves great credit for turning the fortunes of a county whose team, up to last year, were the party, fun loving boys of the inter-county scene.
Cork produced a late, late surge to see off Galway in a thrilling All-Ireland senior camogie championship semi-final at Nowlan Park last Saturday on a score-line of 3-10 to 0-12.
It may not have been like Galway’s historic 10-point Leinster final win over Kilkenny, but Andy Smith, Galway’s 29 year-old midfielder, took plenty from their semi-final victory over Cork.
There was a fantastic sense of satisfaction and contentment for Galway fans in Croke Park on Sunday after a five-point victory (0-22 to 0-17) over Cork saw them into the All Ireland final for the first time in seven years.