We were treated to a feast of GAA action over weekend, including two provincial finals, the first ever Joe McDonagh final and a number of football qualifiers. We take a look back at the winners and losers across the busy schedule.
Kildare were the big talking point last week as they took their ‘Newbridge Or Nowhere’ campaign to the GAA, protesting against the original fixture set for Croke Park after the GAA cited crowd safety concerns in St Conleth’s Park which has a capacity of 8,000. Sensationally, the won the battle. Many warned that the fight that the Kildare contingent but into the campaign had to replicated by the players on the pitch and my word, did they deliver.
It was a thrilling game from start to finish in the sweltering heat with Kildare proving their intent from the get go, in front of the boisterous, packed out stadium. Although it looked for a period as though Mayo would progress, Cian O’Neill’s side kicked on in additional time to score six of the final nine points. The team that was relegated from Division 1 last year is now one match away from the Super8’s competition with Ulster finalists, Fermanagh standing in their way.
The rise of GAA in Carlow has been one of the most enjoyed stories in the GAA this summer and over the weekend, they proved they are far from finished. Colm Bonnar’s side became the winners of the inaugural Joe McDonagh Cup in the opener in Croke Park on Sunday, booking their place in the 2019 Leinster Senior Hurling Championship.
Ten points, from placed balls, from Denis Murphy helped the Barrowsiders to an assured 2-26 to 1-24 win over Westmeath. They will now replace Offaly in the Leinster SHC while they also have an All Ireland preliminary quarter-final clash with Limerick in Dr Cullen Park to look forward to next weekend.
Any weekend where you come from behind to win your 54th Munster title and qualify for the All Ireland semi-final can be considered a successful one. There were great scenes in Semple Stadium yesterday as John Meyler’s team produced a stellar second-half performance, spearheaded by captain Seamus Harnedy, to beat Clare in the Munster Final on a scoreline of 2-24 to 3-19.
It was the second year in a row that Cork have beaten Clare in the provincial decider and after coming through the new Munster format without losing a game, they have presented themselves as serious contenders to make the final on the third Sunday in August. While there are still serious question marks over their defence, their attacking play from Darragh Fitzgibbon at midfield to the ever reliable Patrick Horgan at the edge of the squad, is a joy to behold.
Over 40,000 turned out in GAA HQ on Sunday to watch the two finals, the second of which resulted in a draw between Kilkenny and Galway. While many would have assumed that the replay would be fixed for the same venue, the following weekend, it soon emerged that the fixture would be heading to Thurles due to the fact that Michael Buble is due to play a concert in Croke Park on Saturday evening.
There have been many calls for concerts in Croke Park in July and August to be cancelled, as GAA fixtures should take precedence. GAA president John Horan gave an interview to RTE’s Morning Ireland today, responding to the calls and also to address the fixture debacle last week that saw the GAA cave to the pressure of the Kildare protests to have their qualifying clash with Mayo played in Newbridge.
— Morning Ireland (@morningireland) July 2, 2018
It was a heartbreaking end to the season for Mayo, as they crashed out of the All Ireland Championship at the hands of Kildare. It’s the earliest Mayo have been knocked out of the competition since 2010. It was a sensational came that saw Kildare come from behind in the eight minutes of additional time at the end of a breathless second half.
It’s a huge blow for the county that has contested four All Ireland Finals in the last six years and it feels like the end of an era, as though they’re time has passed. Many expect the likes of Andy Moran to step away, thus joining the list of the best players never to win an All Ireland medal. The Mayo team that found their way into the hearts of GAA fans around the country will cease to be.
It was a tough weekend for Clare GAA as not only did their hurlers lose the Munster final, but their footballers also bowed out of the championship with a loss to Armagh. Both were games that the Banner would have been expected to win and no doubt, a frustrating loss for the respective managers. It was a thrilling game for the football spectators in the Athletic Grounds with a goal from substitute Joe McElroy proving to be the defining score in the 2-16 to 1-15 victory for Armagh.
The Clare hurlers will be disappointed with their second-half performance against Cork when they looked comfortable leaders at the break. While in the first half, Clare were pushing up on the Cork puck-outs and causing chaos among the Cork defence, in the final 35 minutes, they completed fell off allowing Cork to play with freedom. It’s not all doom and gloom for the Banner, however, as they are still in the competition, with a mouthwatering quarter-final clash with Wexford possibly on the cards.