Sean Cremin is here again with the regular round up of the week’s GAA news stories.
‘Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better’
Joe Canning must have singing the lyrics to this song to himself following his equalising score against Kilkenny. Galway drew level having trailed by nine points. They scored three goals and looked to have earned a dramatic draw. That was until Henry Shefflin gain possession of the sliotar and added another classic moment to his legacy.
So it looked like ‘King Henry’ had saved the day for the Cats, showing the country that he could still offer something and that class is permanent, but the potential heir to King Henry’s throne would have the final say. From the puck-out Jonathan Glynn played the ball to Canning and under severe pressure he split the posts from an almost identical position as Shefflin only moments earlier.
It was an amazing conclusion, and an irony in that Canning responded to Shefflin. Was there a hidden psychological message in that score? Was it the new replacing the old? Canning has the potential to have a legacy as good as Shefflin, and will that point be the real kick-start of Canning’s era? The replay will tell an awful lot.
Munster Minor Hurling
Following a long layoff for the Leaving Certificate examiantions, the Munster minor hurling championship returned this week. The Munster final will now be a repeat of last years final that went to a replay. Defending Munster champions Limerick will face reigning All-Ireland champions Waterford in an attractive final to be played in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on the 13th of July.
Waterford boast a number of last year’s All-Ireland winning side, most notably corner-forward Patrick Curran who looks like a real future prospect. They beat Clare by the narrowest of margins during the week, 2-13 to 2-12, in a cracking encounter. They were forced to battle right to the end and will be looking to claim the Munster crown having missed out last year.
Limerick accounted for Cork in the second semi-final. The sides were level at half-time but Limerick put in a strong second-half performance. Despite the concession of a late goal, they were two point winners on a score on 0-23 to 2-15. Limerick were at the centre of a hawk-eye controversy last year and will feel that they have unfinished business in the competition.
While an All-Ireland will be Limerick’s main aim, they will want to retain their Munster crown. If the game is anything like last season’s encounters, it should be a cracking Munster minor final.
Leinster Under-21 Hurling
The Leinster under-21 final pairing was also decided this week with both semi-finals played out on Wednesday night. Leinster kingpins Kilkenny were nowhere to be seen and for the second year in a row, the Cats will not be Leinster under-21 hurling champions which may be a worry to some Kilkenny supporters.
Dublin and Westmeath played out a tight, low-scoring affair with the Dubs scraping through by a single point, 2-8 to 0-13. Having being caught in the opening rounds by Laois and Carlow respectively in the last two years, the Dubs have made the Leinster final and will be looking to build on their strong underage pedigree.
Their opponents in the final will be defending champions Wexford. The Yellow Bellies easily disposed of Offaly, 2-17 to 0-13. It is more negativity for Offaly but Wexford have a chance to win bck-to-back titles. They seem to be improving and will really want to get back to an All-Ireland semi-final where they amazingly lost to Antrim last year.
The final will take place on the 9th of July in Parnell Park.
Hurling Qualifiers Draw
The draw for the hurling qualifiers took place on Monday morning with some very interesting fixtures. The hurling championship is now so even that good teams will find their seasons to be finished in a matter of weeks and there are some mouth-watering clashes to look forward to.
Waterford will face Laois this weekend in what could be an interesting game. Waterford showed the first day against Cork that they are building a nice team and they will be eager to bounce back and try to embark on a back-door run. The hurling public will learn a lot about Laois after this game. They have improved immensely of this game should be a good sign of where they are at.
Offaly and Antirm is the least attractive of the four fixtures but will be a huge game for both sides. Antrim lost to Wexford but have improved over the course of the year. They appeared in last years All-Ireland under-21 final and will be looking to get a win to continue their season. Offaly are struggling badly and need a win to lift their spirits.
The other two games promise to be cracking encounters. Wexford v Clare went to extra time last year and it could be close again. The draw could have been worse for Clare but this will be a tough game. Wexford are improving and will have nothing to lose. Clare’s season is on the line and they will have to play well to defeat Wexford.
Tipperary then await the losers of Kilkenny and Galway in the clash of the road. Tipperary will feel unlucky to have received the toughest draw for the second year in a row but they have no time to feel sorry for themselves. They have one game to make or break their season. It is also a tough draw for whoever loses the replay between Galway and Kilkenny and either way a big team will be out of the championship in early July.
There a lot of fixtures this weekend and some teams have been released. Armagh are set to be without suspended trio of Andy Mallon, Brendan Donaghy and Kieran Toner following their pre-match bust up against Cavan. Monaghan have named an unchanged team for the Ulster football semi-final on Saturday.
Elsewhere in football, both Leinster semi-finals take place on Sunday. Meath are without their sharpshooter Mickey Newman with his place going to Bryan Menton in the only change from their annihilation of Carlow. Kildare are without defender Peter Kelly and have named an unchanged team.
Wexford and Dublin go head-to-head in the other semi-final. Wexford make one change with Michael O’Regan replacing Rob Dempsey. Dublin are yet to name their team.
In hurling, Waterford have made two changes to their side to face Laois. They will be delighted to have Daragh Fives back in their team as he comes in at wing-back while Ryan Donnelly replaces Brian O’Sullivan.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena