Cork crack on and Carlow (nearly) cause a Royal upset: JOE's Championship round-up
Although overshadowed by some game taking place in Poland later on, there was still plenty of excitement on the home front in the Football Championship this afternoon.
The most anticipated clash of the day had been the clash of Munster heavyweights Cork and Kerry in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but the real excitement was provided in some cracking clashes in Tullamore and Armagh.
Indeed, the Munster semi-final was a tetchy and uninspiring affair and Cork ended up as well deserving winners on their own patch, winning in a manner that will alarm Kerry fans and Cork’s would be challengers for the All-Ireland title.
Donncha O’Connor and Colm O’Neill struck six points apiece (four each from play) as the Rebels ran out five point winners, but Conor Counihan’s side were better all over the pitch and the removal of both Kieran Donaghy and Paul Galvin before the finish said it all about Kerry’s terribly flat display.
There was nothing flat about the meeting between Carlow and Meath in Tullamore, where Carlow chose possibly the worst possible day to record one of the most memorable results in their recent history when salvaging a remarkable draw with Meath.
Because of the focus on Ireland’s biggest game in ten years, the headlines will be perhaps unfairly diverted away from Carlow’s magnificent achievement, even though there was a St. Ledger in the Carlow starting XV.
And what a way to do it too. Having gone toe to toe with Meath without flinching throughout, Luke Dempsey’s side looked set for glorious failure when Graham Reilly nudged an underperforming Meath three points in front and Paul Reid and Derek Hayden were given their marching orders towards the death.
With the last kick of the game, however, JJ Smith finished to the back of the Meath net to deservedly level the scores and give Carlow another day in the sun.
Up north, Tyrone and Armagh might be missing some of the big names that defined one of the best GAA rivalries in modern times, but they still delivered a contest to savour at the Athletic Grounds this afternoon.
The hosts got off to a flying start with a cracking goal from Aiden Forker early on, but the Red Hands looked the more composed outfit and took a three-point lead into the half-time break. They managed to maintain that lead for the majority of the second half, but Armagh rallied to level the scores with only four minutes left.
The momentum was with Armagh, but scores from old heads Stephen O’Neill and Martin Penrose as well as a corker from Peter Harte restored the advantage for Mickey Harte’s men, who look a decent bet to regain the Ulster title they loaned to Donegal last year.
Finally, Wexford saw off the challenge of Longford in another thriller in Tullamore, with the Model County reeling off the last four points to win by a single point, 1-13 – 0-15.
Who needs the Euros for entertainment?
Munster Football Championship semi-final
Cork 0-17 – 0-12 Kerry
Ulster Football Championship:
Tyrone 0-19 – 1-13 Armagh
Leinster Football Championship:
Meath 1-12 – 1-12 Carlow
Wexford 1-13 – 0-15 Longford