Down up for the challenge
GAA round-up:Down laid to rest the ghost of the Ulster final this evening with a 1-13 to 0-11 win over Tipperary to reach the All-Ireland football quarter-finals. Meath, beaten in the Leisnter decider last weekend, were not able to bring their A-game to Tullamore as they were beaten by Laois.
Few teams since have managed to win a qualifier a week after losing in a provincial final since the series began, but Down bucked that trend in Mullingar. Beaten out of sight by Donegal in Clones last Sunday, Down coach James McCartan was able to galvanise his side over the six-day turnaround to end Tipperary’s memorable run in the qualifiers.
Down raced out of the blocks, scoring five points without reply straight after the throw-in, as Ambrose Rogers, Mark Poland and Dan Gordon laid down an early marker. It took Tipperary over 20 minutes to get off the mark, Michael Quinlivan knocking over a simple free, but Down finished the half on a high as Benny Coulter notched the only goal of the game.
It wasn’t a thing of beauty, Benny Coulter getting the final touch after a long ball from Kevin Duffin was allowed to bounce, come back of a post into a melee of players in the goal square. Down stretched their lead to seven points shortly after the break but Tipperary got back in touch as Alan Maloney and Brian Mulvihill getting them within a goal of the Ulster side.
However, Rogers would have the final word, fisting over a point to seal their passage to the last eight.
In Tullamore, John O’Loughlin inspired Laoisto a 1-15 to 1-12 win over a jaded Meath.The Royals had come within the kick of a ball against Dublin at Croke Park last Sunday but the energy expended there appeared to catch up with Seamus McEnaney’s side.
Meath held their own in a lively opening 10 minutes, Brian Farrell and Mick Burke keeping pace with Ross Munelly at the other end. But Laois moved clear when Meath goalkeeper David Gallagher fluffed his lines, dropping a high ball and dragging down Colm Kelly as he tried to make amends.
Munelly slotted home the resulting penalty, with Laois kicking on to open a 1-12 to 0-5 five lead five minutes into the second half. As Dublin found out last weekend, you write off Meath at your peril and typically they tried to find a way of extending their summer.
But Justin McNulty’s side, despite stumbling with the finishing line in sight, held on for a deserved victory.
A week after their extra-time win over Limerick, there was no repeat of the jitters for Kildareas Sligowere put to the sword in Dr Hyde Park. The Lilywhites strolled to a 0-13 to 0-4 win as Sligo failed to turn up.
The writing was on the wall for Sligo right from the throw-in and they found themselves six points off the pace before they managed a score through David Maye. Adrien Marren added another couple of frees – although one effort definitely appeared wide of the target – but it was a half owned by Kildare with Eoghan O’Flaherty keeping them ticking over as they opened an 0-8 to 0-3 lead.
Things didn’t get much better for Sligo after the break but it did take Kildare some 12 minutes to tag on another score, O’Flaherty knocking over a free. Eoin Doyle and Emmet Bolton stretched Kildare’s advantage. Indeed, it took until injury time for Sligo to add to their meagre tally, Eamon O’Hara kicking their only score of the second half. Scant consolation really, after a dire effort from Kevin Walsh’s side.
This evening’s final qualifier was another non-event, Kerryutterly dominant against their Munster neighbours Clareas they won 2-22 to 1-6. Kerry were operating on a different level, the gulf in class such that the dismissal of Paul Galvin hardly had any effect on the result.
Jack O’Connor’s side led by 0-12 to 0-3 at the interval and despite Galvin receiving a straight red for a high challenge on Brian Hayes, Kerry pushed on after the break. Goals from James O’Donoghue and Colm Cooper added some gloss to the scoreline but the Clare challenge was practically non-existent.