Blue is the colour on wintry day

Mon, Nov 29, 1999, 00:00

It was almost like the old days. A full house, footballing heroes gaining cult status on the terraces - none more so than Dublin goalkeeper David Byrne - and a rip-roaring way to announce the traditional winter break in the Church and General National Football League programme.

"We're on the right road," remarked Dublin manager Tom Carr, almost with relief as much as conviction, after his side ended Kerry's unbeaten run in Division 1A at Parnell Park and set up more lofty ambitions than mere survival in the league.

On a day when winter arrived with a vengeance - five matches were postponed - the Dublin-Kerry showdown typified the inconsistency of league combat. But Carr wasn't complaining. "Yes, it was unexpected," he said. "My fear was that Kerry would run us ragged and beforehand I was more concerned with the performance than the actual result."

He said his side were coming to the end of a 15-month transition period. "We've put in a huge amount of work in that time and now we have a core of players on which to build the future."

Dublin rode their luck in the two-point win. Byrne saved two first-half penalties, from Mike Frank Russell and Declan O'Keeffe, and late in the game Kerry's Eamonn Fitzmaurice saw a shot rebound off an upright.

The only other match in the division saw Donegal secure an 11-point win over Munster champions Cork. Elsewhere, there was some dissatisfaction at late decisions to call off games.

Referee Michael Convery's late arrival to the ground at Dungannon meant that the Tyrone-Roscommon match was called off less than an hour before the scheduled throw-in, when both teams were ready and large numbers of supporters had already assembled. The Armagh-Galway game also fell foul of the weather.

In Division 1B, the Fermanagh-Meath and Mayo-Kildare games were also casualties - in played games Sligo beat Down while Derry defeated Clare - and in Division 2A Wicklow and Westmeath must meet again.

Meanwhile, All-Ireland club champions St Joseph's Doora-Barefield from Clare retained their Munster hurling title with a four-point win over Ballygunner of Waterford.

"It's better than last year, because we've kept Clare teams winning the provincial championship," said Ollie Baker, adding "you never get tired of winning".

The other provincial titles also went along expected lines: Birr of Offaly defeated Castletown of Laois in the Leinster club hurling final while Athenry of Galway won out over Tooreen of Mayo in the Connacht club hurling final.

Granagh-Ballingarry of Limerick retained the All-Ireland camogie title O Cearbhaill Cup by beating Davitt's of Galway, while in the All-Ireland women's football final Mayo's Hollymount and Wexford's Shelmalier ended level.