“Across a blue-sky weekend, cynicism was the only cloud,” writes Denis Walsh as he reflects on incidents in the latest round of championship matches, notably in the under-20 hurling final and in the football meeting of Cork and Kerry.
“You do what you have to do to win,” said Ben O’Connor, manager of Cork’s under-20 hurlers, after he was told that his Offaly counterpart had accused his side of playing “absolutely cynical hurling”. “If they got the chance, they’d probably do the same thing,” said O’Connor.
As Denis says, “offending the spirit of fair play is never a regret for winning teams”, but this is where the rules must intervene. Inconsistency in their application, though, remains a source of no little frustration.
Kerry were accused of “ramping up their strategic fouling” against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, their manager Jack O’Connor conceding that Saturday’s game “wasn’t about champagne football”. Ian O’Riordan hears from Paul Murphy about that victory and the “negative commentary” around Kerry’s display. “With all due respect,” he replies, “we block it out.”
Questions remain over Kerry’s form, though, Jim McGuinness reckoning they “got the job done, nothing more” against Cork, failing to dispel the notion that they have “a fair bit of work to do if they are to retain Sam Maguire”.
But – and it’s a big one – when they have a “generational player” like David Clifford on board, anything is possible, Jim likening his impact in his sport to that of Lionel Messi and “basketball wunderkind” Victor Wembanyama in theirs. “In the lottery of birth, Kerry won big with Clifford,” he writes, hailing his performance against Cork when, once again, “he just oozed class”.
The same could be said of Tom McKibbin and his performance at the European Open, the 20-year-old’s victory, writes Philip Reid, “propelling him into a brave new world where effectively he can reach for the sky”.
Auguste Rodin oozed some class himself when he won the Epsom Derby on Saturday, Brian O’Connor hearing from his trainer Aidan O’Brien who is considering running him in next month’s Irish Derby.
O’Brien now has 99 European classic wins but describes Auguste Rodin as “the most important horse he’s had through his hands”. That suggests that he too can reach for the sky.
Telly watch: We have our first batch of quarterfinals at the French Open today (Eurosport, 9.0-7.0pm), the most tense likely to be the meeting of Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina and Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova plays Karolina Muchova in the other women’s quarter-final, while in the men’s, top seed Carlos Alcaraz meets Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) and Novak Djokovic (3) takes on Karen Khachanov (11).