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Limerick’s David Copperfield act the star turn of opening weekend

Donegal bring Derry down to Earth while Ireland suffer at Twickenham

Denis Walsh had the mother of all tasks on Sunday: he had to sum up the weekend in Gaelic games. “Where would you like to start?” he asks, giving you a sense that he wasn’t quite sure himself where to begin. But he focused in on the efforts of the Limerick, Dublin and Waterford hurlers on “the first sunny Sunday since earlier this century”. Limerick “performed a David Copperfield stunt, escaping from chains, in a sealed tank of water” in Ennis. Dublin trailed by five points entering stoppage time and “somehow pulled a draw from the hat”. And “one of the game’s most famous illusionists”, Davy Fitzgerald, made the crowd gasp with his oldest trick: “written off; wound up: won”. There was, then, magic in the air. And Clare and Cork will now need to produce some wizardry themselves, writes Nicky English, in their “kill-or-be-killed date”.

In the football championship, Malachy Clerkin was at Celtic Park to see Donegal “bring Derry whistling back down to Earth”, while Gordon Manning was in Dr Hyde Park where Mayo prevailed over Roscommon – although, “nobody will be writing any ballads about this one”. It’s unlikely any tunes will be penned in honour of Kerry’s triumph over Cork either, Kerry out of sorts but managing to get the job done. Sligo’s hearts, meanwhile, were left in smithereens by Galway who won their meeting with a goal in additional time. And Cavan came close to pulling off a shock too against Tyrone.

In rugby, Johnny Watterson reports on a crushing Six Nations defeat for Ireland’s women at Twickenham, “a scintillating slaughter of the kind seldom seen in modern rugby” as the English press described it. There was no joy for an understrength Leinster in South Africa either, the Lions blowing them away in the URC, but Munster and Connacht both helped themselves to victories, Munster beating the Bulls and Connacht putting eight tries past Zebre. And Gerry Thornley reports on the All-Ireland League semi-finals where Terenure College and Cork Constitution came out the winners.

In soccer, Ken Early reflects on the “shambolic” search for a new Republic of Ireland manager, the most obvious solution being the appointment of a man who actually wants the job: John O’Shea. Denis Walsh, meanwhile, is tiring of “bazooka-style driving” in golf, but Willie Mullins is showing no signs at all of getting bored of winning. His four-timer at Ayr on Saturday, including the Scottish Grand National has, writes Brian O’Connor, left him all but certain to become the first Irish-based trainer to lift the British trainers’ title in 70 years.


TV Watch: Coverage of snooker’s World Championships continues through the day on BBC2, BBC Four and Eurosport. Later, there’s plenty of football to choose from – league leaders Shelbourne are at home to champions Shamrock Rovers (Virgin Media Two, 7.45pm), TNT Sports 1 have the Milan derby at the same time, and promotion-seeking Leeds are away to Middlesbrough at 8pm (Sky Sports Football).