Not even a wedding can derail the momentum of club championships

Business end of the provincial stage to come as Croke Park semis await for Leinster sides

Kilmacud Crokes’ Paul Mannion is chased by Daniel O’Neill of Wolfe Tones during the Leinster quarter-final. Photograph: Tom Maher/Inpho

Kilmacud Crokes’ Paul Mannion is chased by Daniel O’Neill of Wolfe Tones during the Leinster quarter-final. Photograph: Tom Maher/Inpho

 

As the GAA’s club season picked up momentum over the weekend, taking this week’s prize for dedication was Stephen Sheppard of Meath champions Wolfe Tones, who got married during the week with brother and teammate Conor stepping in as best man.

Manager Micheál McDermott paid tribute to his players’ forbearance.

“It’s just a shame the way the wedding fell . . but they showed great maturity. There was never even a question mark or an ask of management as regards how they were going to behave for the wedding; it came from within.”

In the end it was to no avail, as Dublin standard bearers Kilmacud Crokes, conducted by Paul Mannion in another masterclass, won by four points.

Their manager Robbie Brennan had his own tale of family awkwardness. Wolfe Tones is his father’s club. He was asked was his dad still talking to him.

“He’s not talking to me because I didn’t bring him! There were a few missed calls from him there so I’ll give him a shout. He’ll be happy that we’re going through but he’ll be proud of the Tones.”

The provincial championships have moved to the semi-finals stages and Leinster’s last four in football get to play in Croke Park in two weeks.

Among them for the first time will be Shelmaliers from Wexford, who staged a big comeback against Louth champions Naomh Mairtin for their first win in the Leinster senior championship in either hurling or football. They will play Naas in one semi-final with Kilmacud taking on Portarlington in the other.

Ulster is heading for a big collision in their football semi-finals. The memorably named Glen Watty Grahams are Derry champions for the first time but have already claimed two notable provincial scalps, Donegal’s St Eunan’s and on Sunday Scotstown from Monaghan.

In an intriguing tactical battle, Glen defended deep and counter-attacked at pace. Two Scotstown red cards - for the Hughes brothers Kieran and Darren - put a gloss on an otherwise absorbing contest, which the Monaghan club kept chasing before running out of steam.

Glen’s semi-final will be against the most recent Ulster champions Kilcoo from Down, who gave a quality performance on Saturday to wear down Cavan’s Ramor United and eventually blitz them - a serious collision in prospect.

There was high drama in each of the other quarter-finals, which went to extra time before Fermanagh’s Derrygonnelly took down favourites Dromore from Tyrone and novel Armagh champions Clann Éireann saw off Antrim’s Cargin.

In Munster one long running show went dark. Loughmore-Castleiney, in their 18th week of keeping everyone enthralled with their dual exploits and a week after winning the Tipperary hurling title, finally tasted knockout defeat, ironically against another dual club.

Éire Óg of Ennis, Clare hurling semi-finalists as well as football champions, qualified for the provincial semi-final after extra time, leaving Loughmore to get ready for their own Munster semi-final, a trip to Fraher Field to face formidable Waterford hurling champions Ballygunner in a week’s time.

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