Ireland beaten by Finland; Ballyboden and Cuala reach Dublin hurling final

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Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and his assistant Keith Andrews during Sunday’s defeat to Finland. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and his assistant Keith Andrews during Sunday’s defeat to Finland. Photograph: Inpho

Republic of Ireland’s manager Stephen Kenny’s first home game ended in a 1-0 defeat to Finland in an empty Aviva Stadium, as Fredrik Jensen’s goal in the 63rd minute proved decisive. Kenny said that his selections had been “experimental” in both of his first games in charge and while he accepted that the results were disappointing he has, he says, got a better sense of his options for the Euro2020 playoff next month against Slovakia. Ken Early is analysing the defeat in his column this morning, focusing on Shane Duffy’s discomfort in a high defensive line and the team’s failure to create chances: “It turns out that watching Ireland struggle to create chances is more absorbing when there is no crowd noise to drown out the players’ shouts of striving and exhortation, which underline just how hard a team has to work to struggle to create chances at this level.”

Trailing by three points with 20 minutes to go, and with just eight points on the board, Ballyboden dug deep when it counted and drew on all their big-game experience to overwhelm Na Fianna, outscoring them 1-7 to 0-1 to ensure that the champions of 2018 and 2019 will contest this year’s Dublin hurling final. A goal from Seán Moran in the 49th minute proved crucial as Cuala beat Lucan Sarsfields by seven points in the other semi-final. In Tipperary Kiladangan progressed to a third senior hurling final in four years after seeing off a disappointing Drom and Inch by 1-21 to 0-9. They’ll face Loughmore/Castleiney on Sunday week after they overcame an under par Nenagh Éire Óg 1-21 to 1-11 on Saturday evening. In the Mayo football semi-finals Knockmore defeated Ballina by 0-17 to 0-13, while on Saturday Breaffy edged past Westport by 0-15 to 0-13. After another weekend of matches behind closed doors, Malachy Clerkin questions the cowardly Government hiding behind Nphet: “As a piece of political slipperiness, the Government’s ability to be in charge of everything right now without being to blame for anything is almost admirable.”

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