Sweet success for Wexford and Limerick; Ken Early on Women’s World Cup
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Wexford senior and minor players celebrate winning the Leinster titles at Croke Park. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
It’s those sunny days in Croke Park at the end of June and the beginning of July that can sometimes be the most fondly remembered in the GAA calendar. Those fleeting moments when it looks like summer has actually arrived in the capital city and, for Wexford, yesterday was like 15 summers coming at once. Not since 2004 had they got their hands on the title but yesterday, with Davy Fitzgerald at the helm, they finally broke that barren run and oh how sweet it was to do it against Kilkenny. For the lifetimes of some of those Wexford fans in Croke Park yesterday, a clash between these two teams would have been little more than a formality for Kilkenny but those days are well and truly gone now. Afterwards Davy Fitz spoke about the bond that has grown with this group of players. “My big thing, I absolutely love them boys. I would have a very close bond with them and I mean that genuinely, even personally. I am so happy to see how they were afterwards,” the former goalkeeper said. Down at the Gaelic Grounds it was a different story as Limerick revelled in their destruction of Tipperary to take the Munster title but the focus was very much on the next few months and the defence of their All-Ireland title. Nicky English was at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday and he believes that it is John Kiely’s side who are the team to beat once again this year after their statement of intent yesterday. After losing to Tipp at the round-robin stage Limerick showed exactly what they’re made of yesterday with a 12-point victory which Kiely largely put down to the two-week break which allowed his side to reset. Also at Croke Park yesterday, Laois swatted aside Westmeath to take the Joe McDonagh Cup and set up a preliminary quarter-final with Dublin while at 8.30am this morning the draw for the fourth round of the football qualifiers will take place.
On to football and, in his final column before a summer break, Ken Early writes that the women’s World Cup semi-final between the USA and England tomorrow night will have plenty on offer for those who have realised that women’s football can be just as entertaining as men’s. “The technical standard of a football match is almost completely irrelevant to how entertaining it can be,” he writes. “The only thing that really matters is whether you care about the teams. So how do you get men to care?” On the other hand, Malachy Clerkin writes in his Tipping Point column this morning that what the Women’s World Cup does not need is more thinkpieces. “Over the past three weeks so much of the babble around the matches has been shot through the prism of comparisons with the men’s game when really the difference is fairly basic. The Women’s World Cup is basically the men’s tournament but with more thinkpieces,” he writes. Closer to home, however, the women’s team is indeed dominating the football news cycle despite the fact that Ireland weren’t even in the World Cup. Over the weekend national team manager Colin Bell announced that he would be leaving his role to take up a job with Huddersfield Town – an announcement that sparked a lot of criticism for the FAI for apparently not agreeing to some of what Bell wanted. This morning Mary Hannigan writes that there’s a spotlight shining yet again on how seriously the association treats the women’s side of its operation.