‘I’m just delighted the Camogie Association listened to the players’ voice’

DUBLIN CAMOGIE PLAYER Leah Butler has backed the Camogie Association’s decision to opt for a split season after their initial schedule drew strong criticism. 

The threat of strike action prompted the organisation into a rethink and following a nationwide poll of clubs, a small majority backed a demarcation between the club and county seasons. 

53% of clubs voted in favour of the split season, with 47% voting for the initial model which would have seen the National League and All-Ireland championship take place either side of club championships. 

Dublin midfielder Butler admitted she was surprised the saga dragged on for so long.

“The GAA announced quite a while ago now that they were going with the split season, so to get the structure that we got, I was kind of surprised,” she said.

“But I’m happy now that they back-tracked and the decision got changed because I think it suits inter-county players to have the split season, to have a defined county season and a defined club season.

“As well, a lot of players play dual, they play football for their club as well as camogie. So they wouldn’t have been able to play their games in the opposite code, if they were playing championship with county and club championship [at the same time].

“It has worked out in the end. And I’m just delighted the Camogie Association listened to the players’ voice. I think a lot of people are happy now.

“I was a little bit surprised [the vote] was close, but a win is a win for Option 2 with the split season.”

A GPA poll of the camogie inter-county playing body saw 82% vote in favour of a split season, which led to the Camogie Association reviewing their initial decision.

“The Camogie Association, they were considering all players, not just inter-county players,” said Butler. “Obviously there’s tens of thousands more club players than there is inter-county players.

“So that’s where their decision came from. But it was surprising their decision was different to the three other codes. That’s just the way it went. But I’m glad it’s reversed now.”

The Cork camogie side indicated they were prepared to strike for the opening round of the league this weekend if the issues around structure were not resolved.

Asked if her team came close to announcing strike action, she said: “Not for us in the Dublin team anyway. I know Cork were talking a lot about it. I think if we had to go there, we would have.

“But it would have been a huge group decision, between maybe the inter-county managers would have come together, or the player reps or whoever. I don’t think that one county might have striked on their own, but if it would have happened, it would have been a full inter-county decision.”

Dublin take on Kilkenny in the opening round of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League on Saturday. Butler says the group didn’t take their eye off the ball despite the uncertainty of recent weeks.

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“We remained focus on our game this weekend against Kilkenny. We obviously were aware of what was going on. But this game is going to be huge for us.

“So we were focused on that, and we kind of left all the work to the WGPA then with the Camogie Association, with regards to reversing the decision.”

Of new Dublin manager Adrian O’Sullivan, she stated: “We’ve had a good start. Our first two months was through Zoom and online. We put in a lot of groundwork before we did go back training and now we are flat out.

“We have a great management team. Adrian has brought this huge, positive atmosphere to the team and training has been really, really enjoyable.” 

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The ‘athletic freak’ that is Lindsay Peat, José’s quiet departure, and the week’s best sportswriting

1. Imagine, just for a second, that a man did all of this. His mug would be splashed across Connolly Station Bridge so people marching on Croker could see him. His brand would amass seven-figure annual returns from a post-career media profile. He’d be a household name, loved or despised with everyone agreeing he’s an ‘athletic freak’.


Lindsay Peat.

Source: Inpho.

O’Connor, as a coach, is well placed to explain how it is even possible for an athlete to play four sports at the highest level.

“Pound for pound she is the strongest female athlete I’ve come across. It is just sheer force of personality as well. If we were practising high catching she’d go ‘Right, we are practicing together’. Mainly because nobody else wanted an elbow in the gob but also she knew I worked a lot of the high catch ‘You practice it all the time and you are the tallest so I want to practice with you ‘cause you’ll be the hardest to beat.’

“I’ve never come across anyone like her. I think it goes back to the essence of Lindsay as a sports person. She just makes it happen. In her DNA, she is a sports woman.”

And a mother. And a coach. And a public speaker. And a PE teacher. And a clerical officer for the HSE.

And an international rugby player.

The Irish Times’ Gavin Cummiskey profiles Ireland’s evergreen prop, Lindsay Peat — formerly a Dublin footballer, Ireland basketball star and underage soccer international  — ahead of her 34th cap against Italy last weekend. 

2. He didn’t even win the news cycle! José Mourinho is out as manager of Tottenham Hotspur, sacked after just 17 months, sacked only days before he was set to lead the team into the final of the Carabao Cup, and it wasn’t even the biggest soccer story of the day. Not even the biggest of the morning! The Carabao Cup would have been José’s first chance to win his first trophy at Tottenham, which hasn’t won a trophy of any description since George W. Bush was president. But the unceremonious firing of one of the world’s most famous managers was below-the-fold news compared to the announcement of the European Super League. And so the tenure of Mourinho at Spurs ended in the least Mourinho style imaginable — quietly, and while most people were paying attention to something else.

‘Where Did You Go, José Mourinho?’ writes Brian Phillips for The Ringer.

3. O’Toole, who captained Ireland for 10 years and remains the team’s all-time top scorer, recounts similar tales of Taylor. She first came across the “baby-faced” 16-year-old at an international camp where younger players were being introduced to the more senior players.

“She was able to tell me then what she was going to do,” O’Toole tells ESPN. “She said: ‘I’m going to box at the Olympics.’” When O’Toole reminded her that women weren’t allowed to box at the Olympics, Taylor’s response was simple: “I’ll get boxing at the Olympics.”

It was a prescient statement from Taylor. Years later, O’Toole and Taylor would carry the Olympic torch together through Dublin as part of its relay to London 2012, ahead of the first boxing competition at the Games — they were sharing in that history, but excelling at the top of two different worlds.

Taylor playing for Ireland in 2006.

Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

“Katie is so shy. When we were on the buses [to games and training] she wouldn’t say anything,” O’Toole says. “Me and Katie carried the Olympic torch together, and she was so nervous, pulling on me all nervous like ‘Olivia, Olivia, Olivia.’ To me! I should have been like that with her.” 

ESPN’s Kathleen McNamee turns back time to Katie Taylor’s glittering soccer career before she took the boxing world by storm.

4. I always thought that it was the players who felt the most pressure when it came to matches, but having written my first match report on the Treaty United and Cork City game last weekend, my opinion has changed.

Of course, I’m going to be a bit biased and say that the pressure of reporting on a game is more intense than playing in one, now that I’ve switched roles from a player to a journalist, but honestly, last Friday, I’ve never felt pressure like the pressure I experienced when I was playing in games.

It’s said that it’s difficult to replicate the feeling a player gets after winning a game and that when a player retires, he will never experience the high of scoring a winning goal, but I’m not so sure that is true now.

Former Cork City striker Graham Cummins on the move from the pitch to the press box for The Evening Echo. 

5. It’s mighty hot at 7:30 a.m. on an overcast March day in “Titletown.” That’s Tuscaloosa, for the unacquainted, where the Alabama Crimson Tide reside—the Death Star of college football, a team that’s won six national titles in the last 13 years. DeVonta Smith, the latest in a line of wunderkind wide receivers from ‘Bama, is walking into coach Nick Saban’s castle—err, training facility—for an early workout session. Last season, Smith shredded record books for the SEC (most receiving touchdowns in a season with 23), ‘Bama (most receiving yards in a season with 1,856), and the country (46 touchdowns in his college career, the most ever by a Power 5 player). He even had 12 catches, 215 yards and three scores in the national title game, which Alabama won. Excuse me, he did all of that just in the first half.

DeVonta Smith had a remarkable journey to the NFL Draft, as brilliantly told by Tyler R. Tynes for British GQ.

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Huge blow for Tipperary as two-time All-Ireland winner suffers cruciate injury

THE TIPPERARY LADIES have suffered a huge blow ahead of the championship following the news that star player Aishling Moloney has suffered a cruciate injury.

Moloney, who was named the 2019 LGFA Intermediate Player of the Year, confirmed the news of the dreaded knee injury on her Instagram account today.

“Joining the ACL club for a while,” the two-time All-Ireland intermediate winner wrote. “Shall be back.”

Moloney was forced off during her side’s Division 1B clash with Dublin in Thurles earlier this month with what looked like a leg injury. She is now set for a long spell on the sidelines after sustaining a medial knee ligament injury last year. 

A dual-player with her club Caher, Moloney will be a major loss to Declan Carr’s side as they prepare to get their championship campaign underway next month.

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A post shared by Aishling Moloney (@aishlingmoloney1)

They have been drawn in Group 2 of the senior championship, and will face Cork and Meath in their round-robin fixtures on 17 July and 24 July.

Tipperary will also go into those crunch ties without Aisling McCarthy who signed a new deal with AFLW side West Coast Eagles this week after her season Down Under was derailed by knee injuries.

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She is continuing with her recovery at home in Ireland although it’s not clear when she will return to full fitness.

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Hegarty and Lynch start for Limerick as several big names return for Tipperary

Updated May 14th 2021, 10:14 PM

THE GALWAY SIDE to face All-Ireland champions Limerick on Sunday has been named. 

Tribe boss Shane O’Neill makes four changes to the side from last weekend’s big win over Westmeath, as Padraic Mannion, Joseph Cooney, Adrian Tuohey and David Burke come into the team.

Out go Aidan Harte, Conor Cooney, Shane Cooney and Johnny Coen, with the latter two named on the bench. Joe Canning is also among the substitutes.

The Limerick side sees Cian Lynch and Geared Hegarty come into the team to make their first starts of the year, while youngster Cathal O’Neill is also given the nod by John Kiely.

Leaving Cert student O’Neill is making his senior debut for the Treaty.

The Tipperary team to face Cork has also been named as veterans Paudie Maher, Noel and John McGrath, plus John O’Dwyer make their seasonal debuts.

Kieran Kingston makes four changes to his team for the game against Liam Sheedy’s side.

Sean O’Leary Hayes, Robert Downey, Shane Kingston, and Alan Cadogan are introduced, replacing Sean O’Donoghue, Seamus Harnedy, Jack O’Connor and Shane Barrett.

Finally, Brian Lohan was unable to name a full Clare starting XV to play Wexford after late injuries to Éire Óg duo David Reidy and Shane O’Donnell at training tonight.

Lohan made three changes so far as Rory Hayes, Liam Corry and David Fitzgerald come into the side as Paul Flanagan, Paddy Donnellan and Cian Galvin drop out. 

The team togging out against Luimneach this Sunday🤩#GaillimhAbú #riseofthetribe@SupermacsIRE pic.twitter.com/Zo3F2Jesq4

— Galway GAA (@Galway_GAA) May 14, 2021

Galway (vs Limerick)

1. Eanna Murphy (Tommy Larkins)

2. Sean Loftus (Turloughmore)
3. Gearoid McInerneny (Ornamore Maree)
4. Jack Fitzpatrick (Killimordaly)

5. Adrian Tuohy (Beach)
6. Padraic Mannion (captain — Ahascragh-Fohenagh)
7. Fintan Burke (St Thomas’)

8. David Burke (St Thomas’)
9. Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh-Fohenagh)

10. Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)
11. Evan Niland (Clarinbridge)
12. Brian Connannon (Killimordaly)

13. Jarlath Mannion (Cappataggle)
14. Niall Burke (Oranmore Maree)
15. Conor Whelan (Kinvara)

Limerick (vs Galway)

1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)

2. Aaron Costello (Kilmallock)
3. Dan Morrissey (Ahane)
4. Richie English (Doon)

5. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell)
6. Kyle Hayes (Kildimo/Pallaskenry)
7. Barry Nash (South Liberties)

8. William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsiagh)
9. Brian O’Grady (Kilteely/Dromkeen)

10. Gearoid Hegarty (St. Patrick’s)
11. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell) (Captain
12. David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca)

13. Cathal O’Neill (Crecora/Manister)
14. Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon)
15. Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh)

Tipperary (vs Cork)

1. Barry Hogan (Kiladangan)

2. Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill)
3. Brian McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
4. Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg)

5. Paudie Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)
6. Seamus Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel)
7. Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)

8. Alan Flynn (Kiladangan)
9. Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh)

10. Jason Forde (Silvermines)
11. Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
12. Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonaghs)

13. John O’Dwyer (Killenaule)
14. John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
15. Willie Connors (Kiladangan)

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Cork (vs Limerick)

1. Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig)

2. Niall O’Leary (Castlelyons)
3. Damien Cahalane (St Finbarr’s)
4. Sean O’Leary Hayes (Mildeton)

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5. R Downey (Glen Rovers)
6. Mark Coleman (Blarney)
7. Niall Cashman (Blackrock)

8. B Hennessy (St Finbarrs)
9. T O’Mahony (Newtownshandrum)

10. Robbie O’Flynn (Erins Own)
11. Shane Kingston (Douglas)
12. Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville)

13. Patrick Horgan (Glen Rovers)
14. Alan Cadogan (Douglas)
15. L Meade (Newcestown)

Clare (vs Wexford)

1: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

2: Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)
3: Conor Cleary (St Josephs Miltown)
4: Liam Corry (Éire Óg)

5: Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)
6: John Conlon (Clonlara)
7: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona)

8: David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona)
9: Tony Kelly (Ballyea)

10: Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)
11: TBC
12: Colin Guilfoyle (Newmarket-on-Fergus)

13: Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin)
14: Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones)
15: TBC

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Dublin’s Madden makes winning debut for Brisbane while Tipp’s O’Riordan triumphs with Sydney

Colin O’Riordan (right) in action for the Sydney Swans.

Source: AAP/PA Images

THERE WAS A winning start for Dubliner James Madden to his AFL career on a busy day of action for Irish players in Aussie Rules action.

Madden made his bow for Brisbane Lions in their Round 7 clash with Port Adelaide at the Gabba.

And the Lions cruised to victory, 93-44, with Madden contributing 11 disposals from his interchange role.

The Ballyboden St-Enda’s club man signed for Brisbane in August 2018 after impressing for the Dublin minor footballers and at the AFL European Combine in UCD in December 2017.

The Lions are now in the top eight after this victory as they move to seventh.

Irish debutant, James Madden, ready to roar.

Learn more about James here: https://t.co/ZBweisdZEK#AFLLionsPort pic.twitter.com/IsIOFxrfjE

— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) May 1, 2021

It was also a notable weekend for Tipperary’s Colin O’Riordan as he made his first AFL outing of the 2021 season for the Sydney Swans.

And they won 90-88 in a thrilling encounter against the Geelong Cats, who had Laois man Zach Tuohy in action with Kerry’s Mark O’Connor out injured. A match-winning goal late on from Tom Papley gave the Swans the victory.

O’Riordan had 14 disposals and three marks for the Swans while Tuohy had 18 disposals and seven marks for the Cats.

A dejected Zach Tuohy (second left) after Geelong’s defeat.

Source: AAP/PA Images

Kilkenny’s Darragh Joyce enjoyed his first win of the season in St Kilda colours as they ran out convincing 128-59 victors against Hawthorn.

Joyce played for the first time in 2021 last week against Port Adelaide, his first AFL appearance in two years. He had 12 kicks and five marks as the 2014 All-Ireland minor hurling winning captain helped his team triumph.

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Darragh Joyce (centre) tries to mark the ball against the Hawks.

Source: AAP/PA Images

Meath’s Conor Nash wasn’t involved with Hawthorn in the match between teams ranked 13th and 16th on the AFL ladder.

There was disappointment for Cork’s Mark Keane as his Collingwood team lost out 79-55 to the Gold Coast Suns at the MCG.

Keane, playing only his third ever AFL game, had 13 disposals and 4 marks during the game.

Mark Keane (file photo).

Source: AAP/PA Images

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Andy McEntee claims Meath player was ‘spat on in the face’ during defeat to Kildare

MEATH BOSS ANDY McEntee says full-back Conor McGill was spat on by a Kildare player in the incident that sparked a full-scale brawl at the end of their Division 2 semi-final defeat.

The Royals were left counting the cost of defeat after an ankle injury to Brian Menton and shoulder problem for Donal Keogan forced both men off the field during the fast-paced and hard-hitting encounter.

Things got worse in the closing stages when a melee kicked-off in front of the Meath bench that saw McGill and substitute Brian Conlon sent-off for striking offences. They’re likely to be suspended for the beginning of their Leinster campaign as a result.

“Don’t talk to me about the sending off,” said McEntee after the game.

“We had a player who got spat on in the face and he ends up getting sent off so I mean…how many players were involved in that? A) how many players were involved in it, and B) who started it? And what was the outcome?

“Conor McGill is not a fighter. Somebody spits in your face, what are you going to do?”

Conor McGill is sent off.

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

The Royals also had Andy Colgan and Ethan Devine booked after the brawl involving almost every player on the field. Alex Beirne was the sole Kildare player to be disciplined with a yellow card.

“It seems slightly imbalanced to me,” remarked McEntee. “But obviously I’m biased.”

He felt there would be no point appeal the red cards as their Leinster championship begins on 4 July against Carlow or Longford.

“There’s no appealing it, you’re wasting your time appealing. That’s always been my experience. If the referee says he struck, he struck.”

With just three weeks to go before their championship opener, both Keogan and Bryan Menton are injury doubts at this stage.

“Keogan [had] an AC joint [injury], maybe separation, that doesn’t look good. Bryan Menton [hurt] ankle ligaments, so we’ll assess them during the week.”

Meath paid the price for a poor start to the game as they trailed by six points at half-time.  Six unanswered points at the finish brought them within three in stoppage-time, as Kildare needed Mark Donnellan to pull off a couple of important saves in the finale. 

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“We weren’t at the pitch of it all the first half I’m afraid Kildare dictated the pace and physicality of the game, we weren’t winning the contests, and the scoreboard probably reflected that, although we had a number of chances, we had four scores from 10 attempts I think.

“I don’t see any particular reason for it, it was an important game,” the Royals boss added. “You don’t have to be off by much in games like this, if you’re off a little bit it shows. It looks like a lot.  

“Kildare were certainly at championship physicality, unfortunately I don’t think we matched them until it was probably too late, and even though we probably could have snatched something.”

Originally published at 16.51

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Two sin bins, three penalties and 1-13 for Costello as Dublin ease past Roscommon

Dublin 1-22
Roscommon 0-16

A NINE-POINT victory for Dublin in a league game that won’t live long in the memory banks.

The six-in-a-row All-Ireland champions got the job done in Roscommon to open up their Division 1 South campaign with two points. In truth, the game took on a challenge match feel at times, particularly in the second period.

Anthony Cunningham’s side got themselves within four points (1-12 to 0-11) in the 46th minute, but were outscored by 0-8 to 0-3 in the final quarter.

Dublin kicked 1-22 and missed just four shots at the posts. They looked impressive at times and were coasting at other stages. It was the sort of performance where they were below their best yet they never looked in danger of losing the game. 

Mick Galvin donned the bainisteoir bib in the absence of Dessie Farrell, who’ll sit out the entire league through suspension. 

Roscommon will be quietly happy with plenty of aspects of this performance. They kept Con O’Callaghan, Brian Fenton and James McCarthy relatively quiet over the 70 minutes.

Dean Rock wasn’t part of the travelling Dublin party so Cormac Costello took over placed ball duties. The Whitehall Colmcilles attacker finished the game with 1-13. He took three penalties over the 70 minutes: slotting home the first, striking the post with the second and popping the third over at the death.

Roscommon added former Carlow coach Steven Poacher to the set-up and they gave a decent effort defensively, although Costello was allowed kick the majority of his eight frees from close range. 

Roscommon shipped two black cards, one in either half, and conceded three penalties. Two were awarded for trips and one for a foot block.

Dublin made four late changes as Evan Comerford, Mick Fitzsimons, Jonny Cooper and Sean Bugler dropped out, with Michael Shiel, Tom Lahiff, Dara Mullin and Sean McMahon added to the starting XV.

It was a competitive debut for Shiel between the sticks and McMahon at corner-back. Lahiff partnered Brian Fenton at midfield as Mullin played at wing-forward.

Dublin looked efficient from the off. In the opening quarter they scored 1-8 from nine shots. The goal arrived from a well-taken Costello penalty in the 18th minute after Brian Stack tripped Paddy Small as he bore down on goal.

It was deemed a goalscoring opportunity and the St Brigid’s star was sin binned for 10 minutes. Roscommon had chances of their own and were left to rue a golden chance to raise a green flag when Diarmuid Murtagh palmed a ball off the upright with the goal at his mercy.

With Niall Scully supplying good ball into the full-forward line, Costello had 1-8 on the board by the interval. Roscommon did kick some good scores from distance through Niall Daly, Donie Smith and Ciaran Murtagh.

It was the third minute of first-half stoppage-time before Dublin registered a wide, through Paddy Small.

Roscommon lost a second player to a black card after Fergal Lennon tripped Dara Mullin. It was deemed a goalscoring opportunity and a penalty was awarded for Dublin, but Costello struck the post from his second spot kick of the afternoon. 

Still, Roscommon refused to go away and hit the next two scores from Donie Smith frees after they down the middle of the Dublin defence.

The scoring slowed down considerably in the second period, but Kilkenny did come to life and clipped over three fine efforts in the final quarter.

Ciaran Murtagh was one of Roscommon’s best performers and he finished with four from play and two frees. Costello popped his third penalty over the bar after the Rossies were penalised for Niall Daly foot block on Fenton.

It handed the travelling Sky Blues a nine-point victory. Kerry in Thurles await next weekend.

Scorers for Dublin: Cormac Costello 1-13 (0-8f, 1-1 pen, 0-1m), Ciaran Kilkenny 0-4 (0-1m), Paddy Small 0-2, Brian Fenton, Tom Lahiff and Dara Mullin 0-1 each. 

Scorers for Roscommon: Donie Smith 0-6 (0-5f), Ciaran Murtagh 0-6 (0-2f), Eddie Nolan, Niall Daly, Enda Smith and Diarmuid Murtagh 0-1 each.


16. Michael Shiel (St Sylvesters)

23. Sean McMahon (Raheny), 3. David Byrne (Naomh Olaf), 5. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna)

9. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams), 6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams), 7. Robert McDaid (Ballyboden St. Enda’s)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny), 19. Tom Lahiff (St Jude’s)

10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street), 11. Ciaran Kilkenny (Castleknock), 24. Dara Mullin (Kilmacud Crokes)

13. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams), 14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala), 15. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille)


2. Mick Fitzsimons (Cuala) for McMahon (50)

17. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for Mullin (50)

21. Conor McHugh (Na Fianna) for Paddy Small (57)

26. Peadar O Cofaigh Byrne (Cuala) for Lahiff (57)

20. Eric Lowndes (St Peregrines) for McCarthy (66)

4. Ryan Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for O’Callaghan (65)

22. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams) for Murchan (68)

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1. Colm Lavin (Éire Óg)

3. Fergal Lennon (Clann na nGael), 4. Gary Patterson (Michael Glavey’s), 2. David Murray (Padraig Pearses)

5. Conor Hussey (Michael Glavey’s), 6. Niall Daly (Padraig Pearses), 7. Brian Stack (St Brigid’s)

8. Eddie Nolan (St Brigid’s), 9. Shane Killoran (Elphin)

10. Niall Kilroy (Fuerty), 11. Cathal Cregg (Western Gaels), 12. Enda Smith (captain – Boyle)

14. Donie Smith (Boyle), 15. Diarmuid Murtagh (St Faithleach’s), 13. Ciaran Murtagh (St Faithleach’s)


25. Conor Devaney (Kilbride) for Kilroy (ht)

20. Cian McKeon (Boyle) for Cregg (41)

19. Conor Daly (Padraig Pearses) for Stack (45)

23. Conor Cox for Diarmuid Murtagh (50)

17. David Neary (Strokestown) for Lennon (50)

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18. Richard Hughes (Roscommon Gaels) for Conor Daly (66)

Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)

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‘Great to be back’ – Four-time All-Ireland winner returns to Wexford camogie panel

FOUR-TIME ALL-Ireland winner Katrina Parrock has returned to the Wexford camogie panel ahead of the 2021 season.

Parrock, who was part of Wexford’s three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions, has linked up with the squad after stepping away from inter-county camogie in 2017.

She was 17 when she played in her first All-Ireland final, coming on as a substitute to score a goal against Cork in the 2007 decider and help secure a first O’Duffy Cup for the county in 32 years.

A talented athlete across various sports growing up, Parrock went on to join Wexford Youths in 2018 and scored the winning goal as they captured the FAI Cup.

They finished that season with three titles, winning the Women’s National League crown and the Women’s Development Shield along with the FAI Cup.

Parrock, who is also a three-time All-Star winner, posted “It’s Great To Be Back” on her Twitter account today as she prepares to resume her Wexford camogie career.

It's Great To Be Back 💜💛

— Katrina Parrock (@KatrinaParrock) May 3, 2021

She brings plenty of experience to the squad ahead of their Division 2 campaign which is set to begin on 15 May against Kilkenny.

The Camogie Association has come under criticism in recent days over the proposal of a controversial split-season format.

The planned camogie schedule for 2021 is inter-county league, club championship and then inter-county championship, in that order, rather than the county-before-club split season the GAA and Ladies Gaelic Football Association [LGFA] have followed.

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However, the Gaelic Players Association [GPA] has revealed that 84% of players who have responded to a survey voted that they will not participate in the camogie leagues, should the current season structure be implemented.

The Camogie Association has also released a statement saying it intends to poll its members over the next seven days which “will guide our fixture calendar.”

Always worth zooming in on posts like this pre-National Leagues…! 4-time All Ireland champion & 3-time All Star sharpshooter Katrina Parrock is back with the Wexford Camogie panel for the first time since the 2017 season 👀 https://t.co/NZvxt1hChG

— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) May 3, 2021

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‘Running on the roads around Wexford town, I was genuinely broke up’ – From lockdown to hurling

IF DIARMUID O’KEEFFE has learned anything from being an intercounty hurler during the rolling lockdowns of the past year, it is an increased admiration for athletes in individual sports.

The Wexford player will finally get going with his team next Sunday afternoon with their league opener against Laois.

Over the past twelve months, the 2019 All-Star has got too accustomed for his liking to training on his own instead of in a collective environment.

“There’s only so many 4-5km runs you can do. Last March and April when the first lockdown came, I was running on the roads around Wexford town. I was genuinely broke up. I just couldn’t do it any more. I had to try and find a grass area to go running.

“It’s you and your own thoughts, just pushing yourself the whole time. It’s far from easy. It’s a great skill for people in a single sport like boxing or rowing or running or whatever it may be, that they’re just able to motivate themselves consistently on their own.

“I think the ratio of training to matches as it is, is nearly too much. We were doing enough training on ourselves, (now) just eager to get going and playing matches.”

Wexford had planned to return to training on New Year’s Day, aiming to start with a boxing programme. The layoff ended up being longer than they had could have imagined with the firm focus now placed on bouncing back from a limp showing in 2020.

A 13-point loss to Galway in their province, a seven-point reversal against Clare in the qualifiers and that was their year done.

“It was as tame an effort to retain a Leinster title as probably anyone has come out with,” admits O’Keeffe.

“We just didn’t perform at all. It was flat, they were stale performances. On a personal level you just want to forget your performances, they were so below par. I expect so much more from myself and I know the lads do as well.

“The standout thing was we probably anticipated games to be coming back sooner than what they did. So we were trying to keep our fitness levels up during the lockdown and probably pushed a bit too hard at the beginning.

Diarmuid O’Keeffe in action for his club St Anne’s last year.

Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“As a result when games did come back, we were greeted with club championship first. Some of the lads probably reckon they had a better campaign with their clubs than they did in their county campaign, and hit form earlier in the season. 

“The year had dragged on so much, and for a long period of time you couldn’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel with games coming up. So the immediate thing was you just wanted to get a break from everything, completely remove yourself and just freshen up totally.

“Davy, he played his cards well in that sense that he only lasted a couple of hours and he said ‘I’m 100% committed to 2021′. And that gave the players a little bit of… We don’t have to worry, because in previous years it was ‘Will Davy/Won’t Davy come back?’ That was it. We knew where we stood.”

Dejected Wexford players after their loss to Clare last year.

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Off the pitch, O’Keeffe works as a secondary school teacher, a role that has been challenging in itself this year after teaching remotely before the return to classrooms.

“For the first couple of weeks it worked fine, but the more it dragged on, it became very challenging to keep the kids motivated.  From my point of view, it provided structure to my day and was still okay that I was doing my training in the evening. It was far from straightforward to be honest, while the kids did well at the beginning, it didn’t take too long where they lost motivation. 

“I’ve seen a change in the kids since we’ve come back to school. I have found they have become a lot quieter, they have taken longer to come out of themselves. Before Christmas even, I would have thought they were interacting a bit better. It will come back eventually, the more time they spend in school.

“I know in my own club there is a big push on to actually try and make sure that all the kids that were there pre-lockdown come back and participate again. That’s really important, it’s inevitable that people lose interest and they are finding entertainment in other ways, gaming online, whatever it may be.

“You will lose numbers in underage setups, that’s inevitable. All you can do is keep plugging away and trying your best to keep the kids going.”

Diarmuid O’Keeffe at the 2021 Allianz hurling league launch.

Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

At the end of October 2019, O’Keeffe went travelling after his GAA commitments had ceased for the year. He visited Florida, Abu Dhabi, Australia and New Zealand before returning home in February 2020.

The world went into lockdown a few weeks later as the pandemic took hold and he appreciates that he got the chance to take that break abroad.

“We were only chatting about it with friends over the last couple of weeks, we were blessed to get away when we did. Looking back on it now, there’s an argument to say that we actually could have stayed away for a little bit longer than we did.

“I have a brother living in Australia and him and his wife had a child due at the end of February but it actually arrived the first week of February and we had only left there about a week or 10 days beforehan. Hindsight is great. We could have stayed an extra couple of months.

“Thinking back, I think the first game I was back for was Clare in Wexford Park. I wasn’t togged out at all. I got about 10/15 minutes against Kilkenny the next day and then Dublin in Croke Park and then everything just shut down after that. At the time we were probably saying ‘Jesus we could have stayed away for a little bit longer than we did.’

“Delighted to get away when we did and loved every minute of it. Wouldn’t change a thing. We were one of the lucky ones I suppose.

“He (his brother) FaceTimes me every Sunday morning when he’s on the golf course at 7 o’clock and the sun is beaming down. You don’t get long before you’re jealous of that!

“But he’s hoping to get home this Christmas, all going to plan. We have a wedding or two so he’s hoping to get home for that. He’s been over there 10 years now, so he’s happy out.”

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Down beat Antrim to Division 2 title, Wexford see off Armagh in Division 3 decider

Updated Jun 19th 2021, 7:11 PM

TWO STUNNING GOALS in a five-minute spell just before half-time by Niamh Mallon and Sorcha McCartan, and another in the 57th minute by Anna Rogan after Antrim had clawed back a seven-point deficit to be level, earned Down victory in a pulsating Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 2 final at Owenbeg, winning 3-8 to 1-11.

In the Division 3 final, Wexford saw off the challenge of Armagh on a score of 0-13 to 1-8.

The Division 2 decider was a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland intermediate final, which Derek Dunne’s side won convincingly, but Antrim are a youthful squad that are going places, and they went close to posting a momentous triumph. 

They will bemoan that period just before the interval particularly, but Down shot 11 wide in the opening half with the wind so the Mournewomen would have had cause for regret themselves had they not prevailed. 

It was fitting that a game of such high quality went down to the wire. Some of the scores were of an ethereal nature, and a great portion of them just plain brilliant. The pace of proceedings was always high and the intensity of the battle in the same category.  

Sorcha McCartan was the key component of the Down attack in the opening period, during which she scored a goal and four points. 

Though Sara Louise Graffin hit a first-minute point, they took a little while to get going, despite playing with the wind and were trailing by the odd point in five early on before McCartan equalised with her second white flag, from a piledriver that was touched over the bar by Catrina Graham. 

Nicole O’Neill, Róisín McCormick and Maeve Kelly had all shot outstanding scores for Antrim, and they led by two when Caitrin Dobbin’s point off the stick was augmented by O’Neill’s conversion of a free. 

Antrim’s Katie McKillop and Aimee Mcaleenan of Down.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Down hit 2-3 without reply however and had gotten back level when Mallon provided a 27th minute goal with her first real contribution of the game. 

It was a trademark documentation of the innate ability the Portaferry prodigy has been illustrating for a number of years now, as she picked up possession around 30m out and rounded the two Antrim defenders tracking her throughout. She then accelerated away as two more gave chase and then, as Graham advanced from the goal, batted the sliotar to the roof of the net without breaking stride. 

McCartan added a point while off balance and then goaled with a ferocious strike from just inside the 20m line and a little to the right of the posts, after selling an outrageous dummy, having run onto Graffin’s diagonal delivery. 

O’Neill did have time to register a lovely point and it was 2-6 to 0-6 at the change of ends. 

Paul McKillen, Jim McKernan and company managed to organise Antrim sufficiently to shore up their defence in the second half and they set about reducing the deficit, helped by conceding only one point in 26 minutes before Down’s late rapier thrust. 

O’Neill and Mallon exchanged points but then it was all about Antrim from there, points from the 20-year-old McCormick, Anna Connolly and an O’Neill free making it a one-goal game. 

Then McCormick showed a national audience what Ulster supporters have been seeing regularly, with a mind-boggling goal in the 54th minute. It was well worked, the move started by Shauna Devlin. Dobbin sent a crossfield ball that landed about 25m out. 

McCormick stuck up her hurley among a phalanx of other sticks, killed the sliotar and dropped it into her hand. From there, she ran in an arc around the cover before providing the finish the build-up demanded with a low drive. 

Suddenly the teams were level and Antrim had all the momentum. But Down have more experience of these types of situations and it was they found the killer touch, Graffin grabbing another ball out of the sky, sending Mallon on her way and she in turn, drew the cover before giving Rogan the simplest of tasks from close range. 

It was the decisive score of a game that will live long in the memory. 

Earlier on Saturday, Wexford were two-point winners against Armagh. The result was in doubt right to the very end but a run of four consecutive points secured the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 3 title for Wexford. 

They had beaten Armagh by a point in the group stages so it was always likely to be a keenly-contested affair at the Donaghmore Ashbourne GAA complex. 

Alan Brennan’s charges held the upper hand throughout but Armagh, who are the reigning All-Ireland premier junior champions, hit the front thanks to a Ciara Donnelly goal ,just before the second-half water break that gave the Orchard County supporters tremendous hope. 

There was a lot of character about the reaction of the Model County contingent however, and they hit back with three consecutive points to garner the silverware. 

Chloe Cashe finished with seven points and it was the Glynn Barntown sharpshooter who restored parity with a neat score from play after the ultra-sharp Armagh netminder Ciarraí Devlin had saved from Emma Codd. 

Cashe then did the donkey work for Ciara Banville’s super score to put Wexford in front before Aoife Dunne thundered forward from wing-back to put an exclamation mark on a fantastic personal display with a lovely score and they had done enough. 

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Wexford’s Ciara Banville and Sinead Kiernan of Armagh.

Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Playing with more fluidity, Wexford applied the early pressure, Cashe ratcheting up the opening two points. The second arrived in the fourth minute after another good Devlin save. 

Laura Smyth registered Armagh’s opening score in the eighth minute but Megan Cullen quickly responded. 

Armagh were struggling to establish a foothold and that meant the totemic Donnelly was not in the game to the extent anyone connected with the side would like. Her importance was illustrated as she won frees with her first two possessions, and the Eglish star converted them herself. 

Cashe had brought her tally to four by the time Donnelly struck her second point but when Collette McSorley drove over a wonderful score, the margin was just one at the water break, 0-5 to 0-4. 

The scoring rate slowed in the second quarter, and though Armagh managed to earn a greater share of the possession, with Ciara Hill in particular getting on a lot of ball, and equalised courtesy of a Donnelly free, their deficit increased marginally by the interval, Mattie Lennon’s charges trailing by 0-7 to 0-5 as Cashe (free) and Cullen split the posts for Wexford. 

Defences continued to be on top. Among the standout performers were Yellowbellies centre-back Aideen Brennan, a scorer of two goals as a minor star when Oulart-The Ballagh won All-Ireland club title in 2012. 

Donnelly hit the first score of the second half from a free but Ailis Neville and Codd added a couple of points in a minute to stretch the gap to three. 

But Donnelly was the epitome of economy, producing almost a maximum return from very little possession. 

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First, she converted a free before somehow emerging from a ruck of players 25m out with possession and soloing into the red zone, before finding the Wexford net and it was Mattie Lennon’s outfit that had gotten their noses in front. 

They couldn’t stretch their advantage however, and with Wexford always having the greater share of the play, they just needed to avail of the opportunities. They did that and thus were just about deserved victors. 

Scorers for Down: S McCartan 1-4 (0-1f); N Mallon 1-3 (0-1f, 0-1 45); A Rogan 1-0; S L Graffin 0-1 

Scorers for Antrim: R McCormick 1-3; N O’Neill 0-5 (2fs); M Kelly, C Dobbin, A Connolly 0-1 each

DOWN: C McGourty, E Rafferty, D Magee, C Caldwell, B Fitzpatrick, K McMullan, D Savage, P O’Hagan, A Keown, A Mcaleenan, S L Graffin, S McCartan, L Clarke, N Mallon, M McNally 

ANTRIM: C Graham, K McKillop, C Conlon, M Lynn, C Patterson, N Donnelly, L McKenna, L McNaughton, A Boyle, M Kelly, A Connolly, N O’Neill, R McCormick, C Laverty, C Dobbin 

Sub: Christine Laverty for Ciara Laverty (57) 

Scorers for Wexford: C Cashe 0-7 (4fs, 1 45); M Cullen 0-2; A Neville, E Codd, C Banville, A Dunne 0-1 each 

Scorers for Armagh: C Donnelly 1-6 (0-6fs); L Smyth, C McSorley 0-1 each 

WEXFORD: L O’Shea, C Jackman, A Halligan, S Furlong, C Donohoe, A Brennan, A Dunne, C Cashe, K Devereux, M Cullen, C Banville, A Neville, G Roche, E Codd, D Cullen 

Subs: L Firman (40), A Davis (48), K Gallagher (58) 

ARMAGH: C Devlin, L Toner, N Woods, S Curry, S McArdle, E Hayes, G McCann, C Hill, K Convie, L Smyth, L Donnelly, S Kierna, C McSorley, O Murray, C Donnelly 

Subs: O Curry (51), E Smyth (52), R Merry (55), M Lenehan (59), B Murray (60+2) 

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