Swan through to semi-finals despite heavy defeat but Davins await county draw

A busy weekend on the club front has left all four divisions now in semi-final mode. Davins lose out in the South while up North Toomevara announce that there’s still life in the old ‘greyhound’ after a significant win over Nenagh. Either way the North will have new champions after Portroe coughed up their crown to Jason Forde and Silvermines.

A busy weekend on the club front has left all four divisions now in semi-final mode. Davins lose out in the South while up North Toomevara announce that there’s still life in the old ‘greyhound’ after a significant win over Nenagh. Either way the North will have new champions after Portroe coughed up their crown to Jason Forde and Silvermines.

The club scene now takes a hiatus with semi-finals galore listed for the weekend on June 16.

Elsewhere the county seniors played a draw with Galway at Cloughjordan on Sunday morning. That completes the circuit of ‘friendlies’ so it’s a case of heads down now for Sunday week and the visit to Limerick. That senior game will have an U21 appetiser this Friday night when the counties’ face-off at the Stadium.

Then the Munster senior championship will be officially launched with Clare and Waterford coming to town on Sunday. Yes, the summer is here alright though nobody has reminded the weatherman.

Fethard was a pleasant, if sparsely populated venue on Saturday evening last for a double header of South ties, the opener of academic interest only but the latter carrying more gravitas given both teams’ need to win.

In the event Carrick lost on the double: Swans came up well short against Killenaule while Davins got blitzed in the opening phase and could never fully recover against Mullinahone.

A double whammy then for the town of Carrick so neither faction could rib the other on Saturday night. Of course Swans still retain the bragging rights because they’re through to the semis irrespective, whereas Davins will watch anxiously the draw on Thursday night for round one of the county series. In particular they’ll wish to avoid some of the bigger names such as Sarsfields and Nenagh.

That Davins/ Mullinahone game was a strange affair. An utterly lethargic opening by the red side of Carrick allowed Mullinahone away to a flier, a start that ultimately proved uncatchable.

It all began with Eoin Kelly setting up Cathal Horan for an instant goal. Horan would shortly make it two when he put away the rebound after a Kelly free was saved. A string of points accompanied the brace of goals and soon we had a double-digit margin before Davins even opened their side of the ledger.

This was turning into an embarrassing whitewash. Davins lost Richie McGrath to injury and ironically the ensuing reshuffle helped to stabilise matters. Lee Mackey went full with Willie O’Dwyer moving to centre and gradually they managed to staunch the haemorrhage of scores.

In fact Davins won the remaining fifty minutes or so but the damage had been done and they were left to rue their poor start.

At half time the lead was eleven points but by now the game had definitely evened up. In fact on resuming Davins hit a mini-surge. The endless running of the likes of Noelie Butler was causing problems for the Mullinahone defence; the centre forward would end with five points from play. The lead began to dwindle and Mullinahone were forced to revamp their defence bringing in A.J. Cronin to full and sending Paul Curran to centre. Cronin made some crucial interventions as Davins attacked in waves in the final quarter.

By now the drift of the game was clear. Davins, showing great vim and vigour, were chasing down everything, frantically in search of rescuing scores. The goal they needed never came but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm.

Mullinahone were on the back foot, Eoin Kelly well shackled by Lee Mackey and any threat from their attack rapidly diminishing. They could be grateful for some neat points from Donal Coady on the counter attack and individual items of value from Sean Curran also. In the end they won by eight but this was an unconvincing display by the reigning South champions.

Davins must be cursing their fate because that wobbly start cost them so heavily. They now go into the county series and will obviously be looking over their shoulders at that demon relegation. I thought there was a lot to admire about the spirit of the side.

I’ve certainly seen weaker senior sides this year though the lottery of the draw now will be crucial to how they fare from here on.

I wasn’t impressed with Mullinahone. After a dream start they struggled all over and at times only desperate defending kept them ahead.

The opening bout between Swans and Killenaule had nothing tangible at stake though that didn’t prevent it from being quite a vigorous, well-contested affair. By the end Killenaule had hammered out quite a statement of intent with a big-margin win – and that despite playing without a few key players.

Killenaule lined out without Paddy Codd, ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer and ‘Festy’ Kerwick, yet they ran up a huge score as they embellished this win in the second half against struggling Swans who were themselves without Danny O’Hanlon.

Killenaule looked sprightly early on and thanks to a Stephen Hannigan goal built an early lead. But Swans retaliated and Lee Wall, one of their best in this half, goaled as they got back to level terms by half time. It was building into a fascinating tussle.

On resuming Stephen Hannigan and Killenaule had their second goal after a defender lost possession following a heavy tackle. It was an omen of what would follow though for the moment Swans kept rallying. Alan P. Ryan forced in a Swans’ goal after Gerry Kennedy brought one down from over his crossbar but at the other end there were further goals from Dominic Blake and Michael Doyle, the latter ending on a personal tally of 1-5.

By the end Killenaule took the game by a butcher’s dozen - achieved without any butchering whatsoever.

I was impressed by the winners. If you add in Paddy Codd to that defence and ‘Festy’ and ‘Bubbles’ to the attack then there’s real potential. The Doyle brothers worked very effectively while players like Damian McCormack and Daniel Guinan took their scores neatly.

County discovery, Kieran Bergin, looked sharp in defence. Killenaule have had great expectations in the past but have often disappointed. It’s time they started delivering and I thought there were very positive signs in this game, albeit in a fixture that didn’t have a do-or-die requirement.

Up North you had a quartet of games at the weekend with some significant results. Portroe surrendered their title from last year when going down by ten points to Silvermines. I felt it was quite a poor North championship last year, which was borne out by Portroe’s defeat to Annacarty in the county series.

This time I’ve heard that the weekend’s games were of a higher order. As ever Jason Forde starred for the ‘Mines which won’t do his county prospects any harm.

Toomevara’s big win over Nenagh Eire Og must have felt like a throwback to past glory days.

On the back of this there’s a Mark Twain element about them with rumours of their demise being exaggerated, though I’d be inclined to wait for other days for a more definitive judgment. Joey McLoughney and John O’Brien were said to have played very well.

Borrisoleigh had eleven to spare on Roscrea, which is an encouraging outcome for a side that often creates expectations only to then disappoint. Encouraging too is the fact that Paddy Stapleton assisted Borris’ and reportedly did well. Kildangan edged out Templederry in the final and tightest game.

The upshot of all that now is that Toomevara will play Kildangan and Borrisoleigh face Silvermines in the North semis.

On the inter-county scene the U21s launch their bid this Friday evening when Limerick visit the Stadium. It’s very much a low-key approach from a panel that didn’t make waves as minors three years ago. As under-eighteens they lost narrowly to Cork in an opening round and then exited the championship, again by a slender margin, to Clare at Ennis. So it’s not a minor campaign that lives in the memory.

The U21s therefore don’t carry high expectations; Paddy Power will give you 20/1 on their All Ireland hopes. Still they’re marginally ahead of Limerick who are listed at 25/1. Actually the U21 betting market has Tipperary listed at number seven behind the likes of Waterford, Cork, Dublin and Clare. Kilkenny, the 2010 minor winners, are favourites slightly ahead of Galway. So no expectations and no pressure then on the U21s.

By my reckoning Jason Forde and Thomas Hamill are the only senior panellist available to the U21s which contrasts with Limerick who have seven from John Allen’s crew. Among those seven the key names are Declan Hannon and Shane Dowling, two players with the potential to do us much damage.

As an opening bout in the U21 championship there is an element of the unknown about it. We did beat Waterford in that Carrick tournament but there is something untested about the side until it faces the heat of championship battle. We certainly don’t want to give Limerick a lift ahead of June 9 and wouldn’t it be nice to see this group belie those poor expectations. Good luck to them and their handlers.

Semple Stadium will have a busy weekend because apart from the U21 game on Friday there’s the championship opener between Clare and Waterford on Sunday. We’ll be interested neutrals at that one, which is often the most enjoyable way to view games especially when you can watch the antics of Davy on the sideline.

Waterford did well in the league but somehow without the likes of Mullane and Stephen Molumphy you have to wonder about their championship prospects. As often happens with Waterford sides they have great individual strengths but it’s the overall balance of the team that’s at issue.

I’d rate their half back line among the best in the country so how Clare will attempt to bypass that zone will be interesting. Davy has a young side with hurling and enthusiasm in abundance; what’s lacking is experience at this level. Still I’ve no doubt they’ll be revved up as only Davy can and it might be just enough to get them over the line.

P.S. Not a great day for Tipp footballers in Killarney though the juniors did earn some consolation with their fine win. Not a great day for RTE’s coverage either. Paul Galvin’s frontal collision on John Coghlan earned the Kerryman a yellow card. Martin Carney was baffled.

Later the same analyst saw horrible intent in John Coghlan’s attempted block on ‘Gooch’. The referee saw otherwise not even awarding a free. Amazing! For once the ref got both calls right and the man with all the benefits of replay technology made a sow’s ear of it.

P.P.S. Not that the referee got everything right. I couldn’t see what Barry Grogan did to earn that second yellow. Inevitably that escaped Mr. Carney too.