GAA: Limerick continue Munster charge, Dublin and Louth set for Leinster decider

The provincial hurling championship brought plenty of drama this weekend, as rivals in Munster and Leinster renewed acquaintances.

In Munster, the first game of the day saw Clare travel to Páirc Uí Chaoimh to meet Cork.

Having each taken losses in the opening round last weekend, both counties were in need of a win to put themselves back on track.

An even start showed both sides were well up for the challenge, with little separating them throughout the half.

By the break, a burst of momentum for Cork saw them two points up, 0-14 to 0-12.

Although Clare’s Mark Rodgers was first to strike in the second half, Patrick Horgan showed his class to net for the Rebels in jig time, stretching their lead to four points.

Clare’s Shane O’Donnell. Photo: Inpho

Brian Lohan’s men hit a lull, as Cork pushed their lead to six, but sprung back to life when Rodgers provided a much-needed goal to lift his county.

The visitors fought back to a one-point deficit, when discipline again cost Cork, as a second yellow with just over 50 minutes gone sent Seán O’Donoghue to the sideline for the remainder.

Aidan McCarthy, who was solid over the placed ball all afternoon, gave the leveller, and from there Clare pushed on with goals in quick succession from Shane O’Donnell and David Fitzgerald.

But complacency seemed to set in, and a slow set-up by the Banner backs to defend a Cork free was capitalised on by Horgan, who took his opportunity to send his shot under the crossbar to raise the green flag.

However, the late shock wasn’t enough to close the gap, and Clare were spared another agonising turnaround, ending 3-26 to 3-24 in their favour.

Limerick’s Aaron Gillane. Photo: Inpho

The province also saw action at the Gaelic Grounds, where Limerick hosted Tipperary.

Although the Premier county caused some upset for the All-Ireland champions in the opening quarter, staying within two points to the half-hour mark, Limerick found there rhythm and pushed ahead in the minutes before half-time, upping their lead to five points to leave it 0-12 to 0-7 at the break.

Limerick’s purple patch had well and truly set in by the time Aaron Gillane found the net with a sizzling shot just shy of 45 minutes, and Tipperary seemed short on ideas to turn the tide.

With the game at 1-22 to 0-13, Peter Casey got in on goal for Limerick, taking their second of the afternoon, but the joy was short-lived when it became clear the Na Piarsaigh clubman had picked up a nasty-looking injury during his effort. Casey was stretched off the pitch to applause from both sets of fans.

When play resumed after the long stoppage, the tempo of the game had evaporated, and it was a slow trudge to the full-time whistle, during which period Tipp summoned four points in reply to Limerick’s five, ending it 2-27 to 0-18.

In the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship, Galway and Kilkenny played out a close encounter once again, ending all square in Pearse Stadium.

Quick out of the gates, the Tribesmen shot themselves into a three-point lead within the opening 10, but Kilkenny’s steady reply had turned the tables to put Galway one point down.

A goal from Gavin Lee saw Galway regain the lead with 20 minutes gone, making to 1-7 to 0-9, but it was the Cats who were on top at the break, four points ahead.

The counties traded points when play resumed, until Brian Concannon flicked a blocked effort to claim Galway’s second goal and pull them back to within a point of the visitors, before Conor Whelan struck the equaliser.

Again, Kilkenny edged ahead, gone four clear once again with only two minute of ordinary time left, but Galway summoned Evan Niland from the bench, who began the fightback.

In the end, it was Whelan who pulled it from the fire for Galway, with his late point levelling the game to end it 2-23 to 0-29 in Salthill.

There was also semi-final action in the Leinster and Ulster Senior Football Championships.

At Celtic Park, extra-time was needed to separate Donegal and Tyrone.

Jim McGuinness’ side triumphed in the end, 0-18 to 0-16, returning them to an Ulster Football Final in which they’ll face Armagh on May 12th.

Meanwhile, there was a double-header at Croke Park for the Leinster semi-finals.

In the early game, Louth saw themselves back into the provincial decider by beating Kildare 0-17 to 0-13.

Ger Brennan’s side will now face the daunting challenge of reigning champions Dublin in the final, after Dessie Farrell’s men had a straightforward win over Offaly, ending 3-22 to 0-11.


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