KILKENNY and Cork will renew their great rivalry in the May 6 final of the Allianz National Hurling League Division One A final.
You couldn’t ask for better. Cork, reborn under Jimmy Barry-Murphy, recorded and outstanding 1-25 to 2-15 success over Tipperary while Kilkenny got the better of Clare by 1-20 to 0-14 in the other Semple Stadium semi-final.
There’s just one problem. Cork will be without their captain and goalkeeper Donal Og Cusack after he sustained an Achilles tendon injury which is set to rule him out for the remainder of the season.
It’s a devastating blow, not only for the much respected 35-year-old goalkeeper but for the Cork team. His influence in pulling the older and younger members of the new Cork set-up has been immense.
“We are so disappointed for him. He’s been a great captain for us, a great leader for the players in the dressing room.” stressed manager Barry-Murphy.
“At half-time he said ‘go away and look after the players. Don’t mind about me. Cork hurling is all that matters and drive on with the team.”
Fittingly, that is exactly what Cork did to achieve a seven point victory. Everything suggests that this new Cork outfit is the real deal, good enough to be very serious contenders for the All-Ireland crown.
Before then they could well be crowned National League Champions. The general consensus is that the decider against Kilkenny is going to be a very closely fought affair. Kilkenny’s experience is obviously going to work in their favor but they are still missing some key players, most notably Henry Shefflin. Either way, the National League final will be well worth watching.
It wasn’t that Cork were at their best throughout last Sunday’s semi-final. Indeed, they were level at 0-10 apiece following an average enough first half, the main talking point of which was the injury to Donal Og Cusack.
After saving a long range shot from Tomas Stapleton, he scrambled to push it out of danger. It looked harmless enough but Og Cusack was clearly in enormous pain and had to be stretched off.
The game progressed with Anthony Nash taking over in the Cork goal. He was to pick the ball out of the net twice as Tipperary established a 2-13 to 0-17 lead by the 53rd minute with goals from Brian O’Meara and Eoin Kelly.
It was then that this Cork side showed what they are capable of. Initially, good work from Niall McCarthy provided Luke O’Farrell with the opportunity to slam home a well taken goal.
The time was now right for Barry-Murphy to bring on the two highly rated youngsters Conor Lehane and Darren Sweetman. Both had been kept in reserve because they had exam commitments last week.
Lehane’s first touch saw him sweep over a beautifully taken point. Sweetman soon followed his example by skippering past a few defenders and scoring another well taken point.
It was now all one-way traffic as Cork outscored Tipperary by 1-8 to 0-2 from the 53rd minute on. Patrick Horgan finished with 0-9, six from frees, O’Farrell contributed 1-2 and man of the match William Egan got 0-3. Pa Bourke, with 0-7, five from frees, was a disappointing Tipperary’s chief scorer.
Manager Declan Ryan admitted: “From our perspective, it was a very flat performance. In fairness to Cork they looked a lot sharper than us today.” Barry-Murphy was understandably pleased with his team’s second half effort. He said: “I think we are on the right road to being really competitive. This gives us another competitive game before the championship and we are looking forward to it immensely.”
So, it seems, are Kilkenny. They, in truth, were pretty average in first half against Clare, only leading by 0-8 to 0-7 at the interval.
With Richie Power missing a penalty, Clare must have felt that they had a chance of an upset. But Kilkenny simply moved up a gear to dominate the second half.
Despite his penalty miss, Power still finished with 0-9 (six frees), while the emerging Matthew Ruth contributed 1-3. Manager Brian Cody commented: “The goal we got early in the second half gave us some breathing space. Overall, it was a very competitive game.”
As usual, Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald held some strong views. After initially admitting that Kilkenny fully deserved their victory, he laid into the referee Alan Kelly from Galway.
His argument was that Ruth’s decisive second half goal should not have been allowed.
Fitzgerald continued: “”Referees have got to get those decisions right. How come those decisions always go against the Clare’s of this world? I think the decisions go with the bigger teams.”
JUST a year after winning the National Hurling League title, Dublin have found themselves relegated. They lost out 4-21 to 0-19 to Galway in the Division One A play-off replay at Portlaoise. They could be no complaints, Galway, or rather Joe Canning in particular, were just too
The major difference was the finishing. Whereas Galway scored four goals, two of which came from Canning, Dublin just couldn’t find a way past the Galway goalkeeper Fergal Flannery. As good as Flannery was in making a string of outstanding saves, Canning was always going to be man of the match. He finished with 2-7, 1-6 of which came from frees. His second goal was a brilliant effort. Damien Hayes was also back to his best, setting up many of the scores. Paul Ryan did his bit for Dublin, getting 0-11 (eight frees) but this was another case of goals winning games. Anthony Daly, the Dublin manager’s only real complaint was the state of the sand covered pitch.
“You look at the scoreline and say we were hammered, but it wasn’t like that. We coughed up a few balls and got punished.
“Fair play to them, they won it deservedly. No arguments.” Galway boss Anthony Cunningham was well pleased, commenting: “This gives us a bit of confidence going into the championship.
“We’ve done well in the league, albeit with a poor performance against Kilkenny. We’ve secured our position in Division One A and it’s up to our guys to drive on.”
Meanwhile, Dublin and Roscommon have qualified for the All-Ireland Under 21 final after beating Cork and Cavan in the semi-finals.
Dublin were enormously impressive in defeating a talented Cork outfit 3-11 to 0-14 in Portlaoise, Philip Ryan (two) and Jack McCarthy got the goals.
Over at Pearse Park in Longford, nearly 8,000 spectators turned up to see Roscommon defeat Cavan by 2-7 to 2-2. Conor Daly and Colin Compton found the back of the net for Roscommon. Compton’s effort in the dying minutes was a gift but there was no disputing that Roscommon fully deserved their victory.
LEINSTER prepared for this weekend’s Heineken Cup semi-final against Clarmont with a 16-8 away victory over their fellow semi-finalists Ulster. Their RaboDirect Pro12 meeting at Ravenhill on Friday night was a hard fought affair with Leinster fully deserving their victory. Importantly, they had no major injury worries to complain off.
But Ulster did lose Chris Henry, Paddy Wallace and Pedrie Wannenburg during the game which is hardly ideal prior to Saturday’s Heineken Cup semi-final against Edinburgh at the Aviva Stadium. Fortunately, coach Brian McLaughlin is optimistic that all three will recover in time.
Leinster coach Joe Schmidt was delighted, most especially that there are no injury worries.
He said: “It will be a hell of a task against Clarmont away, no we need everyone available.”
Flanker Kevin McLaughlin scored Leinster’s try with the remainder of their points coming from the boot of Jonathan Sexton. Good work from Wallace provided Johann Muller with the opportunity to get Ulster’s try, although there was some doubt as to whether he had grounded the ball properly.
His effort must have given Ulster fan Rory McIlroy and his girlfriend Caroline Wosnaicki in the Ravenhill stand some hope of a home victory but Leinster regained control. Remarkably, they have now won all of their six games against the other Irish
provinces in the RaboDirect Pro12 League.
Elsewhere, Munster made certain of a RaboDirect semi-final spot by drawing 20-20 away to the Scarlets. But they will face an away semi-final, probably against the Ospreys. Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo scored their tries with Ian Keatley converting both and landing two penalties.
Connacht continued their good finish to the season with a 19-16 victory over Aironi at the Sportsground. Their only try came from the wonderfully named prop Rodney Ah You from New Zealand. The victory means that they have moved up to eight place in the table with just one game left. That match is, however, away to a high flying Glasgow side, determined to make certain of a semi-final place.
Meanwhile, international second-row Mick O’Driscoll has become the latest Munster player to announce his retirement. The 33-year-old, who was capped 23 times by Ireland, follows in the footsteps of John Hayes and Jerry Flannery. He said: “It has been a tough decision. I have enjoyed my career, but now is the time to move on.”
ADAM NOLAN and Paddy Barnes have become the latest Irish boxers to qualify for the London Olympics.
The two Irish fighters made certain of their places in Trabzon, Turkey. Wexford man Nolan, in fact, won the 69 kg gold medal at the Olympic qualifying event by beating Germany’s Patrick Wojocicki on countback after they had finished level at 14-14.
Barnes qualified by reaching the semi-finals of the 49 kg division. But he was far from happy that the decision went to his Turkish opponent Ferhat Pehlivan.
“It wasn’t even that it was close, I hammered him. The whole crowd knew it” argued Barnes..
That verdict followed an even more controversial decision which went against the highly rated Joe Ward early in the week. The 18-year-old light-heavyweight from Moate was rated as a real contender for the Olympics but will not be going to London after losing out to a 18-15 scoreline against another Turkish contestant, Bahran Muzaffer.
On Sunday April 1, Tipperary and Cork played out a thrilling draw in the last round of the National Hurling League at Semple Stadium, Thurles. On Sunday next the counties return to the home of hurling when they meet in the second semifinal of this year’s National Hurling League at 4 p.m.; the first semifinal between Kilkenny and Clare gets under way at 2 p.m. For hurling affinicados there is nothing quite like a Munster championship game between Tipp and Cork at Semple Stadium and now it looks like we could witness the same excitement about a League semifinal. This will be the third meeting between these great rivals this year; extra time was needed to separate the counties in the Waterford Crystal Cup with Tipp eventually getting through and they could meet again in the Munster Championship semifinal in June if Tipp overcome Limerick in the first round next month. Jimmy Barry Murphy seems to have restored faith in Cork hurling in his first season back as manager. Barry Murphy has discovered a few new stars like: Conor Lehane, Darren Sweetman, Stephen McDonnell and Lorcan McLoughlin. Barry Murphy said: ‘‘I would probably prefer not to be playing Tipp again so soon, but it’s great to be in the semifinal. That’s all I am concerned with. That was our aim for the start of the League campaign and so far so good.’’ Meanwhile Tipperary are getting used to life without Lar Corbett, who announced his retirement in February. Manager Declan Ryan seems to have changed their style of play this year, opting for more fluid moments rather than high balls into the opposition’s parallogram. With Eoin Kelly being used mainly as a sub, Pa Bourke is now Tipp’s main free taker and Noel McGrath has also been scoring freely. It’s a hard one to call and while Cork will not fear Thurles I give the vote the home team.
Clare staged a great comeback against Limerick to win the division two hurling final two weeks ago and manager Davy Fitzgerald will no doubt be conjuring up a plan to try and topple Kilkenny. When he was manager of Waterford Davy got a few hammerings from Brian Cody’s team and I think it will be business as usual for The Cats on Sunday.
IRISH MAY PLAY CHINESE
The Republic of Ireland could have a friendly against China in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Sept. 7. The Boys in Green start their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign away to Kazakastan on Sept. 7, but they have a free date the following Tuesday and it looks like China will provide the opposition. The Republic has played China twice previously; in 1984 we won 1-0 in the Japan Cup tournament in Sapporo and in March 2005 a Clinton Morrison goal secured a 1-0 win in a friendly at Lansdowne Road.
The FAI is giving away 150 free tickets to Irish fans who are planning to travel to see the friendly against Hungary in Budapest on June 4. Very few Irish supporters are expected to make the trip, which comes six days before the European championship opener against Croatia in Poznan on June 10. FAI CEO John Delaney said: ‘‘The Irish supporters will be our 12th man this summer when they travel in record numbers to Poland. Although only a small number of supporters are expected to travel to Budapest, this small gesture of 150 free tickets is the least we can do to recognise their huge commitment.’’
INJURED PLAN RETURN
Irish defender Richard Dunne is targeting Aston Villa’s game against West Brom on April 28 for his comeback. The Dubliner, who fractured his collar bone in a league game against Manchester City in February. Another player hoping to be back in action on Saturday week is Stephen Hunt. The Irish winger travelled to Germany last week for surgery to remedy a troublesome groin problem, but expects to be back for the game against Swansea on April 28. Trapattoni will name his squad for the Euro finals on May 7 and any player who gets injured now will be worried about missing out.
NIALL QUINN BACK
There can’t be many GAA clubs in Ireland whose football manger also managed a club currently in the English Premier League. Niall Quinn, who managed Sunderland prior to Roy Keane’s arrival on Wearside, has been appointed manager of Kildare club’s Eadestown’s second team for the year ahead. Four years ago Quinn won a Junior ‘C’ Kildare football championship medal with Eadestown. Quinn’s children Mikey and Aisling also play football with Eadestown, whose claim to fame before Quinn moved to live in the Kildare village, was that it was the home club of former Kildare and Cork star Larry Tompkins. Meanwhile back at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light the club has named the sports bar after their former player, manager and chairman. The popular fans bar will in future be named Quinn’s Bar.
O’CONNELL TO GET
FREEDOM OF LIMERICK
It has been a disappointing season for rugby player Paul O’Connell with Munster and Ireland failing to deliver, but the season will end on a high on Sunday next when O’Connell is made a Freeman of his native Limerick. The 32 year-old second row, who has captained Munster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions, says it’s a great honour to following in the footsteps of Eamon de Valera and John F Kennedy in receiving the accolade. Paul said: “I’m always conscious, while I’m playing for either Munster or Ireland, that I am also representing Limerick.’’
TRAP TO VISIT
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is to visit Croagh Patrick in Mayo for a charity climb on April 28. Trap, who is 73, is unlikely to climb the famous mountain, but on a visit to Mayo last year he promised that he would return if Ireland qualified for the Euro 2012 finals. Trapattoni will join Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Sport Michael Ring in a charity fund raising initiative which will raise money for several local charities. Trap, who is a devout Catholic, said: ‘‘I’m really looking forward to returning to Croagh Patrick. It’s a very special place and hopefully this visit will bring us some luck before we set off for Euro 2012 in June.’’
The U.S. synchronised swimming squad are very happy with the facilities at the National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown in West Dublin. The U.S. team trained in Blanchardstown last week and national team co-ordinator Gigi Grizanti said they were glad that they chose Dublin over London and Sheffield for their pre-Olympic training camp. He said: ‘‘The girls really appreciate the welcome they have received in Dublin and we would like to make Blanchardstown our European training base when we have other competitions in Europe.’’
TWO STARS QUIT
Two long serving intercounty GAA players retired last week. Declan Prendergast has quit the Waterford senior hurling squad after 12 years and Steven McDonnell, who had given 13 years service to the Armagh footballers, also retired.
Good news for a change for Liverpool FC. Last week Fenway Sports Group, the club’s American owners, sacked Damien Comolli, who was director of football at Anfield, but they kept faith with manager Kenny Daglish. And the Scot in turn kept faith with his expensive striker Andy Carroll. Daglish spent a club record £35 million last year bringing Carroll from Newcastle and it was a deal which many supporters and pundits have questioned over the past 13 months. In midweek Carroll scored the winner as Liverpool beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 in the Premier League. Then on Saturday, Carroll scored another late winner as the Pool beat their Merseyside neighbors Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley. Liverpool, who have already won the League Cup trophy this season, will now play Chelsea in the FA Cup Final at Wembley on May 5. Chelsea, who face Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal tonight, beat London rivals Spurs 5-1 in the second semifinal at Wembley on Sunday.
Meanwhile no change at the top of the Premier League with Manchester United now odds on favorites to win their 20th League title. There was an upset in midweek when lowly Wigan had their first ever win over United on the same night that City beat West Brom 4-0 to reduce the lead at the top to five points. Then on Saturday City beat Norwich 6-1 at Carrow Road to reduce United’s lead to two points, but by 5 p.m. on Sunday evening United had stretched the lead once again to five points after a 4-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford. For the second week in a row United went ahead with a Wayne Rooney spot-kick after yet another questionable penalty secured by Ashley Young going down easily in the penalty area. Wolves, who drew 0-0 with Sunderland on Saturday, are now five points adrift at the bottom of the table and seem certain to be relegated. But the other two relegation places will be a dog fight between Blackburn, Bolton, Wigan and QPR.
In Scotland Hibernian, who are managed by Dubliner Pat Fenlon, qualified for the Scottish Cup final, beating Aberdeen 2-1 in the semifinal at Hampden Park on Saturday. Hibs have not won the Scottish Cup since 1902 and they face Edinburgh neighbours Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final for the first time since 1896. Hearts ended Celtic’s hopes of a League-Cup double when they won the second semifinal 2-1 on Sunday.
Fergal Rafferty tied for ninth place in the Hall of Fame Classic played at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. Rafferty, of Carrickmore, Omagh, Co. Derry, was in the mix from the get-go of this event which is part of the National Professional Golf Tour. He opened with 65, just one stroke off the lead. Subsequent rounds of 73, 71 and 70 dampened his title hopes and left him 10 strokes behind medalist Tony Finau. Rafferty earned $3,700.
So much for the idea that Padraig Harrington turned a corner after his top-10 finish at the Masters. He followed that with a missed cut at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, S.C. He finished 36 holes four strokes over par after rounds of 74 and 72, during which he put seven bogeys and three birdies on his cards. That’s 146 for 36 holes; 145 made the cut.
Tonight looks like it will be a night of high drama at the Meath County Board meeting in Navan. Reports at the weekend suggested that Seán Boylan will return to manage the county after a seven-year absence. After being relegated to division three of the National Football League the Meath County Board asked their Monaghan-born manager Seamus McEneaney to stand down last week, but he refused.
Then it transpired that Boylan, who only two weeks ago had quit his post as Director of Football in Meath, was being lined up as McEneaney’s replacement. Boylan retired as Meath manager in August 2005 after a record 23 years in charge of The Royals. During Boylan’s reign Meath won four All-Ireland senior football titles. Since then, Meath have had a high turn over of managers and with no success at minor or under 21 level, it’s going to be difficult for Boylan to produce a winning team. Boylan, a herbalist in Dunboyne, has stayed involved in football by managing the Irish International Rules team and the Leinster team in the interprovincials.
The Amherst College community has scheduled the Andrew O’Brien Stand Up and Play Golf Fundraiser for Thursday, April 26 at the Amherst Golf Club in western Massachusetts.
O’Brien, a student at Amherst, suffered a spinal aneurysm at the age of 15 while skiing that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Before the injury, he had been an avid golfer. He tested a Paramobile last year and was able to chip balls with a wedge, which he described as “a great feeling.” The Paramobile costs $25,000 and the fundraiser will attempt to defray that cost for O’Brien, who lives in New Canaan, Conn.
Participants can play for $25 in the 9-hole scramble that begins at 5 p.m. Hole sponsorships of $100 are also available.
Further information about the event and contributing to the fund can be obtained by contacting Michelle Morgan, Amherst’s women’s golf coach at email@example.com. The event website, which includes links to photos
and a demonstration of the Paramobile, is www.amherst.edu/athletics/misc/2011-12/0409_standup.
In that wonderfully Irish way, we have been counting the days until Katie Taylor goes to London, puts her on gloves and wins a gold medal in the women’s boxing. Since the day in 2009 that it was announced the Olympics were going to allow distaff bouts into their shindig for the first time this summer, it has been assumed Taylor, the acknowledged pre-eminent female fighter of her generation, will beat all-comers in the lightweight category.
While Taylor herself has remained humble and modest about her chances, the rest of us have got a little carried away from time to time. Could you blame us? How often is an Irish competitor the favorite to win out on the world stage in anything? Of course, the 25 year old from Bray knows more about the sport than us glory-hunting bandwagon jumpers. She knows she will have to fight real opponents with genuine pedigrees.
In this respect, Queen Underwood is the American boxer reckoned by most observers to be the fighter most likely to stop Taylor’s quest for lightweight gold. The 27-year-old may not yet have formally secured qualification for the Olympics but she is already trailing all the accoutrements of a superstar. Underwood has her own website, her own charitable foundation and not one, not two, but five nicknames. Depending on the mood, she can be “Queen of the Ring”, “Seattle’s Own”, “The Mocha Mayhem”, “The Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”, and “The Central District Diva.”
Watching her clock up more talk show miles than any other American Olympian so far this year, popping up everywhere from Anderson Cooper’s daytime show to the female-oriented gabfest, “The View,” it might be glib to point out the only thing left for Underwood to do is actually fly to England and collect her title. But her life is a little more complicated than that. In many ways here is a fighter whose journey is as important as her destination.
“I learned about responsibility, pain, and suffering, and I started to dream,” wrote Underwood in the manifesto on her website. “I’ve had challenging fights where I didn’t get the decision. I’ve had things in life that have knocked me down or tried to hold me back. Instead of giving in, I insisted on coming back stronger, making changes for the better.”
The pain and suffering she alludes to were far removed from the travails of the sporting arena. Her parents met in Seattle, Wash., when her father Azzad was 21 and her mother Alonna was 14. That was the age she gave birth to Underwood’s older sister Hazzauna. Two years later, Queen was born. After her parents split, the girls moved to South Carolina to live with their father and his new wife. There, Azzad Underwood began creeping into his daughters’ bedroom at night to molest them, the abuse starting with the eldest first,
“When Hazzauna would get dragged out of the room, I’d get up, go to the bathroom, flush the toilet, make noise, knock on doors, ask where’s she’s at,” said Underwood in an interview with the Seattle Times last month. “He’d make her tell me, ‘Go to sleep. Everything’s O.K.’.”
Soon, he started subjecting his younger daughter to the same horrors, always careful to do so when nobody else was home. Although Queen thought of getting a weapon and taking the law into her own hands, the abuse ended when the two sisters finally talked to each other openly about what was happening and contacted their mother. Their father was sentenced to seven years in jail and the kids ended up back in Seattle, where Queen, a promising runner and basketballer in high school, turned down college scholarship opportunities as she battled depression and other demons.
After school, she drifted, smoking too much weed, and struggling to find any direction until one fateful day a friend directed her to Cappy’s Boxing Gym in Seattle’s Central District. All she knew about the sport was one of her uncles used to box, she possessed the athletic ability to adapt to any sport and she had the toughness to take a punch. At 19, she discovered the vocation that would suddenly change the direction of her life.
“I feel a lot of people, when they start boxing, they really don’t know what they want to do or who they want to be or whether they just want to get in shape,” says Underwood. “But I honestly didn’t take on this sport to get in shape; I already knew I wanted to be a famous boxer. It takes a desire to want that. But there is a great reward when you set goals for yourself and you don’t give up. I don’t take too easy to giving up.”
Not that there weren’t bumps on the road. At her first U.S. Nationals in 2006, Underwood didn’t get past the first fight. Thereafter, she rededicated herself, giving up her day job as a pipefitter so she could train and turning into the formidable opponent who fought back from 10-2 down after the first two rounds against Taylor in the 2010 World Championships semi-final before finally losing by just 18-16. It was the type of performance many felt offered evidence Underwood might actually be able to defeat the Bray woman down the road.
“It’s not really about what happened and went on then, it’s what I am doing now,” said Underwood, talking about how she didn’t want her abuse to define her. “It’s how I’m adjusting. Just to know that all types of abuse that I’ve been through and to be a five-time national champion, five years in a row … I just don’t want everything to be all about the bad part. It’s good for me to finally get it out there. My wish: when your young ones hear of Queen Underwood they’ll be able to look up to me as I once looked up to my role models and say… ‘I can.’”
She can. Only Katie Taylor can decide whether she will.
LEINSTER and Munster remain on target for the RaboDirect Pro12 semi-finals after contrasting victories.
Despite fielding a much under-strength team, leaders Leinster annihilated Heineken Cup semi-finalists Edinburgh 54-13 on Friday night at the RDS. They scored eight tries to make certain of a home semi-final draw.
Munster got the better of Glasgow 35-29 at Musgrave Park to keep alive their hopes of a home semi-final. They are now in third place, two points adrift of the Ospreys.
Glasgow are in fourth spot with Ulster dropping to fifth following a 26-21 defeat at the hands of Connacht at the Sportsground. Ulster fielded an under-strength side and Connacht took full advantage.
Leinster, however, were unquestionably the star turn. They again produced some marvelous running rugby with their tries coming from Shane Jennings, Fergus McFadden, Sean Cronin, Fionn Carr, Isa Nacewa, Leo A’Auva, Brendan Macken and Devin Toner.
It didn’t seem to matter that so many big names were missing, Leinster played some superb running rugby. Ian Madigan, deputizing for Jonathan Sexton at out-half, enhanced his reputation with another fine display.
Munster were also below full strength for the visit of Glasgow. Unlike Leinster they weren’t quite at their best but skipper Mick O’Driscoll was just pleased to return to winning form after two defeats.
“I think we bounced back well tonight.” stressed O’Driscoll. “We weren’t at our best in the second half but it was a good victory and the league is still there to be won.”
Luke O’Dea, Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray scored Munster’s tries, while the remainder of the points came from the boot of out-half Ian Keatley.
Connacht, meanwhile, dented Ulster’s prospects of a top four finish by beating them at the Sportsground. It was an excellent victory for a Connacht side which is enjoying a good end to the season.
They had tries from Miah Nikora, Gavin Duffy and Tiernan O’Halloran. While they are still third last, they are now within shooting distance of Treviso and Newport Gwent Dragons who are only two points ahead of them.
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin had no complaints, stating: “We were without a lot of our top players but we still came down to Galway with a lot of hope. Fair play to Connacht, they performed very well.”
Blow for Ulster
ULSTER chances of reaching the Heineken Cup decider have been dealt a major blow with the confirmation that their All Black prop John Afoa has been suspended for four weeks.
Afoa received the ban
for a dangerous tackle on
Felix Jones in the Heineken Cup quarter-final victory over Munster at Thomond Park. He now misses out on Ulster’s semi-final against Edinburgh at the Aviva Stadium, along with some important RaboDirect Pro12 games.
Coach Brian McLaughlin described his loss as “a big blow.” He added: “John has been a great talisman since his arrival and is a huge loss. We are disappointed with the suspension, especially when you consider his exemplary disciplinary record.”
Providence College senior Charlotte Ffrench-O’Carroll won the women’s mile at the Brown Invitational on Saturday. The Dubliner was along in 4:47.79. Rhode Island senior Kalyn Sheehan from Waterford got second place in the 200 and 400 meters. She ran the 200 in 24.95, just off the 24.93 unleashed by teammate Hannah Janeczak. Sheehan ran the 400 in 55.87, with only Brown’s Lauren Waterbury ahead of her in 54.58. Brown’s Kevin Cooper, another Waterford resident, took sixth place in the men’s mile. The junior ran the race in 4:14.48, with Providence’s Dominic Channon the first in at 4:04.42.
The Stony Brook duo of Mary O’Connor and Lorraine McCarthy, both from Waterford, ran second in their respective races at the Metropolitan Championships in Piscataway, N.J. on Saturday. O’Connor, a senior, needed 2:16.37 in the 800 meters, a time that was bettered only by
Rutgers’ Ashley Deckert in 2:14.00. McCarthy, a junior, ran the 1,500 meters in 4:41.04, with only teammate Annie Keown in front of her; Keown finished in 4:39.90.
St. John’s Claire Mooney got fourth place in the women’s 400 meters at the Met and led off for the Red Storm’s winning entry in the 4×400 relay. Her time in the individual race was 55.67; Manhattan’s Cara Rostant was the winner in 54.78. Mooney is a freshman from Celbridge, Co. Kildare.
Arizona enjoyed 7-0 sweeps of Colorado and Utah on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Susan McRann was slotted at fifth singles against Utah and handled Lucia Kovarcikova, 6-2, 3-6, 10-8. McRann, a Dublin sophomore, also teamed with Kim Stubbe at third doubles, where they defeated Kovarcikova and Sarah Pham, 8-6. The previous day, McRann and Stubbe were 8-0 winners over Kristina Schleich and Camille Sabourin.
Notre Dame’s Niall Fitzgerald, a senior from Co. Wicklow, defeated Louisville’s Robert Hall, 6-1, 7-5, at fifth singles on Sunday. Fitzgerald and Casey Watt were victorious, 8-3, at first doubles over Andrew Carter and Albert Wagner. The Fighting Irish bested the Cardinals, 5-2.
Kevin Phelan was one of three North Florida golfers to finish in the top-5 at the Gary Koch Invitational, played at Old Memorial Golf Club in Tampa, Fla. Phelan, a junior from Waterford, shot 5-under-par 211 (72-67-72), which was three strokes behind medalist and teammate Joey Petronio, and good for fourth place. Toledo’s Chris Selfridge, a freshman from Belfast, tied for 55th place at 230 (72-75-83), while Toledo’s Jamie Richardson, a freshman from Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, shot 240 (81-72-87), which landed him in 73rd place. North Florida finished first among the 15 teams on the course, 20 strokes ahead of Georgia Tech.
Consecutive rounds of 76 got Dermot McElhennon a share of 14th place in the Mount Olive Spring Invitational at Walnut Creek Country Club in Goldsboro, N.C. The Barton College sophomore from New Bern, N.C. was eight strokes over par for the event and 12 behind medalist Freddie Nordhoff of Queens (N.C.). McElhennon’s parents hail from Draperstown, Co. Derry.
Back on song in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League [CSL] this spring, Shamrock trounced Barnstonworth Rovers 4-1 at Forest Hills High School last Sunday to go six points clear atop the Over-30 Div. One [West] standings.
The Rocks’ third win on the trot was scripted by Randall Friedman [20th], who nodded in skipper Steve Doyle’s corner; Onder Koksol [65th], Brendan O’Donohue [85th] and Burim Ljuja [88th]. Aldo Morales [55th] had Rovers’ consolation.
Shamrock, who’d gone 21 league matches without defeat before losing 3-2 to New York Dinamo last October, improved to 8-4-1 .
“I’m very happy with the performance,” said coach Paddy McCarry. “We’re on a roll, [and] we hope to keep it going.”
Sean McMullan notched a hat trick for the Shamrock reserves in a 4-0 rout of Division Two Moroccan Astoria Lion on Roosevelt Island.
The first team game was abandoned in the opening half with the scores tied 1-1, this after Andy Horan had fired in a free kick [20th].
Ian Woodcock marked his return as Manhattan Celtic boss with a 3-1 win over Turkish America SC on Randalls Island that extended the Celts’ hundred percent record to 12 matches.
Standing in for the traveling Freddie Estiakoh until the end of the season, Woodcock saw Austin McCann net an early brace [15th pen., 25th], with the second goal assisted by Cherif Moktefi.
Mohammed Ndao [85th] iced it after Bekdemir Ayhan [65th], who’d also scored in the reserve tussle, pulled one back for the Turks.
“Four more games to go until the end of the season,” noted Woodcock, giving props to his predecessor for Celtic’s success thus far.
Celtic [12-0, 36] lead the table by eight points over Stal Mielec.
Jason Tobon, Jon Juchno [two], Mickey Mason and Tim Cordell tallied in the chart-topping Celtic reserves’ 5-1 romp.
All three Lansdowne teams won at the weekend.
First the Bhoys reserves held off Clarkstown SC 4-3 at Clarkstown North High School Saturday night, thanks to Mike Fernandez’ hat trick after Jonathan Chapman had drawn first blood. Robert Baggio, Pat Harvey and Julio Petro replied for the home side.
Then Austin Friel and Sean Reilly each bagged a brace in the Lansdowne Bhoys first team’s 4-0 shutout of Clarkstown ‘A.’
And on Sunday, Michael Flood had the only goal in the Metro Div. Two side’s 1-0 road win over AO Brooklyn at Abraham Lincoln High School.