Killarney, Sunday’s match played out under a watery sun saw the league debuts of our new O’Neills Kerry GAA and Donegal GAA jerseys. As our design partner in the Back to Gold Kerry jersey Paul Galvin remarked ‘New kit looked well.’ It did Paul, it did.

 

Also looking well on his debut was 2017 minor star David Clifford who contributed several assists, a point from a free, good hands, feet and movement. Nothing too fancy, adapt and go. The star man for Kerry, who handed out eight debuts, was Sean O Shea who contributed seven points, four from frees and generally brought a level of fluidity to the Kingdom. The future there looks bright, and definitely harks back to gold. Next up, a trip to Mayo who themselves overcame Monaghan by a single score in their game. Donegal looked brisk and alert, and not far off Kerry. The return of Odhran MacNiallias is a mega boost for the Tír Chonaill men, and Patrick McBrearty looks better each time we see him. Power, accuracy and good movement. And Nathan Mullins is a big asset too and based on what’s coming up the track in Donegal they could have an interesting summer. Two Super 8 team prospects for sure.

 

Galway sprung a surprise on Tyrone in Tuam. No doubt the local knowledge of recent recruit Paddy Tally helped the Tribesmen, as did the first half red card for a Darren McCurry. But Galway were impressive, their young team well organised by Kevin Walsh. It helps if you score a goal in the first minute, or after 22 seconds to be exact, and skipper Damian Comer’s effort set the tone for a resurgent Galway and troubled Tyrone. Galway head to Letterkenny knowing they got the better of Donegal in the summer on a scoreline of 4-17 to 0-14 in a qualifier. Donegal will be aiming to get back on track, so it should be absorbing.

 

The Red Hands finishing total of 0-8 against Galway will not unduly worry them, as it is early days in the Allianz National League. But the prospect of Dublin on Saturday night in Omagh will cause a few alarm bells. They traditionally do well against the Dubs in Omagh, but given the All Ireland champions rousing start against Kildare, Mickey Harte’s men will need to up the ante or they will find themselves in the wrong end of Division 1 after two games. After brushing off a few cobwebs Dublin turned the screw on Kildare with Brian Fenton sparkling. Kildare felt the loss of Kevin Feely for the last ten minutes or so, the midfielder had been doing a huge shift.

 

Elsewhere there were some notable results. Tipperary beating Cork is not unexpected but it confirms the continuing development of football in Tipp. Big Connaire Harrison hit a purple patch for Down to help dispatch Louth now under Pete McGrath’s leadership. In Derry the Oakleafers rued the loss of James Kielt to a red card. Skipper Enda Lynn missed a late peno to win the game. The usual spot kick expert? James Kielt.

 

In hurling Clare hammered out a signal of intent, pulling away against Tipp in Cusack Park. Páirc Uí Chaoimh under lights has a magical feel about it and for the Rebels there’s always something magical about beating Kilkenny. For us though the highlight of the game was Padraig Walsh bullocking out the field clean mad on an eighty yard dash from his full back berth to drill a ball over the bar. We saw one newspaper pass judgement that this was the end of Brian Cody’s reign with the Cats. Can’t agree with that at all, there’s young players on the horizon there like Alan Murphy, the job is to get as much experience in the Kilkenny Jersey as soon as they can in preparation for the new Championship this summer.

 

The hurling shock of the day looked set for Pearse Stadium where Antrim  had Galway on the back foot for most of the game and led for a long time before the All Ireland champions drew level and pulled away. Still for Antrim it exceeded expectations big time and gives real grounds for enthusiasm for a new and emerging group of Saffrons.

 

The early season Oscar for most emotional scenes at an early season game go to Offaly who did a startled earwigs job on Pat Gilroy’s Dubs at Croker. Although why this was such a surprise is itself a surprise, because Offaly have a fine group of skilled hurlers whilst Dublin are essentially still putting the band back together under Gilroy. Still, old hands like Michael Duignan had tears in their tweets on social. The result gives Antrim ground for confidence going to Corrigan Park this Sunday with their performance arguably better than Dublin’s and matches between the county’s two main cities rarely lack a bit of spice.

 

Elsewhere, the Slaughtneil club success story shows no sign of slowing as their all-conquering camogie team won their all Ireland semi-final after extra time against a tough Thomastown outfit. It was a pulsating affair from start to finish in tough conditions.

 

Fixtures

 

Saturday

Allianz Football League Roinn 1

All games @ 19:00

Tyrone v        Dublin

Mayo v          Kerry

 

Allianz Football League Roinn 2

Cavan v Louth

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 1

Tipperary v Waterford

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 1B

Laois v Galway

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 2A

London v Meath

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 3A

Warwickshire v Longford

 

Sunday

Allianz Football League Roinn 1

14:00 Kildare v Monaghan

14:30 Donegal v Galway

 

Allianz Football League Roinn 2

13:30 Down v Cork

14:00 Tipperary v Roscommon

14:00 Meath v Clare

 

Allianz Football League Roinn 3

14:00 Fermanagh v Offaly

14:00 Sligo v Wexford

14:00 Longford v Derry

14:30 Westmeath v Armagh

 

Allianz Football League Roinn 4

13:00 London v Wicklow

14:00  Waterford v Antrim

14:00 Leitrim v Laois

14:00 Limerick v Carlow

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 1

14:00 Kilkenny v Clare

14:00 Wexford v Cork

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 1B

14:00 Offaly v Limerick

14:00 Antrim v Dublin

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 2A

12:30 Westmeath v Kildare

14:00 Kerry v Carlow

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 2B

12:30 Donegal v Derry

14:00 Down v Wicklow

14:00 Armagh v Mayo

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 3A

14:00 Monaghan v Roscommon

14:00 Louth v Tyrone

 

Allianz Hurling League Roinn 3B

12:00 Leitrim Lancashire

14:00 Cavan Sligo