FOOTBALL: “We Probably Got Off The Hook” – Maxi Curran
Compiled by Daragh Small (Donegal manager Maxi Curran at St Brendan’s Park in Birr, Offaly. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile)
MEATH manager Eamonn Murray expects even more to come from his side, after watching his TG4 All-Ireland Senior Champions get off to a winning start in the 2022 campaign on Saturday.
The Royals bounced back from their recent TG4 Leinster Final loss to Dublin by scoring a 1-13 to 0-1 victory over hosts Monaghan at Drumhowan GAA.
That result leaves Meath in pole position to claim an All-Ireland quarter-final slot, while there were also victories on Saturday in the Senior Championship for Dublin, Mayo, Donegal and Kerry.
In Group B, Kelsey Nesbitt’s goal helped Meath into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead at half-time against Monaghan. Stacey Grimes also shot 0-8 in a brilliant display from Murray’s side.
“Monaghan had 15 players behind the ball and only for Stacey on the frees, it was awful to watch. That’s what she’s there for, she practices for those moments. She was very neat, she didn’t put a foot wrong and she rarely does put a foot wrong,” said Murray.
“It will be a completely different game against Armagh and it should be a great game to watch because both teams love playing football. Armagh are an awesome team and they will have revenge on their minds because we beat them twice in the last two years.”
In Group A, 2021 runners-up Dublin saw off the challenge of Cavan at Clann Mhuire, as Mayo got the better of Tipperary at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park.
Carla Rowe scored 2-3 on her home patch in a 5-14 to 2-4 success. Nicole Owens (two) and Sinead Aherne also scored goals as the reigning TG4 Leinster champions won out.
“We’re delighted to get some players back, Carla Rowe and Sinead Aherne getting some game time,” said Dublin manager Mick Bohan.
“When we have everybody we’re very competitive, as we found out during the national league, when you’re missing a few, all of a sudden you’re going back to girls who are learning a little bit still.”
Mayo were also impressive in their opener where they beat Tipperary 1-16 to 1-6 thanks to a first half strike from Lisa Cafferky. Sinéad Walsh and Shauna Howley also accounted for 0-8 as Michael Moyles side bounced back from their TG4 Connacht final loss.
“The girls trained very hard after the Galway defeat, we’ve knuckled down and done a lot of work on ball retention and being patient in attack. The day tested that with the breeze but we’re happy with the result. We have to move on and step up another gear,” said Moyles.
There was a live TG4 double-header at St Brendan’s Park in Birr, as Donegal accounted for Waterford in Group D, before Kerry got the better of Galway in Group C.
Waterford came with a late rally in the first of the double-header but despite Aisling Mullaney’s goal, Yvonne Bonner sealed the win for Donegal, where it finished 0-10 to 1-5.
“We probably got off the hook. Waterford missed a penalty and a couple of frees towards the end that would have made it very difficult for us. Thankfully, we got the scores,” said Donegal manager Maxi Curran.
And finally on Saturday evening, Lidl NFL Division 2 holders Kerry produced a fine display to beat Galway 3-10 to 3-8 after a frantic finish. Lorraine Scanlon, Paris McCarthy and Niamh Carmody were among the goals for the Kingdom.
“We’re just happy to get over the line, I don’t know what happened at the end there, we were well in control of the game for long periods,” said Kerry joint-manager Declan Quill.
Meanwhile, Tyrone will clash with last year’s beaten TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship finalists Wexford in the pick of the quarter-finals this time around.
The Ulster outfit, who suffered relegation from the top tier in 2021, face-off against the team who have gone three from three in the group stages. While Louth will take on Roscommon, Longford will face Clare and Laois play Wicklow.
On Sunday, Wexford were too good for Leitrim with a 3-10 to 2-11 success. Wicklow blitzed Offaly in the first half to claim a 4-11 to 1-7 success and second place in Group A.
In Group C, Longford’s 3-12 to 3-9 success was enough to seal top spot and they go on to face Clare following their 2-8 to 1-10 defeat at home against Louth at Cusack Park in Ennis.
And finally in the second tier, Laois’ brilliant 3-12 to 3-7 success at the expense of Tyrone earned first place in Group D.
In the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship, Carlow made it two wins from two thanks to a huge 2-16 to 0-4 win against Derry. Antrim were 0-12 to 1-7 victors over Limerick and Fermanagh also got their first win, with a 2-15 to 2-7 win against London.