It was a hectic day of GAA action today with three provincial football finals taking place. Dublin won their sixth Leinster title in a row while Tyrone saw off Donegal to be crowned the kings of Ulster. Elsewhere the Connacht football final saw Galway blitz Roscommon at the second time of asking in a memorable win. Here’s a full roundup of today’s action.
Tyrone 0-13 Donegal 0-11
Tyrone staged an unlikely comeback with three spectacular injury-time points to capture a 14th Ulster SFC title amidst dramatic scenes at Clones.
Donegal,featuring in a sixth final in a row, led for the majority of the game and on three occasions were able to regain the lead when Tyrone drew level in a much-improved second half.
Michael Murphy missed a long-range free in the 74th minute to put Donegal in front after Sean Cavanagh had equalised with a superb point from the wing. Then Tyrone, who struggled for long spells, seized their moment.Peter Harte scored an outstanding left-footed point from distance in the 75th minute to put Tyrone in front for the first time since the 10th minute.
With six minutes injury-time signalled there was still time for a Donegal equaliser, but Tyrone again broke down the field with Kieran McGeary firing over a point to give Tyrone a first final win since 2010.
In front of a packed 33,433 crowd the first half was a major disappointment. Even allowing for the sweltering conditions, the game lacked pace, purpose and direction, with seven wides in the first 10 minutes. Niall Morgan and Cathal McShane kicked Tyrone into a two point lead before Donegal got motoring with four points in eight minutes.
Paddy McBrearty’s free and Michael Murphy’s 45 drew Donegal level before Ryan McHugh kicked two of his three first-half points.Tyrone conceded all the short kickouts to Donegal and allowed them to build from the back – and got punished.
Peter Harte was designated to track McHugh, but the unmarked Kilcar man kicked three right-footed points from distance with Tyrone hesitant and unsure which runners to pick up. Niall Sludden’s well-worked score was brief relief for Tyrone with McHugh pointing again to put Donegal 0-5 to 0-3 ahead after 22 minutes.
Cathal McCarron got forward for a rare point after a good exchange with Peter Harte but Donegal were in no mood to surrender the momentum and Odhran MacNiallais stroked over a long-range score to re-establish their two-point lead. Ryan McHugh again caused havoc with his running and won a free which McBrearty converted to put Rory Gallagher’s side 0-7 to 0-4 ahead on the half hour mark. Tyrone kicked nine first-half wides and dropped four balls short in a very poor 35 minutes for the Red Hands.
Worse was to follow for them when Mattie Donnelly was black-carded following a collision with Eoin McHugh. Cathal McShane also was dismissed for a black-card trip in stoppage time, forcing Mickey Harte to make two substitutions before the interval.
Paddy McBreaty kicked the opening score of the second half after 15 seconds to put Donegal 0-8 to 0-4 ahead and it looked ominous for Tyrone. However they drew level after 53 minutes with four points in a row from Brennan, Harte, Cavanagh and Morgan’s free.A poor game caught fire in the last quarter once it hit 0-8 each. The heavyweights slugged it out, trading points with Donegal on three occasions nudging ahead and three times Tyrone hit back. Christy Toye’s well-worked point looked like a winner in the 69th minute for Donegal, but it proved to be their last with three scores of fabulous quality putting Tyrone through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
Dublin 2-19 Westmeath 0-10
Bernard Brogan turned on the style and helped Dublin to a sixth Leinster football title in a row for the second time in their history as they defeated Westmeath by 2-19 to 0-10 at Croke Park. The reigning All-Ireland champions were unstoppable in the second half and Brogan helped himself to 1-4 on the way to his tenth winners’ medal, as Jim Gavin’s side ran out easy winners.
But to their credit, Westmeath caused plenty of trouble for Dublin in the first half and their physicality and hunger for the occasion meant they only trailed by one point at the break.But they only scored four after the restart, and goals from Brogan and Kevin McManamon wrapped up the victory and the Dubs earned a 55th Leinster title for their county. After scoring an average of 24 points in their two championship games to date, it was always likely that Dublin would face a defensively-minded team in this Leinster final.
But few people would have imagined that Westmeath’s two sweepers would cause so much trouble for the Dublin attack early on. Callum McCormack and Francis Boyle positioned themselves in front of the Westmeath rearguard and they reduced the Dublin attacker’s operating room to a minimum – they only scored three points from play before the break. Crucially, at the other end they performed as well and three frees from John Heslin and a couple of great scores from Ger Egan meant they deserved to only trail by one at half-time. Westmeath caused a lot of trouble to the Dublin full-back line and earned a few frees from that route, but Dean Rock clipped over four frees to keep Dublin ahead at all times before the interval.
It could have been a far stronger position for Westmeath too had Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly been sent off as he should have been after 31 minutes when he dragged James Dolan to the ground with a dangerous headlock. Instead of flashing red to the Dublin star, referee Fergal Kelly remarkably brandished yellows to both players.
Points from McManamon and Brogan in the space of a minute hinted that Dublin’s challenge might have been ignited, but they never showed their best and hardly deserved to lead 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time. The loss of Ray Connellan to a leg injury was a blow for Westmeath, but after they had tamed the champions for the first half Westmeath deserved to kick on after the restart.
But instead it was Dublin that surged clear. With Rock unerring from frees and Brogan finding room to score a trio of points, Dublin scored nine of the next ten points.The excellent McCormack pointed for Westmeath, but Brogan palmed to the net after 58 minutes and McManamon found the top corner a minute from time to crown a powerful second-half.
Galway 3-16 Roscommon 0-14
Galway produced a superb performance to record the biggest ever win in a Connacht SFC final replay when they captured their first provincial title since 2008 with an emphatic 3-16 to 0-14 victory over Roscommon in Castlebar.
Galway’s 1-14 to 0-9 win over Roscommon in 1976 was the biggest replay win prior to this, but that eight-point margin was easily surpassed by Kevin Walsh’s men. A string of late Roscommon points reduced the final margin but this was a game dominated from start to finish by the Tribesmen as they captured their 45th Connacht title.In Kevin Walsh’s second campaign in charge, Galway have beaten two Division 1 sides in succession, and now head into the All-Ireland quarter-finals full of confidence after those wins over Mayo and Roscommon.
Roscommon now have the difficult task of picking themselves up again for next weekend, as they take their place in the fourth round of the qualifiers against a winning side. It was 2-9 to 0-5 at half-time and the sight of the Roscommon fans heading for the exits as early as the 18th minute of the second-half told its own story. Galway played against the breeze in the opening half but they still hit the first three points through Eoghan Kerin, Gary Sice and Eamon Brannigan. Ciarain Murtagh, who scored four of their five first-half points, was the only Roscommon forward to threaten, while Galway had a string of options in an attack which was led superbly by Damien Comer.
Comer had a goal disallowed for square ball earlier, but the reprieve was short-lived as Eamon Brannigan picked out Cummins with a good pass and his superb finish low to the bottom of the net pushed Galway into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead. Comer then kicked an inspirational effort that was cancelled out by Murtagh.
But Galway defended brilliantly and constantly caught Roscommon on the counter-attack. Comer scored another great point, Cummins extended the gap to seven and Sice struck for Galway’s second goal in the 26th minute. The 31-year-old Corofin clubman turned Fintan Cregg inside out and then hammered a shot into the roof of the Roscommon net. Comer quickly tagged on his third point to extend Galway’s lead. Roscommon needed something positive, but David Keenan got a black card when he dragged down Comer. Shane Walsh slotted the free and despite Murtagh’s free, Galway led 2-9 to 0-5 at half-time.
Substitute Fergal Lennon kicked a Roscommon point at the start of the second-half, but Galway hit four in a row to kill off any chance of a comeback. Enda Smith and Senan Kilbride found their range as Galway eased up but Cummins rifled home his second goal as the Tribesmen cruised to their first title in eight years, with Roscommon finishing with 14 men when Donie Smith picked up a second yellow card