Allianz NFL Round-Up

March 9th, 2009

derry-kerry-nfl-2009.jpgAllianz NFL Div 1
Derry 0-10  Kerry 0-12

Colm Cooper was outstanding for Kerry, scoring six points overall and leading the attack well with his razor-sharp awareness and touch. It was also an enjoyable day for Tadhg Kennelly, who made his anticipated return to Gaelic Football when he was brought on in the second half. The result puts Kerry joint top of Division One with Galway.

Derry began the much brighter of the two sides and were well on top of Kerry for the opening quarter. Eoin Bradley scored the first point of the game, powering through the centre and tapping over.  James Kielt was a particularly dangerous thorn for Derry, and he continued to be for the whole day. He too scored an early point, along with Eoghan Brown and Gerard O’Kane, to put Derry 0-4 to 0-0 up.

Kerry finally emerged from their slumbers when Michéal Quirke knocked over a point for them, and it remained all Kerry for the remainder of the first half. Cooper was at his elusive best as he grabbed their second point under pressure near goal, while a free from the Dr Croke’s man, as well as a point on the brink of the interval from Declan O’Sullivan, made it 0-4 apiece at the break.

Kerry stormed into the lead straight after the restart, Darren O’Sullivan firing over when he could have goaled. Cooper then pushed the lead to three points with two quick frees, the first of which he nailed by brilliantly using the wind to curl the ball over from distance.

Kielt’s outstanding marksmanship was keeping Derry in it, and he hit superb frees in response to a point from Paul Galvin.  Derry were fighting plenty despite the obvious turning of the tide by Kerry, and Fergal Doherty reduced the gap to a single point when he charged through and pointed after Joe Diver’s fine fetch and flick.

Still there was Cooper and he extended the lead to 0-9 to 0-7 just before another magical free from Kielt from tight to the left sideline with a serious gale blowing about him. Just as Derry seemed to be on the brink of hauling themselves level though, Galvin and Aidan O’Mahony pointed to put a goal in it.

When a penalty was given for a challenge on Kieran Donaghy, it looked over but Cooper could only point the kick. Derry rallied on and got within two again through Kielt and Paul Carton, but Kerry eased to the finish with Kennelly on board, who got the biggest cheer of the day when he ambled through the middle and sent a kick at goal about 50 yards wide.

Allianz NFL Div 1
Donegal 1-08  Dublin 0-13

Pat Gilroy’s Dublin eked out their first win of the season against Donegal in Ballyshannon on Sunday, while Mayo also won for the first time as they defeated  rock bottom Westmeath.

The Dubs looked to be home and hosed leading 0-10 to 0-3 at one stage in the second half, but Donegal dug in making it a nervous climax before Gilroy’s charges leapfrogged them in the Division One standings.

The Dubs were fastest out of the blocks with Bernard Brogan and Kevin Bonner firing over the first two scores of the day in wet and windy conditions.

Ross McConnell then sent over a third as Pat Gilroy’s men indicated that they were about to end their winless start to the campaign against a Tir Chonaill side struggling for possession and confidence, a situation not helped when Michael Murphy, impeded by the wind fired their opening free wide.

David Henry’s point had Dublin five clear and they had a 0-7 to 0-1 advantage at the break thanks to some more wastefulness from the home team, Stephen Griffin the latest to send one of their frees wide. Brendan Boyle did bag a point for the Ulstermen but they remained well adrift.

The rain continued to bucket down after the break as Donegal played with the wind and it certainly helped them, Griffin and Murphy making up for their earlier failures with quick scores.

The Dubs, however, then roared into their seven-point lead but just when the game looked finished as a spectacle Conall Dunne pounced for the only goal of the day. Christy Toye was involved in the build-up as he layed the ball on to the St Eunan’s man who fired past Stephen Cluxton to bring the game back to life.

Murphy with two, Ciaran Bonner, David Walsh and Darragh Gallagher all then pointed as John Joe Doherty’s men amazingly dragged themseleves level.

With two defeats to date Gilroy must surely have been sweating now but the men in blue regrouped and dug themselves out of the hole they had landed themselves in, with Ger Brennan pointing for a 0-12 to 1-8 lead. McConnell then sent over an insurance point just before the final whistle.

Allianz NFL Div 1
Tyrone 0-08  Galway 0-10

Galway stunned Tyrone on Saturday evening by claiming a 0-10 to 0-8 victory in their Allianz NFL clash in Healy Park.

Liam Sammon’s side battled through tough conditions to beat the All-Ireland champions on their home turf and continue their impressive league run.

Nickey Joyce started things off with a sweetly struck free inside 2 minutes. Even though Sean Cavanagh instantly replied for the hosts, it wasn’t long before Galway took control of the game.

Joyce along with Michael Meehan and Joe Bergin were superb in the first-half as The Tribesmen exploited gaps in the Tyrone defence and converted crucial scores.

There was never any hint that The Red Hands would raise the white flag, but even points from Davy Harte and Tommy McGuigan didn’t have the rousing affect that they should have.

When they lost Conor Gormley to a yellow card, something immediately dropped out of Tyrone’s performance. They tried to get back into it, but were sloppy in possession and hit far too many wides.

Up the other end, Meehan and Joyce kept their cool when it was needed. Then Paul Conroy was denied a certain goal when keeper John Devine rushed out to deny him.

With the pitch cutting up and the rain coming down, the momentum slowed after the interval with wides from both teams suggesting they finding it difficult to hit the target.

Cavanagh scored two fine frees, but then completely messed up another. He went missing for large chunks of the game, although it was not as if the service was being pumped into him.

It would be unkind to accredit Galway’s win to Tyrone’s failure to take points, because their midfield and half-forward lines were outstanding for the whole game.

Even the introduction of Owen Mulligan couldn’t lift the home side, despite the fact that he slotted over a nice point and Colm McCullagh followed it with a successful free.

Scores from Bergin and Padraig Joyce restored Galway’s lead and they managed to stay in front right to the end to secure a much deserved win.

Tyrone: J Devine, PJ Quinn, J McMahon, M Swift, D Harte, C Gormley, C McCarron, E McGinley, C Holmes, T McGuigan, C McCullagh, R Mellon, M Penrose, S Cavanagh, R Mulgrew.

Galway: A Faherty; N Coyne, F Hanley, D Meehan; G Bradshaw, D Blake, D Mullahy; J Bergin, M Lydon, S Armstrong, P Joyce, C Bane; P Conroy, M Meehan, N Joyce.

Allianz NFL Div 3
Armagh 0-14  Monaghan 1-13

Monaghan made it three wins from three in Division Two with a superb late victory over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds. Despite trailing for much of the second half, Monaghan prevailed 1-13 to 0-14, with Raymie Ronaghan’s goal proving crucial.

The first half was extremely tight with the sides level on five occasions, Armagh taking a 0-8 to 0-7 lead into the break.

Armagh continued to retain a suffocating grip on matters after the restart but Ronaghan’s goal changed everything. Armagh had been leading 0-12 to 0-9 at that stage but the goal gave Monaghan the springboard to go on and win.

Barry Shannon and Paul Finlay traded points after the goal to leave it still a draw until Eoin Lennon and Ronaghan secured the win for Monaghan with two late points.

Allianz NFL Div 3
Cork 0-10  Fermanagh 0-07

Cork picked up their second NFL victory when they bettered Fermanagh at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday. Inspired by the scoring heroics of Donncha O’Connor, Cork pulled clear of the Ulster side in the second-half.

Cork led 0-2 to 0-0 after six minutes, but Fermanagh, who were playing into a strong wind, pegged them back through scores by James Sherry and Tommy McElroy to draw level by the 12th minute. Cork kicked on again through O’Connor and an excellent point by full-back Noel O’Donovan after he stormed up the field.

Yet Fermanagh made good progress against the breeze with impressive wing-forward Stephen O’Brien kicking two good points, and they nearly goaled as well only for Noel O’Donovan to claw a punch by Seamus Ryder off the line. Cork inched ahead 0-5 to 0-4 at the interval, when Conor McCarthy landed a beautiful score.

Cork began the second-half in the better fashion, Daniel Goulding, Paul Kerrigan and O’Connor all putting them further ahead on the scoreboard by the 50th minute. O’Brien got Fermanagh off the mark in the second-half with a 53rd minute free, but O’Connor quickly replied for Cork and the Rebels almost finished the game off with a goal soon after. Paul Flynn, Sigerson Cup winning captain with Cork IT last weekend, broke through but his shot was tipped onto the post by defender Michael Jones.

Fermanagh took confidence from that and two excellent scores by substitute Daryl Keenan bridged the gap to two. But Cork held on with a late point from John Hayes securing the spoils.

Allianz NFL Div 3
Down 0-10  Cavan 0-12

Cavan beat Down 0-12 to 0-10 in Newry to shake things up in Division Three of the Allianz NFL.

Ross Carr’s team were expected to win this battle and improve their chances of securing promotion from this division, but the visitors refused to follow that script.

Having lost already in the league to Longford and Tipperary, The Breffni Men looked determined as they stormed into the lead thanks to Seanie Johnston.

The zippy attacker popped over four points to send his team into the lead, but they never got too far in front as Aidan Carr hit twice for Down.

There was plenty of passion in the game, but that boiled over when Lorcan Mulvey and Luke Howard were given their marching orders following a tussle.

Benny Coulter came off the bench for Down as they attempted to claw their way back into it, yet it was youngster Paul McComiskey that had the bigger impact with two crucial scores.

However, they were not enough to turn things around for the home team and Cavan hung on to claim a rare win.

Allianz NFL Div 4
Leitrim 2-06  Antrim 1-09

Leitrim trailed for much of this joust at Pairc Seán Mac Diarmada, but ultimately came away with a draw in a pivotal tie in the promotion race.

Antrim will rue that they led by 1-5 to 0-2 at half-time but could not hold on; The Saffrons are now two points behind leaders Sligo but one ahead of Leitrim.