Championship round-up: Tipp on top, Seanie scores and Mayo make hard work of Connacht title
On one of the busiest days of the Championship year to date, Tipperary and Mayo took the provincial honours, Westmeath gave Kerry a huge fright and Seanie Johnston scored on his Kildare debut.
There was no 21-point margin of victory and no goal rush this time around, but Tipperary held on to their Munster title with a more routine victory over Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The corresponding Munster Final last year was over from a long way out, but Waterford were right in it until very near the end this time, with the Premier’s greater ability to make the most of their chances proving decisive.
Goals from John O’Brien and substitute Shane Bourke before and after half-time offered proof of Tipp’s more clinical approach and a week after Galway had provided the upset of all upsets in the Leinster Final, Declan Ryan’s men looked the more likely winners throughout.
In the other provincial final staged today, Mayo put the Conor Mortimer saga behind them to secure back to back Connacht titles, but they made hard work of a two-point victory over a game Sligo side.
The wind had a huge part to play in what was a poor quality but incredibly competitive encounter at Hyde Park and a strong finish from James Horan’s men saw them home, even though Sligo will justifiably feel hard done by at the awarding of a crucial Colm Boyle point late on in the second half, a point that looked to have gone wide of the post.
Still, Mayo were denied what looked like a legitimate Andy Moran goal before the break and although the silverware is in the bag, their wastefulness in front of goal is something that Horan will be keen to address before the quarter-finals.
The most anticipated qualifier of the day turned out to be a damp squib at Breffni Park as Kildare romped to a 17-point defeat of Cavan.
Seanie Johnston came off the bench in the second half to kick a point, but the game was well won at that stage thanks to goals from Mikey Conway and Emmet Bolton, while Alan Smith added another late on to hammer home the Lilywhites’ superiority.
If there was precious little excitement in Cavan, there was bags of it in Mullingar as Westmeath went mightily close to dumping Kerry out of the Championship.
A Denis Glennon goal just after half-time put Westmeath six points in front and the signs were ominous for Kerry, but a Darran O’Sullivan goal and some crucial scores from Paul Galvin, Bryan Sheehan, Colm Cooper and James O’Donoghue edged them back in front as they went on to win by the narrowest of margins.
More warning signs for Kerry, perhaps, but they’ve had a couple of lucky escapes in the backdoor route in the past and ended up winning the lot afterwards, so it might be a bit early to write them off just yet.
Finally, plenty of people had tipped Monaghan to upset Laois in Portlaoise in the other qualifier staged today, but Justin McNulty’s side ran out comfortable winners, with first half goals from Colm Kelly and Brendan Quigley proving crucial in the end.
Munster Hurling Final
Tipperary 2-17 – 0-16 Waterford
Connacht Football Final
Mayo 0-12 – 0-10 Sligo
All-Ireland Football Qualifiers
Kerry 2-10 – 1-12 Westmeath
Kildare 3-20 – 1-9 Cavan
Laois 2-12 – 0-12 Monaghan