Yes, that IS a Kerry hurling team with a trophy. Captain Mikey Boyle hoists the Christy Ring Cup at Croke Park. INPHO/Cathal Noonan

GAA mop-up: No rub of the green for Meath, as Cork set up classic decider

Cork and Kerry will meet in the Munster decider, a well-oiled Kildare overcome Meath, and the lower tier hurling championships wrap up at HQ.

FOR MANY the Gaelic football season hasn’t really begun until Cork and Kerry have taken to the field. For others, it’s the first day out for the Dubs at Croker, or the first outing of the ever-fancied Tyrone.

Whichever way you adjudge the summer to have begun, you’re probably satisfied that it began this weekend – with the Leinster, Munster and Ulster championships all in full swing following a busy few days’ activities.

Munster Senior Football Championship

Kerry 1-26, Limerick 3-09: The scoreline of the weekend’s opening football encounter makes the game seem a little closer than it ultimately was: Kerry were worth far more than their ten-point victory, with the home side needing two late consolation goals to add respectibility.

The game was realistically over within the first ten minutes, as the illustrious Kingdom led by 1-5 to 0-1. Indeed, it speaks volumes that of Kerry’s 1-26, almost all came from open play – a Colm Cooper free, and a Brian Sheehan 45 being the sole exceptions. Cooper led the scoring with 0-7, while Limerick’s Ger Collins put up 1-4 of his own side’s response.

Cork 5-17, Waterford 2-08: Cork made light work of Waterford in an efficient performance this afternoon and will now meet Kerry in what is sure to be another classic Munster semi-final following this rout at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

First half goals courtesy of John Miskella, Daniel Goulding and Paul Kerrigan had the All-Ireland champions leading by 3-08 to 1-06 at the break with Gary Hurney hitting a late penalty for Waterford.

A second goal from Goulding and another from substitute Fintan Goold extended the Rebels’ lead in the second half, before Brian Wall found the hosts’ net straight from a free. But it was all too apparent that one of these sides finished bottom of the league’s Division 3 table whilst the other is gunning for another All-Ireland crown.

Ulster Senior Football Championship

Tyrone 1-13, Monaghan 1-11: The Red Hands made it through to the Ulster SFC semi-finals after a close fought win over Monaghan in Omagh this afternoon. Despite the Farney side finishing with 13 men they almost did enough to pull off what would have been a shock win.

But Tyrone’s class in the form of veterans Conor Gormley, Brian McGuigan and Stephen O’Neill shone through in the end to give the hosts a two-point victory and a semi-final clash with either Cavan or Donegal.

Leinster Senior Football Championship

Kildare 0-16, Meath 0-10: Meath’s reign as Leinster champions ended just as it began: amid discussion of a controversial goal. Having led at half-time by 0-7 to 0-5, the Royals had been picked apart as Kildare moved up a gear with captain John Doyle leading the way to a four-point lead, 0-13 to 0-9.

Along came substitute Graham Geraghty (whose entrance was delayed by a harsh-ish red card to Brian Farrell) who palmed a speculative ball into the net – a score ruled perfectly legal by the two Hill 16 umpires, only to be overruled by match referee Syl Doyle who told the umpires (his son and brother!) the ball was a square ball. TV replays seemed inconclusive, but in truth Kildare were the better side anyway and their dozen wides meant their victory were more nervous than it needed to be.

Dublin 1-16, Laois 0-11: The Dubs will meet Kildare in the semi-final after making light work of Laois at Croke Park this afternoon. The visitors were only really in contention thanks to the work of their defence and goalkeeper Eoin Culliton who pulled off a number of fine saves throughout the game.

The eventual eight-point win was never really in doubt with Dublin leading at the break and pulling away in the second half thanks to a superb performance from Alan Brogan. Diarmuid Connolly netted the only goal of the game in the 22nd minute.

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship

Galway 4-17, Westmeath 2-14: Galway had Cyril Donnellan’s hat-trick to thank for putting daylight between the sides in Mullingar, as the plucky hosts refused to let their much-fancied visitors have it all their own way.

There was only a goal between the sides at half-time, and Westmeath went level in the second half left (3-09 to 2-12) before the Tribesmen’s experience and composure – bolstered by the substitute Joe Canning – proved enough to set up a semi-final meeting with Dublin.

Christy Ring Cup final

Kerry 2-21, Wicklow 2-08: Next year’s Munster championship will be the first in decades to feature all six Munster sides, after an impressive Kerry side mustered the class usually offered by their footballers to sail to a cool victory. Darragh O’Connell contributed 1-9, with John Egan contributing the other goal.

Nicky Rackard Cup final

London 2-20, Louth 0-11: London took the Tier 3 title at the third time of asking, as the Exiles showed their Croke Park familiarity in seeing off the dogged, but inexperienced, effort of Louth. Cork native Martin Finn scored a 2-8 that his native county would be proud of, and a brave Louth tried in vain to keep in touch before a late Exile onslaught underlined the gulf in class between the sides.

Lory Meagher Cup final

Donegal 2-12, Tyrone 0-17: As ever, the Lory Meagher decider threw up a cracking match as Donegal rattled home a last-minute goal to win the Tier 4 title – also after two successive defeats. Ciaran Matthewson was the hero, taking 2-3, while Niall Campbell contributed a useful 0-6, five of those from dead balls.

Additional reporting by Hugh O’Connell

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