Thursday 26 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Cathal Noonan/INPHO One of many unsavoury incidents between Kerry and Donegal today.
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Battle of Tralee, Waterford clinical – Sunday GAA talking points
Lots to discuss after a busy day of GAA action.

1. Battle of Tralee a sorry sight

It was the most highly anticipated football game of the weekend, but Kerry-Donegal descended into an ugly affair in Tralee.

Both sets of players were guilty of contributing to some deplorable scenes in flare-ups all over the field. Several incidents of striking took place with Alan Fitzgerald and Leo McLoone sent off, while there were two black cards and six yellows thrown in for good measure.

Things got so bad during a nasty first half that referee Eddie Kinsella summoned both managers into his dressing room at half-time for a word.

The nature of the encounter improved after the interval, but it was a still a dreadful advertisement for the game, especially given that it was televised live on TG4.

2. Mayo finally get off the mark

Four games into his tenure, Stephen Rochford can finally chalk down his first win as Mayo manager. It was a long time coming.

Mayo’s performances have been steadily improving over the last few weeks but a result was what they needed over anything today. They did so despite losing Aidan O’Shea and Lee Keegan to black cards – in O’Shea’s case he lasted just six minutes.

Robbie Hennelly was the hero, nailing two massive frees near the death to ensure their first win of the league.

There are plenty of positives: an away win at Clones and the young players showed up well. With the monkey off Rochford’s back, Mayo’s season starts now.

3. A third win on the bounce for Roscommon

Ciarain Murtagh scores a penalty Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ciaran Murtagh scores a penalty for the Rossies today. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

It wasn’t as spectacular as the trimming they handed out to Cork, or as hard fought as their win in Kerry, but Roscommon looked comfortable in their defeat of Down.

And maybe that’s the most impressive thing.

‘Consistency’ is a word you’ll often hear uttered by inter-county managers. They crave consistency like an addict craves his fix. And Roscommon are as consistent a team you’ll find outside of the capital right now.

They’ve as good as secured their admission to the top table against next season. And it’s just as well. A difficult run-in against Donegal, Mayo and Dublin will really test their mettle.

But you sense it’s an exam they’re ready to sit.

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4. Waterford continue to flourish

30th March 2014. The last time Waterford hurlers lost a league match. They’ve won a remarkable 10 games on the spin in the competition and look like the best placed side in the country to knock Kilkenny off their perch at the business end of the season.

Despite the absence of Allstars Maurice Shanahan and Tadhg DeBurca, Waterford have proved they’re here to stay. Austin Gleeson’s sensational long-range winner handed the Deise a dramatic win – their first over Tipperary in Thurles since 1998.

Derek McGrath’s side sit pretty on top of the table with Dublin and Galway next in the firing line.

It’s the first time since 2007 they’ve beaten Kilkenny, Cork and Tipp in consecutive games. Plenty of reasons for Waterford fans to dream of a glorious finish in September.

There’s something about this team.

5. TJ Reid keeps Kilkenny firing

TJ Reid James Crombie / INPHO TJ Reid in action against Galway today. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Kilkenny are without experienced scorers like Richie Power (retired) and Eoin Larkin (in Syria with the Defence Forces) this spring, but their forward line keeps on firing and much of that is down to TJ Reid.

Reid gave a 14-point masterclass against Galway on Sunday. His form in front of the posts means younger players like James Maher and Kevin Kelly can settle into the side, free of a scoring burden.

The Ballyhale star posted ten points a fortnight ago against Tipp and seven in the opener against Waterford.

Reid is the reigning Hurler of the Year and he’s playing like it.

6. Limerick and Clare on a collision course in race for promotion

Limerick’s eight point win over Offaly confirmed what we suspected all along. A shootout between themselves and neighbours Clare on the final day will decide who gains promotion to the top flight for next year.

Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare are motoring nicely with seven wins from seven games in all competitions this year. Limerick looked good in spells today, although a tally of 16 wides will concern TJ Ryan.

The Shannonsiders and Banner are expected to dispose of Laois and Kerry respectively next weekend, setting up what should be an entertaining battle for entry to the top tier.

Winning that game may not be important in the grand scheme of championship hurling, but both these counties will feel they belong in hurling’s elite tier.

It’s almost time to sort the men from the boys.

Goalkeeper Hennelly kicks two last-gasp frees as Stephen Rochford’s Mayo win at last

Kildare’s winning run continues as Tipperary and Clare stay in the promotion hunt

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