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Carlow manager Turlough O Brien.

Carlow manager Turlough O Brien.

Championship talking points


By Cian O'Connell

Carlow, Laois, and Longford advance in Leinster

Standard bearers Dublin, with Ciaran Kilkenny rifling 1-7 from play, enjoyed a comfortable win over Wicklow in Leinster.

There was no shortage of drama around the province, though, for the remainder of the week.

Bord Na Mona O'Connor Park provided the ideal backdrop for the latest sign of Laois' progression with John Sugrue's charges defeating Westmeath.

Paul Kingston led the charge drilling a hat-trick of goals for the Allianz Football League Division Four champions.

The team Laois beat in that decider, Carlow, added the latest chapter in their feel good story at the same venue the following day.

Turlough O'Brien and Steven Poacher had their Carlow team beautifully primed and prepared to take the Kildare scalp.

Carlow's willingness to break at speed was also matched with precise finishing when it truly mattered.

Kildare just couldn't deal with the underdogs bite and bark as Carlow continued their remarkable journey. Now a Croke Park clash at the penultimate stage with Laois beckons. The stakes are piled high with the winners advancing to the last 12 in the All Ireland series.

At Glennon Brothers Pearse Park Longford, well organised by Dennis Connerton, had the home supporters saluting another famous win with Meath beaten in the midlands. Longford head for GAA headquarters on Sunday week too for a game with Dublin.

Cork show class under pressure

Around the country people waited and wondered: what type of a performance would Cork summon and the answer in Semple Stadium was emphatic.

Ronan McCarthy had Cork primed with a Munster Final berth secured. Suddenly Cork are only one win away from the new All Ireland Quarter Final series.

Even if Cork are beaten in the provincial decider they will play in a Round Four Qualifier. Suddenly the road is open and the summer is alive with possibilities.

Tipperary will reflect long and hard on a bitterly disappointing evening in which they couldn't disturb the influence of Luke Connolly and Mark Collins, who excelled for the visitors.

Late on Cork introduced Brian Hanley and Paul Kerrigan, who both landed points, while also hinting at the increasing depth in McCarthy's panel.

Between 2004 and 2016 Cork won 10 Munster Under 21 titles so there is no disputing the talent in the county.

Stitching a team together at senior level since 2010 has been a challenge, but there was sufficient evidence available in Thurles to suggest that Cork are ready to compete seriously again.

 

Conlon and Kelly inspire Clare, while Tipp fight back

Ultimately, it was a game Clare had to win in Cusack Park. Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor's team obliged in the first Munster Championship game in Ennis since 1997.

It was an historic and important occasion for the Banner, who were prompted by some brilliant individual displays.

Peter Duggan converted the placed balls with customary aplomb accumulating a healthy haul of 1-10.

Central to Clare's victory, though, was the splendid scoretaking of the influential Tony Kelly, who mined six points from play.

John Conlon's self sufficiency was evident in defeat against Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh and the bustling Clare forward summoned a similarly effective performance.

Conlon struck 1-3 and his ability to earn possession, take and create scores ensured it was a wildly celebrated home win. Suddenly Clare are acquiring belief again.

Tipperary will take some satisfaction from the manner of their recovery against Cork. A defeat could have hurt Tipp deeply, but substitute Jake Morris squeezed a last gasp effort over. Tipperary earned a point, but they made one as well ahead of next Sunday's fascinating fixture with Waterford.

Champions stingy backline

Within an hour of the full-time whistling blasting in sunny west the Galway players were jumping in the Salthill sea.

The recovery process for next Saturday's Leinster Championship tussle against Wexford was well and truly underway.

What had happened earlier in the afternoon augured well for Galway, who completely frustrated Kilkenny with a defiant display.

Amazingly Kilkenny only registered 1-2 from play with the goal from the earnest Walter Walsh arriving deep into stoppage time.

Luke Scanlon was busy, while TJ Reid was accurate from frees, but the abiding memory is how Galway restricted the Kilkenny attack.

James Skehill was safe and sound between the sticks, thumping some monstrous first half puckouts, while Daithi Burke minded the house impressively.

Padraic Mannion was tidy and terrific at wing back, while Gearoid McInerney's relevance at centre back shouldn't be underestimated. John Hanbury, Aidan Harte, and Adrian Tuohey made gutsy contributions too. Galway's forwards are feared, but the backs should be respected hugely also.

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