Sunday 18 March 2018

Tipp taking advantage of Kerry's minor blip

Is Kerry's loss to Tipperary in the Munster minor football championship semi-final on Wednesday a flash in the pan or a sign of serious problems at underage level for the Kingdom? Kerry led by ten points at half-time in Thurles but lost.

Last year it was Kerry's under 21s who were embarrassed by Tipperary, losing the Munster football final 1-7 to 1-6. That defeat was sandwiched by two hammerings from Cork in the same grade, the 1-17 to 0-9 drubbing in 2009 and this year's 2-24 to 0-8 massacre. Since 2003, Kerry have won only one Munster under 21 title, in 2008, their worst such run ever. And while they've won five provincial minor titles in the same period, they haven't won an All-Ireland in that grade since 1994, their longest fallow spell in history.

On the other hand, things are looking up for Tipp. Last year's Munster under 21 victory was compensation for losing the provincial final the previous year to a last-second goal by a Cork team who went on to win the All-Ireland. And last Wednesday's remarkable minor win was their first over Kerry since 2002.

They now head to their third Munster minor final in four years, looking for a first provincial victory since 1995 when a team with Declan Browne at left corner-forward defeated Cork. The Rebels will again provide the opposition on July 3 and Tipp's main stumbling block may be Dan McEoin, the right corner-forward from Ilen Rovers who hit five points from play in last year's All-Ireland final which Cork lost by a point to Tyrone and landed the same total as they beat Clare 1-16 to 0-6 in last week's other semi-final.

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A DONEGAL club, whose claim to fame was that it was so close to the Border that it was possible to kick the ball into Northern Ireland, has now been granted permission to play its home games in that jurisdiction.

In a magnanimous gesture, the Irish Football Association have allowed Ulster Senior League side, Killea FC, to play their home fixtures this season at the Templemore Sports Complex in Derry.

It is believed to be the first occasion a football club based in the Republic of Ireland and playing under the aegis of the FAI will play its home fixtures in Northern Ireland -- another political jurisdiction. This is also highly unusual in European terms, and the IFA consulted with UEFA before reaching their decision.

The move was forced on the club as the draining and levelling work at Killea's ground was started too late last season to leave the pitch ready for this year's campaign.

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There have been a number of reactions to Nickey Brennan's Croke Park tango with the Queen of England.

Ger Loughnane says that Kilkenny have been touching the Queen like this for years and it's about time they were penalised for it. Brian Cody says he didn't see the incident.

Michael Duignan says that if you actually look at the replay, the Queen wrapped her elbow around Brennan's arm to draw the foul.

And RTE News At One says that the incident has gravely embarrassed Nickey's son, former Irish rugby international Trevor Brennan.

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Mullingar man Gerry Duffy must be a glutton for punishment. How else could you describe his decision to head to England next month to take part in ten iron man events? Depending on how you look on it, this is the ultimate test of human physical endurance as he swims, runs and cycles for 13 hours a day for ten consecutive days or just pure insanity?

Then, Duffy is no stranger to punishing regimes. There was a time, not too long ago, when he was 50 pounds overweight and smoking 40 cigarettes a day. But he enjoyed something of a conversion on the road to Damascus a few years ago, following a chance meeting with Seve Ballesteros, which inspired him to change his ways to such an extent that last summer he undertook an extraordinary adventure, completing with friend Ken Whitelaw a full marathon in every county in Ireland over 32 consecutive days. The extraordinary feat also helped raise half a million euro for Irish Autism Action and the Irish Cancer Society.

Duffy took time out of his hectic training schedule for next month's grueller in the UK to write his story over the last few months and the compelling book Who Dares, Runs hits the shelves this weekend.

Eamonn Sweeney and Seán Ryan

Sunday Indo Sport

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