Republican News · Thursday 03 August 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Kildare and Dublin to go again

As Dublin prepared for last Sunday's Leinster Final, they were tagged as underdogs against a strong but highly inconsistent Kildare team. True, Dublin hadn't been tested by any major county in the run-up to the big game, but the underdog status probably galled the mighty men of the Metropolis.

However, after their performance at Croke Park on Sunday, they should count their blessings that they have survived to fight another day. When Kildare kicked their first point of the game to cancel Jim Gavin's score a minute earlier, we had a first taste of what would torment the Dubs throughout the 70 minutes - Kildare's ability to short-pass the ball down the field.

When they tried to counter the Lilywhites' flowing pass action, Dublin treated the ball like a hot potato, fumbling it almost every time it came sailing through the air in their direction. Dublin's defensive marking was nothing short of atrocious but the saviours on the day were Brian Stynes and Ciaran Whelan in midfield.

Kildare's lack of good long range kickers ultimately allowed Dublin off the hook, but the Lilywhites will have been more disappointed with the draw, having probably deserved the result on the balance of play.

Although Kildare are a more durable outfit than in years past, I believe that Declan Darcy's return from injury, which should help with scoring frees (at which the Dubs were atrocious on Sunday) should see Dublin advance.

Westmeath spring surprise

Dublin's minors would have been well happy had they escaped with a draw to fight another day, but they were seen off by a determined Westmeath by 2-9 to 1-10. Although the Dublin boys had a one man advantage for the bulk of the game, Westmeath's right-corner back being sent off after six minutes, they couldn't keep the gallant midlanders down for long. Westmeath were kept scoreless for the first 21 minutes of the second half, but a late goal that reduced a five-point deficit to just two was followed up with a flurry of points in an impressive Westmeath finish, as Dublin faded.

Easy for Galway

At Dr Hyde Park, Galway cruised to a 1-13 to 0-8 victory against a less than impressive Leitrim in the Connacht football final.

Considering their superiority (Leitrim only managed one score in the first half) Galway might well wonder how they emerged with just a six-point victory. The Tribesmen put 18 shots wide of the posts, giving manager John O'Mahony plenty to work on before the All-Ireland semi-final against either Dublin or Kildare.

Rooney gave his side's fans something to cheer about with his six of the total eight points for Leitrim, all of which came from frees.

Leitrim will now have a three to four month respite until the National League starts back in the Autumn while Galway march on unscathed and untested to the All-Ireland series.

Connacht Minors

Mayo's Minor footballers successfully defended their Connacht title with a 1-12 to 1-8 victory over Roscommon. It should have been more than a four-point margin between the sides, only for Mayo's astonishing 17 wides during the game. Nine of the wides were recorded in the first half, in which Mayo could only kick over two scores - both from frees - while Roscommon registered five points.

early second half goal for Mayo, however, changed the run of the game and led them to victory, although not without a fight by the Ros'.

Celtic scrape win

Across the water in Scotland, Celtic's new manager Martin O'Neill watched as the Bhoys earned him his first Premier League victory against Dundee Utd, albeit less than convincingly.

Chris Sutton enjoyed the perfect league debut in the Celtic shirt by scoring in the 68th minute to help Celtic to a 2-1 win.

But as Celtic fans know too well, it is too early for any aspirations of glory. Will they race ahead of their Glasgow rivals, Rangers, or will it just be another year of torment for the Bhoys' fans? These are the no-go questions for Celtic fans at this stage in the season.

We will just have to wait and see what O'Neill can conjure in the coming months.


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