We have a round up of the weekends GAA along with the SportsNewsIRELAND GAA team of the week
Football team of the week
1. Gary Connaughton (Westmeath) – Huge kicking and vital saves when required.
2. Frank McGlynn (Donegal) – Crucial defending at times. Superb counter-attacking force
3. Finian Hanley (Galway) – Finneran gave him trouble but accounted for him nicely, a fine full-back display
4. Pádraig Browne (Limerick) – Coped with a larger opponent admirably, got around the park and made presence felt.
5. Gareth Bradshaw (Galway) – One of Galway’s best attackers, on this string of form, a shoo-in for an All-Star
6. Michael Quinn (Longford) – Physically imposing and has a great style of playing football. Key to Longford’s success
7. Ray Finnegan (Louth) – Both defence and attck was very good, crucial score at a crucial time
8. John Heslin (Westmeath) – Beat Paddy Keenan in midfield and scored freely. Trojan effort and deserved man of the match
9. Rory Kavanagh (Donegal) – Three points on his 100th game. Put himself about tirelessly
10. Joe Bergin (Galway) – All over the field, effortless passing and impressive link play. One to keep an eye on.
11. Paul Barden (Longford) – Scored the goal that brought his team back into it, numerous crucial interventions in the game. Unmatched work-rate
12. Gary Sice (Galway) – 1-3, 1-1 from someone that was expected to be a negative force. Didn’t give his marker a minute’s peace.
13. Colm McFadden (Donegal) – Essentialy won the game for Donegal as he contributed 1-6, including well-taken goal.
14. Paul Conroy (Galway) – Found his home at centre-forward. Great awareness and game-play mentality. Passing, tackling and scoring all present.
15. Ian Ryan (Limerick) – 1-1 from play and another six points from frees. On his way back to his best. Limerick’s leading light.
Special mention to Padraig Joyce and Michael Meehan who came on as subs and were both superb.
Weekend GAA round up
Sunday saw the beginning of the first round matches in the quest to crown this year’s All-Ireland Football champions. A team can’t win the title in the first week but they can lay down a marker of intent and momentum is key to any championship run.
It may have taken a while for Longford to get going in their Leinster Football Championship first round match against Laois but a strong second half performance saw them progress to the quarter final stage.
Gary Walsh was in fine form for the Déise as they led by six points at half time but a remarkable turnaround by the Larries was initiated by Paul Barden seconds after the restart and Longford went on to record their first win over Laois since 1968 by a single point.
Danny O’Connor was the man of the moment as he was sprung from the bench to score an injury-time goal for Louth as they beat Westmeath in Navan. Despite leading through Ronan O’Carroll’s first half goal at half time, the Lake County showed their profligacy in front of goal and fluffed numerous chances in the second period.
John Heslin kicked three points, including the all-important winner, to set up a quarter-final date with All-Ireland champions Dublin.
Ulster champions, Donegal, made hard work of their encounter with Cavan at Breffni Park to advance to the next round of the championship.
Despite starting well enough, Cavan couldn’t hold on to their lead, as Conor McFadden hit 1-06, which included a penalty, to drag Donegal into the quarter-finals.
Ian Ryan was the leading light for Limerick as he contributed eight points in their 2-10 to 0-07 win over Waterford at the Gaelic Grounds.
Waterford looked lethargic as they put in a very lacklustre display against their Munster counterparts but Ryan looked anything but, as he led the way for Limerick and helped them book a date with Clare in the next round.
Galway put in the most comprehensive performance of the day as they hammered Roscommon by fourteen points. Pádraic Joyce and Michael Meehan both came off the bench to put in impressive displays as Mark Hehir, Paul Conroy and Gary Sice all found the net and there was a clear winner for score of the day as Gareth Bradshaw hit a sumptuous point to put them seven points clear.
So what have we learned so far?
It seems that the key to Donegal’s success will again be their physicality. Expect more of the same as last season, as, McFadden aside, the Tír Connell men will look to play a negative style of football against better opposition. Derry will be a much sterner test.
Limerick have a real chance of a Munster final spot as they won’t meet Cork or Kerry until the final and will be confident of accounting for Clare.
The return of Meehan and Joyce, combined with a real ruthless streak in front of goal, show that Galway are the team to beat in Connacht. Sligo will do well to hold them.
Both Longford and Louth showed real heart and tenacity to win their games by the minimum. The Larries will fancy their chances against Wexford, however, Louth will be huge underdogs as Dublin look to kickstart the defence of their Leinster crown on June 6th.