By PJ Cunningham
Tyrone 1-10 vs 1-7 Dublin
This was primitive stuff. A savage night whipped up by Storm Jorge, savage intensity, whipped up by these two sides’ hatred of each other and savage result for Tyrone as they somehow overturned a chastening experience against Galway the previous week to beat Dublin in Healy Park.
And so Dublin got a bloody nose by losing their first league game under Dessie Farrell in a truly absorbing contest played somewhere between a backdrop of wildly capricious wind and intermittent stair-rods of heavy rain.
Tyrone’s character and desire is never in questions – coming back from a Tuam hiding to win was laced with a never-say-die attitude by all Red Hand players, with Peter Harte leading the attack and scoring two great points after leaving his sister’s wedding to be part of his uncle Mickey Harte’s victory strategy.
To cap it all we had a grandstand finish for the home side when Rory Brennan sallied forward with the game level and in added time, to brilliantly fire home an unstoppable shot to strike a stake through the Dubliners’ chest.
On a night when fisticuffs rained down among both backroom and playing sections, as they entered the tunnel area at the interval, there was a sense of the outrageous everywhere.
— Tyrone GAA (@TyroneGAALive) February 29, 2020
With kicks for scores being buffeted 30 awards away from goal by a monster gale blowing every which way but straight, Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan defied the laws of physics to place three of his four kicks between the sticks from way out the field.
You wouldn’t put a cat outside the door, but there was a great standard of football played by these two teams.
Colm Basquel introduced himself to Omagh and to a starting spot int he Dubs line up with goal after just 90 seconds, a rocket that left Morgan totally helpless.
Thereafter scores were at a premium as both sides gave everything to wrestle control – a feat neither established.
Brennan’s surging run and magnificently taken goal gave the home fans a massive lift and by the time they reached the cars outside, thoughts of Tuam were receding as quickly as Jorge from Irish shores.
Tipperary 0-24 vs 2-16 Waterford
Whichever way you look at it – and in hurling there are many – Tipperary will be the team to beat for those who want to win the major honours this season.
Yes, there are times when they can look ordinary at this time of year, but you can see they have the parts to be a major force again.
Especially as they seem to find the art of scoring that bit easier than other counties, albeit they don’t yet seem to go looking for goals with the same hunger they possess when there is a firmer underfoot in high summer.
This win against previously high-flying Waterford keeps the Premier hopes alive to win the league and they did so despite conceding goals at pivotal times from Peter Hogan and Stephen Bennett.
Cúl den scoth ó @WaterfordGAA 💪
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) March 1, 2020
The Deise outfit though will have to learn to know when to hold them and when to fold them.
Two key players, Austin Gleeson and Kevin Moran, were dismissed in the first period while Tipp’s Cathal Barrett also saw red on the cusp of half-time.
Tipp were never in top gear but even in third and sometimes fourth, they had the likes of Jason Forde, Seamus Callanan and Niall O’Meara, who produced an array of scores that Waterford could not match.
They did fight to the bitter end though with Bennett’s green flag and Pauric Mahony’s majesty from frees keeping the game on tenterhooks until the final whistle.
Clare 0-27 vs 1-15 Dublin
Brian Lohan’s Clare booked a semi-final slot with a comprehensive win over Dublin in Ennis by 0-27 to 1-15.
With a delay in fixtures due to storms a few weeks ago, they don’t yet know who they will face as Limerick, Waterford and Galway are still in with a chance of going through.
Cork, Dublin and Laois are out of contention. Both Limerick and Waterford are certain to be in the mix, but the winner of the division won’t be known for sure until this weekend.
Waterford go to Limerick this Saturday and must win to enter the semi-finals, while Galway and Tipp go head-to-head the following day.
Galway had a good win over Cork 2-18 to 1-16 on Sunday, while Limerick won against an ever-improving Westmeath by 1-24 to 0-18.
— Clare Gaa (@GaaClare) March 1, 2020
The Déise travel to play defending champions Limerick on Saturday evening needing a win to go straight into the last four, while it’s Galway versus Tipperary on Sunday afternoon.
If two teams finish on level points, then head-to-head games are used to decide placings.
If three or more finish on the same points total, then scoring difference will come into play.
Wexford top Div 1B following their 2-29 to 1-11 win over Carlow and now have Kilkenny on their heels after their 3-22 to 1-19 routing of Eddie Brennan’s Laois.
In the semi-finals Davy Fitzgerald’s men take on the third-placed team in Division 1A, while the Brian Cody’s team will take on the second-placed team.
Kerry 1-14 vs 1-13 Mayo
Poor old Mayo can’t buy a win no matter how hard they try anymore. They threatened to do so for long tracks of this game in Castlebar but ultimately came up short by the smallest of margins 1-14 to 1-13.
Keith Higgins had a last-gasp chance of achieving parity but his effort went just wide much to James Horan’s disappointment.
Donegal had way too much power and skill for a disappointing Monaghan side, who often flatter only to deceive.
Listen to the Kerry Supporters in McHale Park pic.twitter.com/yMsipgXyo4
— Kerry GAA (@Kerry_Official) March 1, 2020
They certainly did so on Sunday in Ballyshannon where they went under rather tamely by 2-12 to 0-8. Goals by Hugh McFadden and Caolan Ward killed off any hopes of a fight-back by the Farney men.
Galway condemned Meath to relegation after getting the better of the hosts at Navan on Sunday by 1-14 to 1-12, and Padraic Joyce’s side now has a real chance of a final spot in the top-flight.
They trailed by seven points at one stage but showed their progress this season by fighting back to claim the points.