Three teams from outside Ulster but the managers of which have their roots in the province find themselves imbued with considerable optimism going forward in the All-Ireland football qualifiers following fine victories at the weekend.
Perhaps the most impressive side of all in the eight second round matches were Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare who humbled Justin McNulty’s Laois outfit by 3-16 to 0-10 at Portlaoise where John Doyle, Tomas O’Connor and James Kavanagh scored the winners’ goals.
Kildare’s blistering pace, frenetic work-rate and sharp finishing ripped the heart out of Laois in the second-half with players like Mick Foley, Hugh Lynch and others stepping up smartly to the mark.
There was joy for Meath boss Seamus McEnaney when his side pipped Galway by 0-11 to 0-10 at Navan.
Galway looked to be in a winning position entering injury-time but points from Brian Farrell and Stephen Bray took Meath over the line.
Former Monaghan boss McEnaney is now hoping that Meath can become serious contenders for ‘Sam’ after their faltering start to the year when they came close to suffering demotion in the league.
And there was a huge bonus too for Waterford boss John Owens who hails from Down. He saw his team beat an indisciplined London side by 1-17 to 0-13 with Gary Hurney’s goal crucial to their victory.
London finished with thirteen players after Paul Geraghty and Ciaran McCallion were sent off. Paul Whyte and Wayne Hennessy were impressive in a Waterford attack that fired on all cylinders.
Owens, who has overseen a renaissance in Waterford, is now targeting further progress with his reinvigorated team.
There was a surprise in the All Ireland Hurling Championship when Galway had a rather facile victory over Cork by 2-23 to 1-14.
Paudie O’Sullivan scored Cork’s goal after just 17 seconds but Damien Hayes and Cyril Donnellan subsequently hit Galway’s goals while Joe Canning contributed 10 points and Ger Farragher hit four.