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Canning shows way as Galway eye title encore

 

By John Campbell

Galway, with the inspirational Joe Canning in superb form, made no mistake in yesterday's replay of the Leinster senior hurling championship final when they beat Kilkenny by 1-28 to 3-15.

The reigning All-Ireland champions have certainly taken a big step towards back-to-back titles courtesy of this result but manager Michael O'Donoghue knows that more difficult tests lie ahead.

Galway looked to be in a comfortable position entering the last quarter of the game but with TJ Reid and Richie Hogan in fine form, Kilkenny got to within one point of their opponents before they pulled clear again in a storming finish.

Canning's accuracy from frees and play - he scored 0-11 in all - proved crucial as Galway underlined their desire to remain as All-Ireland champions.

In the All-Ireland U21 'B' Hurling Championship Donegal swept past Tyrone by 3-13 to 2-4 while Kerry got the better of Down by 2-20 to 2-9. Donegal will now meet neighbours Sligo in their next outing.

Yet amid a welter of high-profile football ties and important hurling matches over the weekend, the performance of one outfit in particular merits plaudits.

Derry's unexpected draw with Cork (0-11 each) in the All-Ireland intermediate camogie championship not only sparks the promise of further progress in the competition but serves as a kiss of life to the sport in the county.

A Cork side which had remained unbeaten this year travelled to Swatragh in the role of hot favourites to advance in the Group One series yet emerged as extremely fortunate to maintain their unblemished record.

Restricted to five points from frees in the first half, the visitors trailed Derry from the start and it was only in the closing minutes that a late point saw stalemate ultimately ensue.

Mairead McNicholl's four points, a commanding display by her sister Grainne and a significant contribution from Slaughtneil's supremely talented Cassidy sisters Eilis, Brona and Aoife ensured that Derry remained in the driving seat for the greater part of the game.

Ahead by 0-10 to 0-8 entering the final phase, Derry looked poised for victory until Cork's experience and guile helped them extricate themselves from a vulnerable position.

But if Derry can ponder the future with greater confidence, Antrim, who have lost the services of manager Joe Baldwin, face uncertainty having been forced to concede their fixture to Tipperary.

Down, meanwhile, had no answer to the scoring power of Niamh O'Dea who hit 2-8 of Clare's total of 2-17 in their win over the Mourne county in the All-Ireland ladies intermediate football championship. Down scored 1-9 in response but O'Dea's accuracy proved the difference between the sides.

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