Another 2 games were played at either end of the country for Round 3 of the AFL Ireland Men’s Premiership on the second last Saturday of July. As the South Dublin Swans headed south to face the Leeside Lions in Cork, the Galway Magpies made the trip north to take on the Belfast Redbacks.
Leeside Lions v South Dublin Swans
The top of the table clash down in Delanys GAA Club in Cork was set to be a mouth watering affair. Much like previous meetings of these two clubs, it lived up to the billing. Both clubs came into the game on the back of perfect starts to the campaign. However, the first away fixture for the Swans was to be their most testing to date.
The game got under way in glorious sunshine in Kilbarry. It was the visitors who performed well at the stoppages early on, with the likes of Dillon Browne winning a lot of tap downs from Andrew Baldwin, the tall Aussie deputising in the ruck for matchday 3. The Lions drew first blood however, with the ever impressive Darren Dwyer goaling early on to set the pace of the game. Stephen Boyle, with his first goal for the Dublin side, responded in a quarter which see sawed right the way through. The Lions taking the lead going into the first break.
The second term saw the home side turn the screw. Kevin Jones, the impressive Lions mid was a constant thorn in the side of the Swans and he began to see a lot of the pill as the second term progressed. James Hegarty and Jerry Cronin formed a good partnership down back for the Leesiders, as the experienced Paul Murphy acted as sweeper in front of the defence. This kept the Swans somewhat quieter in the second term, as the Lions forwards went to work. 61 to 33 at the big break in favour of the home side.
The Swans rallied and came out fighting in the 3rd. Buoyed by the return of Declan Morgan who had a fantastic game in the middle for the Swans, the visitors tried to mount a comeback. The tireless Keith Wheelan grabbed his first goal for the club which was reward for his hard work throughout. Stephen Boyle added to his tally while Dan Matveyeff scored an outstanding goal from the sideline.
The task for the Dublin side was too much to ask in the final term. The Lions regrouped and only for some inaccuracies in front of the big sticks, could have been out of sight much earlier. Padraic O’Connell, who scored 3 on the day was at his tricky best in the final term and could have had more with some speculative efforts from the pocket that went through for behinds. The hardworking Swans went to the final whistle as they put their bodies on the line all day but the quality from the Leesiders told on the day. A quality game that saw the two sides produce a hard fought game and no doubt will do the same when they meet again in September.
Leeside Lions 13 17 95
South Dublin Swans 7 8 50
Belfast Redbacks v Galway Magpies
Having had their Round 2 clash with the Leeside Lions postponed, the Galway Magpies headed to Belfast for their second game on the road. Both sides knew that a win was a must to keep them in contention with the sides at the top.
The home side started strongly and in truth never looked back. Knowing what was at stake, Dean Skinner and Kyle Devine led by example in the forward line. The 2 bright sparks from their Round 2 clash in Dublin continued their form into Round 3. It was somewhat of a goal kicking competition between both on the day. The Aussie, Skinner, pipping the Tyrone man in the end 10 goals to Devine’s 8.
David McElhone, who missed the trip to the capital in Round 2, was back and was in fine form once more in the centre of the park. The Redbacks stalwart adding 4 goals to his own illustrious goal scoring tally.
The Magpies, who have added a lot of new recruits to their ranks this year, can put this down as a learning curve. They were never really in this game but there will be plenty of games left in the year to make their mark on the Premiership yet.
As the quarters added up, so did the home sides score. Every Redback was eager to get on the scoresheet, with 15 players racking up at least 1 point each.
This game will give the Belfast side a lot of confidence going into their next game as they travel to face the undefeated Leeside Lions. The Magpies will have to pick themselves up and get back in the race as they host the Swans in Galway and no doubt they will as they can expect to have a full compliment of players for their first home game of the season.
A whitewash in Belfast in the end.
Belfast Redbacks 38 13 241
Galway Magpies 0 2 2