There were wins for Kerry, Donegal and Westmeath today as this year's All-Ireland championship got underway in earnest. Kerry overcame Limerick in the Munster Championship first round, Donegal beat Cavan in the Ulster Championship preliminary round while Westmeath beat Carlow in the first round of the Leinster Championship. There were also wins today for Clare, who beat Waterford in Munster, and Louth, who overcame Longford in the Leinster Championship first round replay.
At the Gaelic Grounds, Musnter champions Kerry had to work very hard to overcome a gallant Limerick. Expectations were high in Limerick having beaten the champions in the league just six weeks ago, but despite starting without captain Daire O'Sé, Kerry opened well with points from Aodhán MacGearailt and Colm Cooper. But Limerick were winning the battle at midfield and they soon hit the back of the Kerry net through Danny Murphy.
Kerry then hit seven points without reply and lead at half-time 0-09 to 1-01. Limerick had lots of possession in the second half and will rue a host of missed chances. To their credit, they kicked three points after the restart and had Kerry worried in a number of areas. Further points from Reidy, Stokes and Fitzgerald left just one between the sides with ten minutes to go, but Michael Francis Russell added two late points to save the day for Kerry.
At Breffni Park, Donegal had a five-point winning margin over Cavan with a 1-17 to 0-15 win. The first indication of Donegal's good form came after only 50 seconds when Brian Roper blasted home a goal for Donegal. Man of the match Brendan Devaney added a point from a free in the fourth minute before the excellent Adrian Sweeney kicked two to put Donegal six points ahead. Before the quarter ended, Cavan had rallied with two pointed frees from Gerald Pearson and one from play by Larry Reilly.
Donegal led by seven points in the 30th minute when Cavan got their only chance of a goal. Pearse McKenna made a good run through the centre before passing to Gerald Pearson. Unfortunately for Cavan, Pearson's shot went wide and with it Cavan's chance of recovery. It was hard luck on Pearson who kicked ten of Cavan's 15 points, with nine coming from frees.
Elsewhere, Westmeath beat Carlow by 1-14 to 1-10, Clare defeated Waterford 3-10 to 2-09, Fermanagh comfortably ousted Monaghan 4-13 to 2-11 while Louth overcame Longford by 3-17 to 1-12. In the Hurling championship, Meath edged out Laois by 2-16 to 1-18, Dublin beat Westmeath by 2-12 to 1-12 and Down thrashed London by 3-22 to 1-09.
Filed by Tom Grealis