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Five things we learned this GAA weekend: TJ Reid and Patrick Horgan in silent arms race

Limerick are still struggling to find their top gears, while Jack O’Connor had plenty to say to his Kerry players on Saturday

Reid and Horgan are shattering records – why is no one talking about it?

A small but significant slice of hurling history was made over the weekend. Indeed, it was made twice. On Saturday, TJ Reid became the first player in the history of the game to pass 600 points in championship hurling. His haul of 10 frees against Dublin brought his total score for Kilkenny across a 15-year career to 30-516 (606 points).

Not to be outdone, Patrick Horgan passed the magic number on Sunday afternoon during Cork’s one-point defeat to Clare. His 1-9 total in Ennis moved him onto 23-541 (610) and lifted him back to the top of the all-time scoring charts, a position he had held since taking over from Joe Canning in May 2022.

The GAA’s baffling aversion to making a fuss about this stuff means that virtually nobody took any notice of it over the weekend. Over the past few months, the casual sports-watcher will have heard more – far, far more – about Erling Haaland’s record-breaking Premier League season or Johnny Sexton’s all-time Six Nations points record than they ever will about Horgan and Reid’s assault on the hurling record books.

It seems like a lost opportunity, to put it mildly. This is a unique moment in hurling history.


Never before have two players swapped the all-time record over-and-back between them. Never before have two players been this far ahead of the pack – Joe Canning finished on 27-468 (567) and the closest current player is Seamus Callanan on 39-223 (340). We could be decades away from this happening again, if indeed it ever does.

We should be screaming it from the rooftops. - Malachy Clerkin

Limerick still struggling to get their mojo rising

The general assumption was that a three week break would be more than enough time for Limerick to recover their mojo, but it was clear in Semple Stadium on Sunday that the search continues.

John Kiely, the Limerick manager, claimed that there had been an “incremental” improvement for the second game in a row, and that the team had shown “resolve and character” and that they “kept doing the right thing, and kept doing what we wanted them to do.”

And yet none of it had added up to a win that would have changed the narrative.

In the second half they created conditions that, in any of their All-Ireland winning seasons, would have resulted in just one outcome. Their half-back line took over, Will O’Donoghue stormed into the game at centrefield, they quickly took the lead with an intensive sequence of four uninterrupted scores, Tipp suddenly found it hard to get their hands on a puck-out, and the breeze was at Limerick’s back. And yet they couldn’t fashion any of those base materials into a win.

Gearoid Hegarty was once again miles from his usual standard, and so was Cian Lynch – both of them replaced in the second half. In the absence of Sean Finn Limerick didn’t really have anybody to put a brake on Jake Morris and Barry Nash’s influence as a fire-starter from corner-back was blunted by Tipperary’s relentless tackling.

Clare are already in the Munster final and Tipp are hot favourites to join them, which leaves Limerick in a straight shoot-out with Cork for the third qualifying spot. Just to stay in the championship. – Denis Walsh

Jack O’Connor clearly had something to tell the Kerry players on Saturday

The press box at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney is on the terraced side of the field, backdropped behind by the old Psychiatric Hospital, some patients of which helped to build this magnificent arena, back in the day.

From there, on these match days, it’s a quick sprint down the terraced steps, across that field, towards the dressing-room tunnel at the town end, then up a flight of stairs to an interview room where the winning and losing managers are brought up to talk to us.

On Saturday in the late afternoon, minutes after filing an online match report on-the-whistle of Mayo beating Kerry – and with that ending their unbeaten home championship run going to 1995 – my sprint collided with some of the Mayo players warming-down, doing some post-match sprints of their own. (Don’t worry, I slowed down.)

Once up the stairs, Kevin McStay was already wrapping up on his reactions, a satisfied man with a satisfied mind, Mayo winning 1-19 to 0-17.

“Of course we wanted the early bounce,” McStay said of Mayo’s excellent, dominant performance. “We felt we engaged very early and very often. That set the foundation, got us to half-time… The challenge was, get out, rinse and repeat, and keep that pressure on the opposition.”

Which they did – and Kerry had no answer.

After that, we were told, Jack O’Connor was on the way up. He was in the shower, and he wouldn’t be long.

He wasn’t long, only when he arrived up, O’Connor clearly wasn’t showered. What kept him in the Kerry dressing room was something else: there were things to be said to his players, and he wasn’t going to leave until all was said and done.

It was not the performance O’Connor was looking for.

“Obviously we’re not as good as people thought we were after the Clare game,” he started, referencing Kerry’s 84th Munster title win. “You can only play what’s in front of you. But the big thing for us is, we need to learn from today.”

Indeed their path to Saturday’s Group One round-robin game was limited to two teams, one relegated from Division Two (Clare), the other relegated from Division Three (Tipperary).

“I’ve been involved with Kerry teams before that have been beaten by more than this, and came back and finished the year successfully. I was involved when we were beaten by Cork by eight points up in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and came back and won the All-Ireland after. We need to use this experience to pick our team the way we need to pick it, and maybe set up different tactically.”

O’Connor was presumably referencing the 2006 season, when they lost to Cork in the Munster final replay (by six points, actually), then came back to beat Mayo in the All-Ireland final, 4-15 to 3-5.

One thing in that moment felt certain: if Kerry do come back to play Mayo later this summer, they won’t play this badly again. – Ian O’Riordan

Tyrone find some purchase in playing the long game

When in doubt, just boot it out! For all the time, consideration and effort teams give to their kick-out strategies, few goalkeepers last weekend had as much success from their restarts as Peter Harte.

When Niall Morgan was shown a black card in the first half of Tyrone’s All-Ireland SFC round-robin game against Galway in Pearse Stadium, Harte temporarily stood between the posts for the visitors. Galway, sensing vulnerability, squeezed his kick-outs during that 10-minute period but all four of Harte’s restarts were won by Tyrone players.

Harte didn’t try to be clever or inventive. Instead, he went long with each one, essentially landing the ball around the middle third to be contested in a 50-50 battle. Brian Kennedy was fouled by Paul Conroy for the first one, Mattie Donnelly got fouled after the second kick-out while Conn Kilpatrick won a free with Harte’s third restart. Kennedy won the fourth, but then conceded a free as he slipped and touched the ball on the ground.

Still, four from four in terms of kick-outs for Harte, it wasn’t a bad goalkeeping cameo – and indicates Tyrone have the ability to win aerial battles in that middle third if they can force opponents to go long. Galway only added one point during Morgan’s time in the sin-bin. – Gordon Manning

It’s a long, long way . . . Clare starting to find their feet in Cork rivalry

The Clare-Cork rivalry has not traditionally been one of the Munster pairings that stirs the blood or recalls the nostalgia of sepia-tinted snapshots. Tradition was actually Clare’s enemy. Even going into Sunday, the running tally was Cork 40 out of 59 and Clare just 14.

Thirty years ago, the victory over then league winners Cork was unexpected and set the stage for one of those painful beatings by Tipperary in the final. Two years later, before a small attendance in Limerick, an up-and-coming Clare under the new management of Ger Loughnane just about got over the line with a late, late goal from Ollie Baker.

In those days there were no safety nets and without that score they were gone and that memorable 1995 All-Ireland with it.

When they played again in 1997, a Tipperary friend said that his father, who was well disposed towards the Clare revolution nonetheless worried that “they’ll never beat Cork three times running”. They did.

What’s probably surprising is that from the turn of the century up until the round-robin era began in 2018, tradition reasserted itself so strongly. Of 11 matches, Clare won just one and drew one. Of course they weren’t just any old matches but the 2013 All-Ireland final and replay.

In recent times, it has become more evenly contested and tit-for-tat. This month also saw the counties tussling at minor and under-20 provincial finals, coming out honours even. Clare’s victory on Sunday means that they have won three of the four round-robin meetings to date but they have always been edge-of-the-seat affairs and they lost the 2018 Munster final.

They know what to expect from Cork, whose scoring returns in the fixture have been stunningly consistent in this era – and counting in the 2021 qualifier match during Covid. Since 2018 Cork have registered 2-23, 2-24, 2-18, 3-19, 2-20 and on Sunday 3-18.

To win their three matches, Clare have had to shoot 2-23, 0-28 and this weekend 2-22. Is that a formula? – Sean Moran