Waterford 2-27 Kilkenny 2-23: Deise stun Cats with comeback to reach All-Ireland final

Waterford came back from a nine-point deficit to stun Kilkenny and reach the All-Ireland final in an epic game at Croke Park.

The Déise have tried and failed in the most heroic ways over the 61 years since their last All-Ireland title. Wouldn’t it be typical if they ended their drought in this most unusual of years?

Liam Cahill has stirred the waters on Suir-side. The Tipperary native has rejuvenated this Déise team, and has overseen their way back to the big-time.

Before this season, Waterford had not won a championship game since the 2017 All-Ireland semi-final. More-so than anyone, Waterford know just how hard it is to reach the final. And they will be gunning to finally get over the line this time around.

The Cats set up defensively initially, looking to swarm the Waterford attack. And it worked a treat, as Dessie Hutchinson and Co were starved of the space which they craved.

Up front, the Cats were far more efficient, playing a smart passing game, and working their way into an early lead. Up the other end, Waterford were getting frustrated, amassing nine first-half wide, in no small part thanks to poor shot selection.

Kilkenny’s work-rate was summed up in the 19th minute, as Calum Lyons was forced to battle his way out of defence. The Ballyduff Lower man eventually opened his shoulders to drive it over the bar for a long-range point, but the pressure under which he was put was indicative of the effort applied by the Kilkenny forwards throughout.

The cracks began to appear in the Waterford defence.

First it was Richie Hogan who won a long ball and ran in on goal. His fierce shot was straight at Stephen O’Keeffe who stood up well. But Martin Keoghan was on-hand to pull on it into the net.

In the 25th minute, TJ Reid added a second. The Ballyhale star poached a ball from under the nose from Conor Prunty, after the Abbeyside man failed to catch the sliotar clean from the sky. The former Hurler of the Year ran in and buried it into a net, to help his side into a 2-11 to 0-10 advantage at the break.

Waterford looked rattled, and it appeared playing three weekends in succession was proving too great an ask.

Waterford had trailed by nine during the first-half, but it was as if a switch was flicked at the break. They re-appeared rejuvenated. Whatever Liam Cahill said at half-time, it certainly had its desired effect.

A string of points from Bennett, Dessie Hutchinson and Austin Gleeson hauled them back into contention. And a Bennett goal flipped the contest on its head.

Neil Montgomery’s long-range point in the 52nd minute then put the Déise into the lead.

Remarkably, Waterford led by three when the second-half water break was called. And it was a pause badly needed by the Cats, who were in disarray.

Although Waterford’s momentum had momentarily stalled, they quickly got back on track. 2016 Hurler of the Year Gleeson had found his groove and was causing havoc up front, with Tadhg de Búrca putting over an inspirational score.

When substitute Darragh Lyons rattled the net in the 59th minute, the fat lady was clearing her throat.

Kilkenny were unable to claw it back, as Waterford held out for a famous victory.

But they have enjoyed some big wins in Croke Park down through the years and come away with nothing. Waterford are coming back to Jones’ Road for All-Ireland final day, intent on finally landing the biggest prize of the lot.


Kilkenny: TJ Reid (1-14 – 0-13 frees), Martin Keoghan (1-1), Richie Hogan (0-2), Eoin Cody (0-2), John Donnelly (0-2), Cillian Buckley (0-1), Paddy Deegan (0-1).

Waterford: Stephen Bennett (1-10 – 0-6 frees), Austin Gleeson (0-4), Conor Gleeson (1-0), Jack Prendergast (0-2), Calum Lyons (0-2), Dessie Hutchinson (0-2), Neil Montgomery (0-2), Shane McNulty (0-1), Iarlaith Daly (0-1), Tadhg de Búrca (0-1), Jamie Barron (0-1), Jack Fagan (0-1).



1. Stephen O’Keeffe

2. Ian Kenny
3. Conor Prunty
4. Shane McNulty

5. Calum Lyons
6. Tadhg de Búrca
7. Kevin Moran

8. Jamie Barron
9. Jake Dillon

10. Stephen Bennett
11. Kieran Bennett
12. Jack Fagan

13. Dessie Hutchinson
14. Austin Gleeson
15. Jack Prendergast


Neil Montgomery for Jake Dillon (18th minute)
Darragh Lyons for Kieran Bennett (49th minute)
Iarlaith Daly for Kevin Moran (61st minute)
Conor Gleeson for Jack Prendergast (61st minute)
Patrick Curran for Jack Fagan (68th minute)


1. Eoin Murphy

2. Conor Delaney
3. Huw Lawlor
4. Tommy Walsh

5. Padraig Walsh
6. Cillian Buckley
7. Paddy Deegan

8. Conor Browne
9. Conor Fogarty

10. John Donnelly
11. TJ Reid
12. Martin Keoghan

13. Billy Ryan
14. Richie Hogan
15. Eoin Cody


Walter Walsh for Martin Keoghan (39th minute)
Colin Fennelly for Billy Ryan (48th minute)
Alan Murphy for Conor Browne (temporary 49th-52nd minute)
Nialll Brassil for Richie Hogan (57th minute)
Ger Aylward for Eoin Cody (58th minute)

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Sarah Fuller set to make sports history on the gridiron when Vanderbilt plays Missouri

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Vanderbilt women’s soccer player Sarah Fuller is poised to make history Saturday when she takes the field for the Commodores' football game against Missouri.

Fuller is set to be used as the team’s placekicker and would be the first female to appear on a football field for an SEC school or any Power 5 conference team. Power 5 schools play in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC or Pac-12.

“Let's make history,” the senior Commodores goalkeeper wrote in a tweet with a picture of her in football gear with a soccer ball next to her and a football in her hands.

She will be wearing “Play Like A Girl” on the back of her helmet.

“I think it’s amazing and incredible. But I’m also trying to separate that because I know this is a job I need to do, and I want to help the team out and I want to do the best that I can,” she said. “Placing that historical aspect aside just helps me focus in on what I need to do. I don’t want to let them down in anyway.”

Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason called on Fuller after the special teams unit was left bare due to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols. Mason reached out to soccer coach Darren Ambrose for help.

Fuller was seen kicking field goals in practice Friday.

Fuller would replace Pierson Cookie and Wes Farley. Cooke is 3-for-7 this year and Farley is the backup. Mason said he reached out to Ambrose about seeing whether Fuller would be interested. Fuller began kicking for the football team in practice Tuesday.

“I just wanted to see how strong her leg was, and I can tell you she's got a strong leg,” Mason said earlier in the week. “We'll see what that yields. I mean in terms of distances, I'm not into talking about that. I got another like day to day to go in there and evaluate exactly where she sits. … She seems to be a pretty good option.”

In this image provided by Vanderbilt Athletics, Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller adjusts her helmet during NCAA college football practice, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt Athletics via AP)

She started nine of Vanderbilt’s 12 games during the season, recording three shutouts and seven wins. She had an 0.97 goals-against average.

April Gross was the last female to play in a college football game. She kicked an extra point for Kent State in the first half in September 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Players Championship Finals 2020: Michael van Gerwen defends title; Mensur Suljovic and Jeff Smith withdraw

Mensur Suljovic and Jeff Smith have withdrawn from this weekend’s Players Championship Finals, handing Ryan Meikle and Darren Webster a place in the field.

Smith was the first player to withdraw as he returns to Canada to prepare for the World Championship, with his sport handing Meikle a chance to move into the field. He was joined by former semi-finalist Webster after a family bereavement meant world no 18 Suljovic would not be competing.

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  • PDC World Darts Championship: Schedule, results & draw

World No 1 Michael van Gerwen is the defending champion having won his fifth Players Championship title last year, but with just four titles across the truncated PDC season, he is enduring his toughest campaign since his major PDC breakthrough in 2012.

Did you know?

Over the past four seasons Michael van Gerwen has won 77 individual titles – but he has not gone beyond the semi-finals of his last seven TV events

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The three-time world champion has just a solitary TV title to his name, having beaten Gerwyn Price at the UK Open in March, and has added just three more Pro Tour titles across the Summer and Autumn Series, with a third defeat to Simon Whitlock at the Grand Slam week the latest early exit.

Having boasted a cumulative tally of 77 individual titles across the previous four years he is out to end a barren spell as the PDC regular season reaches its conclusion in the now familiar surroundings of the Ricoh Arena – and he kicks off against Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas.

Jose De Sousa, the PDC’s newest champion having won the Grand Slam of Darts on Tuesday night, plays Mike De Dekker, while World Matchplay winner Dimitri Van den Bergh plays Ryan Searle and Premier League champion Glen Durrant meets Wayne Jones.

2020 PDC televised champions

The tournament gets under way on Friday afternoon with Price, alongside Van Gerwen, the join favourite for the event having won more titles that anyone else across the year.

Price is an eight-time winner this year, with the World Grand Prix, the World Series of Darts and the World Cup alongside Jonny Clayton all coming in the last couple of months and the Welshman will kick off his title bid against John Henderson in the first round.

Peter Wright will play the last event before heading to Alexandra Palace to defend his world title and he faces late replacement Meikle

The £500,000 three-day tournament, traditionally held at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort, has been switched to the Ricoh Arena and as well as title contenders represents final chances to earn ranking money that will affect a place at the World Championship.

PDC Titles 2021 Season

The Worlds are coming…..

The PDC World Darts Championship is on after the news on Monday that Alexandra Palace would host the event, and that the PDC has begun talks with the venue with the hope of fans being able to attend, in line with the latest UK government advice.

The 96-player field will be confirmed next Monday after the Tour Card holders qualifier and the conclusion of the regular season at the Players Championship Finals this weekend. The draw will take place on Sky Sports News on Thursday December 3.

You won’t miss a dart this Christmas thanks to the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel which returns from December 15 until January 4 for every session from the World Darts Championship as Peter Wright defends the Sid Waddell Trophy

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Sport fans WILL return to live games from December 2 with Premier League stadiums back open as rules relaxed

FOOTBALL fans will be back in stadiums next Wednesday — but thousands are still set to be locked out.

Culture Secretary Oliver  Dowden yesterday confirmed the lifting of the national ban from December 2.

The announcement is a potential lifeline for clubs in Leagues One and Two, the National League, rugby union and horse racing.

Grounds have been empty since the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown back in March.

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Outdoor gates are to be capped at just 4,000 — and even that depends on which tier a club’s locality is in.

Dowden explained clubs in Tier One areas, where Covid restrictions are the least severe, will be allowed 50 per cent of their capacity up to that  4,000 maximum.

Those in Tier Two will be restricted to 2,000 or 50 per cent — again, whichever is the lower figure — but clubs in Tier Three remain empty.

Tiers are set to be announced on Thursday but, based on those before this latest lockdown, the only Prem clubs to be allowed the full 4,000 fans will be Brighton and Southampton.

The South coast rivals are due to play each other on the weekend of December 5, the first round of action after the rules relax.

And 22 of the EFL’s 69 English clubs would also make the grade.

It leaves clubs having to ballot  season-ticket holders to decide who gets in — with giant Tier 2 stadiums at Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham and Newcastle restricted to one fan for every 30 seats.

Clubs know they will face criticism if they put corporate fans ahead of normal match-goers while some may question whether it is cost-efficient — it is understood Wembley needs crowds of 10,000 at events to break even.

Many sides in the North will have to continue to play in empty stadiums, with strict Tier 3 restrictions expected to remain in place.

Based on those previous tiers a whopping  SEVEN Prem clubs, and 20 in the EFL — including top-flight giants Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City — will still NOT be allowed any fans.

Burnley’s Turf Moor is another that will remain shut and boss Sean Dyche said: “It is a start point.

“Even if it is limited numbers it brings that feel and that connection back. Hopefully it will build quickly after that. We have missed our fans.”

But Salford owner Gary Neville said: “So some clubs will have fans backing them in home fixtures and others will have empty stadiums with no fans. Unfair competition or not?”

A Premier League statement added: “Fans have been greatly missed and  we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement regarding the return of supporters for the first time since March, albeit at small numbers.

“Our ambition remains to work with Government to increase  attendance to more substantial levels.

“Until this can be done, many fans will be unable to attend games and our clubs will continue to operate matches at a financial loss.”

Only home fans will be allowed in, with clubs under orders to impose strict social distancing.

It is possible clubs may require fans to have a “Covid passport” and proof they are free of infection, although that is not confirmed.

Dowden, who also announced  grassroots and kids’ sport can return, said: “I’m delighted we are able to get the turnstiles turning sooner than expected, taking a cautious approach.

“I’m confident sports will take every step to ensure fans are safe, and fans will play their part and look out for each other until we can safely get everyone back in.”

EFL bosses are ready to switch next week’s midweek fixture list wholesale to Wednesday to get some fans through the door.

An EFL spokesman said: “We look forward to the reopening of some   stadiums as we finally welcome back fans after eight long months away.

“It is an important step in achieving a return to normal, alongside it being crucial to addressing the significant revenue gap left by a lack of spectators and other revenue streams as a result of the pandemic.”

Despite the sense of frustration at the limited numbers, the Football Supporters Association said: “For many lower-league and non-league clubs in particular, getting paying fans in safely is critical to survival.”

Indoor arenas will have a limit of 1,000 —  a boost for boxing and darts.

And the news opens the way for 1,000 fans to see Anthony Joshua defend his WBA, IBF and WBO titles against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev at The O2 on December 12.

Up to 1,000 fans could attend the PDC World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace  in late December, with Twickenham able to let 2,000 in for the likely Autumn Nations Cup final between England and France and crowds would also return at Premiership rugby fixtures.

Kempton will  be able to admit punters for the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Restrictions will be a blow for bigger football clubs who normally get five figure gates.

But for a number of smaller clubs, the re-opening, even on a reduced scale, of their main income stream will be a massive boost.

Many clubs in the lower leagues have been on the verge of going out of business, with bail outs having already been required to keep them going.

Prem clubs, who were still awaiting details, will be less impressed.


THE first round of Premier League fixtures after the change of rules on December 2 will be over the weekend of December 5/6.

Exact kick-off times and dates have yet to be confirmed.

Aston Villa vs Newcastle United

Brighton vs Southampton

Burnley vs Everton

Chelsea vs Leeds United

Liverpool vs Wolves

Manchester City vs Fulham

Sheffield United vs Leicester City

Tottenham vs Arsenal

West Brom vs Crystal Palace

West Ham vs Manchester United

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy announced earlier today that his club face a £150m loss for this season if fans remain shut out for the entire campaign.

But allowing just 2,000 fans in Tottenham’s 62,000-capacity stadium might make it more expensive to re-open than to keep the ground shut out until that maximum attendance number is bigger.

Club chiefs have been been begging for a change of Government stance since the initial lockdown in March.

Trials of up to 2,000 supporters took place earlier in the autumn ahead of a potential October 2 national roll-out.

But that was canned as the second wave of the virus hit, before the ongoing second lockdown began earlier this month.

Now it seems the Government is keen to show that a return to “normality” is possible, and allowing fans back into sporting events will be a significant milestone.

Nevertheless, clubs are in the dark over exactly what it will mean and are scrambling for as much information as possible.

But for fans and clubs in the lower tiers, as well as the National League, the news will be a genuine lifeline and perhaps the key to their financial survival.

Premier League chiefs are also hoping that the rollout of mass tests will mean that people can get back to the beautiful game in the near future.

New rapid result tests – which provide a result in under 30 minutes – could be taken by fans on the day before they are allowed in.

They could show proof of their negative test and be allowed to sit in the stands.

The rapid result tests have been piloted in Liverpool, and given to people with symptoms and without to try and track down cases of the virus.

They will be expanded across the nation to try and crack down on asymptomatic cases and isolate them.

The quicker tests are also expected to be used to scrap the isolation period too, it was reported today.


People who were close contacts of a positive Covid case will be offered daily testing, which if it is negative will allow the person to continue life as normal.

Only if it's positive will they have to self-isolate, meaning people can ditch 14 days of staying at home.

The idea is being trialled in Liverpool and will be rolled out to the NHS and the rest of the nation in the new year if it's successful.

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Thomas Galligan: Moving the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin out of Croke Park would help Cavan

With Cavan set for an All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin on Saturday next week, there has been a great deal of talk around potentially moving the match out of Croke Park.

Breffni County manager Mickey Graham has called on the GAA to consider a stadium other than the Jones’ Road venue, given that crowd capacities are not an issue this season.

Cavan star Thomas Galligan feels they would have a better chance if the match were to be played elsewhere.

“I’d just expect it to be in Croke Park because it’s an All-Ireland semi-final. It would probably help us if it was out of Croker,” said the Lacken man.

“It’s not up to us to make a call on that, the GAA will make a call on that. We’ll play wherever. At this stage we were meant to be long beat, so we’ll go out and give them a go.

“They’re well used to playing there but I think everyone loves to play and wants to play in Croker. I don’t think anyone would be disappointed if we had to play it in Croker because growing up that’s exactly where you want to play. You want to be playing the best team in the country in Croker. If you make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.

“You’re playing the best team in the country and you’ll really know where you’re at when you play them. There might be a bit of ‘daunt’ or whatever, but more people will be excited to get playing them. If you said at the start of the year that Cavan would be in an All-Ireland semi-final you would have gotten good odds. I think we’ll enjoy it more-so than be afraid of it.”

Meanwhile, Galligan was thrilled with how his side upset the odds in the provincial decider against Donegal.

“You were listening to it all week about how you hadn’t a chance. And you hadn’t a chance against Down, hadn’t a chance against Monaghan,” he smiled.

“People say it doesn’t matter, but that really gets on a lad’s shoulder. Yeah, everyone will use their own way to motivate themselves, but for me that was a big enough thing because I’m just sick of people putting Cavan down, to be honest. I think a lot of people would have used it to motivate themselves.

“Nobody expected us to get here. There’s no pressure on us, we’re going out and playing football. The favourites tag probably weighed heavily on Donegal the other night, so hopefully it’ll be the same for Dublin.”

Make sure to tune into Inside The Game – our weekly GAA discussion show – on Sky Sports Mix every Wednesday evening.

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Sky and BT Sport to refuse Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp request to move games and insists it is Premier League issue

BT and Sky have insisted Premier League chiefs need to resolve Jurgen Klopp’s fixtures broadside before they can even think about moving games.

Liverpool boss Klopp launched another furious blast over scheduling as he lambasted both the main Prem broadcasters.

Klopp is angry that his side must travel to Brighton for a 12.30 kick-off on Saturday after playing their Champions League game with Atalanta tomorrow.

The German suggested scheduling games was no more than “a decision on a desk in an office” and added: “Sky and BT have to talk.

“If we keep playing on Wednesday and Saturday 12:30 I am not sure if we will finish the season with 11 players."

Klopp dismissed the fact that the clubs had agreed the current broadcast contracts, which mean BT’s sole weekend game must be screened in the 12.30 Saturday slot.

He said: “If someone tells me again about contracts I will go really nuts because the contracts were not made for a Covid season.

“Everything changed but the contract with the broadcasters is still ‘nope, we have this so we keep this’ “What? Everything changed. The whole world changed.”

Manchester City chief Pep Guardiola, United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Chelsea boss Frank Lampard have all voiced their disquiet in recent weeks.

But League bosses signalled that the clubs, including Liverpool, were responsible for this being the most congested season on record, after voting to delay the start of the campaign until September 12.

Club chiefs were aware of the schedule slots when they approved the current £1.7m per season three-year domestic deal – around £10m for each live broadcast match –  which runs to the end of next season.

And the broadcast rivals are united in their view the issue is one for the Prem to sort out before they can get involved as they cannot simply change their legal contracts on a whim.

Both companies will be happy to enter discussions if the Prem and its shareholder clubs demand them but believe the onus is on the League.

All 20 clubs also retain the right to ask for individual matches to be scheduled differently if they are not happy – although League bosses then make the final decision.

It has also been pointed out that the issue will not exist beyond the middle of next month when the congested Champions League group stage is completed, so it is a problem that will literally go away in less than three weeks.

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Al Michaels off this week, Mike Tirico will call NBC’s primetime games with Cris Collinsworth

The NBC primetime football booth will have a new look this week, while also offering a preview of the future. 

The network said Monday play-by-play man Al Michaels will have the holiday week off and will be replaced by Mike Tirico, who will call Ravens-Steelers on Thursday night and Packers-Bears on Sunday night. Color commentator Cris Collinsworth will remain in the analyst chair for both contests. 

Michelle Tafoya will be in her usual role as sideline reporter on Thanksgiving. Kathryn Tappen will make her sideline debut from Lambeau Field on Sunday. 

It's unknown how much longer Michaels, who turned 76 earlier this month, will keep up with his current gig. Tirico is the de facto replacement waiting in the wings and has called games with Collinsworth at NBC before.

As ESPN's "Monday Night Football" play-by-play announcer for 10 years, Tirico is familiar with primetime broadcasts. He has also developed into NBC's lead anchor for Olympic coverage, replacing Bob Costas, and started calling NHL games for the first time in his career in 2019.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

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Cavan 1-13 Donegal 0-12: Breffni score upset victory to claim Ulster title

A late Conor Madded goal helped Cavan upset Donegal, 1-13 to 0-12 in the Ulster final for their first Anglo-Celt Cup triumph since 1997, on a stunning day of shock results in the championship.

Remarkably, 100 years on from a historic year for the GAA and on the centenary weekend of Bloody Sunday, Cavan’s win means the All-Ireland semi-final line-up will be the same as 1920.

Cavan will face Dublin, with Mayo facing Tipperary, after the Premier stunned Cork. In the 1920 championship (which was concluded two years later), Tipp beat Dublin in the decider.

The upset looked to be on the cards after the opening stages at the Athletic Grounds. Unlike their previous three games in the Ulster campaign, Mickey Graham’s team burst out of the blocks to take a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.

However, the reigning champions steadied, and braces of points from Paddy McBrearty and Niall O’Donnell helped them into a 0-9 to 0-7 lead at half-time.

McBrearty got the Tír Chonaill men off to a bright start after the break, pointing from a free. But the Breffni County responded brightly, as points from Thomas Galligan and James Smith kept them in touch.

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They continued to take the game to Donegal, trailing by just a point at the second-half water-break.

Conor Smith was then shown a black card, but the numerical disadvantage did not appear to impact his side, as Martin Reilly levelled it in the 60th minute before Gearóid McKiernan nudged them into the lead.

When Raymond Galligan denied Jamie Brennan from close-range, Cavan began to truly believe.

As the game moved into the four minutes of added time, Gearoid McKiernan sent a high ball into the Donegal square. Shaun Patton punched it away, but only into the hands of Conor Madden who made no mistake.

It was a setback from which Donegal failed to recover, and Cavan held out to end a 23-year wait for provincial glory.

Donegal’s pursuit for a third consecutive Ulster title came up short, as Declan Bonner’s side are eliminated from the championship.

Cavan: Raymond Galligan, Jason McLoughlin (0-1), Padraig Faulkner, Luke Fortune; Gerard Smith (0-1), Killian Clarke, Ciaran Brady (0-1); Thomas Galligan (0-1), Killian Brady; Martin Reilly (0-1), Gearoid McKiernan (0-2), Oisin Kiernan (0-2); James Smith (0-2), Chris Conroy, Conor Smith.

Subs: Conor Madden (1-2).

Donegal: Shaun Patton; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Neil McGee, Eoin McHugh; Ryan McHugh (0-1), Paul Brennan, Peadar Mogan (0-1); Hugh McFadden, Caolan McGonigle (0-2); Brendan McCole, Niall O’Donnell (0-2), Michael Langan (0-1); Paddy McBrearty (0-4), Michael Murphy (0-1), Jamie Brennan.

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Simon Whitlock reflects on his resurgence ahead of Grand Slam showdown with Michael van Gerwen

Michael van Gerwen appears to be a man on a mission at the Grand Slam of Darts, having relinquished just six legs in reaching the quarter-finals, yet the prospect of facing the world No 1 holds no fears for Simon Whitlock.

‘The Wizard’ has accounted for the Dutchman at this year’s World Matchplay and World Grand Prix, and he is confident of conjuring up more magic to complete a remarkable hat-trick of major wins over the three-time world champion.

Prior to his comprehensive 11-4 victory over Van Gerwen at the Matchplay, the amiable Aussie had lost his last 15 meetings against MVG – a record dating back to October 2016.

  • Grand Slam of Darts 2020: Results, draw, schedule
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So what’s the secret to his recent success against the world’s premier player?

“I think it’s just belief and confidence,” Whitlock told the Darts Show podcast.

“I’ve been practising well, I’ve been playing a lot of online darts this year so my game is at a really good stage. I am actually happy with my set-up, with my darts, which all goes towards confidence.

“I’ve beaten Michael [van Gerwen] the last two times on TV in big majors so I’ve definitely got the game. It’s just performing on the day. If I feel good and everything clicks, then I can beat anybody.

Whitlock’s Matchplay success against ‘Mighty Mike’ generated plenty of headlines, although his Grand Prix triumph was arguably more impressive.

“I haven’t finished playing the game. I am still as keen as ever – I still play pretty much three, four times a week.”

Whitlock on his passion for the sport…

The Australian was in inspired form, becoming the first player outside of Van Gerwen and Phil Taylor to post a ton-plus average in the double-start event, over a best of five sets format.

The two-time world finalist is embarking on his fourth Grand Slam quarter-final on Sunday evening, but he has never progressed beyond the last eight in 10 appearances.

His three previous quarter-final defeats came against the trio of Phil Taylor, Scott Waites and Gerwyn Price – all three of whom went on to lift the title.

Whitlock is hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself, but he is relishing his latest dust-up with the 31-year-old – confessing that he prefers the cut and thrust of knockout darts, as opposed to the unpredictable round-robin format.

“I don’t really like the format. I don’t like the round-robin stuff – that doesn’t really work for me,” admitted the former European Champion.

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“It is not really in your hands sometimes but if you get through that then it is good, because you get to the longer game, the knockout, and I do enjoy that part of it.”

The elongated format does present difficulties though. Matches over the best of 31 legs are a test of resilience ordinarily, but this task is compounded by the players’ current intensive schedules.

Despite topping Group B with maximum points, the former World Cup finalist was laboured in his 10-6 win over Adam Hunt on Friday, averaging a paltry 87 in a scrappy affair.

Since the World Cup of Darts got underway in Salzburg on November 6, Whitlock has only had three days without playing competitive darts, and he concedes it is gradually taking its toll.

“This is tough. Coming back from Austria we only had one hour’s sleep and then I had to qualify that day as well which was really tough, but I’m really happy about that because I qualified and I’m in the last eight,” he added.

“I struggled the last two matches but I think that’s just because I’ve played too much. I just need a good rest. My body is getting older.

“I’m probably the oldest player still in the tournament. It is hard work. Hopefully, I’m going to come out firing and I will feel real good.”

It is a testament to Whitlock’s insatiable passion for the sport that he is thriving under such testing circumstances.

Australia’s most successful darting import is the elder statesman within the world’s top 20, but he is proving that age is just a number with a stirring resurgence over recent months.

The 51-year-old has reached three major ranking quarter-finals this term – a record matched only by World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh and Van Gerwen himself.

Sunday’s Quarter Finals – Afternoon session

Sunday’s Quarter Finals – Evening session

He is not the only Australian making waves though. His World Cup partner Damon Heta is through to the quarter-finals on his Grand Slam debut, with two Australians set to star in the last eight of a major tournament for the first time since October 2017.

The pair flourished in tandem at the World Cup before succumbing to eventual champions Wales, and Whitlock lauded praise on his fellow countryman, who takes on James Wade for a place in Monday’s semi-finals.

“It’s great. I didn’t hardly know Damon [Heta] before he came over here but we have got to become pretty good friends as far as I’m concerned.

“He is a fantastic player. It’s just good to have another Aussie over here doing well.”

Whitlock’s focus is firmly on his own fortunes, however. He is bidding to lift just his second major PDC title and given his consistency over the last decade, he could be forgiven for feeling his exploits have merited greater reward.

‘The Wizard’ has reached multiple major finals since claiming his solitary televised PDC title in 2013 – succumbing to James Wade and Daryl Gurney in European Championship and World Grand Prix finals respectively.

This may have deflated many professionals entering the twilight of their career, but it has simply strengthened the desire of Whitlock, who insists he has got unfinished business as he bids to sign off the season in style.

“I want to win all of them. I want to do well in all of them. Rankings are important and also winning money is important.

“I think it is [passion] just inside of you. I haven’t finished playing the game. I am still as keen as ever – I still play pretty much three, four times a week.

“You are never finished I think – not unless you are a world champion, then you can think I’ve got to the peak of the game and now I can rest up a little bit.”

Don’t miss a dart from the Grand Slam of Darts on Sky Sports as the action continues on Sunday with all four quarter-finals – join us from 1pm and 7pm on Sky Sports Arena and follow us @SkySportsDarts for updates and clips throughout the tournament.

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Dublin 3-21 Meath 0-9: Dubs hammer Royals for another Leinster crown

Dublin hammered Meath at Croke Park in the Leinster Championship final, as Dessie Farrell’s charges ran out 3-21 to 0-9.

It is hard to know where the Leinster Championship goes from here. The Delaney Cup will reside in the capital for a 10th consecutive year, after a masterclass from Dessie Farrell’s charges. Dublin’s excellence was clear to see, as the eastern province remains a monopoly for now.

Meath were coming into the contest with cause for optimism. After asking questions of the Dubs in the National League meeting last month, the Royals came into the provincial decider after impressive victories against Wicklow and Kildare in which they scored 12 goals.

But when many were beginning to believe that the gap behind Dublin in Leinster was beginning to narrow, the Sky Blues gave a reminder of just how far ahead of the pack they are.

First-half goals from Dean Rock and Sean Bugler quickly put paid to any hope of Andy McEntee’s charges keeping it competitive.

Dublin were out of sight at half-time, leading 2-12 to 0-2.

After the break, it was a mere procession as the All-Ireland champions eased to victory in second gear. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the second half was the straight red card to Cormac Costello late on, meaning he will miss Dublin’s next match. Niall Scully palmed a goal in injury-time to put further gloss on the scoreline.

Dublin march on to the All-Ireland semi-final, where they will face the Ulster champions. They are hot favourites to retain the Sam Maguire Cup.

Meath’s 2020 campaign – which was a largely positive one – ends on a sour note.

Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, Jonny Cooper, Eoin Murchan; David Byrne, John Small (0-1), Robert McDaid; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Niall Scully (1-1), Ciaran Kilkenny (0-4), Sean Bugler (1-2); Paddy Small (0-3), Con O’Callaghan (0-2), Dean Rock (1-7 – 0-5 frees, 0-1 45).

Subs: Paul Mannion (0-1).

Meath: Mark Brennan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, David Toner; Donal Keogan, Shane McEntee, Mathew Costello; Bryan Menton (0-1), Ronan Jones; Cillian O’Sullivan (0-1), Bryan McMahon, Ronan Ryan; Jordan Morris (0-4 – 0-1 free), Shane Walsh, Thomas O’Reilly (0-1 – 0-1 free).

Subs: Jason Scully (0-1), Joey Wallace (0-1).

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