San Fran crowd enjoy scoring exhibition

OUT in San Francisco Airport, when the All-Star travelling party landed last week, a passer-by clocked the tracksuits and asked Tipperary hurler Lar Corbett who was playing.

“We're playing ourselves,” said Corbett. “We've a fair good chance of winning.”

Corbett was correct. Last year's selection outpointed their current-season opponents in the obligatory high-scoring encounter, which was held on Treasure Island, in San Francisco Bay.

No tortured puns about hidden gems, if you please.

The game had everything you might expect of an end-of-season exhibition, with plenty of scoring and a casual approach to defending. The one man who put in a semi-serious hit was Jackie Tyrrell, the Kilkenny corner-back, and even he seemed to realise the error of his ways immediately afterwards, channelling his energy into sporadic bursts up the field.

The highlights were provided variously by Corbett, who displayed a characteristic sharpness near the opposition goal, and an unorthodox delivery with a first-half penalty, and Brendan Maher's smooth processing of the ball in the middle of the field. Damien Hayes' energy and Paul Murphy's lengthy deliveries were also notable contributions to the festivities.

The game ended with a fusillade of points from the 2010 team to edge in front, and Ryan O'Dwyer's late response from the other side set up, if not a grandstand finish, then perhaps a small-terrace finish.

The 2011 side couldn't carve out an opening to manage an equaliser, though, and the game ended with last year's team ahead by the narrowest of margins.

A crowd of several hundred enjoyed the fare, played out in unseasonably warm sunshine bathing the romantically-titled venue (we understand it owes something to Robert Louis Stevenson).

Not all of the accents were Tipperary or Galway or Cork ones either. There were plenty of Americans in the crowd, and a good few of them queued to have their photograph taken with the Liam MacCarthy Cup, which was also in attendance.

After the game GAA President Christy Cooney mentioned that days like yesterday's were one of the reasons the All-Star tour concept had a chance of surviving, a welcome bit of good news.

Maybe Treasure Island yielded a hidden gem after all.

Scorers for 2010 All-Stars: S. Walsh 1-5; N. McGrath and S. Dooley (f) 1-3 each, D. Hayes (0-1f) 0-6; E. Kelly 0-3; R. Power 0-2; D. O'Grady, J. Tyrrell 0-1 each.

Scorers for 2011 All-Stars: L. Corbett (1-0 pen) 3-0; R. Hogan 1-3; P. Mahony 1-1; E. Larkin, J, Mullane 1-0 each, L. Watson 0-3; D. Hannon 0-2; R. O'Dwyer, P. Curran 0-1 each.

Referee: B. Gavin (Offaly).

2011 ALL-STARS: G. Maguire (Dublin), P. Murphy (Kilkenny), P. Curran (Tipperary), M. Cahill (Tipperary), T. Walsh (Kilkenny), B. Hogan (do), P. Maher (Tipperary), M. Rice (Kilkenny), R. O'Dwyer (Dublin), D. Hannon (Limerick), E. Larkin (Kilkenny), P. Mahony (Waterford), L. Watson (Antrim), L. Corbett (Tipperary), R. Hogan (Kilkenny).

2010 ALL-STARS: B. Cummins (Tipperary), J. Dalton (Kilkenny), P. Kelly (Dublin), J. Tyrrell (Kilkenny), D. Collins (Galway), M. Walsh (Waterford), JJ Delaney (Kilkenny), B. Maher (Tipperary), D. O'Grady (Limerick), D. Hayes (Galway), R. Power (Kilkenny), N. McGrath (Tipperary), E. Kelly (do.), S. Walsh (Waterford), S. Dooley (Offaly).

Sub: J. Mullane for Rice, 25.

Referee: B. Gavin (Offaly).

* Antrim star Liam Watson confirmed he is to return to hurling, good news for new Antrim hurling manager Jerry Wallace: "I’m packing the soccer in to go and play for Antrim. Hurling has given me that much I’m not going to go and leave them hanging. I met him (Jerry Wallis) once. I went up to the players meeting and heard what his plans were. He doesn’t know I am going to commit."

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