Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge round-up
The 2017 Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge games were played last weekend with all bar two of the final 14 teams still to reach the final.
Once again there was a massive win for Down, while Galway Maroon edged a local derby. Roscommon enjoyed a win over spirited Louth while South Tipp edged out Kilkenny Black in a thrilling affair.
This weekend's finals at Dr Cullen Park, Carlow will see (Corn Michael Hogan) Galway Maroons take on South Tipperary.
In the Corn John Scott final Antrim will play North Cork.
The Division 3 Corn William Robinson final sees Down against Dublin Plunkett.
The Corn Jerome O'Leary final-line up is yet to be decided with Carlow or Wexford Gold set for a play-off to see who goes through.
Meanwhile, the Division 5 Corn Michael Feery will be a tussle between Armagh and Roscommon.
Finally, the Division 6 - Corn Tom Hogan decider features Tyrone and Fermanagh.
Here is a taste of the weekend's semi-final action.
GALWAY MAROON WIN DERBY
Galway Maroon 4-23 Galway McDonagh 6-13 AET
By Sean Walsh
A wonderful evening’s entertainment in Kilbeacanty on Friday evening saw Galway Maroon emerge victorious over Galway McDonagh in the Celtic Challenge U17 Group 1 semi-final.
The Maroon side thus got revenge for their opening round defeat to the same opposition after a game that ebbed and flowed throughout in perfect conditions in Kilbeacanty.
The local derby brought a good crowd and when Neil Conneely and Isaac DeHora shot quick fire goals on 56 & 57 minutes it left Galway McDonagh 6 up (4-12 to 1-15) and the drive for home looked set to yield a McDonagh victory. But Galway Maroon displayed great character to fight back - and a Niall Coen 57th minute goal followed by a great strike from a close in free from Enda Egan which yielded a 60th minute goal left the sides level in injury time.
And it nearly even got better for the Maroon side when a Conor Walsh free from his own 65 rebounded back off the crossbar. Thus extra time beckoned on a 4-12 to 3-15 full time score.
Tired bodies did not deter a huge effort from all the players and in extra time and the scores came coming, but the Maroon side now had a grip on proceedings. Ballindereen’s Niall Coen batted to the net, before Cillian Lawless did likewise for the McDonagh side but significantly Galway Maroon led by 4-19 to 5-13 at half time in extra time.
The Maroon men extended the lead to 6 before Jack Egan pounced for a sixth major for the McDonagh men, but a fine Enda Egan point saw Galway Maroon wrap up a 4-23 to 6-13 in a high scoring and intense contest.
The opening half saw Galway Maroon, with the advantage of a slight breeze, build a 0-6 to 0-3 lead on 14 minutes with Noel Keogh, David Jordan and Paul Creaven getting the pick of the scores.
Then Neil Conneely took a Damien McGlynn cross and goaled and with Conor Molloy accurate from frees Galway McDonagh led by 1-5 to 0-6. But the Maroon side responded and Noel Keogh shot to the net 5 minutes from the break and good scores from Nathan Earner and John Fleming left Galway Maroon 1-11 to 1-7 up at the interval.
The McDonagh side raced out of the blocks in the second half with Isaac DeHora hitting the net off the ground instantly from the restart and there was nothing between them for most of the second half. Fine points from the likes of Eoin O’Donnell, Cillian Lawless, Enda Egan and Conor Molloy saw the sides level at 2-12 to 1-15 on 50 minutes. Then came the finish already described as Galway Maroon dug out the win.
Galway Maroon will now play South Tipp in the Division 1 Celtic Challenge Final in Carlow next Saturday, but Galway McDonagh lost nothing in defeat in a game that was a credit to all.
SOUTH TIPP HANG ON IN THRILLER
South Tipperary 1-18 Kilkenny Black 1-15
By Fergus McGrath
The impressive WIT Sports Arena at Carriganore proved to be a happy hunting ground for South Tipperary on Thursday night as they recorded their second victory in less than a week at the venue.
On this occasion the opponents were Kilkenny Black who opened smartly against the wind to go into a three point lead within minutes. South Tipperary responded with points from Tomas Vaughan and an excellent individual goal from Martin Keogh to take a lead that they would never relinquish.
Although South Tipperary had a three point lead at half time they had played with a strong wind and had experienced a very menacing Kilkenny Black forward line that would have wind advantage in the second half.
Kilkenny Black opened the scoring after the restart with an early point to reduce the gap to two. Aidan Griffin replied with a point for South Tipperary and for the remainder of the game all of the South Tipperary players showed great character to retain their half time lead and run out winners by three points against a very good Kilkenny Black team.
Mark Stokes was nominated as Best and Fairest for South Tipperary.
ROSCOMMON U-17 HURLERS REACH CORN MICHAEL FEERY CUP FINAL
Roscommon 3-15 Louth 2-12
By Seamus Donnelly
The sun was scorching as the Roscommon U-17 hurlers returned to the now familiar stamping ground at the Centre of Excellence in Abbotstown for the second successive Saturday.
It was important for this team to be involved from the start, to set the tone, to lay down an early marker and that is what they did.
Roscommon’s plan to run at the Louth defence soon began to pay dividends as Oisin Kelly fired over three early points two of which were frees. Fergal Hoare and Joey Killian were marshalling the defence while the forward division created an abundance of scoring opportunities.
Good work by the Louth goalkeeper and wayward shooting meant Roscommon’s dominance was not yet reflected on the scoreboard. James Cunniffe steadied the ship with a point from play after 12 minutes just before the opposition recorded their first point. Louth had started to make inroads but their ship hit a rock on 20 minutes.
The swashbuckling Andrew Flood won the ball back and passed to full forward Cunniffe who finished with aplomb for Roscommon’s first goal. Not to be outdone Cian Murray started to blaze a trail with a fine goal after a pass from the influential Jack Lohan.
Matthew Comerford scored a long-range point and Roscommon were a deserving 2-7 to 0-3 up. A brief defensive lapse allowed Louth raise a green flag. However just before half time a speculative lob by Cian Murray deceived the Louth rear-guard and dropped in under the bar for a third Roscommon goal. Half time score Roscommon 3-7 Louth 1-6 with Roscommon well deserving their half-time lead.
In the second half Louth opened brightly with two points inside the first minute.
Captain Orin Walsh then set the tone with two superb catches from the opposition puck-outs. The teams then swapped further points with Oisin Kelly pinpoint accurate from placed balls. Roscommon kept their focus and started to expose the limitations of the opposition.
The team now plays in the Division 5 final against Armagh in Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow on Saturday next.
A special mention must go to the faithful and vocal supporters who continue to travel and support our U-17 hurlers in their quest for a National title.
Michael Fallon and his selectors have the team in fine fettle. We wish them the best of luck in the final as they continue to blaze a trail in their county colours.
DOWN DEFEAT EAST WATERFORD TO MAKE CORN WILLIAM ROBINSON FINAL
Down 2-17 East Waterford 1-12
BY DERMOT DONNELLY
A man of the match performance, which resulted in a “Best and Fairest” award, from Ballycran club man Phelim Savage - and 2-3 from Ballygalgets Tim Prenter - saw Down cruise into next weekEND’s Corn William Robinson Final in Carlow.
For the second week in a row Down were drawn against a traditionally strong Munster hurling county and produced the goods when asked.
Down went into this fixture with a certain amount of uncertainty, having had their influential centre half forward, Ronan Blair side-lined from an injury picked up in last week’s frenetic encounter with Cork City.
East Waterford, fresh from a three-point thrilling win over North Clare last week would have expected to reach next week’s final having come out of a very tough group E section.
In the opening five minutes East Waterford were first out of the blocks and raced into an early lead as Dylan Fitzgerald (twice) and Jack Troy tack on points for the Déise boys, with Caolan Coulter of Down managing to get his side off the mark with an unopposed strike from fifty metres out.
East Waterford’s game plan was to attack the Down rear guard early with fast low ball into their lethal corner forwards of Fitzgerald and Darragh Power, who looked like they could cause the Down lads some serious headaches over the next 50 minutes.
Much credit has to be given to Ronan Murphy, Eoin Maguire & Matt McAreavey as once more again they proved they can remain calm and resolute when faced with bigger and more imposing opposition.
Down were fastest out of the blocks in the second half scoring four points, through the ever reliable Joe Hanrahan, Tim Prenter (twice) and Ciaran Watson.
East Waterford had been hit hard and fast with the intensity of Downs team work and looked shocked at having found themselves 11 points in arrears.
But the Déise side fought back and a spate of Down substitions seemed to give the Ulster team a fresh jolt of energy as the heat and clammy conditions were clearly starting to take their toll on both sides, having given every last drop to the cause of their respective sides.
It was a fantastic win for Down, having suffered bitter defeat at the hands of South Kilkenny last year at the same stage of the competition.
Afterwards Chairman of the National Hurling Development committee, Paudie O’Neill addressed both sides and thanked them for giving an excellent display of Hurling.
He went on to wish Down all the best in the Final next Saturday in Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow where they’ll take on a Dublin Plunkett side who inflicted a heavy 4-20 to 1-12 defeat on Limerick City in the other semi-Final.
As part of the Celtic Challenge initiative referee and Clare native Sean Stack presented the Best & Fairest awards to Phelim Savage of Down & Darragh Power of East Waterford.