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Offaly won Division 1 of the Celtic Challenge in 2016.
Offaly won Division 1 of the Celtic Challenge in 2016.

Draws and drama in Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge

The second round group stages of the 2017 Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge took place this week around the country.

Just like the opening games, the May 10th fixture list threw up some intriguing score-lines.

South Tipperary had a comprehensive win over Cork City, there were exciting local derbies in both Wexford and Waterford, while Carlow pushed Kilkenny Amber all the way in their clash.

Elsewhere Cavan got off the mark with a fine win over neighbours, Monaghan, while Sligo enjoyed a fine victory against Kildare Cadets.

The games, played in blistering sunshine, attracted fine crowds and much interest from all four corners of the land.

Here is a taste of the second round action.

North Cork 1-15 - Clare South East 1-15

By John Condon

These two teams played out a very entertaining draw in their Celtic Challenge Group B match last Wednesday night.

The opening half saw both sides go point for point until the Clare side had a period of dominance with Jordan Downes, Darragh Lohan, Conor Shanagher, and Conor Bourne all to the fore.

But it was the performance of Sixmilebridge's Lorcan Fitzpatrick, who scored five points from play, that helped Clare South East open up a lead.

Cork came to terms with the Banner outfit with their full back Ronan Sheehan, who won the man of the match award, quelling many Clare attacks. Kanturk's Daniel O'Connell stormed in to the game and his goal just before half time saw the teams go in level 1-7 to 0-10 at the break.

The second half maintained the high standard. Cork North's Colin O'Brien was prominent as this time the Rebels opened up a lead. Points from Michael Hynes and Stephen Donnellan kept Clare South East in touch.

With two minutes of normal time left and Clare three points down, Clare South East won a free 23 metres out which Fiachra Donnellan struck brilliantly to the net. Cork attacked and O'Brien scored a point which put Cork North ahead in injury time. But Clare surged forward and Wolfe Tones' Conor Shanaher won a free after a strong solo run which Whitegate's Michael Hynes converted to put the teams level again immediately before the final whistle.

As well as those mentioned Clare were best served by goalkeeper William Kavanagh (Scariff), Evan Keogh (Cratloe) Ronan Molloy (Tulla), and Michael Stritch ( Clonlara).

South Tipperary 5-19 - Cork City 0-7

By Fergus McGrath

South Tipperary and Cork City played their second round game in Cashel last Wednesday night in a contest that saw the home side running out winners.

In the opening few minutes Cork City took the lead by 0-3 to 0-2 with their scores coming from Jack O Kelly (two frees) and Dale Tynan. South Tipp responded with a goal and a two points from Tomas Vaughan (0-1-F, 0-1-65) and further scores from Josh Ryan (0-2) and Oisin Drennan (1-1) which were interspersed by a point from Shane O’ Connor for Cory City to leave the half time score, South Tipperary 2-7 Cork City 0-4.

Cork opened the scoring in the second half with a point from Derek Feeney which was met with nine unanswered scores from South Tipperary including a goal from Stephen Grogan.

The South Tipp defence, led by Eoghan Connolly, did excellent work throughout and their efforts laid the platform for their midfielders and forwards.

As the second half progressed further goals from Stephen Carr (penalty) and Oisin Drennan sealed a victory for South Tipperary.

West Waterford 2-14 - East Waterford 0-15

By Eoin Breathnach

Goals usually win games and so it proved in Walsh Park as two second half green flags proved to be the difference in this cracking local derby.

It was a perfect evening for hurling with no breeze, an excellent pitch and a good crowd in attendance. Scores were hard to come by in the first half with both defences very strong. A feature of the teams skill levels was some excellent blocking and hooking on display.

East Waterford were the stronger team early on, but could not convert the chances and would go on to rue the misses by end of the game. At half-time East Waterford led 0-7 to 0-4 with Seaghan Walsh prominent at full forward with two excellent scores.

The second half started as the first ended with East Waterford with early scores from Jack Troy and Aidan Gannon.

However, the key moment came 12 minutes into the second half with a West Waterford goal from Jamie Walsh reducing the deficit to just 1 point. From there on in West Waterford were the better side outscoring East Waterford by 1-8 to 0-5 in the last 15 minutes of the game. Walsh followed up his goal with a couple more points and with good scores from Eamon O Crotaigh and Seamus Cronin they got on top. Alan Kirwan was causing difficulty all night and ended up with three points on the night to keep East Waterford in the game entering the final five minutes.

Next up for West Waterford is a trip to Glanmire on Wednesday May 17 for a game against Cork City while on the same night East Waterford travel to Cahir to take on South/East Limerick.

Best and fairest award for West Waterford was Reece Stringer with Neil O’Sullivan chosen for East Waterford. Referee Simon Stokes presented both players with their award after the game.

Wexford Purple 4-19 - Wexford Gold 1-6

By Marion Doyle

Wexford Purple defeated Wexford Gold in a Model County local derby played at Wexford Park last Wednesday evening.

While the final scoreline suggests a comprehensive win for Purple, the game was still up for grabs at the break with Gold not yet out of sight. They led 3-6 -1-3 at the break and so Gold still had plenty to fight for in second half, especially with the bonus point elements of this competition coming into play

While the local derby was of huge interest to all Wexford followers, there was another novel factor on the night with a set of twins on both teams - Anthony and John Murphy from Rapparees Starlights played on the Gold Team while Rathnure's Micheal and Sean O Conner took their place on the Purple Team.

Cavan 5-14 - Monaghan 0-6

By Mark O’Rourke**

One week after losing narrowly to Leitrim, Cavan got their 2017 Celtic Challenge campaign off the mark with a fine win over neighbours Monaghan last Wednesday night.

The game, played at Kingspan Breffni Park, saw players like Jesse Holland, Conor Materson, Jack Barry and Peter Divine all play to an extremely high level.

After the game, manager Mark Hayes said it was onwards and upwards. "We were fiercely disappointed to lose to Leitrim last week, but the lads were brilliant and those who came off the bench kept the standard very high too.

"It's been a busy time for Cavan hurling with the senior team reforming but it's lovely now to see the county associated with a win. Now its onwards and upwards.”

Sligo 7-16 - Kildare Cadets 2-8

By Frances Hanley**

This second round game saw a much improved performance from Sligo following on from their opening round.

Andrew  Kilcullen  got the team off the mark with a point from play and this was the start of a scoring spree for Andrew. He was the key player from start to finish and ended the game with an incredible personal  tally of 5-10.

Thomas Cawley  made his debut in goals for Sligo and his accurate  puck outs to midfield and the half forward line meant quick supply  to Kilcullen all the way through.

At the end of a dominant display, Sligo's  captain  Kevin O'Kennedy  received  the "Best and Fairest Award".

Also, with the Community  Games finals are celebrating its 50th anniversary, it's pertinent to point out that three members of the Sligo team Cahan Hallinan,  Donall Hanley  and Gavin Connolly, already have All Ireland titles in - in draughts!

They will be hoping to crown a wonderful display against the Kildare side by wining again next Wednesday evening.

North/Mid Tipperary 2-17 – Offaly 0-12

By David Minogue**

North/Mid Tipperary defeated Offaly in the second round of the Celtic Challenge in Moneygall on Wednesday 10th May. The Tipp side over-powered the faithful challenge with some degree of comfort.

Despite playing against a slight breeze in the first half North/Mid Tipp led by three points at the break (1-9 to 0-9).

Offaly registered the first score of the game with Brian Duignan and Ross Ravenhill giving the Tipp rear guardsome headaches in the early stages. While at the other end Michael Nally was again proving a handful and was unlucky not to get an early goal for the North/Mid side.

It wasn’t long before the Tipp side settled into the game with Michael Egan curbing the threat posed by Duignan and ably supported in his task by the hardworking Glenn Loughnane at midfield.

North/Mid were guilty of wasting a number of chances in the opening half and both teams traded scores with neither team able to open a lead of any significance.

The first half concluded with a long-range effort from Shane Doyle landing in the back of the net giving North/Mid Tipperary a three point half time lead.

Led by the impressive Daniel O’Donoghue at midfield and Gearoid O’Connor in the forward line the Tipp side continued to punch holes in the Offaly defence with Darragh Tynan helping himself to 1-1.

In defence Sean Ryan, Michael Egan, and John Ryan were dominant throughout. Gearoid O’Connor won the Best and Fairest player award for the second week in a row as selected by the referee.

After encouraging results and performances in the opening two rounds the North/Mid side face Laois on Wednesday May 17 in the next round in Laois GAA training centre at 7.30pm.

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