Preview: Lory Meagher Cup
With the semi-final line-ups decided in the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cups, attention turns to the fourth round of the Lory Meagher Cup group stage this Saturday.
Lory Meagher Cup
Warwickshire will bid for a fourth consecutive win in the Lory Meagher Cup when they welcome Leitrim to Páirc na hÉireann on Saturday.
Warwickshire have had an average winning margin of almost 16 points over Cavan, Sligo and Fermanagh to go clear at the top of the table. Leitrim let a lead slip away against Fermanagh in the opening round, but they have recovered with wins over Cavan and Lancashire. Warwickshire have already beaten Leitrim this year, with a two-point win at Saturday’s venue on their way to the Allianz Hurling League Division 3B Final.
Former Antrim star Liam Watson has been in prolific form all year for Warwickshire, amassing 5-20 in this competition to date, while Shane Caulfield, Emmet McCabe, Seán Hennessey and Paul Uniacke have also been contributing well. Leitrim overcame the absence of top scorer Pádraig O’Donnell to win last weekend, with Clement Cunniffe and Zak Moradi leading the way.
Sligo *host *Fermanagh at Markievicz Park.
Sligo share second place with Leitrim after wins over Lancashire and Cavan, either side of a defeat away to table-toppers Warwickshire. Fermanagh started with a dramatic win against Leitrim, but they have since been beaten by Lancashire and Warwickshire, so they urgently need to return to winning ways if they are to hold on to ambitions of qualifying for a fourth final since 2012 and making a quick return to the Nicky Rackard Cup. Fermanagh had a four-point win when the sides met in the Allianz Hurling League in March, but neither qualified for the Division 3B Final.
Sligo were able to win in round three without the services of talisman Keith Raymond. Cormac Behan, Kevin Gilmartin and Joe McHugh have been in form for the beaten finalists of 2015 and 2016. Seán Corrigan has hit more than half of Fermanagh’s scores so far (4-21 out of 8-37). The 2015 champions will also need big performances from Shea Curran, Ryan Bogue and JP McGarry.
Cavan’s bid for a first win since their return to senior inter-county competitive hurling continues when they travel to Manchester to face Lancashire.
Cavan have lost to Warwickshire, Leitrim and Sligo so far since returning to the Lory Meagher, while opponents Lancashire got their first win of the competition to date against Fermanagh a fortnight ago, either sides of defeats against Sligo and Leitrim; the latter by the narrowest of margins.
Cavan’s chances were hurt by red cards for Seán Keating and Anthony Sheridan last week. They will need Kevin Conneely and Diarmuid Cahill to lead their challenge against a Lancashire side powered by the tournament’s top scorer Ronan Crowley, who has 2-31 to his name. Seán Power, Nathan Unwin and Darragh O’Brien should also be to the fore for the Exiles.
Saturday, May 13
Lory Meagher Cup Round 4**
Warwickshire Leitrim, Páirc na hÉireann, Birmingham, 1pm
Lancashire v Cavan, Old Bedians Sports Ground, Manchester, 2pm
Sligo v Fermanagh, Markievicz Park, 3pm