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Preview: This weekend's Ring, Rackard, and Meagher Cup action

John Mullan of Derry in action against Aidan Kelly of Tyrone during the Allianz Hurling League Division 2B final match between Derry and Tyrone at the Derry GAA Centre of Excellence in Owenbeg, Derry. The two teams meet again in the Christy Ring Cup this weekend. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

John Mullan of Derry in action against Aidan Kelly of Tyrone during the Allianz Hurling League Division 2B final match between Derry and Tyrone at the Derry GAA Centre of Excellence in Owenbeg, Derry. The two teams meet again in the Christy Ring Cup this weekend. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

The Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups continue this weekend.

Christy Ring Cup

Derry and Tyrone contest a repeat of the Allianz Hurling League Division IIB final in the Christy Ring Cup on Saturday.

These sides played out a thrilling draw in the opening round of last year’s Christy Ring group stage, but Derry beat their neighbours twice during this year’s league, including a six-point win in the Division IIB decider. 2023 runners-up Derry made it seven games unbeaten when they saw off Wicklow last weekend, while Tyrone lost out to London.

Cormac O’Doherty remains a consistent source of scores for Derry, who will also be looking for big performances from Corey O’Reilly, Darragh McGilligan and Richie Mullan. Aidy Kelly continued his prolific form with 1-7 in round one, with Lorcan Devlin and Rory Weir also capable of contributing.

Saturday also sees London welcome Sligo to Ruislip.

After just missing out on a place in the Division IIB knock-out stages, London got their Christy Ring campaign off to a winning start against Tyrone. Sligo, who have established themselves at Christy Ring level and went close to making the top two last year after starting with a win over the Exiles, just missed out on a quick return to Division IIB when they lost the IIIA final against Mayo. They fell short against a fancied Kildare side last week.

Jack Goulding has been leading the scoring charts for London, with good support from Seán Glynn, Owen Sheil and Ronan Crowley. Sligo will need to provide more support to Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch – one of a set of five brothers on Stephen Sheil’s panel – who hit all but two points of their tally against Kildare.

Sunday’s Christy Ring fixture is a Leinster derby between Kildare and Wicklow.

Kildare are bidding for their third Christy Ring title in the space of five years after dropping back down from the Joe McDonagh Cup. After narrowly missing out on a place in the Division IIA semi-final, Brian Dowling’s men had too much firepower for Sligo. Wicklow’s return to this level after a brief stay in the Nickey Rackard, which they won at the first attempt last June, began with a loss at home to Derry. Kildare had a comprehensive win when the teams met in the pre-season Kehoe Cup.

Jack Sheridan, James Burke, Cathal Dowling and Cian and Conan Boran are key men for Kildare, while Luke Evans, Seánie Germaine and Padraig Doran should be prominent for a new-look Wicklow side.

Mayo's Liam Lavin has been in fine scoring form this year. 

Mayo's Liam Lavin has been in fine scoring form this year. 

Nickey Rackard Cup

Two of the Nickey Rackard Cup’s leading contenders face off when Donegal host Mayo.

Donegal top the Nickey Rackard roll of honour with three titles and only a single puck of the ball separated them from Wicklow in last year’s final. They had a decent run in the league, before falling just short of neighbours Tyrone in the Division IIB semi-final. Christy Ring Cup finalists as recently as 2022, Mayo were relegated to the Nickey Rackard last year, but they appear to be back on an upward trajectory after six straight wins saw them lift the Division IIIA title. Both teams made winning starts to this campaign, with Donegal seeing off Armagh and Mayo powering past Monaghan.

Gerard Gilmore and Liam McKinney have been in prolific form for Donegal, while Cormac and Adrian Phillips, Liam Lavin and Shane Boland have all been chipping in with their share of scores for Mayo.

Monaghan take on Roscommon in Inniskeen.

2022 runners-up Roscommon were unable to build on a strong start to their Allianz Hurling League Division IIB campaign, but they got back to winning ways at the expense of Louth. After a maiden Lory Meagher Cup success last year, Monaghan had a difficult return to the Nickey Rackard when they lost to Mayo.

Niall Arthur and Niall Garland hit 2-5 between them in Monaghan’s opener, while Paddy Fallon and Brendan Mulry led the charge for Roscommon.

Sunday sees Armagh make the short trip to Louth.

Both teams are bidding for their first points after losing out last week: Armagh to Donegal and Louth to Roscommon. Just a single point separated the counties in the league, with a narrow win on the final day proving enough for Armagh to leapfrog Louth in the Division IIIA relegation battle.

Armagh have been relying on Antrim native Alex O’Boyle for the bulk of their scores, with Tiarnán Nevin and Paul Gaffney anchoring their defence. Darren Geoghegan remains the talisman for Louth, who have been boosted by the addition of Cork native John Casey and former Offaly goalkeeper Conor Clancy.

Fermanagh hurler, Sean McKendry. 

Fermanagh hurler, Sean McKendry. 

Lory Meagher Cup

Glenavy in Antrim is the venue for the Lory Meagher Cup clash of Lancashire and Leitrim on Saturday.

Lancashire, who fell at the final hurdle against Monaghan last year, followed a disappointing league with a first-round loss to Longford. 2019 Lory Meagher champions Leitrim fell just short of qualifying in the group stage in the last two years and need to get off the mark this time around after losing to Fermanagh.

David Lynch and Eoghan Clifford have been the main source of scores for a much-changed Lancashire side, while Joe Murray, Gavin O’Hagan and veteran keeper Clement Cunniffe are among the main men for Leitrim.

Fermanagh and Cavan will both be looking to maintain their good form in Saturday’s derby at Enniskillen.

After winning all four round-robin games, Fermanagh lost the Allianz League Division IIIB Final to Warwickshire, but they got back on track away to Leitrim, despite having Daniel Teague and Dylan Bannon sent off. Division IIIA semi-finalists Cavan were too potent for Warwickshire last week as they began their bid to reach a first Lory Meagher decider since they lost to Fermanagh in 2021.

Former Waterford U-20 Liam O’Brien, Kilkenny native Nicky Kenny and Seán Keating were on song for Cavan last time out, as were Luca McCusker, Ryan Bogue and Caolán Duffy for Fermanagh.

After beating Lancashire on home soil, Longford travel to face Warwickshire on Sunday.

Warwickshire won the Division IIIB title last month, seeing off Longford at the semi-final stage. Longford got back to winning ways against Lancashire, with Warwickshire’s momentum being stalled for now with a loss in Cavan. Both teams are hoping to claim a third Lory Meagher title this year.

The addition of Tipperary man Cian Darcy is a major boost for Longford, who should also be able to call on David Buckley, Reuben Murray and Cathal Mullane. Warwickshire will be depending on Jack Grealish, David Devine, Kevin McKernan and Luke Hands to show the way.


Saturday, April 20

Christy Ring Cup Round 2

Derry v Tyrone, Owenbeg, 1pm

London v Sligo, Ruislip, 1pm

Nickey Rackard Cup Round 2

Donegal v Mayo, Letterkenny, 2pm

Monaghan v Roscommon, Inniskeen, 2pm

Lory Meagher Cup Round 2

Lancashire v Leitrim, Glenavy, 2pm

Fermanagh v Cavan, Enniskillen, 3pm

Sunday, April 21

Christy Ring Cup Round 2

Kildare v Wicklow, Manguard Park, 2pm

Nickey Rackard Cup Round 2

Louth v Armagh, Dowdallshill, 2pm

Lory Meagher Cup Round 2

Warwickshire v Longford, Páirc na hÉireann, 1pm