Round-up: Allianz HL Division 2/3 action
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 2/DIVISION 3 RESULTS
Division 2A semi-final: Westmeath 2-18 Kerry 0-21
Division 2B semi-final: Sligo 1-20 Donegal 1-19
Division 2B relegation: Wicklow 0-16 Mayo 0-15
Division 3A semi-final: Armagh 1-22 Roscommon 0-20
Division 3B semi-final: Longford 1-23 Leitrm 2-13
Westmeath set up a Division 2A final clash with Down next weekend when first half goals from Niall Mitchell and Davy Glennon gave them sufficient cushion to withstand a second-half surge from 14-man Kerry at TEG Cusack Park this afternoon.
Top of the ground conditions led to fast-paced hurling and plenty of chances at both ends of the field, but both sides will feel like they have room for improvement in terms of their finishing, with 24 wides shared between the sides over the course of the 70 minutes.
Despite losing influential midfielder Mikey Boyle to a red card with ten minutes gone, Kerry were beginning to exert a measure on control on the tie before Niall Mitchell stepped up with a crucial goal for the home side, kicking the ball past Louis Dee after his spectacular leap and catch set up a close range opportunity with 19 minutes gone.
Two sublime points from Colin Walsh and Shane Conway dragged Kerry right back into contention, but Mitchell again weighed in with a crucial play when he set up Davy Glennon with a clear run through on goal in first half stoppage time and the former Galway player didn’t waste the chance, rifling the ball to the roof of the net to make it 2-9 to 0-10 at the interval.
Kerry continued to hold their own defensively, where Fionnán Mackessy, Eric Leen and Colin Walsh were all in superb form, but they found it difficult to overcome Westmeath’s extra defender.
A brief burst of Kerry scores around the hour mark, including an excellent brace from Pádraig Boyle, suggested that a tight finish might be in store as the lead was briefly reduced to a single point, but Westmeath subs Niall O’Brien and Jack Gillen tapped over late scores to see the Lake County over the line.
Sligo produced a slight upset in Division 2B when they travelled to O’Donnell Park and edged out Donegal by a single point, 1-20 to 1-19, to set up a rematch with Derry in the league decider next weekend.
Daire Ó Maoiléidigh found the net for the Donegal while Davin Flynn struck five early points as it all seemed to be going Donegal’s way in the early stages. They led by seven after 20 minutes and were still well poised at the break, 1-10 to 0-7 in front. However Sligo were revitalized after half-time and points from Tony O'Kelly-Lynch, Tomás Cawley and Joe McHugh halved the gap, with the Yeats County pushing on again to trail by a single point by the 50 minute mark.
Donegal rallied to lead by four but by now Sligo still had all the momentum and they got the vital break they needed when Conor Hanniffy’s shot was blocked but the sliothar broke perfectly for Andy Kilcullen to whip the ball to the net on the hour mark.
Conor Hanniffy and Andy Kilcullen shot two points each to give Sligo a narrow lead going into stoppage time, and it fell to Joe McHugh to fire over their last point to move them two clear, allowing them to concede the last score and still advance.
In the day’s other game in Division 2B, Wicklow’s Brandon Ryan and John Doyle chipped in with some vital points at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park, where the Garden County edged out Mayo by 0-16 to 0-15, securing their place in the same Division in 2023 and condemning the Westerners to relegation.
When Armagh and Roscommon met in the round robin stages of Division 3A at the Athletic Grounds, the Rossies struck late to nab a one point win against the run of play, but there were no such heroics this afternoon as Armagh gradually took control of this league semi-final at Dr. Hyde Park to engineer a fully-deserved 1-22 to 0-20 win.
A red card for team captain Pádraig Kelly didn’t help the home side, but some strong performances from Hugh Rooney, Conor Cosgrove and Daniel Glynn still guided them to an 0-13 to 0-10 interval lead.
Armagh were handed a huge chance to retake the lead early in the second half when they were awarded a penalty, with Roscommon goalkeeper Noel Fallon black-carded for the foul. Simon Doherty fired the penalty over the bar however, meaning it wasn’t until the 61st minute that Armagh finally took the lead through Fionntán Donnelly, making it 0-19 to 0-18.
Darren Fallon joined Kelly, his club colleague, on the sideline after receiving a straight red card of his own and the numerical disadvantage took a toll in the closing minutes when a goal from Shea Harvey and frees from Dean Gaffney saw Armagh through to a league final against Tyrone.
Meanwhile at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford overcame the concession of a goal to Joe Murray of Leitrim after just 15 seconds to lead Leitrim by 0-16 to 1-7 at half-time, and once Emmet Corrigan goaled shortly after the restart, there was no way back for the Connacht County. Paddy Lynam (0-8), Joe O’Brien (0-6) and Reuben Murray (0-4) all enjoyed a productive afternoon for Longford, who advanced to a final against Fermanagh by a seven point margin, 1-23 to 2-13.