Ring, Rackard, and Meagher Cups continue to excite
By Michael Devlin
The Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups are well underway by this stage, with two rounds played in the Ring and Rackard, and the second round of Meagher group games taking place this weekend.
The June Bank Holiday weekend will be a ‘moving day’ of sorts, with the final round of games set to determine who will go forward to the semi-finals in the Ring and Rackard championships, and who will contest in the relegation play-offs.
The top scorer charts have already been populated by some big individual scoring displays from players across the three competitions.
In the Christy Ring Cup, Jack Regan has been shooting the lights out for Meath with a huge 0-28 across their comfortable wins over London and Kildare in Group Two. Derry’s Cormac O’Doherty is not far behind with 2-17 as they top Group One with two victories from two. The Slaughtneil man’s 2-9 offering on match day one helped the Oak Leafers to a nine-point Ulster Derby win over Down in Ballycran.
Roscommon achieved a terrific result on the opening weekend with a two-point win over reigning champions Kildare in Athleague, exactly a year on from losing to the Lilywhites by 26 points. They followed that up with a convincing win over London in Ruislip to guarantee a semi-final place, and sharp-shooter Cathal Dolan has led the way for the Rossies with 0-21.
Oisin MacManus is Down’s top scorer with 0-18, while Brian Byrne has put up 0-16 for Kildare. Two players have struck the net three times, Meath’s Eamon O Donnchadh (3-5) and Gary Hughes of Wicklow (3-3). Hughes’ team-mate Christy Moorehouse has top scored for the Lake County with 1-12.
With Roscommon and Meath already into the last four, Derry, Down and Wicklow will fight it out for the other two semi-final spots, with Donegal eliminated after losing both their games.
Tyrone’s ever-reliable Damien Casey leads the way in the Nicky Rackard Cup scoring charts with 2-22. The Red Hand hurlers began their campaign in fine fashion with a win over Mayo in Omagh, but were brought back down to earth by an impressive Sligo last weekend. Keith Raymond’s contribution of 2-13 for the Yeats’ County has helped them to top spot in Group Two.
Two defeats for Louth leaves them facing a relegation play-off despite Darren Geoghegan’s tally of 0-20 across two games, while Shane Boland has been Mayo’s go-to guy with 0-19. His side take on Sligo next weekend in the hope of securing a place in the final four.
Group Two is poised for an intriguing final round to determine who emerges to claim semi-final berths, with Armagh and Warwickshire on three points and Longford on two. Tipperary native David Buckley has been on fire for Longford with 2-12, while Armagh marksman Dean Gaffney has kept the Orchard men in the hunt for a place in the semi’s with a massive 0-24 across their two games.
Monaghan need a win in the final round against Warwickshire to have any chance of avoiding a relegation play-off, and will be hoping Fergal Rafter will handsomely add to his 1-11 total in order to do so.
Last year’s Lory Meagher runners-up Lancashire got their campaign up and running last weekend with a narrow two point win over Leitrim, where Cork man Ronan Crowley contributed a huge 0-15 of the Exiles 0-20 total. Gavin O’Hagan and Clement Cunniffe both notched 0-5 for Leitrim.
John Duffy’s 0-9 helped Fermanagh to victory over neighbours Cavan, who had Diarmuid Carney and John Sheanon leading their challenge with 0-6 and 1-3 respectively. In the second round this Saturday, Fermanagh host Lancashire in Brewster Park, while Leitrim welcome Cavan.