Preview: Nickey Rackard Cup Final - Roscommon v Tyrone
Nickey Rackard Cup Final
Roscommon v Tyrone, Saturday, 3.00, Croke Park. Live coverage on Spórt TG4 YouTube
By Colm Shalvey
Two former Nickey Rackard Cup champions contest the 2022 final at Croke Park on Saturday.
Roscommon are in their fourth final at this level, having won on two of their three previous appearances in 2007 and 2015. The Rossies established themselves as a Christy Ring team between 2016 and last year – reaching back-to-back semi-finals in 2019 and 2020 – and they have gone through the current Nickey Rackard campaign unbeaten.
Having lost five semi-finals between 2015 and 2020, 2014 champions Tyrone reached last year’s decider. Current Christy Ring Cup finalists Mayo proved too strong on that occasion, but that was one of just two defeats for Tyrone in their last 14 league and championship matches. The Allianz Hurling League Division IIIA winners’ only loss to date this year came against Saturday’s opponents in the penultimate round of the Nickey Rackard group stage.
Clare native Francis O’Halloran saw his first league campaign as Roscommon manager end with a Division IIIA semi-final loss to Armagh, but they have regrouped impressively. A last-gasp equalising goal by Donegal is the only thing stopping the table-toppers from taking a 100% record through the round-robin series, during which they racked up more than 32 points per game, with their total tally of 17-110 making them the highest scorers by some distance.
Roscommon can call on two of the competition’s best marksmen in Daniel Glynn and Cathal Dolan, while Mickey Joe Egan, Eoin Fitzgerald, Brendan Mulry and Adam Donnelly are also into double figures for a team with a real eye for goals. Captain Peter Kellehan, centre-half back Conor Cosgrove and midfielder Ben McGahon are among the main men for the Connacht side.
Tyrone also have an outside manager in Michael McShane, who once again led Slaughtneil’s hurlers to within touching distance of an All-Ireland Club hurling final appearance earlier this year. Damian Casey has long been the leading light for Tyrone, with his 2-50 to date making him the Nickey Rackard Cup’s top scorer for a fifth time. The Eoghan Ruadh forward has now made a remarkable 100 consecutive appearances for his county, hitting more than 1,000 points in the process (hat-tip to Tyrone statistician Eunan Lindsay for the info).
Tyrone captain Conor Grogan also recently played his 100th inter-county game, while Ruairí Slane and former Antrim duo Tiarnan Murphy and CJ McGourty have been other regulars on the scoresheet this season. Bryan McGurk is a big presence at midfield for the Red Hand County, with Chris Kearns and Dermot Begley providing experience at the back and goalkeeper Conor McElhatton making a series of important saves during recent weeks.
Roscommon ran out convincing winners when these sides met a fortnight ago, but the sides’ previous meeting resulted in a draw. All three of Roscommon’s previous appearances in this fixture went right down to the wire and it would be no surprise if this pairing produced another close contest.
Roscommon’s Nickey Rackard Cup scorers 2022: Daniel Glynn 2-35 (2-0 pens, 0-30f, 0-1 ’65); Cathal Dolan 2-18 (0-5f, 0-1 ’65); Mickey Joe Egan 3-10; Eoin Fitzgerald 2-13; Brendan Mulry 3-4; Adam Donnelly 3-1; Connell Kennelly 1-5; Eoin Kiernan 1-4; Ben McGahon 0-6 (2 s-l), Éamon Mulry 0-5; , Oisín Kelly 0-4 each; Naos Connaughton, Conor Cosgrove, Pádraig Kelly 0-2 each; Cormac Coyle 0-1.
Tyrone’s Nickey Rackard Cup scorers 2022: Damian Casey 2-50 (0-36f, 0-2 ’65s); Tiarnan Murphy 5-7; CJ McGourty 1-11; Ruairí Slane 2-5; Bryan McGurk 0-5; Seán Óg Grogan, Chris Kearns 0-4 each; Conor Grogan, Tiernan Morgan 0-3 each; Rory Weir, Dermot Begley 1-0 each; Lorcan Devlin, Aidy Kelly 0-2 each; Anthony Crossan 0-1.
Nickey Rackard Cup top scorers 2022:
Damian Casey (Tyrone) 2-50
Daniel Glynn (Roscommon) 2-35
Seán Corrigan (Fermanagh) 0-29
Davin Flynn (Donegal) 0-27
Cathal Dolan (Roscommon) 2-18
Tyrone talisman Damian Casey is the Nickey Rackard Cup’s top scorer for the fifth time after racking up 2-50 in five games en route to another final. Their opponents, Roscommon, have two of the top five in Daniel Glynn and Cathal Dolan, sandwiching Donegal’s prolific Tipperary native Davin Flynn and the 2021 Lory Meagher Player of the Year, Fermanagh’s Seán Corrigan.