Cormac O'Doherty is in fine form for the Derry hurlers.
Cormac O'Doherty is in fine form for the Derry hurlers. 

Ring, Rackard, Meagher Cups preview


By Colm Shalvey

The Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cup group stages conclude on Saturday

Christy Ring Cup

Top spot is up for grabs in Group A of the Christy Ring Cup when Derry host Wicklow.

Both sides have two points to their name after seeing off Roscommon in the last two weekends and while they have already secured their place in the semi-finals, the winners of this game will avoid favourites Offaly in the last four.

Perennial Christy Ring Cup competitors Wicklow were relegated from Division IIA of the Allianz Hurling League, but their win over Roscommon ended their lengthy losing run. 2015 finalists Derry had to work hard to secure their winning start to this year’s competition, as they finished strongly to get over the line, despite having played much of the game with 14 men.

Cormac O’Doherty racked up 0-35 during the league for Derry and hit another eight points last weekend, while Brian Cassidy, Sé McGuigan and Gerald Bradley can also contribute plenty. Andy O’Brien and Mikey Lee were on form up front last time out for a Wicklow side who could see Christy Moorehouse return to the starting team. John Henderson is another key man for Wicklow, who have All-Ireland winners Éamonn Scallan (Wexford) and Eoin Larkin (Kilkenny) on the sideline.

Declan Coulter has impressed again for Donegal in 2021.
Declan Coulter has impressed again for Donegal in 2021.

Nickey Rackard Cup

Nickey Rackard Cup holders Donegal bid for a semi-final place when they face Leitrim.

Donegal won their third Nickey Rackard title last November and they went on to have a decent Allianz Hurling League Division IIB campaign, although they fell to a rare home defeat against Mayo last time out. Leitrim, who made it to the semi-finals last year after winning their first Lory Meagher Cup in 2019, followed up a forgettable league campaign, where they lost their three games in Division IIIB, with a heavy defeat against Mayo last weekend.

Declan Coulter was the top scorer in Division IIB with 2-34 for Donegal and he added nine points in the loss to Mayo. Ciarán Matthewson, Ronan McDermott and Sean McVeigh are other key players for Donegal, who are set to be without Danny Cullen through injury, although they welcome Gerard Gilmore back. Leitrim will need Gavin O’Hagan, Karl McDermott and Colm and Liam Moreton on top of their game if they are to reverse their recent form.

Lory Meagher Cup

Group A of the Lory Meagher Cup will be decided when Monaghan host Longford.

These teams have experienced contrasting fortunes in the few weeks since Monaghan won in Longford to see the latter demoted to Division IIIB of the Allianz Hurling League. Longford began their Lory Meagher campaign by ending their losing run in emphatic style against holders Louth, who went on to bounce back to defeat Monaghan last weekend.

Monaghan will be looking to Fergal Rafter, Mark Treanor and Stephen Lambe to lead their bid for a win that would leave Group A to be decided on score difference. Joe O’Brien, Reuben Murray, Martin Coyle, David Buckley and Steven Creaven will be looking to build on influential performances in round one for Longford.

FIXTURES

Saturday, July 10

Christy Ring Cup Group A

Derry v Wicklow, Owenbeg, 2pm

Nickey Rackard Cup Group A

Leitrim v Donegal, Carrick-on-Shannon, 2pm

Lory Meagher Cup Group A

Monaghan v Longford, Inniskeen, 2pm