Ring, Rackard, and Meagher Cups round-up
Christy Ring Cup Round 1
Wicklow 2-19 Roscommon 3-14
Nicky Rackard Cup Round 1
Donegal 2-13 Longford 1-14
Mayo 3-32 Monaghan 2-10
Armagh 1-21 Leitrim 0-12
Lory Meagher Cup Round 1
Fermanagh 3-10 Louth 1-15
The redrawn 2020 Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups finally got underway over the weekend.
Christy Ring Cup
The Christy Ring Cup unfortunately featured a pair of walkovers, with Offaly and Sligo having to concede their first-round games against Kildare and Derry, respectively.
The meeting of Roscommon and Wicklow went ahead on Sunday, with the visitors holding off a strong comeback to edge an exciting win. Wicklow were without Andy O’Brien, their top scorer in the Allianz Hurling League with 2-47, but Christy Moorehouse picked up where he left off; hitting 1-1 in the early stages to lead the way for his side.
A second goal from Moorehouse midway through the first half moved Wicklow further clear at 2-4 to 0-2 and with Mikey Boland and Danny Staunton also among their scorers, they were in a commanding position at the interval. Wicklow were 2-11 to 0-4 to the good at that stage and they added three of the first four points after the restart, but Roscommon came roaring into contention with a purple patch that saw them hit an unanswered 2-4, including a quick-fire brace of goals by Cathal Dolan.
Éamon Flanagan blasted a free to the net to bring Roscommon within two points of a remarkable turnaround, but Moorehouse stepped up in the closing stages to hit a handful of crucial scores that took his personal tally to an impressive 2-9 and secured the spoils for Wicklow on a scoreline to 2-19 to 3-14.
Nicky Rackard Cup
Two-time Nicky Rackard Cup champions Donegal made a winning start to the 2020 campaign, but only after a real scare from Longford in Letterkenny on Saturday.
Scores were few and far between in the opening quarter, with Declan Coulter and Bernard Lafferty giving Donegal a narrow lead despite Joe O’Brien and Luke Kelly replying for Longford. Donegal found their form after the water break, with five points from Coulter helping them build up a 0-11 to 0-5 lead by half-time. Coulter had to go off for the second half, however, and with the scores drying up again for Donegal, Longford gradually worked their way back into contention.
Points from O’Brien, Kelly and Iomar Creaven brought the visitors within two, but despite going scoreless throughout the third quarter and subsequently seeing a goal from Richie Ryan disallowed for a square ball, the substitute made another close-range chance count moments later to settle Donegal. Longford kept plugging away with points from Alan Ward and O’Brien, but a second goal from Ronan McDermott had Donegal in command late on. O’Brien hit the net in added time to make it a one-point game, only for a Ciarán Mathewson free to secure a hard-earned win for Allianz Hurling League Division 3A winners Donegal.
Mayo started their campaign in emphatic style with a comprehensive away win over Monaghan.
Monaghan had a stiff breeze at their backs for the first half in Clontibret, but a string of missed chances added to their uphill battle against the visitors, who operated two tiers higher in the Allianz Hurling League. Mayo had been on a losing streak in Division 2A in spring, but their superior first touch and finishing helped them race into a healthy lead inside the opening quarter. A fortunate goal stretched Mayo’s advantage when a Cathal Freeman effort deflected into the net off Monaghan full-back Kevin Crawley and although the hosts replied through Aidan Burns, they trailed by 1-13 to 1-4 at the interval.
Monaghan gifted Mayo another soft goal after the restart when a long-range point-attempt from Freeman dipped under the crossbar, but the underdogs did work play through the lines a little better during the third quarter, including when Burns drilled home his second major in the 45th minute. Mayo’s dominance became increasingly pronounced as the half developed, however, with four subs getting on the scoresheet to take their total number of scorers to 13. Brian Morley’s deft finish gave Mayo their third goal and with Shane Boland racking up 0-12, they put up a huge tally of 3-32. Fergal Rafter finished with six points for Monaghan, but they had no answers to Mayo’s attacking fluency.
A dominant first-half performance set the foundations for Armagh to claim a comfortable home win against Leitrim.
Armagh hit five of the game’s first six points as they settled far quicker and with Nathan Curry, Martin Moan, Conor Corvan and Paddy McBride all catching the eye, the seven-time finalists built up a commanding lead (0-15 to 0-5) by the end of the first half. Gavin O’Hagan’s free-taking helped Leitrim make a brief rally at the start of the second half, but that was pierced when Armagh sub Shaun Toal popped up with the game’s only goal. There was no way back thereafter for Leitrim and with the sides evenly dividing the six points scored during the final quarter, 2019 runners-up Armagh ended up winning by double scores at 1-21 to 0-12.
Lory Meagher Cup
Fermanagh are up and running in the Lory Meagher Cup after they pipped Louth in Darver.
Louth, who dropped down from the Nicky Rackard last year, led for much of the second half, only to be caught by a late Fermanagh goal. The teams shared the first six points of the game, before a Tom Keenan goal helped Fermanagh lead by 1-4 to 0-3 at the first water break. The visitors could add just a single point to their tally between then and half-time, allowing Louth to cut their deficit to the minimum at 0-7 to 1-5 and the hosts added an unanswered 1-3 after the resumption, with the goal coming when Jamie McDonnell’s long-range effort found its way into the net. Darren O’Hanrahan and Andrew Mackin helped Louth maintain a slim advantage until a late burst of 1-1 handed Fermanagh a dramatic win.