Round-up: Ring and Rackard Cup semi-finals
The final line-ups are complete in the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cups
Christy Ring Cup
Down are through to their second consecutive Christy Ring Cup Final after a dramatic game saw them upset the odds against favourites Offaly on penalties in Newry. Goalkeeper and captain Stephen Keith was the hero for Down as they came from 2-0 down to win the shoot-out 3-2 and complete a famous win.
Down had started confidently when Daithí and Eoghan Sands linked up for the latter to kick to the net, but points from Eoghan Cahill and Cillian Kiely and a Shane Kinsella goal, set up by Colm Gath, turned the momentum in favour of Offaly. John McManus had a chance of a second major for Down, with Oisín MacManus converting the resulting ’65. MacManus and Cahill continued to exchange points from frees either side of the first water break, with Offaly hitting the last two scores of the half to lead by the minimum: 1-9 to 1-8.
Offaly were on the front foot for most of the third quarter, with Cahill, Kinsella and David King stretching their lead, although Pearse Óg McCrickard’s third point from play helped keep the hosts in touch, while Cahill blasted a penalty off the woodwork. Even after a rally from the Mourne men, huge efforts from Poc Fada champion Kiely and Cahill had Offaly (who hit the bar again late on) on the brink of victory, but Barry Trainor stepped up with a fine equaliser to make it 1-16 apiece at the end of normal time.
Offaly had subs Adrian Hynes, Thomas Geraghty and Aidan Treacy on target during extra-time, but frees by Paul Sheehan and Conor Woods kept Down on their coat-tails at 1-20 to 1-19 as they changed ends for the last time. The 2019 runners-up regained the lead when Daithí Sands flicked an Eoghan Sands centre into the net, but a Liam Langton brace helped Offaly get back on level terms once again (Down 2-20 Offaly 1-23).
There was even time for yet another shift in momentum during the penalty shoot-out after Cahill (who had been reintroduced late on by Michael Fennelly after having to limp off during extra-time) and Treacy converted two of Offaly’s first three attempts, while Down took until their third to get off the mark. Woods and Caolán Taggart netted to keep Down in contention and after Stephen Keith saved from his opposite number Stephen Corcoran and Kiely, the Down keeper fired home the decisive penalty.
Scorers for Down: Oisín MacManus 0-7 (6fs, 1 ‘65); Eoghan Sands 1-2; Daithí Sands 1-1; Paul Sheehan 0-4f; Pearse Óg McCrickard 0-3; Dónal Hughes 0-1; Barry Trainor 0-1; Conor Woods 0-1f.
Scorers for Offaly: Eoghan Cahill 0-10 (9fs); Shane Kinsella 1-2; Cillian Kiely 0-3; Adrian Hynes 0-2; Liam Langton 0-2 (1f); Thomas Geraghty 0-1; Peter Geraghty 0-1; David King 0-1; Aidan Treacy 0-1f.
DOWN: Stephen Keith (Capt.); Tom Murray, Caolán Taggart, Michael Hughes; Barry Trainor, Conor Woods, Liam Savage; Matt Conlan, John McManus; Dónal Hughes, Pearse Óg McCrickard, Tim Prenter; Oisín MacManus, Eoghan Sands, Daithí Sands.
Subs used: Phelim Savage, Paul Sheehan, Ronan Costello, Marc Fisher, Chris Egan, Ryan McCusker.
OFFALY : Stephen Corcoran; Ciarán Burke, Ben Conneely (Capt.), Paddy Delaney; Damien Egan, Cillian Kiely, David King; Eoghan Cahill, David Nally; Shane Kinsella, Jason Sampson, Peter Geraghty; Colm Gath, Oisín Kelly, Liam Langton.
Subs used: Dan Doughan, Adrian Hynes, Brian Duignan, Seán Cleary, Thomas Geraghty, Aidan Treacy.
Jack Sheridan and Brian Byrne hit a combined total of 2-14 as 2018 Christy Ring winners Kildare powered into their fourth final with a convincing victory over Roscommon in Newbridge. The teams were level five times during the opening 20 minutes, but Kildare took charge with a relentless blitz of 3-10 either side of half-time that set them up for a comfortable win.
Roscommon were competitive throughout the first quarter, with Cathal Dolan leading their scoring and Conor Mulry unfortunate not to net the opening goal, before Niall Kilroy edged them ahead just after the first water break. It was all Kildare between then and half-time, however, as a James Burke goal and a string of points by Jack Sheridan and Brian Byrne handed the hosts a 1-11 to 0-5 advantage.
Rian Boran burst through straight from the throw-in for the second half to add a point for Kildare, who stretched their lead well into double figures when Sheridan hit 2-1 in the space of a few minutes, his first goal coming from a penalty won by Tadhg Forde, who had also set up Burke’s major. Roscommon eventually ended their long scoring drought and they got a goal back through Johnny Coyne, who had another effort saved by Paddy McKenna, but with Niall Ó Muineacháin, Paul Divilly and sub Shane Ryan adding their names to the scoresheet, Kildare ran up a tally of 3-24 to overturn last year’s surprise loss to the Rossies.
Scorers for Kildare: Jack Sheridan 2-6 (1-0 pen, 4fs, 165); Brian Byrne 0-8 (4fs); James Burke 1-2; Niall Ó Muineacháin 0-2; Paul Divilly 0-2; Shane Ryan 0-1; Kevin Whelan 0-1; Conor Dowling 0-1; Rian Boran 0-1.
Scorers for Roscommon: Cathal Dolan 0-6 (4f); Johnny Coyne 1-0; Conor Mulry 0-1; Niall Kilroy 0-1; Éamon Flanagan 0-1f.
KILDARE: Paddy McKenna; Simon Leacy, John Doran, Cian Shanahan; Niall Ó Muineacháin, Rian Boran, Kevin Whelan; Cathal Dowling, Paul Divilly; James Burke, Jack Sheridan, Conor Dowling; Tadhg Forde, Brian Byrne, David Slattery.
Subs used: Cathal McCabe, Shane Ryan, Seán Christanseen, Cathal Derivan, Mark Doyle.
ROSCOMMON: Naos Connaughton; Paul Dolan, Peter Kellihan, Pádraic Brennan; Paul Kenny, Micheál Byrne, Éamon Flanagan; Shane Curley, Oisín Kelly; Éamon Kenny, Johnny Coyne, Eoin Coyle; Cathal Dolan, Conor Mulry, Niall Kilroy.
Subs used: Cillian Egan, Ben McGahon, Jack Lohan, Pat Nolan, Dónal Kelly.
Nicky Rackard Cup
Donegal are through to their second Nicky Rackard Cup Final in three years after an impressive second-half performance saw them past Tyrone in Letterkenny. Wind-assisted Tyrone just edged a closely-contested opening half, but their former player Gerard Gilmore hit 2-3 after the restart to lead the way for Donegal, who hit easily their highest tally of the campaign (3-25), despite being forced to line out without forwards Declan Coulter, Davin Flynn and Bernard Lafferty.
Ronan McDermott and Ciarán Mathewson were on target early on for Donegal, but Kiefer Morgan made it goals in back-to-back games to hand Tyrone a narrow lead. Damian Casey once again hit double figures for Tyrone, including eight in the first half that led the visitors to a narrow lead (1-13 to 1-12), with Bryan McGurk also weighing in with a hat-trick of points to cancel out Richie Ryan’s goal. Tyrone keeper Conor McElhatton managed to deny both Mathewson and Ryan at one end, while his opposite number Liam White got on the end of a clever free by Danny Cullen to send over a long-range point from play for Donegal, who had Jack O’Loughlin on form throughout.
O’Loughlin and Casey exchanged points at the start of the second half, before the game’s decisive moments arrived when Gilmore cut in from the left flank twice in the space of four minutes to net a brace of goals. Donegal never looked back from then on, with Joe Boyle, Kevin Kealy and subs Josh Connolly and Lee Henderson all adding scores along with O’Loughlin and Gilmore. Substitute Cain Ferguson was the only Tyrone player other than Casey to score in the second half as they couldn’t find a way through for the goals they needed to get back into it.
Scorers for Donegal: Gerard Gilmore 2-4; Jack O’Loughlin 0-9 (6fs); Richie Ryan 1-1; Ciarán Mathewson 0-3; Ronan McDermott 0-2; Joe Boyle 0-2; Liam White 0-1; Josh Connolly 0-1; Lee Henderson 0-1; Kevin Kealy 0-1.
Scorers for Tyrone: Damian Casey 0-14 (9fs); Kiefer Morgan 1-1; Bryan McGurk 0-3; Cain Ferguson 0-2; Conor Grogan 0-1.
Donegal: Liam White; Gavin Browne, Stephen Gillespie, Mark Callaghan; Joe Boyle, Seán McVeigh, Jack O’Loughlin; Michael Donoghue, Ronan McDermott; Gerard Gilmore, Danny Cullen, Kevin Kealy; Conor O’Grady, Richie Ryan, Ciarán Mathewson.
Subs used: Lee Henderson, Josh Connolly, Conor Parke, Stephen Doherty, Ciarán Bradley.
Tyrone: Conor McElhatton; Ruairi Devlin, Dean Rafferty, Seán Paul McKernan; Seán Donaghy, Chris Kearns, Cormac Munroe; Tiarnan Morgan, Chris Cross; Conor Grogan, Bryan McGurk, Kiefer Morgan; Branán Molloy, Damian Casey, Matthew Mulgrew.
Subs used: Lorcan Devlin, Cain Ferguson, Seán Muldoon, John McGurk, Cian Ferguson.
Mayo also moved through the gears in the second half to see off Leitrim in Castlebar. The sides were level at the interval, but Mayo outscored their neighbours by 2-15 to 0-3 thereafter to banish any danger of a shock result.
Gavin O’Hagan and Shane Boland swapped points from frees early on, before Mayo got the first score from play through Brian Morley. Leitrim hit the front, however, when an end-to-end move saw Colm Moreton tap home the opening goal from point-blank range. Morley raced through to fire to the net for Mayo, but Leitrim continued to take the game to the favourites, with Karl McDermott, Conor Beirne and Cian French helping them go in on level terms at 1-8 each.
French ended a six-minute scoreless spell at the start of the second half to edge Leitrim ahead again, but the scores would eventually start to flow freely for Mayo, who got a fortunate second goal via a long-range effort from Cathal Freeman. Seán Kenny and Shane Boland added scores for the home side, with the latter then hitting the net on his way to a personal haul of 1-11. Liam Lavin and Brian Hunt came off the bench to take Mayo’s number of scorers to eight as they secured a third comprehensive win that books their place in a first decider since 2016.
Scorers for Mayo: Shane Boland 1-11 (10fs); Brian Morley 1-2; Seán Kenny 0-4 (1f, 1 ‘65); Cathal Freeman 1-0; Adrian Phillips 0-2; Eoin Delaney 0-2; Liam Lavin 0-1; Brian Hunt 0-1.
Scorers for Leitrim: Karl McDermott 0-4 (1f); Colm Moreton 1-0; Cian French 0-2; Gavin O’Hagan 0-2 (1f); Conor Beirne 0-1; Zak Moradi 0-1; Ben Murray 0-1.
MAYO: Gerald Kelly; Gary Nolan, Stephen Coyne (Capt.), John Cassidy; Seán Regan, David Kenny, Cathal Freeman; Adrian Phillips, Seán Mulroy; Seán Kenny, Shane Boland, Corey Scahill; Jason Coyne, Brian Morley, Eoin Delaney.
Subs used: Liam Lavin, Cormac Phillips, Brian Hunt, Daniel Huane, Conor Murray.
LEITRIM: Michael O’Brien; Paul Lenehan, David McGovern, Paul Early; Martin Feeney, Liam Moreton (Capt.), Aaron McDermott; Enda Moreton, Ben Murray; Karl McDermott, Cian French, Colm Moreton; Gavin O’Hagan, Conor Beirne, Stephen Goldrick.
Subs used: Liam Phelan, Zak Moradi, Jamie Ward, Seán Ó Riordáin, Cian Mallon.
Saturday, November 14
Christy Ring Cup Semi-Finals
Down 2-20 Offaly 1-23 (AET)
* Down won 3-2 on penalties
Kildare 3-24 Roscommon 1-9
Nicky Rackard Cup Semi-Finals
Donegal 3-25 Tyrone 1-21
Mayo 3-23 Leitrim 1-11