Round-up: Ring, Rackard, and Meagher Cups
Two of the three 100 per cent records across the Christy Ring, Nickey Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups were ended over the weekend, with Kildare retaining the only unblemished run.
Christy Ring Cup
Kildare have four wins from four in the Christy Ring Cup after they ran up another impressive tally against Wicklow in Aughrim on Saturday.
Kildare set the tone for the game with early goals by Johnny Byrne and Gerry Keegan and they went on to lead by 2-12 to 1-5 at half-time. Brian Byrne and James Burke both hit the net within ten minutes of the restart as Kildare asserted their dominance. Wicklow did manage to hit three goals of their own via Seánie Germaine, Eoin Kavanagh and John Henderson, but Cathal Dowling rounded off another comprehensive win for David Herity’s side.
Kildare have now qualified for the final with a round to spare and they have a remarkable 14-110 to their credit in this group stage.
Mayo remained in contention for a final place when they fended off Sligo in a competitive Connacht derby in Ballina.
Andy Kilcullen and Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch were in prolific form for Sligo, who led by a single point (0-13 to 0-12) at the end of an entertaining first half. Conor Hannify added the opening goal of the game for Sligo, but Keith Higgins and Kenny Feeney responded to turn it in Mayo’s favour. Kilcullen and O’Kelly-Lynch finished with a combined 16 points for Sligo, but 0-12 from Shane Boland helped guide Mayo over the line. Mayo now have three consecutive wins to their name ahead of a decisive meeting with Derry.
Derry are also one win away from another Croke Park appearance after they overcame a scare from London at Owenbeg on Sunday.
London led for most of the first half, during which Dónal Hannon hit seven points, but goals by Gerald Bradley and Odhrán McKeever saw Derry change ends trailing by the minimum (0-11 to 2-4). With the breeze at their backs for the second half, Derry slowly gained command, with Tiarnán McHugh hitting their third major and Cormac O’Doherty and Richie Mullan finding their range from frees. Fiachra O’Keefe hit a late consolation goal for London, but Derry had done enough to secure a return to winning ways.
Nickey Rackard Cup
Roscommon moved to the verge of qualification in the Nickey Rackard Cup when they convincingly ended Tyrone’s lengthy unbeaten run at Dr. Hyde Park.
Tyrone (who were without their third-round hat-trick hero, Tiarnan Murphy) hit four of the game’s first six points, but Daniel Glynn converted his second penalty in two games to light up Roscommon’s charge. The hosts outscored the Division 3A winners by 1-9 to 0-1 in the second quarter– the goal from Brendan Mulry – to lead by 2-13 to 0-8, before Tyrone hit the last point of the half through Damian Casey, who starred as they slowly cut their deficit to five. Roscommon had a better spread of scores, however, with Conor Cosgrave, Cathal Dolan and Connell Kennelly among their 11 players to hit the target.
Adam Donnelly came off the bench to hit the net for the second week in a row as Roscommon sealed an impressive win that moved them top on score-difference.
Donegal remain level on points with Roscommon after a comprehensive win over Warwickshire at Páirc na hÉireann.
The absence of the prolific Davin Flynn couldn’t deter Donegal, who racked up 33 points as they made it four games unbeaten. Declan Coulter led ten scorers for Donegal, who led by 0-18 to 0-5 at the end of a one-sided first half. Coulter took his tally into double figures, while Seán McVeigh, Dáire Ó Maoiledigh and Gerard Gilmore also enjoyed productive games for the three-time champions. Alex Hanley top-scored for Warwickshire, but they remain bottom after long afternoon.
Armagh got off the mark by edging a thrilling all-Ulster clash against Fermanagh in Crossmaglen.
Barney McAuley, Seán Corrigan and Caolán Duffy were in scoring form as Fermanagh led for much of the first half, but Shaun Toal and Danny Magee rattled in goals towards the end of the half to move Armagh ahead by 2-9 to 1-8. A second major by Toal and a sixth point by Dean Gaffney sent Armagh seven clear entering the last 15 minutes, but a spirited Fermanagh side cut their deficit to the minimum in added time, only for Stephen McKearney to secure an important win for Terence McNaughton’s side, who now move off the bottom of the table.
Lory Meagher Cup
Longford moved onto the verge of qualifying for the Lory Meagher Cup Final when they won a thriller away to Monaghan on Saturday.
Monaghan had seemingly been in pole position after three rounds, but they were docked four points after it emerged that they had fielded an ineligible player in their first two wins of the competition. That left the home side effectively playing to stay in contention and their task became more difficult when goalkeeper Hugh Byrne was sent off just after the half-hour mark.
Goals by Reuben Murray and Cathal Mullane had Longford 2-6 to 0-5 up at that stage, but Monaghan responded with an unanswered 1-5 either side of the interval, the goal coming from Mark Treanor. Longford rediscovered their scoring touch in the final quarter, however, with a series of points from Joe O’Brien helping them claim their third consecutive win and move joint-top of the table.
Louth kept themselves in contention to qualify with a commanding win at home to Cavan.
Goals by Seaghán Conneely and Seán Kerrisk helped Louth lead by 2-9 to 1-5 at the interval, with a James Smith strike helping Cavan retain faint hopes of a first win of 2022. The second half turned into a procession, however, as Louth outscored the 2021 runners-up by 17 points to three. Darren Geoghegan (0-11) led 11 Louth marksmen as they stayed within two points of the group’s joint-leaders.
A draw at home to Louth next week would be enough for Leitrim to advance after the 2019 champions claimed a comfortable win over Lancashire.
Leitrim hit 1-10 in both halves as they got back to winning ways with plenty to spare. Brendan Delaney’s goal helped Leitrim build up a commanding lead by the end of a first half where they conceded just four points and although Danny Connolly led a better start to the second half by Lancashire, it was a false dawn for the Exiles. Gavin O’Hagan drilled a penalty home as Leitrim cruised to a third victory that leaves them top heading into the final round of group games.
Saturday May 7
Christy Ring Cup Round 4
Kildare 5-25 Wicklow 3-10
Mayo 2-24 Sligo 1-20
Nickey Rackard Cup Round 4
Roscommon 3-24 Tyrone 0-21
Armagh 3-18 Fermanagh 2-19
Donegal 0-33 Warwickshire 0-10
Lory Meagher Cup Round 4
Longford 2-15 Monaghan 1-16
Louth 2-26 Cavan 1-8
Sunday May 8
Christy Ring Cup Round 4
Derry 3-14 London 1-14
Lory Meagher Cup Round 4
Leitrim 2-20 Lancashire 1-8