Derry 1-12 Armagh 3-11, London 0-17 Kerry 2-19, Meath 2-18 Mayo 1-12
Kerry maintained their unbeaten run in Division 3A of the national Hurling League after a 2-19 to 0-17 points win away to London.
The win keeps the Kingdom top of the table and sure of their final place but they were made to work extremely hard in Ruislip by the exiles who led by 0-12 points to 0-8 at the break and had they been more clinical up front the margin could well have been wider.
That said, this was by far their best performance of the campaign so far but one win from four sees them rooted to the bottom of the table without the luxury of a game in hand like some of those above them. Here they were the better team for the bones of an hour and held a slender advantage as proof of that but a soft goal following a mix-up in defence saw them crumble to the extent that they conceded a second straight after.
Martin Finn registered 10 of their scores, Richie O’Connell had a few lovely scores, Niall Forde game an exhibition in midfield while Colm Forde and Colm Quinn in defence were both outstanding.
Kerry on the other hand had the luxury of resting five first team regulars, most notably Shane Brick who complained of a muscle strain prior to throw-in. It mattered little as Mikey Conway and John-Michael Dooley both clocked second-half goals in quick succession to reel in their opponents before going ahead with a succession of points by Michael Boyle and half-time substitute John Griffin (2). John Egan was very prominent in the first period and rowed in with three good points from distance.
Meath slipped into second place after their emphatic 2-18 to 1-12 win over Mayo at Páirc Tailteann in Navan and although Derry and Armagh can statistically push for a final place with Kerry, the likelihood is that Meath are best placed to take it.
Last year’s Nicky Rackard champions were again fortunate to have Nicky Horan in blistering form as he netted a brace of goals while corner-forward Peter Durnon was another who shone. Horan slammed in his first goal inside 60 seconds and on 20 minutes the same player repeated the act with his second major. That put Meath 2-4 to 0-5 points ahead and from there they extended their advantage through Stephen Clynch and the aforementioned Durnon.
Clynch continued to dominate but against the run of play came a Mayo goal by David Dowling to leave it 2-13 to 1-7 but three points from Stephen Hunt rounded off a comprehensive win. The Connacht side were unlucky to lose the services of their star-player Stephen Hogan who cried off with a hamstring injury. The winner of next weekend’s clash with Derry should decide the final pairing but Armagh, as mentioned already are still not out of it.
The Orchard County had a stunning 3-11 to 1-12 win over Derry at Celtic Park and that win leaves them on three points from four games while Derry are on four points from as many games.