Christy Ring Cup favourites Meath had to overcome a stiff challenge from Derry before securing their place in the competition final on Saturday week, where they’ll face a Down side that had nine points to spare against Roscommon in the other semi-final.
Early goals from Sé McGuigan and Gerald Bradley gave Derry a dream start at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh but Meath worked their way back into the tie, leaning heavily on Jack Regan who added another 1-14 to his already incredible tally of scores in this competition. Regan had ten points on the board by half-time, when Meath held a slender 0-15 to 2-8 lead.
The third quarter was a hugely enjoyable, even affair with Shane McGann’s penalty save the highlight as he denied Cormac O’Doherty, and it was only late goals from Regan, Gavin McGowan and Nicky Potterton that wrapped up the 3-24 to 2-18 win.
Early goals from brothers Daithí and Eoghan Sands at Inniskeen put Down in control of Roscommon after early points from the Four Roads trio of Shane Curley, Padraig Kelly and Cathal Dolan put the Connacht men into the lead, and while Naos Connaughton goaled for Roscommon midway through the second half, Daithí Sands added a second goal to wrap up a 3-18 to 1-15 victory for the Mourne men.
London, who lost last year’s final against Kildare, had goals from Brendan McCarry and Shane Lawless to thank for their 2-18 to 1-14 win over Donegal in the relegation decider at Crossmaglen, with Donegal reduced to 13 men by the end after Ciarán Matthewson and Mark Callaghan were sent off.
Donegal will be replaced by either Sligo or Armagh in next year’s Christy Ring cup following wins for those two counties over Warwickshire and Tyrone over the weekend. In yesterday’s game at Derry, two goals from Pauric Crehan gave Warwickshire a 2-8 to 0-10 lead but Sligo put in a very impressive second-half performance, taking the lead through a Kevin Gilmartin goal and keeping their noses in front on the back of a nine-point haul from Keith Raymond. An injury-time goal for Gerard O’Kelly Lynch wrapped up a 2-21 to 2-17 win at Celtic Park.
Armagh will start the final – their fourth in five years – as the strongest of favourites on the back of their 2-19 to 1-20 win over Tyrone. Danny Magee and Eoin McGuinness were the goalscorers for the Orchard County at Inniskeen on Saturday, as they came from four points behind early in the econd half. Damien Casey top scored with 1-13 for Tyrone.
Monaghan will hurl in the Nicky Rackard Cup next year again after they came through a thrilling relegation final against Louth at Crossmaglen. The lead changed hands several times before Monaghan ran out 4-17 to 2-20 winners.
Leitrim and Lancashire will contest the Lory Meagher Cup final, with Fermanagh missing out on scoring difference by the narrowest of margins. Cork native Ronan Crowley shot 1-14 for Lancashire as they cruised to a 1-27 to 1-7 win over Cavan at Ballyconnell, so Leitrim needed to beat Fermanagh by at least five points in Carrick-on-Shannon. Goals from Clement Cunniffe and Ben Murray meant they did exactly that, 2-18 to 1-16 the final score.