Offaly’s first game in Division 2A of the National Hurling League for over a decade turned out to be a nervous affair as they had to hold off a strong fightback from Meath in Birr.
These two sides met a few weeks ago in the Kehoe Cup and Offaly fired in eight goals on that occasion, and it looked like a similarly one-sided encounter was in store when the home side rattled off 18 first-half points.
Liam Langton led the way for the hosts in that period from frees and play while Sean Cleary, Shane Kinsella and Thomas Geraghty also posted scores.
Pauric O’Halloran goaled early in the second half to drag Meath back into it and he continued to carry the fight to Offaly, racking up 1-12 in total. Damien Healy had a late goal attempt blocked, and that let-off proved crucial as Offaly held on to win by 0-26 to 1-21.
Antrim produced a second surge to defeat their Wicklow hosts 0-20 to 0-11 at Pearses Park, Arklow.
Jack Doyle and Danny Staunton impressed for the losers who trailed by a point at the break. But Antrim controlled the third quarter as they shot eight of the next nine points before easing to victory.
Richie Mullen’s goal after eight minutes was the key scored at Owenbeg where Derry ran out 1-19 to 0-19 winners over Down.
Derry’s Cormac O’Doherty and his Mourne County counterpart Oisín McManus were in excellent form scoring 0-13 each, but Derry kept their noses in front to secure a crucial two points.
Mickey Joe Egan was the man of the match in Dr. Hyde Park on Saturday, scoring 1-7 out of Roscommon’s tally in their 2-19 to 1-10 win over Warwickshire. Cillian Egan rattled in the other first half goal for the Rossies, who also had a penalty saved but still easily secured the win.
There was another Ulster derby in Division 3A at O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny and it looked like Donegal might edge proceedings against Armagh when former Armagh man Declan Coulter and PJ McCarron pointed in quick succession to put the hosts 0-15 to 1-10 ahead after 50 minutes, but they were to be their last scores of the game as Ryan Gaffney blasted in an excellent goal and Armagh never looked back, running out 2-17 to 0-15 winners. Rúairí Convery (0-6), Danny Magee (0- 5) and Eoin McGuinness (1-1) were the other key scorers for the Orchard men.
Conor Grogan’s late goal sealed a 1-21 to 1-16 win for Tyrone over Louth at Darver so they join Armagh at the top of the 3A table, while in Division 3B, Cáimín Quigley scored well in Lancashire’s 0- 15 to 0-8 win over Cavan and Fermanagh beat Leitrim by 2-12 to 1-13.