The race for promotion out of Division 2A of the Allianz Hurling League remains a three-horse race after Kerry, Antrim and Offaly all enjoyed comfortable wins this weekend.
The first-ever competitive inter-county fixture played at O’Cahan Park in Portglenone ended in a 5-27 to 1-15 win for Antrim over Meath, with Eoghan Campbell and Keelan Molloy early goalscorers for the home side. James McNaughton and Neil McManus (twice) added further green flags after half time while Alan Douglas and Luke Moran were sent off for Meath, both on second yellow cards.
Meath now face a relegation showdown with Mayo but the Connacht county will find it hard to pick themselves up after they suffered another very heavy defeat, 5-29 to 1-13, in their first-ever competitive meeting with Offaly, played at the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan.
David Nally had two goals on the board early for Michael Fennelly’s side before his club mate Oisín Kelly added a third to make it 3-13 to 0-7 in favour of the Faithful men by half time.
The big game in Division 2B was played at Hawkfield, where Roscommon got out to a great start through early goals from Cillian Egan and Mickey Joe Egan, but were quickly reeled in by a hugely impressive Kildare side.
Jack Sheridan, Brian Byrne and Paul Divilly all got some excellent scores as Kildare recovered from being six points down to lead by 3-13 to 2-7 at half time. The match lost some of its zip thereafter and outside of Cathal Dolan (0-10) and Byrne (1-11) there wasn’t much scoring, at least until the closing minutes when Byrne and Sheridan fired in late goals to turn it into a double scores game.
This division is also a case of three into two, as Kildare, Derry and Down are all fighting it out for league final places.
Derry had it easy against Warwickshire on Saturday with Odhrán McKeever firing a hat-trick in their 4-22 to 2-7 win, while Oisín McManus (0-10), Pearse Óg McCrickard (1-6) and Eoghan Costello (0-5) did most of the damage for Down in London, where they recorded a 2-26 to 0-16 win.
The game of the day in Division 3A was in the Athletic Grounds where Armagh pipped Louth at the post, Dean Gaffney’s free with the last puck of the game sealing a one-point win. Paddy McBride pointed in the 49th minute to put Armagh 0-14 to 0-9 up, but from then on Louth found another gear and placed ball strikes from Gaffney were Armagh’s only other scores. Darren Geoghegan, Feidhlim Joyce and Ryan Walsh were all on target as the Wee County drew level, only to be denied a memorable victory at the end.
Donegal had no such problems against Monaghan at O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny where PJ McCarron’s second-half goal crowned a 1-15 to 0-5 win, while Tyrone are also well in the promotion hunt after their 0-23 to 1-15 win over Longford.
There were no surprises in the local derby at Markievicz Park where Sligo made it two wins from two with a five-point victory over Leitrim in Division 3B, while on Saturday Abbotstown was the venue for Lancashire’s 1-12 to 0-6 victory over Fermanagh.