Hurling round-up: All to play for in final rounds for Joe McDonagh, Kildare head into Christy Ring final as hot favourites

There will be plenty on the line in all three final round games in the Joe McDonagh Cup, after Carlow picked up a crucial win over Down while Antrim recorded a landslide victory over Meath at the weekend.
Hurling round-up: All to play for in final rounds for Joe McDonagh, Kildare head into Christy Ring final as hot favourites

2022 Joe McDonagh Hurling Cup Round 4 - Shane Conway Kerry (Blue ) and Paddy Delaney Offaly in action during the game.

There will be plenty on the line in all three final round games in the Joe McDonagh Cup, after Carlow picked up a crucial win over Down while Antrim recorded a landslide victory over Meath at the weekend.

Despite losing four games in a row now, Meath can still avoid relegation to Christy Ring Cup competition if they beat Down next week, though their confidence will be on the floor after they shipped a 7-29 to 3-13 beating against Antrim at Páirc Tailteann yesterday.

Conor McCann had the ball in Meath’s net after 50 seconds and then followed up with another in the eighth minute of play, as Antrim exploded out of the blocks and never looked back. Paddy Burke (two), Eoin O’Neill, Seán Elliot and James McNaughton were their other goalscorers, while Conal Cunning shot 0-12.

Meath’s average margin of defeat is now 23 points per game, as they have fallen off a cliff at this level of competition in 2022.

Offaly’s incredible one-point win over Kerry in Tralee also suited Carlow, who now can reach the final if they beat Offaly and Antrim avoid defeat at home to Kerry next Saturday.

Marty Kavanagh shot six points out of his 1-13 tally in the first half of their clash with Down at Netwatch Cullen Park as they took a 0-15 to 0-7 lead into the break, and while Down were improved after half time, Kavanagh’s goal and another from Conor Kehoe meant they remained in control, easing to a 2-25 to 1-19 win.

In the Christy Ring Cup final, Kildare will be the hottest of favourites in next week’s final against Mayo, after they recorded yet another comfortable win, 2-23 to 2-14 against Sligo in Newbridge.

With their place in the final assured, David Herity was able to make a raft of changes to his Kildare team and when Sligo shot early second half goals from Andy Kilcullen and Thomas Cawley, it looked like the Yeats County might take advantage, before Shane Ryan’s goal shifted momentum back towards the home side.

Reigning Nickey Rackard Cup champions looked like they had lost a lot of form in the Connacht and Allianz league competitions, but they’ve turned things around now. Goals from Galway native Joe Mooney and veteran Kenny Feeney were crucial to their 2-23 to 2-18 win over Derry at MacHale Park.

In a minor surprise, Wicklow will drop to Nickey Rackard competition in 2023, after they succumbed to 1-29 to 2-16 defeat to London in their crucial contest at Ruislip. Donal Hannon and goalscorer Jack Goulding led the way for the Exiles.

Tyrone and Roscommon will meet for the third time in 2022 in the Nickey Rackard final, after Tyrone won out in what was effectively a semi-final clash with Donegal at Carrickmore. Damien Casey was to the fore for the home side with 1-12, as they scored four of the last five points of a tight game to win by 1-23 to 1-19.

Roscommon simply had to avoid catastrophe at Brewster Park against Fermanagh and they did exactly that, cruising to a 3-25 to 2-15 win with their goals coming from Eoin Fitzgerald of Inagh-Kilnamona and the Four Roads duo of Cathal Dolan and Adam Donnelly.

In the final game, it was freescoring fare at Páirc na hÉireann, where Ryan Gaffney shot 0-13 and Danny Magee hit a first-half hat-trick in Armagh’s 5-27 to 5-16 win over already-relegated Warwickshire.

The Lory Meagher final will, as expected, be contested by Longford and Louth. Longford beat Cavan by 0-27 to 2-14 and the crucial result was Louth’s 2-18 to 2-16 win over Leitrim, the win coming thanks to added-time scores by Mark Gahan and Paul Mathews.

Monaghan’s 0-17 to 0-16 win over Lancashire rounded off the weekend’s action in the bottom grade of hurling championship action.

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