First half blitz not enough for Leitrim as Donegal power on to semi-final
We were treated to three tight games in the Christy Ring, Nickey Rackard and Lory Meagher cups on Saturday afternoon. Leitrim and Donegal were looking to avoid a relegation battle with Armagh next Saturday while Monaghan were hoping to get a first Championship win against a Longford side they beat in the league a month ago. Derry and Wicklow were attempting to see who would top their group also and each game did not disappoint.
Nickey Rackard Cup, Leitrim 4-10 – 1-27 Donegal.
Leitrim looked like they were going to cause an upset after a strong opening to the game. They stunned Donegal with three well taken goals in the first half, aided somewhat by the early dismissal of Ronan McDermott for two yellow card offences. However, Donegal rallied and powered on in the second half, Declan Coulter putting in another terrific performance. Unfortunately, the Donegal star went off injured fifteen minutes from time and he and his teammates will be hoping he will be fit come the semi-finals.
Although Donegal pulled away in the second half Leitrim never gave up, adding another goal to their tally just before the end of the game. There were a number of clashes off the ball, especially in the first half. Both teams ended up with fourteen men in what was a fiery encounter but it is Donegal who will be playing Tyrone in the semi-finals.
Christy Ring Cup, Derry 2-23 – 0-19 Wicklow.
Wicklow will rue missed chances and indiscipline as they lost to Derry in the final group A game of this competition. A great save from the Derry keeper close to half time kept Derry in the lead by a single point. They then went on and dominated parts of the second half, two goals from fantastic Odhran McKeever moving them firmly into the distance as the game went on.
Andy O’Brien had another brilliant day from the placed ball but a late second yellow card for Danny Staunton meant that the odds were then definitely stacked against the visitors.
Derry will now have a much deserved week off before they face the winners of Roscommon and Sligo. They will be firm favourites against whoever they come up against on the back of their first performances in this campaign. Wicklow will face Offaly in the other semi-final and that is a hard one to call. They will have to find another outlet of scoring and resist late tackles or else they will be perpetually down to 14 men.
Lory Meagher Cup, Monaghan 0-19 – 1-16 Longford.
Longford didn’t reach the heady heights of the 8-25 they put past Louth a few weeks ago but they still topped the group after this draw with Monaghan who will now face Fermanagh in next week’s quarter-final.
It was a similar affair to the league encounter between these two last month. Monaghan went ahead and built up a healthy lead before letting Joe O’Brien and Longford back into the game. O’Brien scored 1-7 for Longford, keeping them in the game with his frees but most importantly, his goal.
Longford went ahead for the first time with three minutes to go but the hosts came back with two points to retake the lead. Who else but Joe O’Brien to step up and draw the game for Longford and see them top the group!
Paul Hughes and Casey have a fortnight to prepare for a match with either Fermanagh or Monaghan. It will be no mean feat to win the Lory Meagher cup this year and I don’t think any team wants to see each other again after the opening group games!