The 2017 Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups got underway with three games in each competition on Saturday.
CHRISTY RING CUP
Antrim repeated their Allianz Hurling League Division 2A Final win over Carlow after a Christy Ring Cup first-round epic that went to extra-time at Netwatch Cullen Park.
Carlow hit four unanswered points in the first 14 minutes, before a Martin Kavanagh goal moved the hosts seven clear. Antrim got a timely boost in added time when Niall McKenna found the net to leave them trailing by four at the interval: 1-9 to 1-5. The teams traded points throughout the third quarter, with Denis Murphy (who finished with 0-17) in prolific form for Carlow and Neil McManus leading the Antrim scoring.
A Ciarán Clarke goal brought Antrim within the minimum 10 minutes from time, but Kavanagh quickly hit back with his second to restore Carlow’s four-point advantage. Antrim hit back once again, however, as three points from McManus and another from Paul Shiels made it 2-16 apiece after an absorbing 70 minutes.
The Saffrons took the lead for the first time via a Clarke point at the start of extra-time, but Carlow responded with the next four points to change ends in front by 2-20 to 2-17. McManus hit 1-2 in the last 10 minutes to take his tally to 1-13, while James McNaughton hit a late winner to decide it in Antrim’s favour on a 3-20 to 2-22 scoreline.
Down finished strongly to get the better of Roscommon in Ballycran. Roscommon were 0-9 to 0-6 up after a free-scoring first 15 minutes, until a Malachy Magee goal brought Down level. Roscommon re-established a lead of 1-13 to 1-10 by the end of the first half and they stayed ahead for much of the second period until the introduction of Gareth Johnson helped turn the game in Down’s favour. A missed penalty didn’t hold the home side back, with a three-pointer from Eoghan Sands securing a 2-24 to 1-20 victory.
NICKY RACKARD CUP
Donegal made a great start to the Nicky Rackard Cup by turning over a fancied Armagh side by 1-19 to 0-13 in Letterkenny.
The Orchard County started brightly, with free-taker David Carvill top-scoring, but Donegal rallied strongly to lead by 0-10 to 0-6 at the interval, with Lee Henderson, Davin Flynn and former Armagh star Declan Coulter to the fore. Tipperary native Flynn rattled in the only goal less than half a minute into the second half on his way to a tally of 1-5 from play, as Donegal claimed a noteworthy opening win.
The other local derby saw Tyrone pip Monaghan by the narrowest of margins in Castleblayney.
Five Dónal Meegan points had Monaghan in front by 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time, but despite moving four clear with 20 minutes remaining, the hosts were left to rue conceding two goals. The first of those, scored by Damien Casey, brought Tyrone back within a point, while Seán Óg Grogan got the second to move his side ahead. Meegan led the Monaghan response, but Casey and Justin Kelly were prominent as Tyrone claimed a 2-11 to 0-17 win.
Derry had to withstand a strong second-half challenge from Louth to make a winning return to the Nicky Rackard Cup at Dowdallshill. A Meehaul McGrath goal and a string of points from Ruairí Convery had Derry in command at 1-10 to 0-5 at the break and in spite of the best efforts of the likes of Liam Dwan and Gerard Smyth, the Oak Leaf County ran out 2-17 to 1-12 winners.
LORY MEAGHER CUP
Cavan’s return to competitive senior hurling action started with a home loss against a Liam Watson-inspired Warwickshire in the Lory Meagher Cup.
An early point by Kevin Conneely marked Cavan’s return, but they soon found themselves 0-7 to 0-1 down, with Watson and Shane Caulfield on song for Warwickshire. Goals by Watson and Ian Dwyer moved the Exiles 2-15 to 0-5 clear at half-time and the former Antrim All-Star nominee added another after the restart on his way to a tally of 2-6, before he was replaced on 42 minutes. Diarmuid Cahill hit eight points for Cavan, who got a late consolation goal through Lonan McKenna, but Warwickshire were convincing winners on a 3-28 to 1-14 scoreline.
A storming finish saw Fermanagh edge a high-scoring clash against Leitrim at Brewster Park (5-13 to 2-21).
Quick-fire goals by Shea Curran and Conor McShea saw Fermanagh take charge midway through the first half and although Clement Cunniffe helped steady the ship for Leitrim, a brace of majors from Seán Corrigan – either side of a Pádraig O’Donnell cracker at the other end – had the Erne County 4-6 to 1-10 to the good.
Leitrim outscored the hosts by 1-10 to 0-2 in the space of just over 20 second-half minutes, with O’Donnell netting once more. Corrigan completed his hat-trick, however, to halve Fermanagh’s deficit and he added three further points, including the winner, for a 3-7 personal haul.
Christy Ring Cup Round 1
Down 2-24 Roscommon 1-20
Carlow 2-22 Antrim 3-10 (AET)
Kildare 0-17 Mayo 0-16
Nicky Rackard Cup Round 1
Donegal 1-19 Armagh 0-13
Monaghan 0-16 Tyrone 2-11
Louth 1-12 Derry 2-17
Lory Meagher Cup Round 1
Sligo 4-14 Lancashire 0-17
Cavan 1-14 Warwickshire 3-28
Fermanagh 5-13 Leitrim 2-21