There was disappointment for the hurlers of Derry and Armagh as they lost out in the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cup Finals respectively at Croke Park today.
Christy Ring Cup Final:
Kerry 1-20 Derry 0-12
Shane Nolan provided the inspiration at Croke Park with 1-8 as Kerry secured a historic Christy Ring Cup title success.
The Kingdom led throughout as they bounced back from consecutive final defeats in 2013 and 2014 to claim the title they craved.
The reward is huge too with a place in next year’s Liam MacCarthy Cup to look forward to. Specifically, Kerry will compete in Leinster’s qualifier series and having already defeated Antrim, Westmeath and Carlow in competitive finals this year, they will fancy their chances.
In truth, Eamonn Kelly’s side probably gave their very best a week ago in Newbridge when they hammered Kildare by 36 points.
But they still had enough to see off first time finalists Derry who never looked like getting the scores they would need for a famous triumph. In all, just three of Derry’s points came from open play.
Kerry also took their time to get going in a game, lacking real cut and thrust for long spells. Still, it won’t have bothered the Kingdom too much as they led from the opening score of the game until full-time.
Michael O’Leary put them ahead in the first minute with the first of his three points and they never looked back.
They led 1-10 to 0-8 at half-time though played their best hurling only in patches. O’Leary reeled off fine back to back points in the 23rd and 24th minutes.
Nolan produced a thrilling moment in the 30th minute when he outpaced his man on the left of goals before releasing a bullet shot to the net.
Kerry led by seven after that though Derry clawed back points before half-time through free-takers Patrick Henry and Ruairi Convery.
The Oak Leafers were still in the game but couldn’t kick on and eat into that five-point deficit. They only managed one second-half point from play.
Kerry didn’t come close to peaking either but were always well in the clear. Both teams went 10 minutes without scoring after the restart and the barren spell hurt Derry most.
Wing-back Keith Carmody put Kerry 1-14 to 0-10 clear with 15 minutes to go. The score appeared to energise Kerry as Clare man Patrick Kelly added two more before another from Carmody.
Nolan added three late points from frees while a bad day at the office was compounded for Derry when they lost Kevin Hinphey to a second yellow card in injury-time.
Scorers for Kerry: Shane Nolan 1-8 (0-7f), Michael O’Leary 0-3, Keith Carmody 0-3, Colum Harty 0-2, Patrick Kelly 0-2, John Egan 0-1, Daniel Collins 0-1.
Scorers for Derry: Ruairi Convery 0-5 (0-5f), Patrick Henry 0-4 (0-4f), Alan Grant 0-1, Liam Hinphey 0-1, Jonathan O’Dwyer 0-1.
Kerry: Stephen Murphy; Rory Horgan, Paud Costelloe, Bryan Murphy; Keith Carmody, Darren Dineen, Daniel Collins; John Griffin, Patrick Kelly; Michael O’Leary, John Egan, Colum Harty; Mikey Boyle, Shane Nolan, Padraig Boyle.
Subs: John O’Neill for Padraig Boyle (43), Davy Butler for O’Leary (50), Sean Weir for M Boyle (58), James Flaherty for Harty (63), Dougie Fitzell for Dineen (69).
Derry: Daryl McDermott; Michael Warnock, Conor Quinn, Sean McCullagh; Liam Hinphey, Conor McSorley, Kevin Hinphey; Sean McGuigan, Brendan Quigley; Patrick Henry, Paul Cleary, Patrick McCloskey; Alan Grant, Ruairi Convery, Aaron Kelly.
Subs: Niall Ferris for McCloskey (6), Dean Flanagan for Quigley (31), Jonathan O’Dwyer for Cleary (40), Ruairi McCloskey for McSorley (57), Michael Conway for Grant (60).
Referee: John Keane (Galway).
Nicky Rackard Cup Final:
Roscommon 2-12 Armagh 1-14
Captain Michael Kelly scored a dramatic last minute winning goal to secure the Nicky Rackard Cup title for Roscommon.
The Rossies trailed by two points with time almost up but won a crucial 20-metre free that Kelly blasted to the net.
It proved to be the last puck of a tense Croke Park tie and was an incredible climax as Roscommon somehow stole their second title.
The win puts them just a step away from Christy Ring Cup hurling though they must overcome Mayo next weekend to make that great leap.
It was tough on Armagh who led for almost the entire second-half and were five clear at one stage before being suckered by that late strike.
The two counties previously contested the 2007 final with Roscommon two-point winners on that occasion.
The Rossies opened the scoring this time through Keith Kilkenny and were three ahead after 16 minutes, 1-3 to 0-3.
That was largely down to Adrian Murphy’s well taken sixth minute goal when he beat the goalkeeper in a straight head-to-head after being played into space by Ronan O’Meara and finished expertly.
From there on, however, Roscommon clocked up the wides, six for the remainder of the half, while Armagh racked up the scores.
Bursts of two and then four points in-a-row from Armagh helped move them into a healthy 1-8 to 1-5 half-time lead.
Top scorer Ryan Gaffney finished the half with four points, all from frees, while Nathan Curry converted a 65.
From open play, Declan Coulter, David Carvill and Conor Corvan were all on the mark.
Armagh’s decisive goal which separated the teams at half-time came from Cathal Carvill on the half hour mark.
Full-forward Eoin McGuinness did the spade work down the left, slaloming through a group of Roscommon defenders before passing across goals for Carvill to blast in from close range.
Armagh’s lead was out to five by the 40th minute following Gaffney’s fifth converted free.
Roscommon rued a couple of missed goal chances, most notably sub Cathal Kenny’s blocked shot that followed a searing run shortly after his introduction.
They did reduce the deficit to one point with 12 minutes remaining but were rocked by the dismissal of Cathal Kelly.
The first-half substitute had just picked up a yellow card when he was handed a straight red in a separate off the ball incident.
Back-to-back Gaffney frees soon after put Armagh three clear again and apparently in pole position.
But while they led by two with as many minutes of injury-time played, they simply couldn’t hold on. Roscommon won a free after a foul by Nathan Curry and Kelly did the rest, blasting a shot high into the roof of the Armagh net.
Scorers for Roscommon: Adrian Murphy 1-1, Jerry Fallon 0-4 (0-4f), Michael Kelly 1-0, John Moran 0-3, John Coyne 0-2, Keith Kilkenny 0-1, Cillian Egan 0-1
Scorers for Armagh: Ryan Gaffney 0-8 (0-8f), Cathal Carvill 1-0, Declan Coulter 0-2, Nathan Curry 0-1 (0-1 65), David Carvill 0-1, Conor Corvan 0-1, Eoin McGuinness 0-1
Roscommon: N Fallon; I Delaney, P Kellehan, L Kilcline; D Leonard, M Kelly, T Seale; C Dolan, J Kilkenny; J Moran, R O’Meara, J Fallon; C Egan, K Kilkenny, A Murphy.
Subs: Cathal Kelly for Dolan (23), John Coyne for Seale (h/t), Cathal Kenny for Egan (44), Eamon Flanagan for Murphy (61), Gary Fallon for J Fallon (64).
Armagh: S Doherty; S Renaghan, C Clifford, C Devlin; S Gaffney, N Curry, K McKernan; J Corvan, D Coulter; R Gaffney, C Carvill, D Carvill; M Moan, E McGuinness, C Corvan.
Subs: Cailin Gorman for Moan (53), Conor McKee for McGuinness (63), Artie McGuinness for D Carvill (66).
Referee: J O’Brien (Tipperary).
Reports: Paul Keane