The 2019 Bank Of Ireland Celtic Challenge got underway this weekend, with three cracking games in Group H opening the proceedings as Derry, Down and Armagh all picked up hard-fought victories.
Read our full round-up of the games below.
Derry Edge Out Tyrone In Cracking Owenbeg Opener
Derry 3-15 – 3-12 Tyrone
Derry edged this thrilling Group H opener at Owenbeg on Sunday but they had to dig deep to withstand a late Tyrone fightback as the red hands threw everything into attack in the closing stages.
Both sides traded some excellent scores in near perfect conditions over the hour, however, late points from Shea Cassidy and a brace from Padhriag Nelis secured a vital win in what will be a hugely competitive group.
The sides were level at the break, locked at 3-6 apiece. Tiernan Cox steered a long probing ball to the Derry net after an early point from Michael Murray. Eoin Mc Callion then drilled a long-range effort past Tyrone keeper Conrad Mc Keown. That brisk early exchange of scores set the scene for an entertaining opening half.
Cain Ferguson added a second Tyrone goal with a cheeky lob. Slaughtneil duo Shéa Cassidy and Ryan McPeake had Derry back in the game, Cassidy bagging a quickfire 1-2 and it was nip and tuck until Ferguson tagged in 1-1 to nudge the Red Hands back in control.
Oakleaf substitute Aidan Cutliffe hit a point in reply after a great passing move and Derry finished with a flurry of scores, Kosta Papachristoplas drilled home a goal and a Cassidy point levelled things.
Tyrone went ahead after the break, their main marksman Ferguson tagging on a free but it was the hosts who took control with several positional switches giving them the edge. Cassidy and Neilis hit a brace each, Papachristoplas added a point before goalkeeper Passmore sent over a mammoth long range free. Derry now in control, a quick Tyrone response needed.
Michael Little, Jack Donnelly and Sean Paul Mc Kernan points hauled the visitors level again only for quality Cassidy and Nelis points swung the game back in favour of Derry.
Derry’s Pádhriag Nelis and Tyrone’s Mickey Little were awarded the Best and Fairest awards from referee Colm McDonald.
Derry: Leo Passmore (0-1), Karl McGilligan, Niall McGonigle, Fearghal McGahon, Keelan O’Kane, Jack Conway, Jack Cassidy, Eoin McCallion (1-0), Aodhan O’Hagan, Ryan McPeake (0-1), Padhriag Nelis (0-4), Michael Murray (0-1), Shea Cassidy (1-6), Oisin Madden, Kosta Papachristoplas (1-1)
Tyrone: Conrad McKeown, Catháír Conroy, Anthony Crossan, Josh Campbell, Jack Donnelly (0-1), Conall Molloy, Oisín McCallan, Conor Fitzgerald, Matthew Duffy, Mark McCann (0-1), Mickey Little (0-2), Seán Paul McKernan (0-1), Cain Ferguson (2-7), Fionn Devlin, Tiernan Cox (1-0).
Written by Paddy Hunter
Caldwell On Top Form As Down Defeat Antrim
Down 5-20 – 0-9 Antrim
Down recorded their first victory of the BOI Celtic Challenge when they took on Antrim at the Centre of Excellence in Dunsilly on Sunday.
Down got off to a blistering start, scoring an unanswered 1-4 inside three minutes. The Saffron’s struck back through free-taker and St John’s man Ciaran Mc Shane.
The Down men continued with their scores and finished off a lovely goal through Eoin Magee, making the game a 2-4 to 0-2 affair before Marcus Toner and Conor McNicholl replied for the home side to leave the half-time score at Antrim 0-6 to Down’s 2-8.
The second half begun with both teams trading scores, but it was Down who quickly struck with their third goal of the contest. Antrim carried on competing and adding scores through McShane.
Down regained the momentum by scoring another two quickly taken goals, one through centre-back, Francis Caldwell. However, the Antrim men kept going and the introduction of a few fresh faces revitalized the side.
Though Antrim continued to battle until the final whistle, Down ran out winners on a scoreline of 5-20 to 0-9.
Referee Aidan McAleer presented the Best and Fairest award to Down’s Eoin Magee after his excellent display.
While Antrim’s Shane McKenna was awarded the Best and Fairest award for his county for his continued battling throughout the days hurling action.
Down: Cahal Lavery, Eoin Pucci, Darragh Kelly, Ethan Bell, Owen McDermott, James Duggan, Lukas Boyd (Capt.), Finn Collins, Aodhán Furlong, Eoin Magee (vice Capt.) (0-5), Coran Trainor, Ryan O’Neill, Jon Fisher, Francis Caldwell (5-1), Oisín Coulter (0-4)
Antrim: Bailey Graham, Shane McKenna, Daire Maguire, Ben McCauley, Aaron Carey, Aidan Scullion, James McAllister, Conor Boyle, Eoin Boylan, Luke Mullen, Marcus Toner, Callum Kilgore, Andrew McLean, Conor McNicholl, Ciaran McShane.
Written by Daniel McConnell
Armagh Prove Too Much For Fermanagh In Spirited Clash
Armagh 8-27 – 1-04 Fermanagh
Armagh picked up a great win against Fermanagh in their opening Group H match of the Celtic Challenge at St Colman’s Park.
In front of a strong crowd on a fine fresh spring day, the home side were impressive up against a fine Fermanagh outfit who displayed their skills throughout.
Armagh’s Ronan Davidson grabbed four goals and two points in the win with Lee Murtagh also scoring a brace and notching 11 points, in a game in which both side’s determination was on show for all to see.
Fermanagh did not let their heads drop despite the game not going their way with Michael Flanagan and Daragh McPhillips grabbing quality scores in the sunshine of St Colman’s Park.
A game played in great spirit, the best and fairest award went to Lee Murtagh from Armagh and Michéal Flanagan from Fermanagh.
Armagh: Caolan McCann, Dathi McCloy, Adam Murtagh, Aaron O’Neill, Fiontan Oliver, Caolan McReynolds, Kane Laverty, Adam O’Neill, Aidan Harney, Cian McCrory, Oisin O’Hare, Conor Rafferty, Shea Harvey, Lee Murtagh, Ronan Davidson.
Replacements: Oisin Curran, John Donnelly, Oklin McGrane, Gareth McKee, Shane Began, Adam Markey, Fiacra Moore, John Hughes, Niall Elshaw, Dara Cunningham, Ryan McCaughey, Paddy McVerry.
Fermanagh: Mark Johnston, Liam Moore, Ultan O’Reilly, Odhran Johnston, Ethan McPhilips, Ruari Moore, Michael Flanagan, Mark Hughes, Donn Corrigan, Darragh McPhilips, Cormac Daly, Ryan Gilleece, Oisin McPhilips, Darragh Gormley.
Replacements: Oran McMenamin, Thomas Burns, Connal Maguire, Dara Stewart, Sean Boylan, Danny McCann, Cahir McManus, Joe O’Connor, Eamon Lynam, Matthew McCusker, Ryan McLoughlin, Alex Holden, Lorcan McCaughey, Ryan McKeever, Caleb Barron, Matthew Britton, Chris Bryans, Conor Wright, Kyle Doogan.
Written by Claire Poland
The Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge is for hurlers aged 16 and 17. 44 Teams and 1,300 players will play 138 games during the competition with 6 Finals to be held in Bord na Móna O’Connor Park on Saturday 29th June.