The 2019 Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge has well and truly kicked into gear following a number of first-round games taking place throughout the country.
In Group F there were strong wins for Monaghan, Wicklow Gold and the Kildare Cadets at the expense of Louth, Longford and Cavan respectively.
Here is a full and comprehensive round-up following the opening round of Group F games in this year’s Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge.
Monaghan And Louth Serve Up A Cracker In BOI Celtic Challenge
Striking, dribbling, blocking, pucking, hooking, tackling, stopping and all the skills of Hurling – which now has Unesco Cultural Heritage status – were on display on Wednesday evening in Cloghan as mighty Monaghan overcame a determined Louth side in Round 1 of the eagerly anticipated Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge competition.
Hurling in both Monaghan and Louth is on the up with Monaghan manager Kevin Moloney having four clubs at his disposal while Louth manager Gerard Swift has six. 16 of those currently on the Monaghan panel graduated from the 2016 U14 Hurling Development Squad.
Louth looked sharper from the start and controlled possession as both sides settled down and found their rhythm but it was one of Monaghan’s key players, Mikey Carville, who opened the scoring for the home side in the fourth minute with a point before Conor Murphy responded for Louth with the visitor’s first point.
Monaghan’s dominance became more obvious as the match progressed and they set the pace of what was a fast flowing game with accuracy, clinical defending, attacking and long-range scores playing a key role.
However Louth’s defence denied Monaghan many times in front of goal and despite trailing, the visitor’s work rate and intensity never waned until the half time whistle as Monaghan ended the half ahead on a scoreline of 2-7 to 0-4.
It looked as if Louth would need a massive performance in the 2nd half to halt Monaghan and indeed the third quarter of the game was a low scoring affair. Despite the loss of Mikey Carville to injury Monaghan’s dominance was once again to the fore and having found the net for the fourth time in the game in the last quarter they finished comfortable winners on a scoreline of 4-11 to 0-8.
This match epitomized the ethos of the Celtic Challenge competition with all players proudly wearing their county jersey. Both managers were pleased with their team’s honest endeavour and will take many positives from it going forward to Round 2 as Monaghan meet Wicklow Gold and Louth meet Cavan.
Well done to Louth’s Zac Lennon and James Slevin from Monaghan who received the best and fairest awards.
Report by: Mary Mc Eneaney (Máire Nic An Eanaigh)
Monaghan: Pauric Bolger , Zach McArdle, Caleb McArdle (0-1), Paudie Heavin, Senan O’Brien, Daniel Boyle, Darragh O’Callaghan (0-1), Thomas Keenan, Shane Slevin (1-1), Leo Moloney (2-0), Conal McHugh (0-1), James Slevin (0-1), Niall Birmingham (1-1), Mikey Carville (2-4), David Moorehead, Cillian Hanratty (0-1), Conor Brennan, Cathal McCooey, Darragh Watters, Jack Mohan and Tristan Moyna.
Louth: Aidan O’Brien, Brandon Johnson, Brendan Prendergast, Cillian McKenna, Connor Geraghty, Conor Byrne, Conor Murphy (0-3), Evan Maher (0-1), Fionn Cumiskey, Fionnán McGurk, Josh Murtagh, Jack McCaughey, Mikey McCourt, Niall Quigley, Paddy Wehrly, Robert McCaughey, Ronan Reid, Jake Mc Namara (0-2), Seamus Birch, Seán Magill (0-1), Tiernan McKenna, Tom Matthews and Zac Lennon.
Longford Overpowered By Wicklow Gold In BOI Celtic Challenge
Wicklow Gold 10–15
Longford and Wicklow Gold travelled to the GAA National Centre of Excellence in Abbottstown, Co Dublin for the First Round of the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge Competition where goals proved to be the difference between these two teams on the day.
Longford got their first score from a free through Adam Murray in the first two minutes of the game. It was within the next five minutes, that Wicklow Gold made a blistering start with three goals.
The first was scored by Charlie Cruise followed by Fionn Doogan and then another from Cruise. Wicklow Gold lead 3-3 to 0-1 with eight minutes gone. Adam Murray then scored a point from play and another from a free to steady the Longford ship. Score at halftime Longford 0-3 Wicklow Gold 6-8.
Wicklow came out strong again in the second half scoring a goal through Brian Guesbitt in the first two minutes. Murray got another point for Longford whose backs were defending like Trojans, but when Wicklow got their running game going, Longford simply had no answer.
The Longford lads showed great fight and spirit in the second half and had the better of the exchanges, despite the total dominance of Wicklow Gold although it wasn’t translated to the scoreboard. The Longford keeper Michael Mulcahy made some great saves and had some great sidestepping to power out through the strong Wicklow forwards.
It wasn’t to be Longford’s day in the end with the final scoreline flattering Wicklow Gold. There were loads of positives to take going forward from the game for both teams. It was a valuable learning experience and important to get some of the fringe players valuable game time. The amount of work, desire and passion displayed on the field is what the competition is all about.
Well done to Longford’s Ali Iqbal and Bill O’Brien from Wicklow Gold who received the best and fairest awards.
Report by: Carol Murray
Longford: Micheal Mulcahy, Jack Linnane, Shane Courtney, Diarmuid O Donnell, Adam Halpin, Iarlaith Dolan, Pearse Mc Nally, Ali Iqbal, Donal Sheahan, Dean Wykes, Adam Murray (0 – 6), Liam Browne, John Murray, Adam Connaughton, Jim Crossan, Stephen Murray, Zach Tunstead, Owen Noonan, Thomas Walsh, Liam Kenny, Daniel Gallagher.
Wicklow Gold: Daniel O Reilly, Dillion Byrne, Conor Wafer, Ciaran Harmon, Jack Reid, Tommy Collins, Shane Arthur, Jamie Ryan, Jack Byrne (0-1), Ben Burke (0-3), Fionn Doogan (3-4), Tom O Brien (0-2), Oscar Harty, Charlie Cruise (3-0), Brian Guesbitt (2-1), Cormac Redmond, Bill O Brien (2-1), Tadgh Mc Carthy, Rian Mac Maolian, TJ O Neill, Matt Curran, John Mc Elhinny, Aaron O Rourke, Luan Ruddy, Seosamn Icelly, Casey Doyle.
Referee: Killian Jones
Kildare Cadets Impress Against Spirited Cavan In BOI Celtic Challenge
Kildare Cadets 4-20
Cavan and Kildare Cadets travelled to Drumree in Co. Meath on Wednesday evening for the eagerly awaited opening round of this year’s Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge. The rain had ceased so the game was played in almost ideal conditions.
The Lilywhites movement, skill and ability to take scores were a joy to watch particularly in the first half. They kept the scoreboard ticking and built up a commanding lead. Cavan kept battling and the general play around the field did not reflect the half time score.
Sean Maher who scored five in all opened the scoring for Kildare Cadets. Diarmuid Mangan made great use of the supply and notched up 2-4 in the first half while Tom O’Donovan, Conn Kehoe and Eoin Hayes also registered scores.
The second half was much closer albeit Kildare continued to rotate their squad. Cavan outscored the Kildare lads 1-3 to 1-2 in the third quarter, Luke Dunleavy netting for the Lilywhites before a Jamie Masterson shot made its way to the Kildare net and the green flag was raised for Cavan. Kildare would score another 1-3 in the closing quarter to run out convincing winners with Conn Kehoe getting the goal.
Kildare were impressive and had many fine performances all over the field with Conn Kehoe, Eoin Hayes, Sean Maher and Diarmuid Mangan in the full forward line all outstanding.
The Cavan players and management will take heart from their second-half performance. Shea Denning in the Cavan goal was outstanding throughout making some fine saves and was very cool under pressure.
Jack Dunne had a great game at full back as did Jamie Masterson and Sean McMahon in defence while Cillian Boyle and Cormac Smith impressed up front.
Cavan travel to Dundalk next Wednesday to face Louth while Kildare host Longford on Saturday 11th May in Leixlip.
On the day, Conn Kehoe of the Kildare Cadets and Jack Dunne of Cavan received the best and fairest awards.
Report by: Mark O’Rourke
Kildare Cadets: Daragh O’Shaughnessy, Morgan Dunne, Luke Dunleavy (1-3), Killian Quigley, Stephen Moran, Michael Kane, Conn Kehoe (1-2), Eoin Hayes (0-2), Sean Gleeson, Jack Mulvihill, Sean Maher (0-5, 2 65s), Ryan McGinley, Tom O’Donovan (0-3), Diarmuid Mangan (2-4), Rian O’Gorman.
Replacements: Conor Tracey, Aaron Shelley (0-1), Ciaran O’Gorman, Ciaran Mulvey, Niall Clarke, Jack Heading, Sean Costello.
Cavan: Shea Denning, Dwayne Mulvey, Jack Dunne, Gary Tully, Tadhg Larkin, Jamie Masterson (1-0), Sean McMahon, Cormac Clarke, James Smith, Cormac Smith (0-2, 1f), Odhran Keating, Conor Bannon, Colin McCauley, Cillian Boyle (0-2), Gavin Fitzpatrick.
Replacements: Joshua McKiernan, Colm Brady, Piaras McManus, Michael Wall, Dylan Greenan, Declan Mernagh, Andrew McCauley, Fionn Fleming, Jack Kelly, Aaron Crowe, Daniel Harten, Ryan Galligan.
Referee: Kevin Brady.