Wicklow Blue, Wicklow Gold and Dublin Clarke were the big winners in groups C, D and F of this week’s BOI Celtic Challenge.
In group C, Dublin Clarke narrowly got the better of Offaly in a thrilling game, while in group D there were strong victories for Wicklow Blue and Meath.
Here is our round-up from this week’s games.
Dublin Clarke Edge Out Offaly In Group C Thriller
DUBLIN CLARKE 1-19
A strong defensive second half showing saw Dublin Clarke earn a deserved four-point victory in Wednesday night’s Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge Group C encounter at the National Games Development Centre, Abbotstown.
Impressive Offaly forward Loughlann Quinn had opened the scoring for the Faithful County before Matthew Lynam struck for Dublin Clarke’s only goal of the night in the fourth minute following a good ball into the danger zone from Rory O’Neill.
Clarke’s half-back line of Evan McSherry, Reuben Cantwell and Liam Kiernan started to dominate on the breaking ball and as a result the flow of Dublin Clarke’s hurling improved towards the conclusion of the first half.
The accuracy of Gerard Ryan was instrumental for Dublin Clarke and he amassed 0-6 in the half with three coming from open play.
Offaly led 0-9 to 1-5 after 20 minutes following a fine point from Callum Flannery but Dublin Clarke responded in style to then score five points without reply to lead 1-10 to 0-9 after a well-contested opening 30 minutes.
Eoghan Ruadh’s Ryan ignited this scoring surge for Dublin Clarke with a point and a free before the stylish Adam Drewett pointed, following great interplay between Liam Kiernan, Jack Murray and Drewett, which pushed Dublin Clarke two points clear.
Before the interval Gerard Ryan, with a free from just inside his own ’65’, and Sam Stewart with a fine point on the turn established a four-point half-time lead for Dublin Clarke.
Dublin Clarke’s overall game improved on the restart but Offaly dangerman Loughlann Quinn cut the deficit in the 33rd minute.
Dublin Clarke then reeled off five points in succession to hold a 1-15 to 0-10 advantage by the 42nd minute.
Gerard Ryan, with another long-range free, Adam Drewett, Matthew Lynam, and Ryan again with two more points propelled their side into a strong position as the Dublin Clarke forward unit combined to telling effect.
Ryan’s last point of that spell came after a great fetch by Rory O’Neill who then showed great bravery to break the tackle and off-load to the Plunkett’s lad for the score.
Offaly cut the gap with three points in-a-row before two important points quelled their hopes of mounting a late comeback.
Further scores from moved Dublin Clarke out to a 1-19 to 0-14 lead as the game moved into added time.
In that injury-time, Offaly goaled through Cian Burke.
Dublin’s Luke Mulligan Lynch and Offaly’s Loughlann Quinn were the Best and Fairest award recipients.
Report by: Kevin Nolan.
SCORERS – Dublin Clarke: G Ryan 0-10 (0-5f), M Lynam 1-1, A Drewett 0-2, L Mulligan Lynch, L Kiernan, S Stewart, C McLoughney, S Byrne, J Murray 0-1 each.
Offaly: L Quinn 0-12 (0-7f), C Burke 1-0, P Phelan, C Flannery, E Dolan 0-1 each.
DUBLIN CLARKE (panel): B Rodgers, C Cullinane, B Roberts, L Mulligan Lynch, E McSherry, R Cantwell, L Kiernan, S Stewart, C Morgan, G Ryan, J Kielthy, R O’Neill, A Drewett, M Lynam, B Keogh, D Clerkin, C Hassett, C McLoughney, F Rock, C Shaw, E Behan, S Byrne, J Murray, S Murphy.
OFFALY (panel): M Lawlor, D Landy, L Miller, O Kilmartin, J Mahon, J Coughlan, S Ryan, P Phelan, C Flannery, K Tierney, C Burke, A Landy, D Coughlan, E Dolan, L Quinn, C Errity, J Ormonde, L Standish, M Kelly, R Dunne, A Carroll, L Hogan, J Troy, C Bracken, S Rattigan, C McDowell, J Kelly, B Connolly, E Murphy.
Wicklow Blue End Group D Unbeaten Following Strong Win Over Kildare Lilywhites
Wicklow Blue 4-20
Wicklow Blue continued their excellent form in Group D of the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge with a great win over Kildare Lily Whites in Hawkfield.
Wicklow raced into a lead that they never looked like surrendering thanks to a flurry of early points from Torna Mulcrony, Eoin Kavanagh and PJ O’Connor.
The Blues quickly established control in the middle third with Brandon Ryan and Shane Browne providing the ammunition for a very lively forward line.
The Kildare full backline, marshalled by Sean Hodgins remained resolute despite an early green flag from Mulcrony.
With Kavanagh and Jake O’Kelly having the better of the midfield exchanges, Kildare struggled to create chances, although the inside forwards worked hard to create opportunities.
In particular, Adam Jordan was lively and threatened the Wicklow goal on a number of occasions but each time was thwarted by the excellent Meitheal Cleary.
In the second half, Kildare pressed hard to get a foothold in the game, Cormac Byrne at cornerback and Sam Hillyer in the forward line were particularly impressive; but their comeback chances soon evaporated with two quickfire goals from John Toomey and Liam Somers around the hour mark.
Wicklow ran out winners in the end and head for a quarterfinal unbeaten and brimming with confidence. For Kildare, two successive defeats leave them with plenty to think about before their own quarter-final in ten days’ time.
Best and Fairest award winner for Kildare was Sean Hodgins and for Wicklow, it was Meitheal Cleary.
Report by: Daragh O’Brien
Kildare: Cian Cullen; Jack McGovern, Sean Hodgins, Cormac Byrne; Padraig Cribben, Charlie Connolly, Eamon Little; Sam Murphy, Harry Whelan; Evan O’Brien, Finn Tierney, Sam Hillyer; Aaron Martin, Fiachra Mooney, Adam Jordan.
Replacements: Daithi Martin, Michael Browne, Daniel Maher, Cathal O’Donovan, Luke Redmond. Jason Stanley-McKenna , Jake Delmer
Wicklow: Meitheal Cleary; John Young, Conor Wafer, Darren Reilly; Brandon Ryan, Shane Browne, Adam Bushe; Eoin Kavanagh, Jake O’Kelly; John Toomey, Torna Mulconry, Brian Keogh; P.J O’Connor, James McGing, Owen Young.
Replacements: Liam Somers, Rory Mulcahy, Dillon Byrne, Jack Reid.
Elsewhere in Group D, Meath defeated Carlow 5-22 to 2-11.
Second Half Flurry Seals Win For Wicklow Gold
Wicklow Gold 2-7
Wicklow started out the stronger in this BOI Celtic Challenge tie in Abbotstown with a point in the first minute from John McElhinny.
Cavan soon got to grips with the game around the middle third of the field and when James Smith was pulled down he registered his teams first score with the resulting free. Brían O’Rourke played well in the centre for Cavan with Ross O’Gorman mopping up any ball that came near the back line.
O’Rourke increased Cavan’s lead with a point one minute later following some good play from Cavan. Wicklow had a number of chances and were awarded a penalty in the 25th minute. The penalty was struck low and hard into the keepers bottom right corner but an excellent diving save from Cavan Keeper Shea Denning knocked it around the post and out for a 65. James Smith registered another close-range free in the 28th minute before scoring a point from play on the stroke of half time.
Wicklow started the second half much brighter with a score coming from the throw-in by half time substitute Bill O’Brien followed quickly by a point from another half time change, Brian Nesbitt, who excelled in the second half. Both teams traded scores but it was again Nesbitt who slotted over for Wicklow to narrow the gap to three points.
Cavan had their fair share of the play but through a breakdown in the play, it was Nesbit who found the back of the Cavan net in the fifth minute to level the scoreline 1-03 to 0-6. This would prove to be the turning point with Wicklow getting a foothold in the match.
Nesbit registered points to extend Wicklow’s lead to two points before Cavan’sJamie Masterson converted a score. The next score would be an excellent solo goal from the Wicklow’s Charlie Cruise. Cavan replied with a point two minutes later but could not find the vital goal they needed to get back into the game.
Best and Fairest awards on the day went to Cavan’s Sean McMahon and Ciaran Harmon from Wicklow Gold.
Report by Keith Greene.
Cavan: Shea Denning, Dwayne Mulvey, Ross O’Gorman, Gary Tully, Tadgh Larkin, Cillian Boyle, Sean McMahon, Cormac Smith (0-1), Brían O’Rourke (0-1), Conor Bannon, Cian Farrelly, James Smith (0-5, 5f), Jamie Masterson (0-1), Dylan Greenan, Jack Dunne, Declan Mernagh, Joshua McKiernan, Cormac Clarke, Colm Brady, Michael Wall, Gavin Fitzpatrick, Aaron Crowe, Colin McKiernan, Fionn Keating, Daniel Harten, Colin McCauley, Piaras McManus, Conor Smith, Ryan Galligan, Andrew McDermott, Jack Kelly.
Wicklow Gold: Daniel O’Reilly, Aaron O’Rourke, Paddy Dunne, Cormac Redmond, Ciaran Harmon, Tommy Collins, Shane Arthur, Jamie Ryan, Jack Byrne, Tom O’Brien, Charlie Cruise (1-0), Tadgh McCarthy, Rian O’Maolain, Fionn Doogan, John McElhinny (0-1), Oscar Harty, Bill O’Brien (0-1f), Brian Nesbit (1-5), Seosamh Kelly, TJ O’Neill, Luan Ruddy, Tom Moran, Neill Browne, Luke Dorgan, Eoin Byrne.
Referee: Gearoid McGrath