There were two intriguing battles played out in Group D of the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge as Westmeath narrowly lost out to Wicklow Blue while Meath recorded a one-point win over Kildare Lily Whites.
The group’s other team, Carlow, had a rest week this week as they prepare to face Wicklow Blue in Training Centre Fenagh next week.
Read our round-up of all of this week’s action from Group D below.
Wicklow Blue Narrowly Overcome Westmeath In Celtic Challenge Opener
Wicklow Blue 2-10
In a game that began like a house on fire and continued in the same vein, Wicklow narrowly got the better of their rivals Westmeath in a fascinating Group D opener.
Wicklow’s Liam Somers stylishly grabbed the first goal of the game but Westmeath roared back into the contest and outscored their opponents 1-3 to no score over the next period of the first half. Some wayward shooting from Westmeath let Wicklow off the hook and the sides went in level at half time 1-5 a piece after some super keeping by Oisín Loughlin and brave defending kept Wicklow at bay.
In a hard-fought second half, the sides stayed nip and tuck until Wicklow pounced for an opportunistic goal to put them 3 points ahead. Westmeath fought hard until the end but just couldn’t strike level. Wicklow’s physicality showed at times but Westmeath stood up to the challenge and showed some great skill and work rate throughout the game.
There were some fine displays by both sides all across the pitch and corner-back Peter Dalton received the Best & Fairest award on the Westmeath team, while John Toomey was awarded the accolade for Wicklow.
The players will learn a lot from their first competitive outing of the year and the main aim is to remain competitive over the course of the Celtic Challenge series.
Report by: Michael Lawler
Westmeath Oisín Loughlin, Peter Dalton, Mickey Lynam, Jamie Reilly, Cian McCarthy, David Weir, Aaron Fenlon, Olly McClair (0-1), Mark Cunningham (0-1), Oisín Murray (0-1), Michael Moffatt, Tomass Turks, Eamon Cunneen (0-6), Warric Kirby, Brian McGrath (1-1).
Replacements: Ryan Boyne, Mark Cully, Michael Doherty, Ryan Forde, Brian Gaffney, Oisín Kiernan, Liam Maxwell, Donal Mulvihill (0-1), Aaron Ready, Luke Smith
Wicklow: Meitheal Cleary, John Young, Oisin Brogan, Darren Reilly, Brandon Ryan, Shane Browne, Adam Bushe, Jake O’Kelly, John Toomey, James McGing, Owen Young, Rory Mulcahy, Torna Mulconry, Liam Somers, Brian Keogh.
Replacements: Eoin Kavanagh, Pj O’Connor, Paddy Dunne.
Royals Win Out in Hard-Fought Celtic Challenge Battle with Lily Whites
Kildare Lily Whites 2-12
This week’s BOI Celtic Challenge clash at Hawkfield COE was a classic as the Royals hung on against Kildare Lily Whites to win by the smallest of margins.
Meath struck initially with two well-taken scores from Sean Mulligan and Ciaran Rogers, however, the Lily Whites showed their intention not to be outgunned when in the sixth minute only the crossbar saved Meath from an almost certain goal.
This let-off was short-lived, as Cormac Vizzard found space in the middle of the field and got clear of the Royals defence to set up Finn Tierney who hammered the sliotar into the back of the Meath net. Meath retaliated with a goal of their own when Shaun Donnelly scored the first of his impressive tally of 2-4.
Going into the final two minutes of the half with the game level, Kildare’s Cormac Vizzard struck with a second goal for the Lily Whites which was quickly followed by another point for Kildare to go into the halftime break 4fourpoints to the good.
The second half started even faster than the first with Meath pulling themselves right back into it with Shaun Donnelly’s second goal of the match reducing the deficit to a single point. Points continued to be traded and by the mid-point in the half, the teams were again level at 2-10 apiece. During the next six minutes, however, Meath started to dominate around the middle of the field and pulled ahead by two points.
When Joey Cole was fouled in the square, the referee gave Meath the option of a penalty or taking the incredible point he had just scored which would move them three points clear. That was the final score for Meath as Kildare piled forward, putting the Royals defence under a lot of pressure in the final eight. minutes.
Kildare’s Aaron Martin scored two late points to leave the match in the balance with Meath a single point up. A wonderful game of hurling played in exemplary spirit between two evenly matched teams. Well deserved “Best and Fairest” awards went to Oisín Bright (Meath) and Cormac Vizzard (Kildare).
Report by: Paul Hamilton.
Kildare: Niall Tierney; Cormac Byrne, Sean Hodgkins, Jack McGovern; Jason Stanley-McKenna, Tadgh Halpin, Eamon Little; Aidan Mooney, Harry Whelan(0-1)(c); Sam Hillyer, Cormac Vizzard(1-3), Finn Tierney(1-1), Aaron Martin (0-5), Evan O’Brien(0-1), Fiachra Mooney(0-1)
Replacements: Ger Darcy(0-1), Eoin Walshe, Cian Cullen, Charlie Connelly, Miachael Browne, Adam Jordan, Adam Delmer, Daithi Martin
Meath: Jack Fagan; Harry Cottrell, Eoin Donegan, Evan Cole; Luke Moran, Drew Hamilton(c), Oisin Bright; Cian Smith, Harry Smyth; Shaun Donnelly(2-4), Ciaran Rogers(0-1); Sean Mulligan(0-2), Evan Geoghegan; Joey Cole(0-5), Rory Fagan.
Replacements: Liam Boyle, Eoin McNerney, Brian Donnelly, Gavin Halton, Matthew Cully(0-1), Liam Callanan, Kevin Mulligan, Eoghan McCormack.