The Christy Ring Cup threw up few surprises Saturday afternoon, as Kerry, Wicklow, Kildare and Down emerged victorious.
Kerry were slight favourites entering their encounter with Meath and racked up a narrow 1-20 to 1-17 win over the Royal County. The match was fiercely contested, with neither side amassing a substantial lead. Kerry were up 0-7 to 0-5 after fifteen minutes and took a slender 0-13 to 0-10 lead into the break.
Meath started the second half brighter and took a 0-17 to 0-16 lead with fifteen minutes to go. Kerry rebounded well, scoring a goal that helped them take a five point lead with five minutes remaining. Meath scored a late goal but Kerry held on to reach the semi finals.
Derry travelled to Wicklow to take on the Garden County buoyed by a seven point victory over Down. A close match was expected, as the two league meetings between the sides had ended in narrow victories for Wicklow. The Ulster county, however, were outplayed by Wicklow, who had secured a narrow two point victory over Mayo last week.
Wicklow played with a strong wind in the first period and made a tremendous start, racking up 1-6 before Derry had even registered a point. Derry scored a goal to temporarily give Derry hope, but O’Brien scored two goals for Wicklow and they took a commanding 3-11 to 1-1 lead into the interval.
Derry benefitted from the strong wind in the second half and made a comeback of sorts. An early Derry goal left the Ulster county 3-12 to 2-4 in arrears. Derry’s task was made harder after they got a man sent off. The Ulstermen continued to score points, but Wicklow ran out comfortable 3-16 to 2-11 winners and progress straight to the semi final stage.
Last week’s losing teams locked horns in the other two matches. Mayo had home advantage against Kildare but were quickly in trouble against the Lilywhites. Kildare raced into a quick lead, scoring 1-4 without reply. The Lilywhites continue to fire over points and lead 1-12 to 0-2 at half time.
Mayo started the second half better, matching Kildare for the first ten minutes, which left the score at 1-16 to 0-6. Cathal Freeman scored two late goals for Mayo from frees to make the final score more respectable, but Kildare won comfortably by 1-20 to 2-10.
Down and Armagh both entered their match up on the back of heavy losses. Down were heavy favourites, having won ten of their eleven encounters with Armagh, drawing the other game. Unfortunately for Armagh, the match was as lopsided as predicted, with Down winning 1-19 to 0-06.
Mayo and Armagh now face a relegation playoff next weekend. Down and Kildare will progress to the quarter final stage where they will face Meath and Derry.
Christy Ring Round 2A
Kerry 1-20 vs 1-17 Meath, Tralee
Wicklow 3-16 vs 2-11 Derry, Aughrim
Christy Ring Round 2B
Mayo 2-10 vs 1-20 Kildare, Castlebar
Down 1-19 vs 0-06 Armagh, Ballycran