NHL Matchbox: Down outclass Wicklow in Aughrim
National Hurling League
Wicklow 0-14 Down 3-26
DOWN completely outclassed Wicklow in Aughrim yesterday as a brace of goals from Eoghan Sands and another for Oisín McManus saw them coast to victory.
Paul Sheehan was the standout performer for Ronan Sheehan's side in a tight first-half. The first of Sheehan's nine converted frees set the tone for the opening period, while his counterpart Andy O'Brien was the principle threat for Éamonn Scallan's hosts.
Down's tactic of forcing Wicklow into long puck-outs paid off as they turned over seven of Wicklow's 16 restarts in the first-half. The visitors led by two after nine minutes only for Danny Staunton to spark a home surge with the score of the half, a sumptuous sideline cut from the '45. A further Mikey Lee score from play set the stage for the two sides to spend much of the remainder of the half trading scores.
As the half came to a close, Sheehan converted a trio of frees, as well as turning provider for a well-worked score from play from Jordan Doran, sending the visitors into the break with a three-point lead.
A stunning free from Conor Woods from his own 45-metre line set the tone for the second-half and, when Eoghan Sands bagged two quick-fire goals shortly after, the game was effectively over.
Wicklow managed just the single score, an O'Brien strike from play, before the water break, at which point they were already 14 points down.
Down then turned on the style, with Marc Fisher emulating Staunton with an excellent sideline cut, while Oisín McManus came off the bench to convert the third goal.
Wicklow, unable to exert any influence for much of the second-half, were restricted to just five points as Down ran out convincing victors.
Division One Group A
Tipperary 2-19 Galway 0-20
TIPPERARY'S first win of the season at Semple Stadium was a morale boost following the news that the Premier county will be without Patrick 'Bonner' Maher for the rest of the year through injury.
Jason Forde sent Tipp on their way with a goal after five minutes and they led at the water break, 1-4 to 0-3. Noel McGrath goaled for Tipperary in the 29th minute for a 2-7 to 0-6 advantage but Galway, with Joe Canning on target from frees, finished the half strongly with five unanswered points to be only two points adrift at the break, 0-11 to 2-7.
By the end of the third quarter, Galway had cut the lead to a point, 0-16 to 2-11. They never headed Tipperary in the last quarter, though, and it was the home county which finished the strongest, reeling off four points without reply.
Cork 7-27 Westmeath 0-15
CORK made it five points from three Group A games as they humiliated Westmeath at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
While they were somewhat sloppy in the opening quarter, the Rebels pulled clear coming up to half-time as goals from Luke Meade and Patrick Horgan were added to an earlier strike from Alan Connolly.
A 3-14 to 0-9 interval advantage expanded to 7-19 to 0-9 before Westmeath got their first score of the second-half and Kieran Kingston's side ultimately had 33 points to spare on their visitors.
Waterford 1-22 Limerick 0-21
LIMERICK finished with 13 men as the All-Ireland champions fell to a rare defeat to Waterford at Walsh Park.
Séamus Flanagan received a straight red card on 28 minutes for an off-the-ball clash with Conor Gleeson, while wing-back Kyle Hayes got his marching orders six minutes into injury-time when a mass row erupted in front of the Déise bench.
Waterford captain Conor Prunty led from the back in a man-of-the-match display as he harried Aaron Gillane and made two goal-saving interventions. Calum Lyons struck three points from play while sub Patrick Curran also hit three to clinch victory.
Division One Group B
Laois 1-17 Clare 2-27
SHANE O'Donnell struck Clare's first goal and set up the second for substitute Mark Rodgers as Brian Lohan's side got their first points on the board in O'Moore Park.
The Banner struck 20 wides overall, 13 in the first-half alone, though the wet and miserable conditions did make play extremely difficult.
Clare only had a point to spare against Laois in last year's Championship but left Séamus Plunkett's side in their wake after the break when they outscored the hosts by 1-15 to 1-6.
Kilkenny v Wexford – POSTPONED
YESTERDAY'S meeting of the Leinster rivals was postponed due to a number of Covid-19 cases in the Wexford camp.
The Yellowbellies' preparations for the trip to Nowlan Park were disrupted earlier in the week when two players tested positive, while further testing on Friday confirmed that another squad member had tested positive.
Yesterday afternoon, Wexford county board confirmed they had sought the postponement on public health grounds.
Carlow 1-17 Offaly 2-25
AN opportunistic Eoghan Cahill goal early in the second-half put Offaly on the road to victory and in pole position for promotion from 2A.
Kerry 1-24 Meath 0-24
SHANE Conway (0-11) and Shane Nolan (1-2) starred in Tralee as the Kingdom moved back into promotion contention.
Donegal 4-18 Mayo 0-13
TÍR Chonaill were on fire in the first-half at O'Donnell Park, bagging three goals. Ten minutes into the second-half, Donegal were 3-12 to 0-7 in front and they didn't let up from there as Declan Coulter et al. kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Kildare 5-17 Derry 1-14
DERRY were the latest Ulster side to succumb to a Kildare masterclass as the Oak Leaf men were on the end of a 15-point defeat at Hawkfield yesterday.
Sligo 2-24 Armagh 1-18
ARMAGH'S promotion hopes were dented by this defeat at Markievicz Park as Sligo got their league campaign up and running with a comfortable win.
Longford 2-22 Tyrone 2-22
TYRONE put themselves top of the 3A table thanks to Saturday's draw at Pearse Park. CJ McGourty grabbed the Red Hands' two goals.
Fermanagh 1-19 Leitrim 1-11
FERMANAGH are in the promotion mix thanks to their eight-point win over Leitrim at Brewster Park.
Louth 0-19 Cavan 2-12
LOUTH went top of the 3B table as Cavan failed to follow up their draw against Fermanagh with a result at Darver.