Hurling and camogie

Hurling Matchbox - Kerry squeeze into Joe McDonagh Cup final

Pádraig Boyle saved Kerry's bacon against Meath on Saturday Picture by Séamus Loughran
Pádraig Ó Meiscill

Joe McDonagh Cup Group A

Westmeath 2-19 Kildare 1-21

WESTMEATH will face Kerry in the Joe McDonagh Cup final at Croke Park this Saturday after Fintan O'Connor's men beat Kildare by the bare minimum in Mullingar.

The sides were all square towards the end of a tense encounter in Cusack Park until substitute Derek McNicholas popped up with the winner at the death for the hosts.

While Westmeath didn't make last year's McDonagh decider, they lost the two previous to Laois and Carlow, respectively.

Group B

Meath 0-28 Kerry 1-21

IT WAS Pádraig Boyle who came to Kerry's rescue with a point seven minutes into injury-time at Páirc Tailteann that ultimately secured their place in this weekend's final.

All three Group B teams finished level on two points after two games so scoring difference kicked in initially to separate them, pushing Meath into third position despite their first win in the competition. Boyle's point, ensuring a mere four-point defeat, saved the Kingdom because a five-point Kerry loss would have sent Down through to the decider instead.

Despite the defeat, a much improved Meath will hope to carry the momentum into this weekend's relegation play-off with Kildare.

Christy Ring Cup Group A

Derry 2-23 Wicklow 0-19

DERRY secured top spot in Group A with a comfortable win over Wicklow at Owenbeg.

Derry hit the front with a run of six unanswered points before the first water break and, although Wicklow settled back into it after, the hosts led by 0-12 to 0-11 at the interval. Odhrán McKeever's goal after the restart was the impetus for Derry to pull away, while Cormac and Oisín O'Doherty also made an impact at either end. Wicklow had the game's top scorer in Andy O'Brien (0-12), but a second goal by McKeever put the game beyond the reach of the Leinster men, who had Daniel Staunton sent-off late on.

Sé McGuigan and Gerald Bradley were also on form up front for Derry as they made it back-to-back wins with a bit to spare.

Derry now await the winners of the all-Connacht quarter-final between Roscommon and Sligo.

Nickey Rackard Cup Group A

Leitrim 4-10 Donegal 1-27

DONEGAL set up a semi-final meeting with Tyrone thanks to a strong second-half performance against Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Three first-half goals – Diarmuid Kelleher (two) and James McNabola – had Leitrim in front at the break, with Donegal down to 14 men following the dismissal of Ronan McDermott.

However, a brace of points from Gerard Gilmore halved the deficit early in the second-half, before Donegal hit the front through a Declan Coulter penalty. Although Coulter was forced off with an injury midway through the second-half, Richie Ryan's accuracy from dead balls ensured that Donegal weren't blown off course.

Lory Meagher Cup Group A

Monaghan 0-19 Longford 1-16

MONAGHAN face a quarter-final tie with Fermanagh after they were pinned back for a draw by Longford at Inniskeen.

Monaghan led for almost the entire game against a Longford side who already had one foot in the last four thanks to their comprehensive win over Louth, but the visitors finished strongly.

Despite grabbing the game's only goal through Joe O'Brien in the 25th minute, Longford trailed by 0-10 to 1-3 at half-time, but they gradually ate into their deficit after the restart. Monaghan regained the lead late on a few occasions late on, through Hugh Byrne, Niall Garland and Fergal Rafter, but O'Brien took his tally to 1-7 to put Longford level and deny the hosts.

• The draw for the first round of the All-Ireland SHC Qualifiers will take place this morning at 8.35 on RTÉ's Morning Ireland. Laois, Galway and Wexford will be on one side of the draw, while Waterford, Cork and Clare are on the other.

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