THE accurate shooting of Pearse Óg McCrickard proved crucial to Down as they fought their way to a high scoring victory over Meath in Sunday’s Kehoe Cup opener at Longwood.
The Ards men were in control throughout Sunday’s encounter, never falling behind, and had the solid defending of Conor Cassidy, Caolan Taggart and Niall McFarlane to thank for the victory as much as an attacking effort that saw them rack up 2-20 by the full-time whistle.
The hard, direct running of both Tim Prenter and Dáithí Sands had the Meath defence almost constantly on the back foot, with any mistakes being ruthlessly punished by the finishing of McCrickard, who finished with 0-11 to his name.
Entering the closing stages of the game, Down led by seven, with a goal from substitute Niall Milligan making them look good value for the win before a late rally by Meath reduced the gap to three.
A controversial penalty award then gave the Royals the chance to square the game, only for Pearse Smyth heroics keeping Down in front. A second goal, this time from sub Jordan Murphy, then put the gloss on a solid victory for Ronan Sheehan’s men.
Next up for Down is a round two game against Kildare this Saturday. The Lilywhites opened their own account with a big win over Wicklow in Bray.
Dublin will play Longford in the O’Byrne Cup final after the All-Ireland champions put five goals past Wexford at Parnell Park on Sunday.
St Vincent’s forward Sean Lowry was the star of the show for an experimental Dublin, grabbing a hat-trick. Luke Breathnach and Niall Scully, who along with goalkeeper David O’Hanlon was the most recognisable name on the Dublin team sheet, got the other goals for Dessie Farrell’s side.
In the Walsh Cup, Declan McLaughlin registered a hat-trick of goals as Galway blew Laois away with a 6-29 to 2-20 victory in Ballinasloe to set up a semi-final pairing with Dublin.
McLaughlin’s first major helped Henry Shefflin’s side towards a 2-13 to 1-9 half-time lead while, after the turnaround, Jason Flynn, who finished with 1-9, McLaughlin (2) and Sarsfields’ Alex Connaire (2) all found the net for the hosts.
Wexford will play Kilkenny in the other semi-final after a comfortable 3-20 to 0-19 win over Carlow at Wexford Park.
In the Munster Hurling League, Conor Lehane’s first-minute goal gave a more experienced Cork side a third round victory over Clare at Páirc Uí Rinn. Lehane registered 1-3 before his half-time exit, while Shane Kingston added a tally of 0-8.
The Rebels’ three-point margin of victory would have been far greater only for their 22 wides compared to Clare’s three.
Connacht Football League semi-finalRoscommon 0-21 London 1-9, Galway 2-18 Leitrim 1-17
O’Byrne Cup semi-finalDublin 5-17 Wexford 1-11, Longford 2-14 Meath 1-14O’Byrne Cup Shield semi-finalsLouth 2-12 Westmeath 0-12, Wicklow 1-20 Laois 0-12Walsh Cup round threeDublin 2-31 Antrim 1-20, Galway 6-29 Laois 2-20, Wexford 3-20 Carlow 0-19Kehoe Cup round oneDown 2-20 Meath 1-16, Kildare 4-27 Wicklow 0-6
McGrath Cup round threeCork 1-20 Waterford 0-6, Tipperary 1-11 Limerick 0-10Munster Hurling League round threeCork 1-24 Clare 0-24, Tipperary 1-28 Kerry 1-14