Friday 21 September 2018

On-song Coulter fires Donegal to victory

Nicky Rackard Cup final: Donegal 2-19 Warwickshire 0-18

Donegal’s Stephen Gillespie celebrates scoring his side’s first goal. Photo: David Fitzgerald
Donegal’s Stephen Gillespie celebrates scoring his side’s first goal. Photo: David Fitzgerald

Donegal won the Nicky Rackard Cup for the first time since 2013 thanks to a commanding second-half performance in Croke Park.

Warwickshire opened up a gap early on thanks to free-taker Niall McKenna as well as scores from Paul Hoban and Shane Caulfield. However, a strong spell for Donegal resulted in four points in five minutes from a combination of Gerry Gilmore and Declan Coulter, pulling Warwickshire back into their sights.

Donegal's Ronan McDermott tackles Warwickshire's Kelvin Magee. Photo: Sportsfile
Donegal's Ronan McDermott tackles Warwickshire's Kelvin Magee. Photo: Sportsfile

A further brace of placed balls from McKenna ensured that there would be more than one puck of the ball between the teams but it should have been much better for a wasteful Warwickshire.

While Donegal's footballers have often been famed for their relentless defence, it was the attacking prowess of their hurlers that stole the show after the restart.

Gavin Browne scored the first of their two goals with an exceptional strike from 25 yards after Philip Crean had denied Bernard Lafferty.

That was the beginning of a spell where Donegal notched up 2-4 while conceding just a single point. The second goal came from Coulter who left all in his wake before smashing the sliotar past Crean.

Donegal's Ciaran Mathewson in action against Warwickshire's Niall McKenna. Photo: Sportsfile
Donegal's Ciaran Mathewson in action against Warwickshire's Niall McKenna. Photo: Sportsfile

Warwickshire's attempts to pull back the deficit were all in vain as Donegal held firm despite a couple of late scares.

Scorers - Donegal: D Coulter 1-10 (0-4f, 0-1 '65'); G Gilmore (2s/l) 0-4; G Browne 1-0; B Lafferty, D Flynn 0-2 each; C Mathewson 0-1. Warwickshire: N McKenna 0-12 (8f); S Caulfield 0-2; P Hoban, C Robbins, D Nugent, N Kennedy 0-1 each.

Donegal: P Burns; P Doherty, C McDermott, S Gillespie; J Donnelly, S McVeigh, G Browne; C Mathewson, D Cullen; C Finn, D Coulter, R McDermott; B Lafferty, G Gilmore, D Flynn. Subs: N Cleary for Donnelly (h-t), E McDermott for R McDermott (57), K Campbell for Finn (58), L Henderson for Flynn (65).

Warwickshire: P Crean; W Allen, D Bruen, M O'Regan; P Scally, P Hoban, D Kennedy; J Collins, S Caulfield; C Robbins, N Kennedy, N McKenna; D Nugent, P Uniacke, G Lennon. Subs: K Magee for Collins (43), R Curley for O'Regan (58), I Dwyer for N Kennedy (62), K Boxwell for Robbins (65), K Phelan for Allen (72).

Sligo's Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch lifts the cup. Photo: Sportsfile
Sligo's Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch lifts the cup. Photo: Sportsfile

Referee: G McGrath (Wexford)

Lory Meagher Cup final: Sligo 4-15 Lancashire 2-20

Nail-biting is the only way to describe Sligo's escape to victory over Lancashire. The eventual winners had forged a five-point lead by the tenth minute and that advantage was enhanced when Kevin Gilmartin struck for his second major.

Lancashire's Ronan Crowley was on a one-man scoring mission though, with unerring accuracy from placed balls. And, of course, it was he who pounced for their first goal to spark them into life.

Placed balls from Crowley along with 1-2 from Edmond Kenny nudged them ahead only for an Eoin Comerford penalty to put the Yeats men in front at the interval.

Lancashire's JJ Dunphy in action against Sligo's Keith Raymond. Photo: Sportsfile
Lancashire's JJ Dunphy in action against Sligo's Keith Raymond. Photo: Sportsfile

Crowley remained clinical in front of the posts early in the second period though and Sligo needed some inspiration. And it was Gilmartin who provided it, clinching his hat-trick in the final minute of normal time to win by the minimum.

Scorers - Sligo: K Gilmartin 3-0; E Comerford 1-5 (1-0pen, 0-4f); J McHugh 0-3; K Raymond (2f), K Banks 0-2 each, G Cadden, G O'Kelly-Lynch, R Cox 0-1 each. Lancashire: R Crowley 1-10 (0-6f); E Kenny 1-7; J Fitzmaurice, JJ Dunphy, D O'Brien 0-1 each.

Sligo: D Reidy; J Weir, C O'Mahony, T Brennan; D Collery, K Raymond, N Feehily; R Cox, G Cadden; J McHugh, E Comerford, K Banks; G O'Kelly-Lynch, K Gilmartin, L Cadden. Subs: T O'Kelly-Lynch for L Cadden (43), N McDermott for G Cadden (54), K Prior for D Collery (57), M Davey for C O'Mahony (61), M Burke for Feehily (69).

Lancashire: V Morrissey; L Knocker, R Mullins, J Cleere; D O'Brien, G Jacob, N Unwin; S Duncan, J Fitzmaurice; D Crowley, T Duane, JJ Dunphy; D Maskey, E Kenny, R Crowley. Subs: S Hannon for Duane (57), S Dunne for Duncan (61), S Power for Dunphy (69), C Larkin for Maskey (71).

Referee: K McGeeney (Roscommon)

Lancashire's Edmond Kenny in action against Sligo's Niall McDermott. Photo: Sportsfile
Lancashire's Edmond Kenny in action against Sligo's Niall McDermott. Photo: Sportsfile

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