Down and Westmeath set for decider
Down and Westmeath will meet at Croke Park to decide the destination of the Christy Ring Cup, and the right to compete in next year's Liam McCarthy Cup, after victories over Carlow and Kildare, respectively, on Saturday.
The Ulster side defeated Carlow by 4-23 to 1-11 at Parnell Park. Goals from Paul Braniff and Martin Coulter, from the penalty spot, helped Down to a 2-8 to 0-7 lead at half-time.
Des Murphy scored Carlow's goal just after the restart but Gareth Johnson netted a third for Down and Braniff sealed his side's victory with his second in injury time.
Five goals in the last quarter helped Westmeath to a 7-14 to 1-12 victory over Kildare in their semi-final at Páirc Tailteann.
The eventual winners led by 1-3 to 0-1 after nine minutes. Killian Cosgrove passed to Ronan Whelan to shoot the first goal. Then on 19 minutes Cosgrove finished to the net to put Westmeath 2-4 to 0-4 ahead.
The second half took a long time to settle before John Shaw blasted to the net from the left to kill off whatever hope Kildare had of getting back into contention.
Then came three goals in as many minutes. In between Shaw's second and third, Joe Clarke also struck. Joe Dempsey netted a consolation for Kildare but Daniel Carthy had the last say with a late Westmeath goal.
SCORERS: Down: P Braniff 2-4, M Coulter 1-7 (1-6 frees), G Johnson 1-3, S Wilson 0-3 (two frees), B McGourty 0-2, G Savage 0-1, A Savage 0-1, E Clarke 0-1, S Clarke 0-1 (free). Carlow: D Murphy 1-1, P Coady 0-5 (four frees), D Roberts 0-1, R Dunbar 0-1, M Brennan 0-1, K English 0-1, R Foley 0-1.
Westmeath: J Shaw 3-2, R Whelan 1-1, K Cosgrove 1-1, J Clarke 1-1. D Carthy 1-0, A Mitchell 0-5, E Loughlin 0-2, B Kennedy 0-1, D McNicholas 0-1. Kildare: J Dempsey 1-0, M Dowd 0-7, A McAndrew 0-3, D Harney 0-1, T Carew 0-1.