Kildare, Donegal and Sligo have their day in the sun

Kildare claim the Christy Ring title with comfortable win over London at Croke Park

 

Kildare, Donegal and Sligo were the big winners at Croke Park on Saturday afternoon, where the lower-tier hurling championship deciders took centre stage amidst scorching conditions.

For the second time in five seasons, Kildare were crowned Christy Ring Cup champions with a richly-deserved 3-19 to 1-11 triumph against an overwhelmed London.

Thanks to Jack Sheridan’s well-taken goal, the Lilywhites entered the interval with a commanding 1-9 to 0-6 cushion.

When defender Lee Murphy was red-carded in the latter stages of the opening half, London were left with a steep hill to climb on the resumption. Further Kildare three-pointers from Sheridan and Kevin Whelan placed the outcome beyond doubt, before Colin Nelson grabbed a late consolation effort for their overseas counterparts.

Meanwhile, Donegal executed an impressive second-half turnaround against Warwickshire to secure the Nicky Rackard Cup on a scoreline of 2-19 to 0-18. With Niall McKenna to the fore, Warwickshire held a 0-12 to 0-8 buffer at the midway stage.

Yet, following four points without reply from Declan Coulter, Donegal gathered significant momentum after the restart. They subsequently hit the front with a 47th-minute Gavin Browne goal and the ever-dependable Coulter also netted to give Donegal their first Nicky Rackard title since 2013.

In the Lory Meagher decider, Kevin Gilmartin was the hat-trick hero for Sligo in their dramatic one-point victory over Lancashire (4-15 to 2-20).

Despite moving the Yeats County into the ascendancy with a brace of opening period goals, Gilmartin and his teammates faced the prospect of a third final defeat in four years when they trailed the Exiles by three points in the dying moments.

However, after Eoin Comerford reduced the gap with a pointed free, Gilmartin broke Lancashire hearts with a decisive major in stoppage-time.

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