Nicky Rackard SF: Sligo 2-21 v Warwickshire 2-17

Sligo Hurlers, dug deep and found that bit extra to overturn a 4 point halftime deficit into a 4 point winning margin. In a sunny Celtic Park in Derry where there was a hint of a breeze from the Brandywell end towards the dressing rooms, Sligo played with the elements in the first half. Unlike their earlier games in the Cup they could not conjure up a goal though Gerard O'Kelly Lynch came close from an acute angle early on. Gerards brother Tony was causing a lot of porblems for the Warwickshire defence and had 3 points on the board at half time. 

Sligo were subdued though and a mishit shot from out the field saw Pauric Crehan a late replacement for Kevin Magee deservedly take the lead which they held till the break. Sligo took a good while to get going with their customary hooking and blocking not in evidence. Sligo though had the lead down to 1 before the break when a sideline ball into the goal area was pulled on by Crehan to the bottom corner of the net to leave the half time score 0-10 v 2-8.

Mikey Gordon came on at half time into corner back and with more aggression and cross field balls into the forwards the lads were in front after 10 minutes. Points from Keith Raymond, one an absolute beauty from out on the sideline and Gerard O'Kelly Lynch were added to by an opportunistic goal when the Warwickshire keeper Crean attempting to control a long range shot had it flicked off his hurl by Kevin Gilmatin to the net. 

Warwickshire responded with a pointed free from Willie Ahern(who ended up with 8 points) but a Raymond 65 restored our lead followed quickly by another from play by Shane Crowley in the 17th minute. At this time a number of the Warwickshire players looked to be breathing hard, however the introduction of Kevin Magee and Boxell and the moving of Ian Dwyer to th 40 injected a new momentum for the opposition. Sligo extended the lead with 2 points with Keith Raymond scoring from the other sideline and following it up with a crossfield pass to Gerard to go 5 up with 10 to play. 

At this time the defence came into their own with Dwyer getting 2 points in a minute, however Kevin Banks who had an excellent game cleared from the goal line when a goal looked assured. Niall Feehily burst out on more than one ocassion and was reading Creans puckouts very well. A two point lead going into injury time was too close to call but a superb piece of play from Banks where he intercepted a through ball , drove out through 2 attackers and drove the ball long to Gerard O'Kelly Lynch who caught and turned and drove to goal and drove across the keeper into the bottom corner. Warwickshire came straight down the field with Scally scoring a late point but Sligo held on. 

It was an excellent team performance and the team now head to Croke Park on Saturday June 22 where they play Armagh. 

Team:Mark Burke, James Weir, Ronan Cox(0-1), Niall Feehily, Kevin Banks, Keith Raymond(0-9, 0-5f), Rory McHugh, Liam Reidy, Joe Starr(0-1), Gerard O'Kelly Lyynch(1-2), Conor Griffin, Tony O'Kelly Lynch(0-4), Gary Cadden(0-1), Kevin Gilmartin(1-1). Subs used: Mikey Gordon, Shane Crowley(0-2), Kieran Prior


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