Senior hurlers open Christy Ring Cup with deserved win

Back 25/04/2023 @ 01:16 | hurlingnews | Senior hurlers open Christy Ring Cup with deserved win

Sligo’s senior hurlers put the disappointment of relegation in this year’s Allianz League behind them and produced a deserved three-point victory over London to get their Christy Ring Cup campaign off to a successful start at Markievicz Park on Sunday last.

It was the third meeting between the sides in just six weeks but while London had the upper hand in both league games, on this occasion the Yeats County looked the part all through although that only translated to a scoring advantage in the second half.

The game also saw the return to top form of 2022 Ring Rackard All Star Andrew Kilcullen. The Easkey man was positioned in a new role further out the field but emerged as the dominant character in the game, delivering 14 points.

For much of the first half however the game was a tit for tat exchange of points with the sides never more than two apart.

Playing with the aid of a breeze into the town end, London opened the scoring with a Ronan Crowley free but Sligo quickly equalised and then went ahead with a series of Kilcullen frees that saw them ahead for the first ten minutes.

Scores from Crowley and Conor McCormack opened a small gap for London and although brothers Diarmuid and Conor Hanniffy (twice) kept the Sligo score ticking over, the visitors maintained that lead for 20 minutes with midfielder Dylan Dawson and early sub Conor O’Carroll adding points,

Sligo drew level on 26 minutes after two quick Kilcullen frees in succession and they then took the lead when Diarmuid Hanniffy, playing in the full forward line pointed.

London captain Jack Goulding equalised but Sligo responded with the first goal of the day when Diarmuid Hanniffy got off a shot in a crowded goal-mouth to give the home side a three point advantage.

Although London did get two points back before the break, the goal sent Sligo into the dressing room with a lead, 1-10 to 0-12, that they never relinquished.

While London did equalise briefly with the first score of the second half from a Crowley free, Sligo stepped it up with four points in the following five minutes from three Kilcullen frees and an Eddie O’Donoghue point from play. They maintained that gap through the next 15 minutes and built a five-point lead with just Crowley from frees keeping London in touch.

As the game entered the last quarter, Crowley reduced the margin to four and then the visitors got a lifeline when substitute Daithi Barron found the net to reduce the margin to just one with 15 minutes to go. Kilcullen however steadied Sligo nerves with a free and it was all hands on deck to limit the visitors’ scoring chances.

It was still in the melting pot though and two scores inside the last minutes, the second from a mistake in the Sligo defence, allowed London to draw level as six minutes of added time were called.

Sligo had some momentum though and Conor Hanniffy put them back in front in the first minute of added minute before team captain Kevin O’Kennedy set up Joe McHugh to find the net in the third minute of added time. Although London did find another point the goal gave Sligo a decisive advantage and a victory that was no more than the home side deserved.

Sligo: L Comerford; J Weir, N Feehily, N Kilcullen; F Connolly, R McHugh, K O'Kennedy; R Molloy, A Kilcullen (0-14 (12f)); C Hanniffy (0-3), E O'Donoghue (0-1), F Moylan; J McHugh (1-0), T Cawley, D

Hanniffy (1-2) Subs: E Comerford for O'Donoghe (47), G Connolly for F Connolly (58), R Brennan for N Kilcullen (66).

London – P Collins; C Byrne, K Fennelly, E Phelan; E Ryan, S Glynn, P Mullen; R Crowley (0-10 (9f));, D Dawson (0-2); D Heffernan, C McCormack (0-1), N Broderick (0-1); J Goulding (0-2), E McHugh, F O'Keeffe (0-2). Subs: C O'Carroll (0-1) for McHugh (17), D Barron (1-0) for Fennelly (51), R Lodge for McCormack (57), A Cunney (0-1) for O'Keeffe (61), S Bardon for Phelan (63).