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Down manager Ronan Sheehan treads warily as they wait for semi-final opponents

 

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Ronan Sheehan

Ronan Sheehan

�INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ronan Sheehan

Down hurling manager Ronan Sheehan is picking his steps carefully now that his team have reached the semi-final of the Christy Ring Cup.

It was a hard-earned 1-13 to 0-13 weekend victory over Derry that saw Sheehan's men advance to the last four of the competition in which they will meet Roscommon, Offaly or Sligo.

Down lived dangerously against the Oak Leaf side before a late goal from Donal Hughes that was complemented by points from Paul Sheehan and Oisin McManus allowed them to march on.

This was Down's second victory over Derry in a fortnight having triumphed in the Allianz League Division 2B final between the sides.

"Conditions were not the best at Ballycran at the weekend but we stuck it out," said Sheehan after the game.

"The few late scores proved crucial and allowed us to advance. There is really not a lot between any of the sides in this competition.

"While we are encouraged with our recent form we know that the pressure will be stepped up from here on in and we have to be ready for that.

"The competition is being played within a limited time frame which is understandable but this certainly helps to keep us all on our toes."

For Derry manager John McEvoy, defeat was a bitter pill to have to swallow after his side had played with considerable spirit and commitment.

Cormac O'Doherty again rifled over a series of points that helped to sustain his side's challenge but Down's strong finish proved decisive.

Meanwhile, Tyrone and Armagh suffered chastening setbacks in the Nicky Rackard Cup with the orchard county falling to Donegal by 3-13 to 1-9 while the Red Hands were overpowered by Mayo on a 1-24 to 0-9 scoreline.

Armagh relied rather too heavily on their talented skipper Nathan Curry for scores but his fistful of points from frees coupled with a goal from a penalty in reality reflected the sum of the team's resistance.

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Nathan Curry

Nathan Curry

�INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Nathan Curry

 

Manager Padraig O'Connor had reason for optimism at half-time when his side were on level terms at 0-6, but Donegal opened up a big gap on the scoreboard after the break.

Tyrone too had an off-day and by half-time a confident Mayo side had swept into a convincing 0-14 to 0-3 lead.

They were never troubled after the break although Damian Casey, John McGurk, Branan Molloy and Kiefer Morgan tried hard to put scores on the board for Tyrone but without any degree of success.

Manager Mattie Lennon, while disappointed with his team's offering, is hoping for improvement along the line.

Belfast Telegraph


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