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Ulster sides still on course for hat-trick of trophies



Antrim’s Conor McCann

Antrim’s Conor McCann

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Antrim’s Conor McCann

It's not often that Ulster is in the running for three trophies at national level in hurling but with the sport enjoying something of a renaissance in the province just now this enticing prospect has become a reality.

As Antrim took a step nearer towards their dream of winning the Joe McDonagh Cup at the week-end by overcoming Kerry, Down secured their place in the final of the Christy Ring Cup in the most dramatic of circumstances and Donegal maintained their current momentum by reaching the Nicky Rackard final.

Antrim skipper Conor McCann led by splendid example in the 3-18 to 2-14 win over Kerry by plundering two goals that helped his side into a 3-10 to 1-5 lead with Michael Bradley crashing in their third goal.

Ciaran Clarke's accuracy from frees, a towering work-rate that infiltrated the side as a whole and defensive defiance in the closing stages ensured that Darren Gleeson's men crossed the line with some degree of comfort.

"I thought the lads put in a big effort and were brilliant," said the manager. "If anyone had said to me before the game we would win by seven points I would have taken their arm off.

"We are taking each match as it comes. We have now reached the concluding stages of the Joe McDonagh Cup and that is very encouraging."

Meanwhile it was touch and go at Pairc Esler, Newry where Down managed only to get the better of Offaly in the Nicky Rackard Cup semi-final after a penalty shoot-out, the first at this level.

Down had scored 2-20 to Offaly's 1-23 after extra-time which necessitated the penalties Down won 3-2 thanks to scores from goalkeeper and skipper Stephen Keith, Conor Woods and Caolan Taggart. They will now meet Kildare in the final next weekend.

Donegal powered through to the Nicky Rackard Cup final by getting the better of Tyrone at Letterkenny by 3-25 to 1-21.

Gerard Gilmore (2) and Richie Ryan hit the Donegal goals while Damian Casey and Bryan McGurk were to the fore for the Red Hands.

Kiefer Morgan's well-taken goal temporarily raised Tyrone's hopes but Donegal's attacking onslaught was to prove too much.

In the Leinster senior hurling championship, Kilkenny overcame Galway by 2-20 to 0-24.

Belfast Telegraph