Lancashire earn derby bragging rights

Lancashire earn derby bragging rights

Allianz National Hurling League, Division 3B

Lancashire 5-20 (35)

Warwickshire 1-15 (18)

Allianz National Hurling League, Division 3B

By Anthony McLaughlin at Páirc na hÉireann

It may not have been enough to qualify for the Division 3B promotion play-offs but last Saturday’s victory in Birmingham has given Lancashire a timely confidence booster ahead of the Lory Meagher Cup next month.

Both Lancashire and Warwickshire will compete in the six-team Meagher Cup, with Liam Knocker’s side aiming for a better result in their opening game against Longford after their loss at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park proved the defining factor of their league campaign. Last Saturday at Páirc na hÉireann gave them an opportunity to bounce back to winning ways which they duly delivered thanks to a powerful second-half performance including five goals, despite missing Conor Kennedy in attack.

For Warwickshire, who were missing their captain John Collins, their opening half performance was arguably their best of the league campaign but once again they faced an uphill battle in a second-half that only yielded two scores from open play. With the Meagher Cup the ultimate goal for 2023, attentions will now turn to their opening clash at home to Cavan – a must-win if they have any ambitions of making their mark in All-Ireland competition.

After twenty minutes this game was all level with Robin Spencer clinical off frees for Lancashire and Jack Grealish doing likewise at the other end, St. Barnabas wing-back Matt Keane and Borris-Ileigh wing-forward Ray McCormack striking sensational points out wide for Warwickshire and Lancashire respectively. A sweeping move from back to front almost forged an opening goal for Warwickshire, Luke Hands on the end of a tremendous team move only to be denied by a firm Patrick Coates save. Yet Lancashire doggedly kept themselves in front, two more Spencer set pieces and a long-range strike by Eamonn Kearns ensuring they went into the changing rooms two points ahead.

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The change of ends saw Lancashire take a grip on proceedings, after Darragh Carroll and Spencer (free) extended their advantage a direct move down the middle released midfielder Conor Madden for the opening goal of the game. Indeed, both Maddens from Fullen Gaels, Conor and Shane, were prominent in the second period as Lancashire took control of midfield and a penalty moments later required a superb diving save from Paddy Hands to deny Spencer. Back they came undeterred, points from Shane Madden and Carroll preceding a second major for Madden while at the other end a defiant Grealish drilled a bullet free high into the roof of the Lancashire net.

Yet Lancashire were raiding in waves, McCormack cutting in from the right to lash a close-range effort beyond Hands for a third goal with less than ten minutes remaining before Madden added a fourth straight afterwards. McCormack ended the day on 2-2,

the Tipperary forward grabbing his side’s fifth before Warwickshire responded through Hands (free) and Grealish.

It was left to Shane Madden to round off the scoring with his side’s twentieth point from out wide, ensuring a second win of the league season for Lancashire. For both these sides now it’s all about Championship season in what could prove a very open Meagher Cup competition; Leitrim and Monaghan – the only county of the six playing in Division 3A – make up the other sides all aiming for a run out at Croke Park later this year.

Teams and Scorers:

Lancashire: P Coates; P Shine, C McCormack, L Burns; F Henry, S Nugent, A Morgan; C Madden (1-1), S Madden (2-4); R McCormack (2-2), E Kelly, D Burke; E Kearns (0-2), D Carroll (0-2), R Spencer (0-9, 1 Pen, 6f, 1’65). Subs: C O’Shea (for Kearns 48); B Slattery (for Burns 51); D Duffy (for Spencer 53); D Fitzell (for Morgan 60); C O’Brien (for Carroll 66).

Warwickshire: P Hands; S Jordan, T Kelly, S Clarke; M Keane (0-1), N Eames, M Holland; P Lancaster, J Grealish (1-8, 6f, 1’65); M Quinn, P Crehan, A Hands; B O’Sullivan, L Hands (0-5, 4f), P McMahon. Subs: K Murphy (0-1, for McMahon 47); A Hanley (for Jordan 51); D King (for Lancaster 51); N Lenihan (for A Hands 54).

Referee: C. Doyle (Tipperary)