Ulster sides eye up final spots

By Shaun Casey

DERRY can reach this season’s Christy Ring Cup final this weekend if they overcome Mayo, who sit at the bottom of the table with zero points to show from their four outings.

Derry’s two-point win away to London last weekend means that their fate is all in their own hands ahead of the final round of fixtures.

Meath and Sligo are both one point ahead of the Oakleaf County and they clash on Saturday. Whoever wins that contest will be guaranteed top position. Even if Derry happen to finish on level points with Sligo, they have the advantage of head-to-head.

Tyrone were knocked out of the running for a spot in the showpiece after round four, with Meath’s eight-point win over the Red Hands ending any hopes of back-to-back promotions.

The three points gathered from four games sees Michael McShane’s side’s position in the Christy Ring Cup safe for another year and they can end the year on a high when they host London in the final round.

Donegal booked their place in the Nickey Rackard Cup final with a fourth win on the trot to set up a decider date with Wicklow, who they also face this weekend in the final round of the group stages.

Both sides are sure to field weakened teams and perhaps try a few things out ahead of the bigger meeting coming down the tracks. Wicklow are the only other unbeaten team in the competition, so one of the sides will taste defeat for the first time.

Donegal earned a one-point victory when these two teams crossed swords in the Division 2B National League semi-final, but ended up losing to Meath by six points in the decider.

Fermanagh have their Nickey Rackard Cup status to fight for this weekend when they head west to take on Roscommon. The Erne men lost to Armagh last weekend and are tied at the bottom of the table with Louth, both on one point having drawn in round three.

The Orchard County came from six down to overturn Fermanagh in round four and that victory leaves them with nothing to play with this weekend. Karl McKeegan’s side are safe from relegation but can’t earn enough points to contest the final.

They take on Louth who, like Fermanagh, need a result to retain their place in the competition for next season. But Fermanagh will be hoping their Ulster rivals can do them a favour.

The scene is set for an all-Ulster Lory Meagher Cup final if both Cavan and Monaghan can keep up their ends of the deal and secure victories in the last round of fixtures.

Cavan, who drew with Longford last weekend, take on Leitrim in a repeat of the Division 3B National League final, which the Breffni Blues won by the minimum of margins. Cavan can keep their fate in their own hands with a home win.

Monaghan face a winner-takes-all clash with Longford as both sides are currently tied on five points apiece. Whoever comes through that encounter are sure to contest the decider.

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