In the chase for the first of the hurling titles down in the lower ranks there were wins for Kildare, Carlow, Kerry and Down on the opening day of the Christy Ring Cup.
Kerry 3-11 Mayo 1-16
Kerry overcame Mayo by 3-11 to 1-16 in a thrilling Christy Ring Cup clash in Tralee on Saturday
John Mike Dooley sent Kerry into an early lead when he blasted the ball to the roof of the net after just four minutes.
Mayo hit back with two points, but the Kingdom extended their lead after 14 minutes when debutant Evan Sweeney pointed to make it 1-1 to 0-3.
However, Kerry were lucky when a minute previously Adrian Freeman had struck a post. David Dowling, the Kilkenny native playing full-forward for the Westerners, then struck two points in a row to further reduce the deficit.
The home side struck back for another goal, James McCarthy pulling on a Brick sideline ball to fire to the back of the net.
Derek McDonald and Freeman hit back for Mayo with a point each from play before Brick and Sean Young were on the mark for Kerry.
Brick had by now found his range and he fired over a ’65 and a free to give Kerry a 2-5 to 0-9 lead at the break.
Young grabbed Kerry’s third goal after the inter interval, and at one point the Kingdom led by five points.
Points from McDonald, Stephen Broderick and Keith Higgins, the dual star, pegged Kerry back again before a Young point extended the lead back to two again.
With just a minute left, Mayo struck for a vital goal and it was midfielder Broderick who fired to the back of the net to set up a grandstand finish.
Despite Mayo being in the ascendancy, it was Kerry who pushed on in the dying minutes and won the game with two late points.
Down 3-20 Derry 1-22
Down had four points to spare over Derry in a high-quality Christy Ring Cup clash played at Newry on Saturday.
Sam Dodds managed the quite unbelievable feat of scoring 0-16 for Derry and still ended up on the losing team.
But goals win games, and it was Down who had the goal-scoring aces in Eoin Clarke, who fired home after 16 minutes, Gareth Johnson and Ally Higgins late on.
Down had led 1-13 to 0-10 at the break and after ‘Magic’ Johnson goaled after four minutes of the second half, his side led by nine points.
Derry hit back with four points on the bounce but Higgins was on hand to fire home a late goal after doubling on a placed ball that ended the game as a contest, especially after Clarke and Simon Wilson added late insurance scores.V