By Colum Thompson
All County Hurling League Divison One
Ruairi Og 2-16 Ballygalget 0-14
With a number of fixtures being called off due to Antrim’s upcoming Christy Ring Cup Final against Carlow Ruairi Og made the decision to go ahead with their game and play without their county players. It proved to be a wise decision as they were rewarded with the two league points and a number of young players came into the team and acquitted themselves very well. Ballygalget, for their part made a huge contribution to this highly entertaining fixture and they would argue that the game was a lot closer than the final score suggests.
Dall corner forward Ryan Delargy was the first to strike with a fine point after claiming a high ball but Ballygalget went at Cushendall with with a real purpose in the early stages and they hit four points in a row. Two from Gareth “Magic” Johnson frees and one each from Daniel Toner and Caolan Bailie. Aidan McNaughton responded for Cushendall with a tidy score following great work from Ryan Delargy. Emmett Laverty traded frees with Gareth Johnson. It was end to end stuff, Cormac McClafferty fired over an excellent point from a narrow angle and at the other end John McManus got one for the Ards men. Cushendall were beginning to get on top, Emmett Laverty hit two pointed frees either side of a Conrad McDonnell score. Then came the decisive score of the first half, Donal McNaughton gathered the ball 25 yards from goal. He beat his man for pace and booted the ball to the back of the Galget net. Rather than subdue the Down men this score seemed to spur them on. Toner got his second point of the half and midfielder Joseph Smyth got his name on the score sheet with a neat finish after a fine fetch. Sharpshooter Laverty converted two frees for the home side, Toner got his third of the half, Johnson added another to leave the gap at two but just before the short whistle Ryan Delargy caught a high ball, turned his man and pointed to leave Cushendall three ahead at half time, 1-10 to 0-10.
The first half was a rip roaring affair but the second half didn’t begin in the same vein. It was fairly pedestrian stuff by comparison, Emmett Laverty broke the deadlock with a free from the left wing to stretch the Dall lead to four. Danny Toner was leading the Galget attack and he won a free that Johnson converted. Laverty was proving an able deputy as freetaker in the absence of Neil McManus and he converted yet another to again push Cushendall four to the good. Ballygalget went for the jugular in an attempt to claw themselves back into the game and hit three without reply from Cormac Coulter, Johnson and Toner to leave the minimum between the sides heading into the final ten minutes. It was now down to whoever wanted it most and that team was Cushendall. Sharpshooter Laverty pointed a free before Donal McNaughton claimed his and Cushendall’s second goal, scoring from the rebound after McClafferty’s effort had been parried by Galget keeper Jamie Crowe. This score put an end to the Galget challenge as Cushendall finished in style with points from Ryan McCambridge, Laverty and Cormac McClafferty for a 2-16 to 0-14 victory.
How they played: Ballygalget certainly didn’t make the long midweek journey to The Glens Of Antrim to make up the numbers and they held their own for long periods. Cushendall to their credit went ahead with the fixture without a number of first team regulars but those who deputized were equal to the challenge. Arron Graffin marshaled well from the edge of the square, in front of him Cormac McAllister kept a close eye on Galget danger man Magic Johnson and Sean Delargy was steady as they come. Further forward Donal McNaughton, Ryan Delargy and Cormac McClafferty always looked dangerous. For Ballygalget Danny Toner was always a threat and Ben Toner and Peter McManus defended well. Man of the match on this occasion, although not for the first time this season, goes to Dall wing back David Kearney who gave an excellent performance. His catching was excellent, distribution equally so and at time he emerged from tackles with the ball when he had absolutely no right too.
Teams: Cushendall – 1. E Gillan 2. S Delargy 3. A Graffin 4. S Walsh 5. D Kearney 6. M Donaghy 7. C McAllister 8. A McNaughton(0-1) 9. E McManus 10. E Laverty(0-8fs) 11. R McCambridge(0-1) 12. D McNaughton(2-0) 13. C McDonnell(0-1) 14. C McClafferty(0-2) 15. R Delargy(0-2)
Subs: C McNaughton for C McDonnell
Ballygalget – 1. J Crowe 2. B Byres 3. O Clarke 4. P McManus 5. J McGrath 6. B Toner 7. P McManus 8. M Fisher 9. J Smyth(0-1) 10. G Roddy 11. D McManus 12. G Johnson(0-7fs) 13. J McManus(0-1) 14. D Toner(0-4) 15. Caolan Bailie(0-1)