By Brendan McTaggart
ACHL Division Two
Tir Na nOg Randalstown 0-12 Carey Faughs 1-14
It was first meeting since their epic encounter in the 2016 Intermediate Championship Quarter Final but this time it was the men from Carey who were celebrating at the final whistle. Five points separated the sides at the end of the hour but the Faughs had to withstand a second half resurgence from Tir na nOg who laid siege on the Carey goals in the closing stages. Despite being down two men for the remaining minutes, Tir na nOg tested the resilience of the Carey defence to its entirety but the Faugh held out to record a deserving five point victory.
The undoubted star of the game was midfielder James ‘Rocket’ Black who put in the complete performance for his side. It was a master class from Rocket with the Faughs man hitting eight points in the first half as Carey made the most of the elements in the opening 30 minutes and as Tir na nOg laid siege on the Carey goals in the final quarter, ‘Rocket’ was the major thorn in the Og’s side sweeping all before him in as close to the complete midfield performance as you are likely to see.
The home side come into the match on the back of their first victory of the season, away at Clooney Gaels but on Wednesday evening they weren’t able to cope with the superior stick work of Carey. The Faughs were playing with a strong wind at their backs in the opening half and took full advantage with Fiachra McVeigh and Black (two) opening the scoring before Tir na nOg opened their account in the fifth minute through a Sean Duffin free.
As both sides wrestled for supremacy, it was the Faughs ability to strike points from distance and the accuracy of Black from placed ball that hurt the home side. Although Carey were dominant in the opening exchanges, they never really pulled away from the home side. The wide count was starting to mount and Tir na nOg had the perfect opportunity to get back into the game. Just four points separated the sides with ten minutes of the first half remaining when Tir na nOg were awarded a penalty. Midfielder Sean Duffin stepped up and drilled the ball to the bottom left hand corner but Carey ‘keeper Steven McGinn pulled off a save right out of the top drawer, diving at full length to push the sliotar away to safety.
The visitors finished the half superbly though, rattling over four unanswered points to take an eight point half time lead.
The Og’s started the second half brightly and showed much more fight and bite in their tackles. They opened the scoring through a Kevin Sheerin free to give them hope of turning the tables on the visitors but Carey knocked the wind out of their sails with a moment of brilliance after six second half minutes. John McBride made a strong run through the middle of the pitch before he was hooked. The sliotar fell for Fiachra McVeigh and the Carey man pulled first time and sent the ball thundering to the top corner. A wonder strike and a piece of brilliance by the Carey half forward and a goal that went some way in sealing his sides victory.
The home side rallied and hit five unanswered points, thanks largely to the free taking of Sean Duffin but their momentum was thwarted again but this time it was their own making. Already on a yellow card for indiscipline, centre half forward Pearse Sheerin was given a second for a heavy challenge on Sean Duffin. Referee Fionntan McCotter had no option but to end Sheerin’s game and any hopes of a Tir na nOg comeback were hanging by a thread.
The match was delayed for almost ten minutes when Sean McBride had to be stretchered off the Whitehill pitch with a leg injury and despite being a man down, Tir na nOg laid siege on the Carey goals but James McCouig and Black were superb in the closing stages while ‘keeper McGinn was assured under any high ball that came his way.
Carey saw out the remaining time and were worthy five point victors at the full time whistle.
Tir na nOg
Rudi Graham; Daniel Martin; Ryan O’Neill; Brendan Kerr; Conor Fitzgerald; Colm Duffin; Caoimhin Duffin; Emmett Martin; Sean Duffin (0-4, 3 frees); Ciaran McKeown (0-2); Pearse Sheerin (0-1); Ciaran Logan; Kevin McCann (0-2); Kevin Sheerin (0-3, 3 frees); Shane Donnelly
SUBS: Declan Mallon for Shane Donnelly (inj)
Steven McGinn; Eoin Hill; Sean McBride; Daniel Hill; Nat Hunter; James McCouaig; Peadar McVeigh; James Black (0-8, 5 frees); Patrick Butler; Fiachra McVeigh (1-2); Patrick McBride; John McBride (0-1); Shea Hunter (0-1); Cathal McAuley (0-2); Christopher Butler
SUBS: Sean McLoughlin for P McBride (43 mins); Gerard McBride for S McBride (56 mins)