by Colum Thompson
All County Hurling League Division 1
Ruairi Og 0-18 St. Brigid’s 0-7.
Newly promoted Cloughmills visited Pairc Mhuire in Cushendall for the very first time in the Antrim Senior Hurling League Division 1. However there was to be no fairy tale victory for the visitors as Ruairi Og took control right from the start and cruised to an eleven point victory without ever really having to get out of third gear. Cloughmills tried hard, huffed and puffed at times but never really threatened Cushendall.
Christy McNaughton, making a welcome return after a lengthy lay off with injury got the ball rolling for the home side with a point from his right corner forward berth. Cormac McClafferty doubled the Dall advantage when he beat John McGuckian for pace and finished well for his side’s second point of the game. Michael Devlin got Cloughmills off the mark when he dissected the uprights from distance but the visitors would not register another score until first half injury time. In the mean time Cushendall took a firm grip of the game and reeled off eight in a row, five pointed frees from corner forward Emmett Laverty along with points from play from Aidan McNaughton, Mark Donaghy and David Kearney put the Dall in firm control. As the half drew to a close Michael Devlin brilliantly converted a sideline from 40 meters to leave the half time score Ruairi Og 0-10 St. Brigid’s 0-2.
Cloughmills had a mountain to climb but they started the second half as if they were intent on getting back into the game. Sharp shooter Devlin gave their small band of supporters renewed hope when he hit three points without reply. Two from frees and one from play and suddenly there was only five points between the teams and it was game on. Any notions of an upset victory for “The Biddies” was quickly put to bed as Cushendall came roaring back. Ryan McCambridge got his name on the score sheet with a point following good approach play from David Kearney. Emmett Laverty showed that anything Devlin could do at one end he could do at the other and he converted a couple of tricky frees to restore Cushendall’s eight point advantage. James Doherty and then Devlin again got points for Cloughmills but this was to be as good as it got for the visitors and they failed to score in the final fourteen minutes of the game. In contrast Cushendall again hit a purple patch. Laverty converted his eighth free of the day, Ryan McCambridge added to his personal tally with a couple of well worked points. Christy McNaughton finished things off with two points from placed balls for a routine victory for Cushendall.
How they played
How they played: Cloughmills are still finding their feet at this level and they battled gamely without ever looking like causing an upset. They had a star in Michael Devlin and he was well supported by Aaron Smiley. Cushendall, despite missing a number of regular starters were always able to keep themselves out of reach. At the back veteran Sean Delargy was excellent as was Eunan McKillop at centre half. Ryan McCambridge, Emmett Laverty and Christy McNaughton did the damage up front but again Cushendall’s star turn was the superb David Kearney. He got through an absolute mountain of work at midfield, scored a point himself and provided an effective link between defence and attack for his side.
Ruairi Og: E Gillan, S Delargy, M Burke, S Walsh, M Donaghy(0-1), E McKillop, C McAllister, D Kearney(0-1), S McAfee, A McNaughton(0-1), R McCambridge(0- 3), D McNaughton, E Laverty(0-8), C McClafferty(0-1), C McNaughton(0-3)
Subs used: C McDonnell, J McCurry, P Burke, E Campbell.
St. Brigid’s: C McKiernan, G Og Laverty, J McGuckian, S McKendry, M Morrison, A Smiley, S McKendry, C Laverty, M Dobbin, M Devlin(0-6), J Doherty(0-1), J Smyth, M Reid, D Gillan, S Og McErlain.
Referee – Michael Hardy (Rasharkin)