All County Hurling League Division 1
Loughgiel 4-19 Cloughmills 0-8
St. Brigid’s Cloughmills must have felt that they were still in with a chance of breaking their Division 1 duck when they trailed neighbours Loughgiel Shamrocks by only five points at the halfway point after battling well against their illustrious neighbours during the opening 30 minutes at Healy Park on Wednesday evening.
The Shamrocks took an early lead through a Sean McGrath goal and missed a bagful of chances during the opening thirty minutes due to some poor shooting coupled with determined defending from the visitors from down the road.
St. Brigid’s enjoyed far fewer opportunities but when they came their way Micky Devlin proved up to the mark as he sent over a number of excellent frees but James McNaughton, Barney McAuley, ‘Skinner’ Laverty and Joey Scullion did enough to ensure that the home side still turned around with a five point advantage.
After the break the Shamrocks seemed to find another gear, or more correctly several gears, as they began to hit the target with regularity with Shay Casey pointing in the second minute before Chris McKiernan brought off a good save to deny Aodhan McFadden.
The visitors did reply with another pointed free from Micky Devlin but that was as good as it was to get as Ryan McKee, Casey, Shan McGrath, and Barney McAuley replied with unanswered points and when McGrath hammered home his second goal at the end of the third quarter it was as good as over.
The ‘Biddies’ cause wasn’t helped by injuries to Sean McKendry, Daniel McLaughlin and Damian Gillan which forced their retirement but the home side refused to take their foot of the accelerator, showing the opposition no mercy.
McGrath added two more points before Shay Casey got in for their third goal as their opponents visibly tired but to their credit they never gave up and were rewarded for their efforts with a great point from their best forward Michael Devlin.
It was to prove to be their last score however as Loughgiel continued to turn the screw and Shay Casey, Joey Scullion and James McNaughton added points before Aodhan McFadden hit the net late in the game to leave his side comprehensive winners.
In the end a good win for a Loughgiel side who were superior in every department of the field. They were slow to get into their stride and much of this was down to the sustained resistance Cloughmills showed in the opening half, fiercely contesting every 50/50 ball as if their lives depended on it.
However once Loughgiel got going in the second half there was never any doubt in the outcome with Sean McGrath, James McNaughton, Barney McAuley, Joey Scullion and Shay Casey in unstoppable form while their defence, well marshalled by Ronan Gillan, Cathal McMullan and Declan Gillan were giving nothing away.
St. Brigid’s have found the step up to Division 1 difficult this year and their cause certainly has not been helped by the injuries they have picked up. They can’t be faulted for effort however and tonight they continued to battle to the final whistle with Chris McKiernan, Michael Morrison, Aaron Smiley, Michael Devlin, Geoffery Og Laverty and James Doherty their best performers on the night.