Ruairí Óg 9.22 v 1.09 Ballycastle
By Alex Emerson
This was a game that was over almost as soon as it began with Ruairí Óg seniors racking up a big score against a Ballycastle team that contained a lot of very young, inexperienced players at this level with only a sprinkling of seasoned campaigners that included: Ryan Mc Garry, Mattie Donnelly, KB Mc Shane and Ciaran Clarke. Having said that, Ballycastle raced into the lead when Ciaran Clark scored number one of his six points from frees in the first minute of play. Things were pretty even during the opening exchanges but when Donal Mc Naughton scored a goal in the fifth minute, the Ballycastle challenge in effect seemed to fizzle out. During the remainder of the first half, Ruairi Óg added another four goals: the pick of them being a bullet from Donal Mc Naughton firing into Ryan Mc Garry’s bottom right hand corner and a first time volley from Neil Mc Manus. Five other players scored for the home team while besides Ciaran Clarke, the only other player to raise a flag for the men in black and amber was Caolan Mc Caughan with a well-executed point. As the first half drew to a close Cushendall were reduced to fourteen men but it did little to ease the visitors burden as they trailed at the break by 5-11 to 0-08.
Playing against fourteen men, Ballycastle seemed to have found some purpose in their play as the second half got under way with Conor Butler firing over an excellent point. Then in the 33rd minute, Ciaran Clarke caught a wonderful overhead ball, turned to his right and despatched the sliotar expertly to the left of Conor Mc Alister and into the net. For a brief moment it looked like Ballycastle might make a fight of it but unfortunately, this would prove to be their last score of the game. With Neil Mc Manus in imperious form and ably assisted by his other forwards, Cushendall replied with a second half tally of 4.11 to leave a big margin between the teams as the referee sounded the final whistle.
In truth, neither team will have gained a great deal from this game because it lacked any intensity or competitive edge from start to finish. Ruairí Og will be pleased with the performance of their forwards in particular but will also know that there is still much work to be done. Meanwhile, Ballycastle will know they need to make major improvements or else come the end of the season, they could be in danger of relegation.
Ruairí Óg: Conor Mc Alister, Joe Mc Curry, Paddy Burke, Aidan Mc Naughton, Eoghan Campbell (0.01), Mark Donaghy, Arron Graffin, David Kearney (0.01), Donal Mc Naughton (2.0), Ryan Mc Cambridge(0.05), Sean Mc Afee(2.02), Ryan Delargy(0.03), Cormac Mc Clafferty(1.0), Neil Mc Manus(4.08)
Sub: Christy Mc Naughton(0.02)
Ballycastle: Ryan Mc Garry, Andy Lofthouse, Mattie Donnelly, Eoin Kearney, Sean Mc Auley, Ryan Mc Afee, Tom Mc Ilroy, Ryan Mc Cooke, Keelan Mc Caughan (0.01), Conor Butler(0.01), KB Mc Shane, Kieran Laverty, Eamon Elliot, Ciaran Butler, Ciaran Clarke(1.07)