McNaughton injury a bad blow for Ruairis as they hold off stern Ballycran challenge

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Cushendall’s Christy McNaughton who picked up a bad knee injury in his team’s league win over Ballycran

ACHL DIV 1
Ballycran 1-23 Cushendall 4-17
Cushendall moved level on points at the top of the Division 1 League table on Sunday at a sun kissed McKenna Park in Ballycran as these second and fourth placed teams served up a high scoring and ultra -competitive league encounter. However the main thing the game will be remembered for is a bad injury to Ruairi Og corner forward Christy McNaughton who twisted his knee while trying to avoid a tackle. The highly talented McNaughton, who had played for Antrim Under 21s last Wednesday evening, went down in obvious distress early in the second half and the game was held up for almost forty minutes until an ambulance arrived. A bad blow not only for McNaughton, who is not long back from a bad ankle injury, but also for the club as this current injury will almost certainly rule him out for the rest of the season. Referee Aidan Kelly had the good sense to restart the game, after consulting with both teams and though it took a while for teams to get going the tempo gradually picked up and in the end Cushendall held off a stern challenge from the men from the Ards to keep their league title hopes on track

As for the game itself Ballycran’s Philip McSkimmon got the first goal of the game and Scott Nicholson was the tormentor in chief of the Ruairi Og rearguard in the 1st half hitting six points, four of them from frees. Liam Savage with 2 points and Sean Ennis and Conor Woods with a point a piece kept the scoreboard ticking over for the ‘Cran but Ruairi Og’s Sean McAfee, who was himself making a return after injury, was unplayable at times as he scored two wonderful goals and laid one on for Christy McNaughton.
Neil McManus with five points, the in-form Paddy McGill with three, Christy McNaughton, Ryan Delargy, Donal McNaughton and Aidan McNaughton all added points from play to help the Ruairis to a 3-12 to 1-10 half time lead.

The second half started at a frenetic pace and Scott Nicholson had pulled two points back for the home side before disaster struck for McNaughton.
It transpired that he had dislocated his knee cap, a similar injury to the one suffered by team mate Arron Graffin a couple of years ago. While the game was held up for paramedics and Ruairi Og First Aider Claire Burke worked on McNaughton to keep him comfortable until the ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.

Referee Aidan Kelly, who it has to be said handled the game well, restarted the match and though it took a few minutes for both teams to warm up again but the tempo gradually rose and it was back at full throttle with some mighty scores, the pick of which was from corner back Ryan McCambridge, who started the move from Cushendall’s own full back line and finished in Ballycran’s half forward line.
The men from McKenna Park were in full flight as the clawed their way back into contention with a series of excellent points from
Scott Nicholson 0-4 (1frees), Liam Savage 0-3, Conor woods 0-2, Sean Ennis 0-1 and Neal Torney 0-1 but a goal from Ryan Delargy, three points from Neil McManus and one from Conor Carson managed to keep the home side at bay and earned their team a hard fought victory.
Overall a good competitive game, with some mighty hurling on display. Both teams were missing a handful of regulars which bodes well with Championship season just around the corner, but McNaughton’s injury was the thing it will be remembered for.

Scorers:

Ballycran:
Scott Nicholson 0.12 (6 frees)
Philip McSkimmons 1.0
Liam Savage 0.5
Conor Woods 0.3
Sean Ennis 0.2
Neal Torney 0.1

Ruairi Og:
Neil McManus 0.8 (4 frees)
Sean McAfee 2.0
Ryan Delargy 1.1
Christy McNaughton 1.1
Paddy McGill 0.3
Donal McNaughton 0.1
Aidan McNaughton 0.1
Ryan McCambridge 0.1
Conor Carson 0.1

Teams:

Ballycran

1. Stephen Keith 2. Michael Hughes 3. Michael Ennis 4. Conor Gilmore 5.Paddy Hughes 6. Brett Nicholson 7. Michael Taylor 8. Liam savage 9. Sean Ennis
10. Scott Nicholson 11. Paul mcskimmons
12. Conor woods 13. Aidan Clarke 14. Neall torney 15. Philip McSkimmons.

Subs:
Niall Breen for Philip McSkimmons
Colum McManus for Aidan Clarke

Cushendall

1. Eoin Gillan 2. Ryan McCambridge 3. Martin Burke 4. Stephen Walsh 5. Fergus McCambridge 6. Paddy Burke 7. Mark Donaghy 8. David Kearney 9. Aidan McNaughton 10. Donal McNaughton 11. Neil McManus 12. Paddy McGill 13. Ryan Delargy 14. Sean McAfee 15. Christy McNaughton

Subs:
Emmet Laverty for Christy McNaughton
Eunan McKillop for Mark Donaghy
Conor Carson for Donal McNaughton

Referee:

Aidan Kelly (Naomh Eoin)

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