Antrim Junior B Hurling Final Preview
All Saints Ballymena find themselves in something of a unique position tomorrow (Sunday) when they face Michael Davitt’s in the Junior B Hurling final at St. Enda’s, 3-00pm. The Slemish Park side have played their hurling in North Antrim this year and have not participated in the ACH League for a number of years because of shortage of numbers.
In the last two years a number of young players have taken up the hurl however and for the second year in succession the Ballymena side have entered the Junior B Hurling Championship but they find themselves in Sunday’s final without striking a sliotar in earnest this year.
Hardly ideal preparation but it’s something that is not of their own making. The Ballymena side were drawn against O’Donnell’s in the semi-final but the MacRory Park side withdrew from the competition giving All Saints a bye into the final.
CIiaran Cassley, Darren McGinty, Francis Casey, Anthony Mitchell, Padhraig Magill, Gary Miskella, Brendan McDonnell, Ciaran McGarry, Ciaran Neeson, Sean O’Rawe, Luke O’Rawe, Jack Magill, Terence Diamond, Sean O’Kane, Martin McNally, Chris McAfee, Anthony McGuigan, Eoghan McGuigan, Daire Hasson, Tony Connolly, Ronan Ward, Kevin Treanor, Chris Laverty, Danny Murray are the men carrying All Saints hopes into tomorrow’s final under the guidance of Hector Cassley , Joe Casey and Paddy Neeson. They look to be facing an uphill battle but one they will surely relish.
On the other side of the draw St. Agnes defeated Loch Mor Dal gCais in a preliminary round before being drawn against Davitt’s in the semi-final. Davitt’s were pushed all the way by the ‘Aggies’ but edged home in the end with Christopher Gallagher (2), Rory McEvoy (2) and Alan Rainey all adding points during the opening quarter but St Agnes’ kept in touch through the free taking skills of Ronan Carroll who fired over three points from placed balls, one from a free and two from ’65s.
When Davitt’s pulled five clear following two pointed frees by Stephen McGivern they appeared to be taking control of the game, but a goal from Aggies centre-forward Conor McLean and two points from play by corner-forward Kevin Grieve put them 1-6 to 0-8 ahead at the break.
A Stephen McGivern point early in the second half brought Davitt’s back on terms and though Hugh Grieve Jnr and McGivern exchanged points from frees soon afterwards Davitt’s regained the upper hand as they hit their stride. Points from a McGivern free and one from Christopher Gallagher moved Davitt’s ahead and when Thomas Og Toland fired a ball to the Aggies net his side took a firm grip on the game. Another McGivern pointed free stretched the lead to five but when Christopher McKee found the net for St Agnes’ the gap was down to just two.
There were a few anxious moments for the Davitt’s fans as the Aggies came looking for the goal that would win them the game but though St Agnes came close on a couple of occasions Davitt’s held out to book a final place. They will surely benefit from having a game under their belts and will go into this final as odds on favourites.
DAVITT’S SEMI-FINAL LINE-OUT: S Smyth; G Cosgrove, A Rowntree, L McHugh; E Gallagher; T Maguire, G Nelson; C Mooney, M Tully; C McKee, S McGivern 0-7 (0-6fs), A Rainey 0-1; C Gallagher 0-3 (0-1f), T Toland 1-0, R McEvoy 0-2.
Subs: M Rowntree for E Gallagher (HT), J Close for McKee (52mins)/