North Antrim U14 Championship Cup Final
Ruairi Ogs 7-8 Shamrocks 1-4
A big strong Ruairi Ogs’ side had too much in the tank for a smaller but talented Loughgiel Shamrocks in this North Antrim U14 Championship Cup final played at Slemish Park on Saturday. Having big players at this age group is one thing but having big players who can hurl is something different and Cushendall had them in abundance all over the field.
First half goals from Padraig McKillop, Conor McCollam and another from Joseph McLaughlin saw the North coast side lead by 3-5 to 0-3 at the break and even at this juncture in the game it was hard to see the Shamrocks making a comeback.
Driven forward by a strong mid-field pairing of Fiontan McQuillan and Shane McKenna the Ruairi Ogs continued to dominate second half proceedings adding four further majors to run out comprehensive winners and complete a treble of wins over the same opposition in recent weeks.
Points for Padraig McKillop in the opening minute and a quick exchange from a Connor O’Mullan free had the sides level but when McNaughton got in behind the Loughgiel defence to collect the dropping sliotar and fire past Odhran Reid the Ruairi Ogs’ had a lead they were never again to lose.
Further exchanges from Christy McGarry for the Shamrocks and McNaughton for Cushendall and another from the impressive O’Mullan suggested that Loughgiel were going to hold their own against imposing opponents but when Conor McCollam got in for a second goal for the Ruairi’s in the 14th minute they started to take complete control.
By half time Cushendall had moved 3-5 to 0-3 in front with Joseph Mclaughlin firing home the ‘Dall’s’ third goal and Fiontan McQuillan firing over a flurry of points as he continued to open up the Loughgiel defence with his strong running and excellent striking.
There was to be no respite for the Loughgiel side on the restart though they never stopped battling and produced some very skilful passages of hurling but lacked the physicality of the opposition which gave their opponents a distinct edge.
Padraig McKillop got in for his second and his side’s fourth goal with only four minutes of the new half gone and further goals from Conor McCollam, the superb Fiontan McQuillan and substitute John Birt with McQuillan and McKillop sharing four points saw the Sea-siders romp home decisive winners.
Loughgiel ‘s second half scores came from Christy McGarry who hammered a close range free through a crowded goalmouth and a pointed free from Conor O’Mullan but in truth they never looked like getting back into the game at any time despite fighting right to the end.
For an excellent all round Cushendall side James McAlister, Mark Emerson, Fiontan McQuillan, Conor McCollam and Padraig McKillop formed a strong and effective spine while Loughgiel had good performers in Ruairi McCormick, Cathair Connolly, Darragh Patterson, Christy McGarry and Conor O’Mullan.
Cushendall: Daniel McAlister: Ciaran Sharpe, James McAlister, Michael Quinn: Declan Magill, Mark Emerson, Joshua Schnell: Fiontan McQuillan, Shane McKenna: Joseph McLaughlin, Conor McCollam, Killian McNaughton: Matthew McCann, Padraig McKillop, Joseph McNaughton. Subs Used: Shaun McKay, Frankie McCormick, John Birt, Oisin McMullan Austin Birt.
Loughgiel: Odhran Reid: Jack McKendry, Ruairi McCormick, Cathair Connolly: Conin Sheridan, Finn Henry, Darragh Patterson: Christy McGarry, Pearce Patterson: Conal McCloskey, Connor Dickson, Justin McMahan: Aodhan Mulholland, Connor O’Mullan, Jack McCloskey. Subs Used: Daniel Marron, Diarmaid Casey, Ben McGarry, Ronan Mclaughlin.
Referee: Conor McNeill (Glenarm)