Gort na Mona Edge Out St. Paul’s in Excellent Semi-Final


Antrim Junior Hurling Championship semi-final

Gort na Móna 0-21

St Paul’s 2-14

The 3G surface at Woodlands provided the venue for this hard fought and times tempestuous Antrim Junior Hurling Championship semi-final where Gort na Mona held off the spirited challenge of St. Paul’s to advance to this year’s final.

The sliotar fairly flew on the fast plastic surface where a good support from both clubs gathered to cheer on their sides and they weren’t to be disappointed as Gort na Mona, led by the impressive Dessie McClean threatened to take control right from the throw in.

McClean made a couple of spectacular catches under pressure and came in for some heavy challenges as the Turf Lodge side threatened early on as he set up Nathan Gibson for their opening score in the second minute.

Ruaidhri O Muiri levelled for the Shaw’s Road side with the sides level on four occasions in the opening ten minutes with Dessie McClean, Darren Boyd and Thomas McCafferty on target for the Turf Lodge side and James Farrell, Patrick Doyle and the impressive Niall Peoples replying for St. Paul’s

McClean continued to look dangerous and his marker Kevin Gamble became the first player to be shown a yellow card for a dangerous pull on the Gort’s number 14 and at this stage St. Paul’s pulled Stephen Rooney back to man the square in an effort to contain the Gort na Mona danger man.

It seemed to be having little effect as the former county man struck the next three points to edge his side 0-7 to 0-4 ahead at the end of the opening quarter but St. Paul’s came back with points from Naoise O Caireallan to close the gap to the minimum.

Back came Gort na Mona with Sean Doyle increasing their lead to two but Niall Peoples, who was proving to be the Shaw’s Road side’s most dangerous forward responded with a goal after a mix-up in the Gort’s defence to put his side ahead for the first time with five minutes remaining to the break. Gort Na Mona responded with Thomas McCaffrey levelling matters once more before Darren Boyd and McClean raised white to put them back into the lead.

A long free from St. Paul’s Frankie Sewell left just one in it at the break with Gort na Móna leading 0-11 to 1-7 after a very entertaining half.

The Turf Lodge side opened the second half strongly with Sean Doyle increasing their lead but St. Paul’s kept battling away as play swung from end to end and a point from play by Niall Peoples and another from a free by Colm McLarnon tied the contest before Peoples edged them ahead for the second time.

It was all-square for the seventh time with Boyd raising another white flag as the game entered the final quarter before Gort na Móna regained control once again with Thomas McCaffrey scoring an excellent, over-the-shoulder point and Declan Hughes and Boyd added scores to send them into a 0-16 to 1-10 lead.

Patrick Doyle pulled one back at the other end, but a pair of fine Sean Doyle scores gave the Turf Lodge outfit a bit of breathing space as they led by four approaching the closing stages.

St Paul’s responded well with Ruaidhri O Muiri racing through but his goal bound shot sailed just over the bar and a couple of converted frees from Niall Peoples left just one in it as the clock ticked down.

As St. Paul’s pushed hard for an equaliser Gort na Móna found one last response with Doyle hitting his fifth of the evening before goalkeeper, Connor McCann stepped up to send two long range frees between the sticks and edge his side into what looked a safe four point advantage.

St Paul’s pushed hard as the game went into injury time with Peoples having a close range goal attempt diverted for a ‘65’ and as they pressed again referee Darren McKeown awarded them a close range free. This time Niall Peoples made no mistake as he drilled his shot to the Gort ha Mona net.

It was too little too late as the full-time whistle sounded to bring a pulsating contest to an end and St. Paul’s deserve massive credit for their never say die attitude but in the end Gort na Mona deserved the verdict and a place in the final against either Shane O’Neill’s, Glenarm or Con Magee’s Glenravel who meet in the other semi-final on Sunday.


GORT NA MÓNA: C McCann (0-2 frees); C Connolly, G McKenna, C Devlin; B Cousins, M Rea, G Doyle; D Hughes (0-1), S Doyle (0-5); D McVeigh, T McGoran, D Boyle (0-4); T McCaffrey (0-3), D McClean (0-5, 4 frees), N Gibson (0-1). Subs: P Fryers for N Gibson (44), K Valliday for C Connolly (60+3).


ST PAUL’S: J Gillen; C O’Carroll, K Gamble, D Gamble; F Gamble, S Bradley, F Sewell (0-1 free); R O Muiri (0-2), N Ó Cairealláin (0-1); C McLarnon (0-1), S O’Carroll, J Farrell (0-1); P Doyle (0-2), S Rooney, N Peoples (2-6, 1-5 frees). Subs: C Murray for K Gamble (45), C McVeigh for S O’Carroll (60+2).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St. Gall’s)

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