Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Cushendall 6-26 Cloughmills 1-10
Sunday August 27
By Brendan McTaggart
It was a case of ‘job done’ for the Ruairi’s as they progressed to the last four of the 2017 senior hurling championship with consummate ease on Sunday afternoon. It was a near flawless display from the Cushendall men as they put Cloughmills to the sword from the first whistle. Six goals on the day for the Ruairi’s with five of the majors coming from the hurl of Cormac McClafferty. It was an exceptional performance from the Ruairi’s full forward, finishing the match with a personal tally of 5-4 as Cushendall recorded a 31 point victory.
The match was barely a minute old when Cushendall scored their first major, McClafferty applying the finish after Cloughmills opened the scoring through a Michael Devlin point after just 20 seconds. A Ruairi Laverty point for the Biddies kept them in touch but Cushendall were only finding their feet in the match. Cushendall dominated in midfield while in defence Paddy Burke and Arron Graffin were keeping the Cloughmills attack in check.
Paddy McGill was imperious throughout the first half and in the opening quarter in particular. His movement and speed on the ball was too much for the Cloughmills defence to handle as the Ruairi’s began to open up the Biddies defence at will.
Cushendall held an eight point lead when they scored their second goal of this quarter-final. Again, McClafferty applied the finish but he owed much to the work rate of Conor Carson who chased a lost cause before drawing in two defenders to leave McClafferty in space.
The second Cushendall major knocked the wind out of the sails of the Biddies and while they scored the next score, a point from Aaron Smiley, Cushendall found the back of Chris McKiernan’s net in the 21st minuute. With six men on the line for a 21 yard free, Neil McManus still found the back of the Cloughmillls net with his drive for his first score of the match.
Cloughmills finished the half well with Devlin (two frees) and Conor Laverty splitting the posts but Cushendall refused to let up and opened a 14 point half time advantage with the score board reading 3-11 to 0-6 in the favour of the Ruairi’s.
No respite from Ruairi’s pressure..
Cushendall maintained their momentum after the restart, not easing off the throttle at all and punished any errors the Biddies may have made. McClafferty completed his hat-trick after just two second half minutes when he beat McKiernan at his near post, wrong footing the Cloughmills ‘keeper.
Devlin remained accurate from placed ball McGill and Carson were dominant in attack while defensively the Ruairi’s rarely looked troubled. The Biddies did manage to breach Eoin Gillan’s line thanks to a 21 yard free from Devlin but it did little to disrupt the wave of Cushendall pressure in the second half.
The Ruairi’s lead stood at 21 points when they scored their fifth major, McClafferty once again with Emmett Laverty providing a superb assist. Cushendall began to empty their sub bench throughout the second half to give other members of their squad a taste of championship action, Joe McCurry, Ryan Delargy, Scott Walsh and Ed McQuillan all adding their names to the score sheet before the hour was out.
McClafferty’s fifth goal came with two minutes left of the match and was arguably his best. The Cushendall man caught a side-line ball from Laverty before instinctively finding the back of the net, denying the Biddies defence any chance of getting a tackle with his astuteness.
In the end, it was a route for the Ruairi’s and another impressive outing for the Cushendall men. They were favourites to progress but it was the manner of how they swept aside the challenge of Cloughmills that was impressive. The game was over as a contest early in the second half but the Ruairi’s refused to take their foot off the gas. They went for the jugular for the full hour and sent a warning shot throughout the county, they are primed for another tilt for Big Ears.
Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Ryan McCambridge; Arron Graffin; Sean Delargy; Stephen Walsh; Paddy Burke; David Kearney; Eoghan Campbell; Fergus McCambridge; Conor Carson; Neil McManus; Aidan McNaughton; Cormac McCafferty; Emmet Laverty; Paddy McGill
Scorers: Cormac McClafferty 5-4; Neil McManus 1-6 (1-2 frees); Paddy McGill 0-4; Conor Carson 0-3; Aidan McNaughton 0-2; Eoghan Campbell 0-1; Fergus McCambridge 0-1; Emmet Laverty 0-1; Joe McCurry 0-1; Scott Walsh 0-1; Ed McQuillan 0-1; Ryan Delargy 0-1
Subs: Ryan Delargy for P McGill (40 mins); Joe McCurry for S Delargy (42 mins); Scott Walsh for E Campbell (47 mins); Mark Donaghy for D Kearney (51 mins); Ed McQuillan for N McManus (51 mins)
Cloughmills: Chrissy McKiernan; Steven Martin; John McGuckian; Sean McKendry; Darren Morrison; Michael Morrison; Joe Smyth; Michael Devlin; James Doherty; Gary McCollum; Aaron Smiley; Conor Laverty; Ruairi Laverty; Damien Gillan; Geoffrey Og Laverty
Scorers: Mickey Devlin 1-6 (1-4 frees, 0-1 ’65); Conor Laverty 0-2; Ruairi Laverty 0-2
Subs: Colum McLaughlin for D Gillan (45 mins)
Referee: Owen Elliott (Ballymena)