James O’Connell who scores a hat-trick as Clooney Gaels defeated Cuchuliann, Armagh in the ACHL Division 3 on Wednesday night
ACHL Division 3
Clooney Gaels 7-16 Cuchulainn Armagh 1-11
Visitors Cuchuainn Armagh opened brightly and took the game to Clooney Gaels during the opening exchanges and suggested they were capable of giving the Ahoghill side a run for their money. The Armagh city side took the lead with a point from Caolan Rice in the opening minute but significantly they were unable to add to that early score as the enjoyed plenty of early possession.
Clooney Gaels soaked up the early pressure and when the home side settled into their stride there was always only going to be one winner. PJ O’Connell got them on their way with the equaliser in the third minute and they added points from Fionnbar O’Neill and Dan O’Neill before Owen Graham fired home their opening goal with 11 minutes gone.
PJ O’Connell and Dan O’Neill added further points before the elusive O’Connell got in for his sides second goal in the 13th minute and it was already looking curtains for Cuchulainn’s who were never the less giving it everything to turn the Clooney tide.
Owen Graham pointed and James O’Connell added goal number three as the pace and movement of the home attack began to open up the visitors defence before Jordan Murtagh finally raised Cuchulainn’s second white flag in the 19th minute. Dan O’Neill responded with another Ahoghill point but Murtagh again replied and when Caolan Rice followed with another the visitors looked like they were starting to have some success.
It was short lived however as Clooney Gaels came storming back once more to finish the half with a flourish. Owen Neeson pointed, James O’Connell added goal number four and points from Fionnbar O’Neill and James O’Connell put the game well out of reach of the visitors when they led 4-10 to 0-4 at the short whistle
With the wind now at their back Cuchulainn’s gave it everything in an effort to put a more respectable look on the scoreline and they certainly fared much better but it was Owen Graham who sent over the opening point for the home side.
Conleth Laverty responded with a couple of points for the visitors but a James O’Connell point and a Patrick Graham goal in the 10th minute reasserted the Clooney men’s dominance. Despite their best efforts the boys from Armagh city had no answer to the pace and movement of a now rampant Clooney Gaels.
James O’Connell in the 43d minute and PJ O’Connell with eight minutes remaining brought their goal tally to seven with PJ and Ronan Graham adding points. The visitors to their credit kept going right to the final whistle and gained some reward for their efforts with Conleth Laverty finding the net and Patrick Heaney, Jordan Murtagh, Cailin Gorman and Neil Duffy adding points to give a more respectable look to the final score.
After losing to Rasharkin on the opening day of the season Clooney Gaels have now put a run of three wins together and currently sit in fourth place but with a game in hand over the sides above them and I’d expect them to be in the promotion shake up at the end of the season.
They were solid at the back where Eamon Brady, Diarmaid Graham, Neil O’Connell and Francis Neeson gave nothing away. Fionnbar O’Neill and Donal Graham ruled at mid-field and in an attack laced with pace and creativity Dan O’Neill, James O’Connell and PJ O’Connell were outstanding.
Cuchulainn have two wins from five starts in a very competitive division 3 and while they were very much second best on this occasion they are certainly capable of picking up points in this division. Sean Muldoon, Matthew Moore, Jordan Murtagh, Conleth Laverty, Patrick Heaney and Cailin Gorman were their best performers on the night.
Referee: Paul McSparran (Cushendun)