Pic by Mickey Morgan
Lámh Dhearg 1-04-5-12 Cushendun
By Kevin Herron at Hannahstown
Cushendun got the better of their ‘boggy’ side in Lámh Dhearg with a 1-04-5-12 win at Hannahstown on Wednesday evening.
Lámh Dhearg surged back in to pip the Emmets to the Antrim Junior hurling title in 2016 at Armoy and claimed the two league points thanks to a Joe Doone goal at Cushendun in July – though revenge was sweet for Cushendun who romped home in a one-sided second-half at Hannahstown.
Conleth McNeill and Ryan Diamond shot off target in the opening minutes and it was Cushendun midfielder Thomas Scally who kept his composure to fire over the black spot for the opening score of the encounter.
With five minutes on the clock Lámh Dhearg hit the opening goal of the game – midfielder Sean Byrne forced a turnover and set his side on the offensive and Michael McGarry’s offload picked out corner-forward Ben Rice who rifled past Niall Campbell to give the Lámhs a 1-00-0-01 lead.
Conor McHugh hit back with an excellently converted 65’ and a further point followed from Conleth McNeill – who atoned for his earlier miss to level the scores.
Cushendun restored their lead after ten minutes and it was one they wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the contest.
Thomas Scally popped the ball over the bar for his second point of the evening to give Cushendun a 1-00-0-04 lead and they increased their advantage two minutes later – as Lámh Dhearg goalkeeper Paddy Joe Herron upended Piece Bannon on route to goal, despite cries for a red-card referee Joe Compston opted to book Herron and the resulting free was converted by McNeill.
Midway through the first-half Lámh Dhearg were dealt a massive blow as referee Compston dismissed influential wing-half forward Paddy Mervyn for an alleged strike out with the hurl.
Having already accumulated 0-04 without reply and with a numerical advantage – Cushendun kicked on as David Kilgore claimed his first point of the evening despite shooting from a difficult angle.
Then on eighteen minutes Cushendun found the first of their five goals through Conleth McNeill who rifled past Paddy Joe Herron to give Cushendun a 1-00-1-06 lead.
McNeill converted his second free of the evening with David Kilgore adding to his tally as Cushendun had hit 1-07 without reply.
Although Lámh Dhearg did hit back before the close of play in the first-half – a rare free for the hosts saw Aidan McGuigan successfully fire the ball over the bar from range and after Niall Campbell’s puck out was plucked from the air by McGuigan; the midfielder ensured Campbell would have to setup for another puck out as his shot sailed between the posts to narrow the deficit to six at the break, 1-02-1-08.
Lámh Dhearg had a mountain to climb in the second half hour and that mountain got steeper four minutes after the restart as substitute Eoin McQuillan flicked the ball to the roof of the net to give his side a 1-02-2-08 lead.
Cushendun used the space well with their numerical advantage and corner-back Sean Hamilton was next on the scoresheet as he burst forward and popped the ball over the bar from around 50-metres out.
Conleth McNeill brought his evenings tally to 1-04 with the next score of the game and credit must go the hard working Lámh Dhearg backline who did their best to restrict further damage – the experienced Cathal Kelly was always looking to contribute to attacks but Mark Lynch in particular at full-back was instrumental in guarding the house.
Although the Lámhs spirit would be broken with two quick-fire goals before the midway point from David Kilgore and a second of the evening for the lively Conleth McNeill as the Emmets were 1-02-4-10 ahead and strolling to two-league points.
With ten minutes remaining Cushendun capped a five-star display with their fifth of the evening courtesy of Eugene Duffin.
Lámh Dheargs evening couldn’t possibly get any worse but as fate would have it, it did – goalscorer Ben Rice was shown his second yellow-card and the Hannahstown men were reduced to thirteen players.
It would have been easy to have mistaken the second thirty minutes as a training exercise for Cushendun who added the final two scores through McNeill and scorer of the second goal – Eoin McQuillan.
In the immediate aftermath of Ben Rice’s dismissal Lámhs manager Joe Doone introduced the experienced Raymond Herron to try and prevent any further damage in front of goal.
Herron combined with youngster John Boyd who burst towards goal but his shot lacked accuracy and drifted off target.
Lámh Dhearg did add to their solitary 1-02 in the remaining minutes as John Boyd converted a free to claim his first point in all county senior hurling – whilst last season’s player of the year Sean Paul Gibson his saw free from range take a bounce of the surface and land over the bar rather than under it.
But at the end of a rather one sided affair it was Cushendun who comfortably claimed the two league points on offer to leave Lámh Dhearg rooted to the bottom of the Division Three standings.
Pics by Mickey Morgan