O’Neill’s Antrim Hurling League Division 1
Ballycran 0-15 Cushendall 3-15
John McIlwaine reports from Ballycran
Two goals in quick succession early in the second half were the scores which gave Cushendall victory over Ballycran in Wednesday evening’s Antrim Hurling League game at McKenna Park, Ballycran. In a game played in a gale force wind and rain, the home side had made good use of the elements in the first half and turned around five to the good on a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-8. Not a massive lead considering the strength of the wind, but a good cushion nonetheless, provided they didn’t conceded any goals. However the Down side’s worst fears came to pass within four minutes of the restart when a long ball by Cushendall’s Cormac McClafferty came back off the upright and dropped perfectly for Paddy McGill to drill home from close range. That brought the gap back to just two and while they were rocking from the concession of the first goal the visitors struck again when a sideline cut by Conrad McDonnell found Ed McQuillan close to goal and the young forward did brilliantly to fire the ball high into the Ballycran net.
Things got worse for the home side when two quick points from Neil McManus and one from distance from Eoghan Campbell put the Ruairis four clear. However they found their feet and two points from Scott Nicholson frees had them back in contention, only for disaster to strike once again when a long clearance out of defence by Cushendall deceived the Ballycran goalkeeper Stephen Keith and ended up in the back of the net.
That proved to be the final nail in the Ballycran coffin and from here on Cushendall were dominant as they pulled clear to win by three clear goals.
Ballycran had started so promisingly in the first half with two points inside the opening minute through full forward Christopher Eagan and midfielder James Coyle. Conor Carson got Cushendall’s first score in the fourth minute, but three of the next four came on the home side through Brett Nicholson, Scott Nicholson and Niall Breen in reply to just one from a Neil McManus free for Cushendall. However Cushendall were getting to grips with the difficult conditions and points from Paddy McGill, Neil McManus (free) and an excellent solo effort from Conor Carson had them right back in the game. The home team kept their composure however and a strong finish to the half which yielded points through Scott Nicholson, Cushendall native Cormac McAlister, Liam Savage and Conor Woods helped them to a 0-13 to 0-8 interval lead.
The strong start to the second half really turned things in Cushendall favour, especially the two goals within a minute. But Ballycran kept battling and though Cushendall ended up convincing winners the scoreline may have flattered them a little.
Stephen Keith, Aaron Dorrian, Patrick Hughes, Michael Hughes, Cormac McAlister, Connor Woods, Michael Taylor, Sean Ennis, James Coyle, Liam Savage, Brett Nicholson, Gerard Hughes, Niall Breen, Christopher Egan, Scott Nicholson.
Eoin Gillan, Eoin McManus, Arron Graffin, Sean Delargy, Francis McCurry, Paddy Burke, Ryan McCambridge, Eoghan Campbell, Emmet Laverty, Conor Carson, Neil McManus, Conrad McDonnell, Paddy McGill, Cormac McClafferty, Ed McQuillan
Subs – Liam Gillan for Eoin McManus; Alex Delargy for Conrad McDonnell; Ryan Delargy for Ed McQuillan.
Referee – Colin Murray
Pics by John McIlwaine