Feis na nGleann 2018
McMullan Cup (U16 Hurling) semi-final
Ballycastle 3-18 Loughgiel 5-12
Ballycastle and Loughgiel served up a classic game on Monday evening at Pairc MacUilin in the semi-final of the McMullan Cup, and they must do it all again later this week after ending level at the end of extra time. Loughgiel appeared to have won it with a Damian Quinn goal at the end of normal time, only to see Ballycastle’s Seamus McAuley land the equalising point from a free with the last poc of the game. Ballycastle dominated extra time and seemed to be going through when they led by five early in the second period of extra time but a Rian McMullan goal from a twenty metre free, and one with the last poc of the game from Enda Og McGarry earned the Shamrocks a second bite of the cherry. In truth the game of hurling was the real winner here and nobody will have any objections to watching this one again.
Ballycastle started with a goal from their man of the match Seamus McAuley but two Dylan Devlin points closed the gap before Damian Quinn brought the Shamrocks level in the tenth minute. The Loughgiel boys hit the front a minute later when a great little move involving Conor McCormick and Ronan McCollum set up Rian McMullan to fire home a brilliant goal and they went four clear soon afterwards when the excellent McMullan added a point. Ballycastle got going again when a shot from Croistai McAuley went all the way to the Loughgiel net on 19 minutes and they were level when Seamus McAuley swung over a lovely point from out on the wing.
Rian McMullan restored the Shamrocks lead but two more points from McAuley and one from Ronan Laverty had the home side two clear going into first half injury time, only to see the lead clawed back and McMullan and Ronan McCollum fired over points to see the teams deadlocked on 2-6 to 1-9. Seamus McAuley breaks through the Loughgiel defence. Pic by John McIlwaine
An inspired period of play from Seamus McAuley at the start of the second half, which yielded a penalty goal and three point from play appeared to have put the Town in control by the end of the third quarter, but a cracking goal from substitute Christy McGarry brought Loughgiel right back into the game. Ballycastle move four clear and had a couple of good chances to increase their lead, but three late frees were fired wide of the target and great goal from Damian Quinn in the 61st minute appeared to have sealed the game for the visitors. No so however and in the final seconds Seamus McAuley stepped up to the mark fire over a late equaliser and bring the game to extra time.
A tremendous double save in the opening minute of extra time by Ballycastle goalkeeper Tiernan Smyth denied Loughgiel what looked like a certain goal and for the remaining ten minutes Ballycastle were in control as they added four points while holding Loughgiel scoreless. When they went five clear early in the second period with another beauty from Seamus McAuley the smart money would have been on Ballycastle, but there was still a twist or two in this saga yet. Four minutes in Rian McMullan hauled the Shamrocks back into the game when he drilled a 20 metre free low to the Ballycastle net to cut his team arrears to just two. McAuley increased to gap to three with a point from 60 metres and as the game went in to added time it looked like that would be enough. However in the final seconds Loughgiel were awarded a free about 35 meters from goal and Rian McMullan dropped the ball in around a crowded goalmouth where Enda Og McGarry pounced on a breaking ball to drill home the equaliser and end a pulsating contest.Loughgiel’s Enda Og McGarry after scoring the late equalising goal.
Every player who took part in this brilliant game deserves the highest credit but there are a few individuals who deserve a special mention. Seamus McAuley was the undoubted star for Ballycastle with 2 goal and 11 points but goalkeeper Tiernan Smyth and centre back Mark McClean are worthy of special praise. Enda Og McGarry was Loughgiel’s star with a great display at centre back, and also the winning goal. Full forward Rian McMullan was also brilliant for the Shamrocks with some outstanding scores. They must do it all again, and at the time of going to press Friday evening appears to be the date. If you get a chance come along and see it for if it is half as good as Monday evening’s game will be worth the effort.
By the way Cushendall await the winners in Sunday’s final after they were awarded a walk over in their semi-final when Glenariffe withdrew.
BALLYCASTLE: Tiernan Smyth, Liam McCollum, James Bakewell, Patrick McAllister, Jack McGowan, Mark McClean, Jack Colgan, Ronan Laverty, Reuben McClean, Croistai McAuley, Fergal McKieran, Seamus McAuley, Jo Jo McToal, Caolan O’Connor, Eoin Boylan.
Subs – Cormac Doherty
LOUGHGIEL: Kevin McAuley, Tiernan McCaughan, Ruairi McCloskey, Jack McDowal, Conor Dickson, Enda Og McGarry, Ruairi McCormick, Dylan Devlin, Eunan Laverty, Conal McCloskey, Conor McCormick, Damian Quinn, Conor O’Mullan, Rian McMullan, Ronan McCollum
Subs – Christy McGarry
Referee – Vincent Boyle (Dunloy)
Pics by John McIlwaine