O’Neill’s All County Hurling League – Division 1
St.Johns 2-21 Loughgiel 3-18
Michael Costello reports from Corrigan Park
This was a gripping encounter from start to finish with both sides taking some superb scores and fighting for the win deep into injury time. Prior to this game St.Johns had taken 5 league wins from 7 games including a home win over Cushendall last week and a derby win at Rossa Park on Sunday, but the Shamrocks were determined not to join the increasing list of teams who have fallen to this rejuvenated Johnnies side and matched the home team throughout ,bringing their five wins in a row to a halt with a well deserved draw. St.John’s rested Sean Wilson, Peter McCallin and Shea Shannon who had played 3 games in 3 days including the U 21 semi-finals and in came Stephen Tierney, Domhnall Moran and Gerard Cunningham.
Loughgiel , who had also players involved in the U21 Semi-finals, opened the scoring with an accurate free from James McNaughton who was one of their stand- out players throughout the game. St.Johns soon replied through Michael Bradley who converted a free and then took a fine point from play before McNaughton levelled things with another free. Loughgiel were in control of the game for the next ten minutes as they added four more points including two more frees to forge ahead . St.John’s only reply was a superb Simon McCrory long range point from play but two more McNaughton frees left the home side trailing by five points to a well drilled Shamrocks team. St. Johns steadied the ship eventually as points from Bradley, Dudley ,Peoples and Conor Johnston brought them into the game but Joey Scullion and Sean McGrath both pointed for the visitors and a McGrath goal for the Shamrocks looked ominous for the Johnnies , but undaunted, the home side raised their game impressively to take five points on the trot with Barry McFall snatching the final point of the first half to give them a one point interval lead. St.Johns county veteran Simon McCrory ,whose pace and quick thinking was a feature of the first half , suffered a hamstring injury just before the interval and was replaced by Peter McCallin.
Half time St.Johns 0-14 Loughgiel 1-11
The second half began with the Experienced Mc Fall brothers Colm and Barry being replaced by Aidan McMahon and Shea Shannon . C.J. McKenna also had to come in for Gerard Cunningham within a short time of the restart. Loughgiel took the first point of the half when St. Johns and Armagh keeper Simon Doherty turned what looked like a certain goal over the bar.
The game rose to fever pitch as a Conor Johnston goal for St.Johns was matched by the visitors within a minute. There was no let-up in the pace of the game despite the heat and a series of points were exchanged which kept the crowd on their toes and three successive Loughgiel points were clawed back by Conor Johnston with his second goal from close range. Loughgiel kept themselves in the hunt with another goal and two points and looked like snatching an away win, but in a dramatic finish a Michael Bradley point levelled the game.
Pics by Michael Costello