O’Neill’s All County Hurling League – Division 1
Ruairi Og 1-20 St John’s 2-10
A late scoring burst which yielded eight unanswered points gave Cushendall victory over a somewhat understrength St. Johns in Wednesday evening’s All Couny Hurling League Division 1 game at Pairc Mhuire. The Johnnies travelled to the Glens with high hopes of victory having claimed a win over Cushendall in Corrigan Park two weeks ago and they signalled their intent with the first point of the game from Conor Johnson. Sean McAfee, back in the Dall starting 15 after a lengthy injury lay off, got the home side off the mark with a point from his full forward berth. This score was quickly followed by a Neil McManus point as Cushendall took the lead. Donal Nugent replied for St. Johns but his score was cancelled out by the industrious Fergus McCambridge. Johnson and McCambridge traded scores as neither team could wrestle control in the early going. Cushendall pushed their lead out to three points with two frees from McManus but St. Johns were competing for every ball and points from Johnson and McNulty again put the minimum between the teams. Dall midfielder Paddy McGill won possession around 60 yards from goal and fired over a point into the stiff breeze but again Johnson answered back with a free. Cormac McClafferty exchanged fire with Johnson before lady luck shone on the Dall. Neil McManus, who had two 21 yard frees saved on the Johnnies goal line eventually raised a green flag but rather fortuitously for his team it came direct from a 65 which skidded into the bottom corner of St. Johns net to leave 4 between the sides. St. Johns rather than being stung by this sucker punch replied in fine style with two points in a row both from sharpshooter Conor Johnson but it was McManus who got the final point of the half from a free to leave the score at the short whistle Ruairi Og 1-9 St. Johns 0-9.
St John’s Donal Carson celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal. Pic by John McIlwaine
Neil McManus began the second half in fine style and he sent over three points in a row. One from a free and the others with two booming strikes from 85 and fully 95 yards respectively. However having got themselves into a 6 point lead Cushendall sat back and the Johnnies didn’t need a second invitation to come forward. Michael Dudley hit a point as St. Johns got their purple patch in the game and two goals in the space of five minutes from Dudley and Donal Carson turned the game on its head with St. Johns now a point ahead. Just as St. Johns had a purple patch going behind seemed to shake Cushendall into life and they firmly wrestled back control. In the closing fifteen minutes they held the visitors scoreless and hit 8 unanswered points themselves. Young Niall McCormick, on for Ed McQuillan got the first. Neil McManus hit two points either side of an excellent effort from Paddy McGill. Sean McAfee, who had battled all evening got his second of the game as did McClafferty when he rounded his man and finished from a tight angle. Fergus McCambridge was rewarded for his graft with a point and it was left to ace marksman Neil McManus to put the icing on the cake with the final score of the game.
How they played: St. Johns had star turns from Conor Johnson and Michael Dudley but as the game entered the home straight Cushendall just had another gear. Francis McCurry and Paddy Burke defended well. Paddy McGill put in a big shift at midfield and up front Sean McAfee proved a handful. However man of the match goes to Neil McManus who led from the front from start to finish and gave everything. He also finished the game with 1-10 to his credit.
Ruairi Og: E Gillan, J McCurry, P Burke, S Delargy, F McCurry, E Campbell, Stephen Walsh, P McGill(0-2) N Mc Manus(1-10), D McNaughton, F McCambridge(0-3), C Carson, C McClafferty(0-2), S McAfee(0-2), E McQuillan.
Subs used: M Burke, N McCormick (0-1), E Laverty, E McKillop.
St John’s: Simon Doherty, Odhran McKenna, Conal D Morgan, Jimmy Peoples, Colm McFall, Stephen Tierney, Ryan McNulty, Donal Carson, Barry McFall, Michael Dudley, Domnhail Moran, Ciaran McKenna, Conor Johnston, Declan Creggan, Michael Bradley.
Pics by John McIlwaine