Magic McShane points Ballycastle to victory in Armoy

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Ballycastle’s Diarmuid McShane (Right) who top scored with 1-12 in his side’s win over Armoy on Wednesday night, challenges Shane Devlin.

O’Neill’s ACHL Division 2

Armoy 1-12 Ballycastle 1-17

McQuillan’s Ballycastle maintained their position at the top of division 2 of the ACHL but they were made to fight all the way by bottom club Glen Rovers, Armoy in a wet and windy Armoy tonight. The free taking of Diarmuid McShane proved pivotal in his side’s victory, the diminutive number 13 scoring the majority of the Ballycastle scores, one a superb sideline cut and another from deep in his own half and brought his first half total to eight to send his side in at half time holding a rather flattering 0-11 to 0-5 lead.

After the break Armoy battled hard to get back into contention and a Conor Christie goal after four minutes put them right back into contention. However a somewhat fortunate goal from Diarmuid McShane in the 16th minute put a bit of daylight between the sides and the league leaders went on to win by five points.

Referee John Carson got the action under way at a wet and windy Armoy and it was the Glen Rovers who got off to the better start with Conor Christie pointing them ahead in the opening minute. Ciaran Butler levelled matters with four minutes gone but Eamon McCaughan restored the home side’s lead almost immediately.

Diarmuid McShane levelled matters as he fired over the first of a dozen frees he was to convert on the night with Owern Kinney again edging the Armoy side in front and McShane replying direct from a ‘70’ as play swung from end to end.

The home side were moving the sliotar well and building from deep as Johnny McErlain edged them in front once more but the same player shot wide from a free and then Owen Kinney was off target as they tried to increase their lead.

Diarmuid McShane made no such mistake when the opportunity fell his way as he pointed a trio of frees, one a superb sideline cut to edge the ‘Castle’ two in front after 22 minutes but a Ciaran McErlain point with five minutes remaining to the break left just one between the sides.

Significantly Ballycastle finished the half with a scoring flurry as Tiernan Butler responded immediately to McErlain’s score and McShane added four more, one from 40 meters and near the left hand sideline and the best a massive effort from within his own half.

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John ‘Rocky’ Dillon who was superb at the heart of the Armoy defence clears his lines

The six point lead was harsh on an Armoy side who had battled well but who had conceded too many poor frees and it left them facing a mountain in the second half if they were to get back into contention.

Whatever was said at half time certainly seemed to have worked and after Ciaran McErlain and Kevin Barry McShane exchanged early points a long delivery from Johnny McErlain was fielded by Conor Christie and he beat Ryan McGarry in the visitor’s goal from close range.

Once again Diarmuid McShane added to his ever increasing total from another free but Ciaran McErlain replied for Glen Rovers to keep the gap at three with 9 minutes of the half gone. McShane again and Johnny McErlain with an excellent long range point exchanged further scores and then Eamon McCaughan got on the end of a good delivery but shot over when a goal looked on.

Still it was now down to two and the home side dared to dream as Diarmuid McShane with his 11th point in the 16th minute and Rocky Dillon with an excellent long range effort from play kept the gap at two before disaster struck the home side.

Their defence had several chances to clear a ball that dropped into the danger area and in the scramble that ensued corner forward Cathal Connor batted the sliotar to the net from close range and suddenly there was seven points between the sides with ten minutes remaining.

Glen Rovers battled to the final whistle with John Dillon, Conor Christie and Ciaran McErlain all hitting late points but perhaps fittingly, the final point of the game was to fall to man of the match, McShane as he sent over his 12th and the game’s last point in the 31st minute.

This win leaves Armoy firmly fixed to the bottom of the lead but on this display and when I saw them two weeks ago, they look more than capable of holding their own against most sides in the division. Unfortunately results have not gone their way but on the night, Timothy Burns, Charles McCormick, Rocky Dillon, Ciaran McErlain and Conor Christie were excellent.

Ballycastle now look certainties for the title and with Cloughmills falling heavily to St. Gall’s they now move seven clear of the Milltown side who have climbed to second place by virtue of tonight’s win over St. Brigid’s.

Armoy: Timothy Burns, Shane Devlin, Charles McCormick, Arthur Devlin, Emmet O’Hara, John Dillon, Liam Dillon, Ciaran McErlain, PJ McBride, Johnny McErlain, Thomas Burns, Eamon McCaughan, Trevor Linton, Owen Kinney, Conor Christie. Subs: Martin McErlain for Eamon McCaughan.

Ballycastle: Ryan McGarry, Oran Kearney, Matthew Donnelly, Oisin McAuley, Shane McCarry, Neal McAuley, Ben McQuillan, Conor Boyd, Ronan McCarry, Eamon Elliott, Ciaran Butler, Kevin Barry McShane, Diarmuid McShane, Tiernan Butler, Cathal Connor.

Referee: John Carson (Ruairi Og)

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