Antrim Minor A Hurling Championship semi-final
Loughgiel Shamrocks 1-29 Ballycastle 3-21 (AEET)
Loughgiel booked their place in the club’s first minor county hurling final in nine years after the saw off the challenge of Ballycastle in an epic encounter at St Patrick’s Park, Carey on Sunday. These two teams stood toe to toe for ninety exhilarating minutes after this absorbing contest ended level at the end of sixty minutes, and level again at the end 10 minutes each way extra time. It took a further five minutes each way to eventually decide it in the end and when referee John Carson blew the final whistle it was the Shamrocks who were victorious.
Playing against a strong breeze in the opening half Ballycastle got away to a great start with a goal following a real scramble in the goalmouth, plus two points from Seamus McAuley and Joe McToal to go five clear. Loughgiel soon settled though and they took complete control of the game for the remainder of the opening quarter as they hit a goal and ten points with just a single Seamus McAuley in reply. Rian McMullan (who ended the game with 0-14 to his name) was electric during this period while Odhran McGrath got 1-3, the goal coming from a 23rd minute penalty. Ballycastle were in danger of going under at this stage but they finished the first half strongly and two points from Seamus McAuley and a goal from a penalty by Ryan Hill left them eight in arrears at the break. (1-16 to 2-5)
Three early second half points from Seamus McAuley (2) and Ryan Hill gave Ballycastle renewed hope and with the breeze at their backs they were right back in the game. However McMullan’s excellent free taking was keeping Loughgiel in control and it wasn’t until the brilliant Seamus McAuley found the Loughgiel net in the 54th minute that they drew level. The Shamrock went two in front and it looked like they would hold on for the win but Colm Butler and Seamus McAuley pulled Ballycastle back level deep in injury time to bring the match to extra time. (1-21 to 3-15)
The sides were still deadlocked at the end of the first period of ten minutes each way extra time, both adding three points to their tally (1-24 to 3-18) and with limbs tiring as the game went on there was just a point apiece in the second period, to it was into new territory as an extra five each way were added. (1-22 to 3-16) but in the final five, with wind advantage Loughgiel added four to Ballycastle’s two to end an epic contest.
Kevin McAuley, Conor Henry, Declan McCloskey, Enda Og McGarry, Ciaran McKay, Odhran McMullan, Tiernan McAlonan, Shane O’Boyle, Paul Boyle, Conor Deery, Cahal Hargan, Michael McGarry, Rian McMullan, John Francis Connolly, Odhran McGrath.
Subs – Chrissy McMcGarry, Dylan Devlin
Dylan McMullan, Gary Maybin, Ciaran McKeague, Mark McLean, Cormac Donnelly, Emmet O’Hara, Ronan Laverty, Colm Butler, Lorcan Donnelly, Conor McBride, Ryan Hill, Seamus McAuley, Colm Campbell, Oisin McAuley, Joe McToal.
Subs – Tiernan Smyth, Tiernan Donnelly, Conor Watterson, Jack McGowan, Dylan Hill
Referee – John Carson (Ruairi Og)
Pics by Sean Paul McKillop