Antrim Junior Hurling Championship semi-finals previews
The semi-finals of the Antrim Junior Hurling Championship will be held this weekend with Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm facing St Teresa’s under the lights at Quinn Park (8-00pm), Ballymena on Friday evening in one semi-final while Cushendun play St Paul’s in the other at Armoy on Saturday afternoon. (2-00pm) While the teams in the Saturday’s semi have both a game under their belts for Friday’s opponents it will be their first time they have dipped their toes in the championship water this season. The two actually met in the opening round last year in Ballymena with Glenarm coming out on top on that occasion to start a run which brought them all the way to the final, before losing to Gort na Móna.
In last year’s meeting, played at the same venue, there was little to separate the sides in the opening quarter but Glenarm got on top approaching half time and they pushed on to win well in the end. However the men from Feystown have not been going as well this season, albeit in Division 3 where relegation looms large. They face fellow strugglers Carryduff in the final game of the season to decide who stays up and who goes down along with Lamh Dhearg. St Teresa’s are lying fifth in Division 4 with 7 wins from their 14 games, but they have won their last 3 and that will give them a boost going into Friday’s game. Glenarm have been without the services of a couple of last season’s regulars during their league campaign this year and they will be hoping to have them back for this one. Neither team will have much experience of playing under floodlights and how either side adapts could have a big bearing on the game. Glenarm should have just about enough to get them over the line but it is hard to judge. If they can reproduce the form of last year another final place awaits.
In the second semi-final on Saturday at 2pm in Armoy St Paul’s play Cushendun Emmet’s. Both teams have a win under their belts, St Paul’s accounting for Con Magees two weeks ago in Ahoghill while Cushendun beat Junior B winners All Saints Ballymena. The Belfast men were impressive as they saw off Glenravel with a bit to spare, the bulk of their scores coming from the highly dangerous Niall Peoples at corner forward and Gerard Carbery on the 40. Carbery’s free taking was top class that day and the Cushendun defence will need to be disciplined or Carberry will punish their indiscretions. Peoples was really on fire that day against the Con Magees and if the Emmets are to progress then they need to find a way of curtailing the talented forward.
Cushendun scored freely against All Saints in their quarter final in Armoy, but they also conceded a lot of scores. 4-22 was an impressive tally and would get you over the line most days, but the concession of 4-11 against the B champions is not so clever and team manager Chris Dornan will know that he needs to tighten things up at the back. Going on league form ‘Dorny’s’ men would have the edge after beating St Paul’s by 4-13 to 2-10 up in Shaw’s Road back in April, and when the league split Cushendun made it into the top half while St Paul’s dropped to the B section. However the Emmet’s are bottom of Section A while St Paul’s sit in fifth place Section B, so there is not really a lot to choose between them.
My predictions in previous rounds have been so far out I’ll just sit on the fence for this one but it promises to be a decent game and one worth getting along to Armoy to see.