Antrim Fire Stop & Seal Ltd senior championship final
Saturday 1.30pm in Armoy
Loughgiel v Ruairí Óg Cushendall
On the evidence of the games to date in the Antrim Fire Stop & Seal Ltd senior championship, it would seem a formality for Loughgiel to complete their five in a row of titles for the first time and equal the achievements of Creggan in the 1930s, Deirdre in the mid 1960s and most recently Rossa in their build up to winning the 2008 All-Ireland club title.
The Shamrocks have been most emphatic winners in all their games through their league campaign and into the championship where they recorded a 6-29 to 0-7 quarter-final win over Portglenone and a 5-17 to 0-3 semi eclipse of Dunloy.
Roisin McCormick (4-13) and Caitrin Dobbin (3-7) lead the championship returns in terms of scoring, but the whole team is playing with a fluency and speed that has left everyone trailing in their wake.
Opponents Ruairí Óg Cushendall are appearing in their first county senior final since 2000, and going in search of only their third title, following wins in 1986 and 1995, the latter team trained by Danny McNaughton.
Danny’s grand-daughter Caoimhe was to the fore in their only championship outing, the less-than-convincing semi-final win over Rossa in Ahoghill a fortnight ago.
That 1-10 to 0-11 victory however exposed an over-dependence on Orlagh O’Hara for scores; she took seven of the ten points, five of which came from frees. Sinead Cosgrove forced her way through for an early goal, but afterwards was fairly subdued and only the midfielders Dervla Cosgrove and Siobhan McKillop threatened to trouble the score-keeper after that.
Against a very tight Loughgiel defence, they will have to take every chance that comes their way just to remain in the game. But really it is more likely that the Cushendall defence will be put under scrutiny by the pace and accuracy of the Shamrocks’ attack.
Loughgiel has so much talent up front; almost all their team have been prominent inter-county under-age stars over the past decade and each of them could turn a game in an instant.
However it is unlikely that they will need to play anyway near their optimum to win the club its 21st county title and take them one step closer to an Ulster club title which is their main focus for 2018.
Possible teams :
Loughgiel – M Coyle, C Campbell, L Connolly, F McVeigh, M Lynn, M Connolly, A Boyle, E McFadden, C Boyle, R McCormick, L McNaughton, C Laverty, A McFadden, R Murphy, C Dobbin.
Ruairí Óg : N Cosgrove, A McClafferty, C Kearney capt., C McKillop, C Patterson, L McMullan, C McNaughtnon, D Cosgrove, S McKillop, O O’Hara, E Leech, N McCurry, C O’Hara, S Cosgrove, B Abram.