Junior Hurling Championship Final
Robert Emmet’s, Cushendun 1-23 Shane O’Neills, Glenarm 2-7
Sunday September 30
Brendan McTaggart reports from Paírc MacUílin, Ballycastle
They say you have to lose one to win one. For the men of Cushendun, they’ve had to lose five in nine years but the wait is finally over. Cushendun became Antrim junior hurling champions on Sunday with 13 points to spare over Shane O’Neills at Paírc MacUílin.
It was an imperious performance by the Emmets as they dominated the Feystown men from the first whistle. Midfielder Conor McHugh top scored for the winners with 0-6 to his name with all but one coming from play. David Kilgore and Conleth ‘Loaf’ McNeill chipped in with ten points split evenly between them while substitute Rory McQuillan put to bed the pain of being part of the previous five Junior final defeats, plus the 2000 Senior final to Dunloy, by scoring the Emmet’s only goal of the game in the 57th minute.
Glenarm were reliant on the brilliance of Daniel Black in their quest for junior glory. Having tasted defeat in last year’s decider the Shane O’Neills impressed in their semi-final win over St Teresa’s but they couldn’t quite hit the same heights on Sunday. Black top scored for the Glenarm men with 1-5 while Christopher Matthews first half goal breathed fresh impetus into their challenge and gave them hopes of defying the bookies. Cushendun were a more efficient and slick machine though with attacking threats all over the field. The ability of their midfield and half back to read the game, break at pace and deliver quality ball into their forwards was decisive in defining the winners. The Emmet’s controlled the second half and put to bed the memory of their previous final reversals.
With the wind blowing straight across the pristine like surface at Paírc MacUílin, playing conditions were difficult. Both sides made a lively start to the decider but it was the Shane O’Neill’s who settled into the contest from the off with Daniel Black (free) and Dylan McLaughlin firing over for their side inside the opening five minutes. Cushendun began to impose their game on the Glenarm men and through McHugh (two), David Kilgore, McNeill and Eugene Duffin they stretched into a three point lead before Daniel Black stopped the rot with his second free of the match in the 12 minute.
Cushendun were well on top though playing an attractive brand of hurling and showing incredible hunger at the breakdown to win possession. Loaf and Kilgore split the posts before Pierce Bannon (two) and McHugh put the Emmet’s into a seven point lead with just six minutes of the half remaining.
The Glenarm men hit back though and when Black and Dominic McQuillan swapped scores in the 26 minute, seven points still separated the sides before the Feystown men scored the opening goal of the contest. Having swapped Conal Ward and Christopher Matthews just moments earlier, the Glenarm management team’s swap was vindicated straight away with Matthews finding the top corner from 20 yards out giving Eoin Magee no chance in the Emmets goals.
Daniel Black landed his fourth point of the match soon after to reduce the Emmets lead to three points with as many minutes remaining in the first half but Cushendun responded to the Glenarm purple patch well. A brace of frees from Conleth McNeill, taking his tally for the first half to 0-4 gave the Emmets a five point lead at the interval.
Glenarm and Sean O’Hare opened the scoring after the restart to give the Shane O’Neill’s support hopes of another rousing comeback just like 12 months ago but Cushendun went through the gears early in the second half. Four points in the space of two minutes from McHugh, James Morgan, and two for Kilgore put eight between the sides and Cushendun were playing with a purpose and poise that breathed confidence among their support.
Daniel Black pointed his third free of the match in the 45th minute but it did little to derail the Cushendun charge as the Emmets replied with another McNeill free and Conor McHugh’s fourth point of the match in the 50th minute.
The Shane O’Neill’s were awarded a penalty in the 52nd minute when referee Vincent O’Boyle spotted an infringement on Patrick McAuley and although Black blasted the sliotar beyond the reach of Magee in the Cushendun goals, it proved to be their last score of the contest. Cushendun finished with a flourish to man of the match Kilgore landing his fifth point of the match before McQuillan’s major in the 57th minute sealed the fate of Glenarm and taking the Emmets lead to 10 points. A trio of points from McHugh, Dominic and Rory McQuillan added further gloss to the score line for the Emmets as they took the junior honours with a convincing victory and now look forward to an Ulster championship campaign. Dylan McIlwaine presents the Saffron Gael Man of the Match award plus the Martin Hurls Man of the Match award to David Kilgore
Cushendun: Eoin Magee; Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbett, Jack McKay; Mark Scally, Donal O’Hara, Thomas Scally; Matthew McCartin, Conor McHugh; Pierce Bannon, Eugene Duffin, Dominic McQuillan; James Morgan, Conleth McNeill, David Kilgore.
Glenarm: Liam Mulvenna; Sean Moran, Martin Ward, Aidan O’Neill; Liam Mitchell, Darren Hamill, Jake Hamilton; Christopher Matthews, Patrick McAuley; Daniel Black, Kieran Mulvenna, Dylan McLaughlin; Sean O’Hare, Barry Hamill, Conal Ward.
Scorers for Cushendun: Conor McHugh 0-6 (1f); David Kilgore 0-5; Conleth McNeill 0-5 (1 ’65, 2 f’s); Rory McQuillan 1-1; Pierce Bannon 0-2; Dominic McQuillan 0-2; Eugene Duffin 0-1; James Morgan 0-1
Scorers for Glenarm: Daniel Black 1-5 (1-00 pen, 3 f’s); Christopher Matthews 1-00; Dylan McLaughlin 0-1; Sean O’Hare 0-1
Referee: Vincent Boyle (Dunloy)
Man of the Match: David Kilgore (Cushendun)