This great final rivalry began back in ’85

Antrim Senior Hurling Championship final preview 2018

Words and photos by John McIlwaine

The great final rivalry between Sunday’s opponents all started back on September 9th 1985 when Cushendall and Loughgiel met at Fr Maginn Park, Glenravel in the decider. In his preview in the Ballymena Guardian Jim Smyth speculated about where the game would be played in an article entitled “All About The Venue”. Jim wrote                          “and what might you ask is so important about the venue? On this occasion the answer is of tremendous psychological advantage to both sides. It is a well-known fact that the Cushendall men have a dislike of the Dunloy ground, and have in the championship had some poor performances there. Loughgiel on the other hand find Dunloy a happy hunting ground and would much prefer if the game was played there.”

As it turned out Glenravel was the venue, and Jim may have been right about the psychological advantage as a Cushendall team managed by Donal Kearney won the game convincingly on a scoreline of 4-13 to 1-12. As things turned out it might not have gone ahead in Dunloy anyway, even it had been chosen as the venue, as torrential rain the day before the final had left many pitches unplayable, but the Glenravel venue with its recently laid Prunty Pitch was in perfect shape for the big game.

Action from the 1985 final at Fr Maginn Park. Pics by John McIlwaine

A hat-trick by corner forward Lawrence McAlister were the scores that won the game for the Ruairi Ogs in a match that never really came to life until the second half. Loughgiel looked the better team for most of the opening half and had a handy lead as half time approached, only to see it cut back in first half injury time when McAlister grabbed the first of his three goals.

An Alastair McGuile goal six minutes into the second half put the Ruairis ahead for the first time and with the famed James McNaughton, Leonard McKeegan and Terence McNaughton half-back line restricting the Loughgiel forwards, and Danny McNaughton lording it at midfield, they pushed on to extend their lead to eight points. Team captain Dominic ‘Woody’ McKinley pulled a goal back for Loughgiel to give the Shamrocks hope, but McAlister’s second goal eleven minutes from time all but sealed the deal and when he fired in his third five minutes later the Volunteer Cup was on its way back to Cushendall for the second time.


85 - dJames McNaughton captained the Cushendall team to victory in ’85, one of six McNaughton brothers who wore the maroon jersey.   Danny, Sean, Brendan, James, Alastar and Kieran all played on that September day. Sadly three of the six, Danny, James and Kieran are no longer with us.

There was also three McAlister brothers on the team, Brendan (Feet), Fergus (Skinner) and Lawrence.

85 - eTwo Delargy brothers John (who had captained the ’81 team to the club’s first senior championship win) and Malachy played that day, while their brother Charlie was assistant manager.

85 - bCUSHENDALL – Kieran McNaughton, Brendan McAlister, Sean McNaughton, John Delargy, Terence McNaughton, Leonard McKeegan, James McNaughton, Brendan McNaughton, Danny McNaughton, Fergus McAlister, Alastair McNaughton, Malachy Delargy, Alastair McGuile, Brendan McGaughey, Lawrence McAlister.

Scorers  – Lawrence McAlister 3-0; Danny McNaughton 0-5; Alastair McGuile 1-0; Fergus McAlister 0-2; Malachy Delargy 0-2; Brendan McGaughey 0-1; Brendan McNaughton 0-1.

85 - jLOUGHGIEL – Niall Patterson, Martin Carey, PJ O’Mullan, Damian Carey, Eamon Connolly, Sean Connolly, Dominic McMullan, Mick O’Connell, Gerard McKinley, Seamus McKillop, Aidan McCarry, Dominic McKinley, Brendan Laverty, Martin Coyle, Owen McFadden.

Subs – Sean Paul McKillop for Seamus McKillop; Aidan McNaughton for Gerard McKinley; Seamus McNaughton for Dominic McMullan

Loughgiel scorers – Mick O’Connell 0-4; Aidan McCarry 0-4; Dominic McKinley 1-0; Owen McFadden 0-2; Aidan McNaughton 0-2.

Referee – Martin Brogan – Dunloy85 - k


85 - iThe McIntyre clan figure strongly in this group of Loughgiel fans as they arrive for the 1985 final in Glenravel

85 - mThese three likely lads in the centre brought colour and noise on the day but there is so much more it this photo. The McKeegan brothers on the left, John Campbell with his daughter Marleis (or is it Cathy) on his shoulder to the right and wife Deirdre (extreme right). Marie Walsh, whose son is reserve goalkeeper on Sunday is there too. 85 - lA few characters here. Denis Burns, Doc O’Connell and the late lamented Bernard McIlhatton (all of whom share the same April 2nd birthday, if Im not mistaken) and Sparky McGarry. Murray Emerson (wearing the cap) and his wife Mary are to the right

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