Saints advance to semi-final

Leinster Junior B Hurling Championship

All Saints 3-16      Coolderry 3-12

Despite the long journey to Limerick All Saints showed little signs of fatigue during the opening half of a game where they outclassed their opponents setting the foundations for their win. With Liam Cassley the outstanding performer on the field he led the team as a captain should and fired five points from play over the hour with his last giving his side a four point cushion and sealing the win.

Changes in the Coolderry ranks at half time, which saw their full-forward switch to goalkeeper saw the Offaly side’s net minder begin to trouble the Ballymena men with his massive puck outs, over riding the mid-field area where the Slemish Park side had dominated in the opening half.

Despite a strong Coolderry come-back the All Saints defence stood tall and at the final whistle they led by four and now look forward to a meeting with the Galway champions in a couple of weeks’ time.

Ciaran Nesson opened the scoring for All Saints from a dead ball settling any early nerves they had. Two from Cassley and a kicked goal from Francis Casey gave the Ballymena men some breathing space as they dominated the early exchanges. The sides struggled to find the target after this with a number of wides from both sides before Coolderry eventually opened their account. Back came All Saints, a few pointed frees from Neeson and one from play followed by  goals from Gary Miskella and Padhraig Magill opened the gap before Coolderry responded with two goals of their own to serve notice that they weren’t there to make up the numbers. All Saints found another gear at this stage with two from Liam Cassley, Niall McGarry and back to back points from Damian Gillan sending them in at half time with a ten point lead.

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Half time

All Saints 3-10      Coolderry 2-3

Coolderry made a number of changes at the break which rejuvenated them. Most notably a change of goalkeeper and the All Saints defence now came under massive pressure from every puck out. The free flowing hurling of the first half had now turned into a much scrappier affair with the free count rising. Coolderry hit the opening points of the half and when they scored their third goal after some confusion in the All Saints defence it was clear the game was far from over. Padhraig Magill scored the point of the match from wide on the left and a point from Gary Miskella lifted some of the pressure his side were coming under. Coolderry kept the scoreboard ticking over, the majority coming from placed balls. With the gap now into three points Ciaran Nesson stood tall to point a long range free before Coolderrry hit back again and with the game now going into injury time it was backs to the wall stuff from the Saints. It was man of the match Cassley who finally put the game to bed with his fifth point sending his side through to the semi-final in a few weeks’ time.

All over the pitch the Ballymena men had big performances. With the middle third dominating the first half and with Brendan McDonnell excellent throughout the hour from wing back it set the tone for his colleagues. Ciaran Neeson’s accuracy from frees and aerial ability along with Padhraig Magill’s ball winning and work-rate to the fore in the second half.

All Saints: Daire Hasson, Darren McGinty, Chris McAfee, Terence Diamond, Anthony Mitchell, Colum Nesson, Brendan McDonnell, Liam Cassley (0-5), Damian Gillan (0-2), Ciaran Nesson (0-6), Luke O’Rawe, Padhraig Magill (1-1) Niall McGarry (0-1), Frank Casey (1-0), Gary Miskella (1-1)

Subs. Vinny Esler for Niall McGarry, Sean O’Rawe for Terence Diamond, Tony Connolly, Barry Dorrity, Enda Casey

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