All Ireland Junior B Hurling Series
Leinster Semi Final
Saturday 24th November
All Saints, Antrim v Ballinderreen, Galway
2:15 @ Killeedy GAA, Limerick.
When All Saints GAC Ballymena re-entered the Antrim hurling leagues this year there would have been few who could have envisaged that they would still have been playing competitive hurling at this stage of the season. Prior to their withdrawal from All County action a couple of seasons back it would be safe to say hurling in the club had stagnated and All Saints were struggling to field sides.
A number of players including Liam Cassley and Damian Gillan transferred to Cloughmills where they enjoyed a couple of very successful seasons and others played their hurling elsewhere but when the call to arms was issued these players were quick to return to the Slemish Park club.
In the meantime a number of young players had emerged and in hindsight that withdrawal, while painful at the time may have been the best thing for the club and certainly there has been an unprecedented interest since the new season began.
A league season that mixed good results with bad gave little indication early on as to just where All Saints were going but come championship time it was becoming obvious that the hard work being put in by Paddy Neeson, Hector Cassley, Joe Casey and Cushendall man, Skinner McAllister was paying dividends.
All Saints were drawn against Michael Davitt’s in the opening game of the Junior B Championship, a repeat of last year’s final which Davitt’s won, and it was the Ballymena side who ran out convincing winners. They went on to defeat St. Agnes in a one sided final and this qualified them for a place in the Junior A championship.
All Saints were drawn against Emmet’s Cushendun in their opening game and performed well before losing to a very good Emmet’s side who would go on to win Antrim before being beaten narrowly in the Ulster club final.
The Slemish Park side’s season wasn’t over however with an invitation from Killeedy GAC in Limerick to take part in their Leinster Junior B championship gratefully excepted and two weeks ago they travelled to Limerick.
A journey into the unknown and a meeting with Coolderry of Offaly in their opening game but All Saints embraced the opportunity and it was a happy squad who travelled back North with a victory over the Offaly men secured.
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.
This Saturday All Saints return to Killeedy where they meet Galway champions Balinderreen and the attitude is likely to be the same. They will know little about Saturday’s opponents but it will be a case of ‘give it our best shot and see where it takes us’.
At the time of writing it wasn’t known just who was available for Saturday’s semi-final. County minor star, Ryan McGarry and his namesake, Ciaran McGarry missed the quarter-final and their availability would certainly enhance the Ballymena side’s chances.
There has been a lot of interest in the game and the club are running a bus to Limerick if there is sufficient interest and All Saints posted this notice on their website earlier in the week:
We have had enquiries about putting on a supporter’s bus.
Bus will leave Ballymena @ 5:15am. Breakfast stop and comfort break en route.
If you are interested in going on the bus, please contact Hector on 07525899006, or Gloria on 07732787278,
Hector Cassley and Joe Casey get their hands on the Antrim Junior B cup and will be hoping their side can take another step towards the Leinster B title when they tavel to Kileeddy on Saturday.