Photographs: Jim Brady
Leinster Junior B Hurling Championship
All Saints 2-15 (Antrim) Balinderreen (Galway) 3-18
And so the dream is over for All Saints Ballymena but hopefully the experience and the benefits for future hurling in Ballymena will last a life time. For the second time in a fortnight they left Ballymena at 5-15am for the long trip to Limerick having made the journey two weeks ago to face Coolderry of Offaly in the quarter final of the Leinster B Hurling championship and came away victorious.
There’s been a buzz around the Slemish Park club since that victory and it was decided to run a spectators bus to Saturday’s semi-final and hopes were high that All Saints could record another victory even though they were playing a Balinderreen side who were previous winners of the tournament.
Those hopes looked well founded when the Antrim Junior champions turned around 2-10 to 0-9 ahead but the introduction of Sean Corcoran to the Ballinderreen side in the second half turned the game on its head. Corcoran scored 3-2 and certainly raised a few eyebrows and questions amongst the travelling support as to why he didn’t start.
Ballinderreen made a bright start and looked the better team early on as they raced into a three point lead before All Saints responded with a couple of points from Ciaran Neeson and one from Padhraig Magill to draw level.
The Antrim champions matched their Galway counterparts score for score thereafter with Ciaran Neeson hitting five and Padraig Magill 0-3, Liam Cassley and Damian Gillan on target for the Slemish Park side and as they began to get on top two opportunist goals from Niall Magill put All Saints in pole position at the break when they led 2-10 to 0-9.
MATCH CHANGING SUBSTITUTION
Ballinderreen introduced Sean Corcoran for the second half and the bustling forward was to turn matters very much on their head. Corcoran hit 3 goals and 2 points in the last 15 minutes and proved unmarkable with the All Saints men unable to contain him.
All Saints fought hard in the second half but could only add five points to their first half total. Ciaran Neeson brought his total to eight as he converted three frees with defenders Damian Gillan and Colum Neeson their other scorers but they were never able to produce the fluency of the opening half.
Disappointment for the Ballymena side and their loyal band of supporters who made the long journey but when the disappointment subsides they will realise just what a great first season back in the Antrim leagues they have had.
This season should put hurling in the club back on a healthy footing and encourage more young lads to take up the game as the dedication shown by Paddy Neeson, Hector Cassley, Joe Casey and the rest of the team begin to provide the dividends their efforts deserve.
All Saints: Daire Hasson, Darren McGinty, Chris McAfee, Ryan McGarry, Anthony Mitchell, Colum Neeson (0-1), Brendan McDonnell, Liam Cassley (0-1), Damian Gillan (0-2), Ciaran Neeson (0-8 0-5 frees), Luke O’Rawe, Paghraig Magill (0-3) ,Terence Diamond, Gary Miskella, Niall McGarry (2-0)
Subs Ciaran McGarry for Anthony Mitchell, Eoin McGuigan for Terence Diamond, Vinny Esler, Barry Dorrity, Tony Connolly, James McDonnell, Enda Casey, Francis Casey, Sean O’Rawe.
Ballinderreen: Colin Kelly, Niall Gill, Patrick Lane, Jack Tully, Conor Crotty 0-1, Patrick Carr 0-1, Gavin Duffy 0-2, Aidan Linnane 0-1, Alan Organ, Colm Gill 0-4, Gary Forde 0-2, Aidan Duffy 0-2, Padraig Lafferty 0-1, Kevin Coen 0-1, Hugh Moylan 0-1, Subs: Sean Corcoran 3-2, Gary Molloy, Allen Martyn
Referee: Bill Carr