Con Magees too strong, but welcome back Latharna Óg

All County Hurling League Division 4

Con Magees Glenravel 6-15 Latharna Óg 0-02

By Cormac Scullion

On a wet and blustery Fr Maginn Park, Latharna Óg re-entered the All County Leagues for the first time since 2014, a credit to all involved and a heartening sight to see in local GAA. With a squad of 25 to choose from and a new kit sponsored by the Station Bar, which was unveiled at a club fundraiser on St Patrick’s weekend, the Larne men proudly lined up for a team photo before taking up their positions and waiting for referee Gerry Cosgrove to get the match underway.

Con Magees were keen to get started too and with a new management set up in place and a welcome sprinkling of youth through the side, ambitions are high for the season ahead.

The first score of the match was delivered after 2mins by Sean McKay for Con Magees when he was fouled by an over eager Larne defender and dusted himself off to send the ball over the bar from the resultant free. Latharna Óg Goalkeeper, Billy Bell, pucked the ball out only to see it sail straight back over the bar from beyond midfield after Declan Traynor won the dropping ball and fed Padge O’Neill, with the busy midfielder accurate from long range.

Latharna Óg were certainly not standing back in the early stages but another poor tackle on Declan Traynor allowed Sean McKay to step up again and send over a free from close range. A long ball into the square by Jonny Fyfe saw Shane Woulahan’s eyes light up but Latharna Óg’s full back, Barry Petticrew, did enough to put him off and the ball rolled harmlessly over the end line, crisis averted!

A hand injury to Sean McElroy saw Conor Carey introduced to the fray and shortly after that Sean McKay slotted over another free after a foul on Caolan Mullan.

Sean McKay who scored 2-7 for Con Magees on his senior debut.

The first goal of the game came from the stick of Con Magees Declan Traynor when his long speculative effort from 60 meters dropped awkwardly and skidded into the net with Shane Woulahan making his presence felt, they all count!

Philip McKendry won a high ball at midfield for Latharna Óg and when he was fouled, Michael Lismore stepped up to open his account with a well taken free from the left wing on 21 mins. This score seemed to inject some much needed energy into the Latharna Óg veins and they pushed on to force a goalmouth scramble in which Ronan Donnelly did just enough to keep the ball out of the net but was fouled as he went to clear his lines.

Con Magees reacted well however, and kept the scoreboard ticking over hitting 2-02 without reply in the final 5 mins of the half – a pointed Sean McKay free, a point from Brian O’Neill and 2 goals, 1 from Shane Woulahan after good work by Brian O’Neill and Caolan Mullan and an own goal after a free by Sean McKay was driven hard and low across the square taking a wicked deflection to deceive Billy Bell in the Latharna Óg net.

Half time score: Con Magees 3-07 Latharna Óg 0-01

A determined start to the second half by Latharna Óg was stopped in its tracks by a double effort from Shane Woulahan when he collected a low ball by Jonny Fyfe and got the better of Barry Petticrew to find the corner of the net. No sooner was the ball pucked out than it was back in again and Woulahan had it in his possession and over the bar for another Con Magees point.

The evergreen Neil McCann and Dean Kerr were introduced for Caolan Mullan and Shane Woulahan after 37 mins, closely followed by 2 Declan Traynor points either side of a Sean McKay free. Some stout defending by Latharna Óg denied Neil McCann a point but a Dean Kerr effort and one from a James Duffin ‘65 kept Con Magees in control.

The final 10mins saw Con Magees stretch their lead despite a point by the hard working Michael Lismore for Latharna Óg. A long ball in by Padge O’Neill was picked up by Sean McKay who rounded his marker and found the corner of the net. 2 mins later the same player ran onto a smart hand pass by Dean Kerr and rifled the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle. 2 more points from Sean McKay, one a free the other a penalty, and a Conor Carey point from a McKay pass brought the match to a close and Con Magees ran out convincing winners.

This was a tough opener for Latharna Óg but they can take heart from some hard working performances, especially Barry Petticrew, Conor Matthews, Michael Lismore and Ryan O’Donnell. Despite the score line, the Larne men battled to the final whistle and will certainly have better days.

For Con Magees, James Duffin, Conleth O’Loan, Jonny Fyfe, Declan Traynor and Shane Woulahan all stood out but with a tally of 2-07 on his Senior debut, special mention has to go to Sean McKay. Accurate all day from placed balls and with 2 well taken goals from open play, the young forward is certainly one to look out for in the 2019 season.

Teams and scorers:

Con Magees: Ronan Donnelly; Declan McAuley, Sean Burns, Stephen Atcheson; Michael McDonnell, James Duffin, Conleth O’Loan; Padge O’Neill, Jonny Fyfe; Brian O’Neill, Declan Traynor, Sean McKay; Sean McElroy, Shane Woulahan, Caolan Mullan. Subs: Conor Carey for Sean McElroy, Neil McCann for Caolan Mullan, Dean Kerr for Shane Woulahan.

Scorers: Sean McKay 2-07 (0-07 frees), Shane Woulahan 2-01, Declan Traynor 1-02, James Duffin 0-01, Dean Kerr 0-01, Brian O’Neill 0-01, Conor Carey 0-01, Padge O’Neill 0-01

Latharna Óg: Billy Bell; Anthony O’Neill, Barry Petticrew, Conor Barkley; Darren Martin, Conor Matthews, Caolan Shields; Ryan O’Donnell, Philip McKendry; Gary Bergin, Mark Robinson, Michael Lismore; Chrissy Milliken, Daniel Hegarty, Phil Craig.

Scorers: Michael Lismore 0-02

Referee: Gerry Cosgrove.

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