ACHL Division One
Loughgiel 1-22 Cushendall 0-11
Wednesday July 31
Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr Healy Park, Loughgiel
Loughgiel ended their league campaign with another win on Wednesday night. They had 14 points to spare over Cushendall by the final whistle but neither side will really be taking anything out of this game with the championship just 11 days away. Loughgiel looked good and were sharp all over the pitch, Shan McGrath and Callum McKendry catching the eye in attack for the Shamrocks with Mark McFadden pulling the strings in midfield. Tiarnan Coyle rarely put a foot wrong at centre half while Tony McCloskey was as reliable as ever on the edge of his own square. James McNaughton grabbed the limelight once again, top scoring with 1-6 over the hour – his goal lighting up what was essentially a phoney war between these two great rivals.
Cushendall struggled to win any form of ball from poc outs and such was the nature of the Loughgiel defence, they couldn’t get any attacking impetus going. No momentum and a defence under pressure, the Ruairi’s were second best all over the pitch. Scott Walsh left the pitch with pass marks for his display, the Cushendall midfielder put in a big performance – especially in the first half but he had little support elsewhere. Paddy McGill had an almighty tussle with Tony McCloskey but the Shamrock’s full back had the upperhand over the hour. Martin and Paddy Burke were overworked in defence and while they were a match for the Shamrocks, the home side were relentless. They matched Cushendall’s work rate and pushed on, they had ball winners and of their 22 points score, just eight came from placed ball.
The Ruairi’s finished the match with 14 men, Francis McCurry seeing red in the 48th minute but the match was over as a contest by that stage. This one lacked any sort of intensity, slightly surprising with the championship just around the corner but effectively the Shamrocks will keep that winning feeling within the camp when they look ahead to their opener against St John’s.
Despite the Ruairi’s making a bright start, Loughgiel dominated the first half. The visitors to Fr Healy Park were three points to the good before Duck McFadden opened the Shamrocks account in the fourth minute. Campbell, Alex Delargy and Scott Walsh with the scores for the Ruairi’s but they wouldn’t trouble the scoreboard for 15 minutes as Loughgiel opened a three point advantage. Barney McAuley (two), Dan McCloskey and Shan McGrath making it seven points unanswered before Ed McQuillan split the posts for Cushendall.
Dan McCloskey landed his second of three points before Seamus Dobbin score the point of the game. Chrissy O’Connell picking his half back on the run with a 70 yard poc out that was inch perfect. Dobbin didn’t have to break stride before catching the sliotar and sending it between the uprights. One for the Loughgiel management team to enjoy – hours of work on the training ground coming good during a match. McNaughton’s first free of the night left six between the sides before Walsh landed his second white flag in the 23rd minute. That was their last score of the half however with a brace of frees from McNaughton in the time that remained giving Loughgiel a seven point half time lead.
Half time: Loughgiel 0-12 Cushendall 0-5
The Ruairi’s had the help of the elements in the second half and went score for score with Loughgiel in the opening exchanges. Free’s from McAuley and McNaughton were responded by white flags from Eoin ‘Freen’ Laverty but Loughgiel all but made sure of the win in the 39th minute thanks to a piece of brilliance from McNaughton. Duck McFadden playing a diagonal ball for McNaughton to collect and the Loughgiel man danced around a couple of Cushendall defenders before heading for goal. Still with a bit of work to do, McNaughton managed to get his shot away to the back of Eoin Gillan’s net to take the Loughgiel lead into double figures.
Loughgiel continued to press home their superiority on the night and had a nine point lead when McCurry saw red for a dangerous tackle on Barney McAuley. Cushendall rejigged but they only managed points from Paddy McGill and Ed McQuillan in the time that remained while Loughgiel found spaces in the Ruairi’s defence. McGrath, Eddie McCloskey, McAuley and Dobbin all finding the target while Callum McKendry was unlucky not to add another major. His drilled effort somehow blocked by Eoghan Campbell in the 52nd minute.
14 points the difference and as Loughgiel now spend the next week and a half finalising their preparations for the championship, last years winners look like they have plenty of work ahead of them. They round off their league campaign when they welcome St John’s to the Glen’s on Tuesday evening.
Loughgiel: Chrissy O’Connell; Declan Gillan, Tony McCloskey, Ronan McCloskey; Seamus Dobbin, Tiarnan Coyle, Odhran McFadden; Mark McFadden, James McNaughton; Barney McAuley, Declan Laverty, Callum McKendry; Dan McCloskey, Eddie McCloskey, Shan McGrath.
Scorers: James McNaughton 1-6 (5 f’s); Barney McAuley 0-4 (2 f’s, 1 ’65); Shan McGrath 0-3; Dan McCloskey 0-3; Seamus Dobbin 0-2; Mark McFadden 0-1; Declan Laverty 0-1; Callum McKendry 0-1; Eddie McCloskey 0-1.
Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Liam Gillan, Martin Burke, David Kearney; Francis McCurry, Paddy Burke, Niall McCormick; Eoghan Campbell, Scott Walsh; Fergus McCambridge, Eoin Laverty, Ryan McCambridge; Ed McQuillan, Paddy McGill, Alex Delargy.
Subs: Cormac McClafferty for E Laverty (40); Emmett Laverty for R McCambriduge (56); Joseph McCurry for N McCormick (56).
Scorers: Eoin Laverty 0-2 (2 f’s); Scott Walsh 0-2; Eoghan Campbell 0-1; Fergus McCambridge 0-1; Ryan McCambridge 0-1; Ed McQuillan 0-1; Paddy McGill 0-1; Alex Delargy 0-1.
Referee: Colin Murray