Rooney points St. Paul’s to Junior final

Casements Social Club Junior Hurling Championship semi-final

St. Paul’s 0-12 Glenarm 0-11

A fine exhibition of free taking by Stephen Rooney pointed St. Paul’s through to a place in the Junior Hurling Championship final when they came from behind to pip Shane O’Neill’s, Glenarm at Quinn Park, Ballymena tonight.

The North Antrim side had much the better of the first half exchanges and led by the excellent Darren Hamill they led by 0-8 to 0-4 at the break and might have been further ahead though their opponents were guilty of some poor shooting during the opening 30 minutes.

It was Glenarm’s Darren Hamill who led the first half charge and after being denied a goal by Joe Gillen in the second minute he fired over three points to move his side into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead by the 7th minute.

St. Paul’s wasted a couple of opportunities to open their account and when Darren Hamill raised the Feystown side’s fourth white flag in the 15th minute they appeared to be coasting. St. Paul’s cause certainly wasn’t being helped by some wayward shooting and it took 16 minutes before Stephen Rooney opened their account from a free.

Thirty seconds later Glenarm were four ahead again as Darren Hamill raced clear for a point but the Shaw’s Road side had an opportunity to get right back into the game when James Farrell broke clear at the other end but his well struck shot sailed over when a goal looked on.

Things were certainly livening up as Joe Gillen made an excellent save to deny Dylan McLaughlin from close range in the 20th minute but the same player sent over a 22nd minute free to extend his side’s advantage to four again.

McLaughlin was then the recipient of a bad tackle from Chris Murray which earned the St. Paul’s man a yellow with the crowd howling for red before Gerard Carberry replied for the hoops with a point in the 27th minute to leave just three in it once more.

Glenarm finished strongly with scores from McLaughlin and Hamill in response to a converted free from Stephen Rooney, deep in injury time to lead by four at the break and they were good value for that lead though they had lost mid-fielder Conal Ward to injury.

At half time both sides would probably have reflected on the number of opportunities that they had wasted but it was a much more focused and determined St. Paul’s side who came out of the starting blocks in the second half.

Stephen Rooney got them on their way from a free in the second minute before Joe Gillen got down well to deny Darren Hamill what looked a certain goal, the St. Paul’s keeper going full stretch to his left to deny Glenarm’s ace marksman.

Dylan McLaughlin extended the Glenarm lead to four once more as he sent over a good point in the 5th minute but the momentum was beginning to swing very much the way of the Belfast side as Rooney pointed another free and Gerard Carberry followed from play to close the gap to two with 11 minutes gone.

Stephen Rooney had certainly adjusted his sites and he struck another wonderful effort off the ground to close the gap to one before Darren Hamill replied with only Glenarm’s second point of the half in the 16th minute.

The hits were going in hard and fast but the momentum was now very much with the Shaw’s Road side as the Shane O’Neill’s attack struggled to make any impact against a St. Paul’s defence who had tightened considerably from the opening half.

Stephen Rooney was in inspirational form as he closed the gap to one once more before firing over a ‘65’ from near the sideline to tie the contest as the St. Paul’s support began to find their voice.

Dylan McLaughlin edged the Feystown men ahead once more from only their third point of the half, a superb effort that failed to lift his colleagues as St. Paul’s came back once again through Ciaran Hetherington.

The West Belfast side had the bit now firmly between their teeth as Stephen Rooney sent over his seventh point of the game in the 28th minute to edge his side ahead for the first time before Conal Finnegan saw his effort come back of a post with keeper Liam Mulvenna stranded.

A great comeback by St. Paul’s led by the accuracy of Stephen Rooney who top scored on the night but he was only one of a handful of stars in a dogged St. Paul’s side. Keeper Joe Gillen pulled off a couple of good saves and Sean Lawell, Fionntan Gamble, Patrick Doyle and James Farrell all impressed.

Spare a thought for Glenarm. They have come close to Junior Championship glory over the last number of years and must have felt at half time that this was going to be their year. Darren Hamill was immense during the opening half and might have had two goals while Jake Hamilton, Ben O’Boyle, Daniel Black and Dylan McLaughlin gave it everything on the night.

St. Paul’s: Joe Gillen, Daire Stevenson, Christopher Murray, Ciaran O’Carroll, Andrew McMorrow, Carbara O’Callaghan, Sean Lawell, Fionntan Gamble, Declan  Chapman,, Sean O’Carroll, Ciaran Rea, Patrick Doyle, Stephen Rooney, James Farrell. Subs: Conal Finnegan, Gerard Carberry, Kirk Murray, Fra Sewell.

Glenarm: Liam Mulvenna, Paul Magill, Barry Hamill, Aidan O’Neill, Declan McDermott, Jake Hamilton, Ben O’Boyle, Conal Ward, Daniel Black, Ryan McLaughlin, Dylan McLaughlin, Patrick McAuley, Kevin O’Boyle, Darren Hamill, Sean are. Subs: Rory Mulvenna for Conal Ward

Referee: Vincent Boyle (Dunloy)

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