First half goal-rush eases Gorts through to decider

Casement Social Club

Junior Hurling Championship Semi-Final

Rasharkin 3-8 Gort na Mona 5-15

Wednesday September 18

Brendan McTaggart reports from Slemish Park, Ballymena

A devastating scoring spell, which yielded four goals in as many minutes midway through the first half, paved the way for Gort na Mona to seal a place in the Junior Hurling Championship final with St Paul’s.  The Turf Lodge side had 13 points to spare over Rasharkin at the end of the hour, thanks largely to a fantastic display from Desi McClean.  The former county man helped himself to 3-7, his three goals all coming in that four minute onslaught in the first half.

Patrick McCaffrey and substitute Christopher McErlean added the other goals for the Gorts who put in a hugely impressive and controlled display throughout.  Rasharkin started brightly and led by three points when Conor McFerran scored their second goal in the eighth minute, Brendan ‘Bimbo’ McMullan with their first major but Gort were sensational in the first half.  They held an 11 point lead by the short whistle and kept Rasharkin at arm’s length in the second half.  The men from Dreen competed much better after the restart and kept a much tighter eye on McClean but the Gort defence were imperious led superbly by Padraig McHugh.  Rasharkin had substitute Paul McMullan sent off with two minutes of the hour remaining but it had no effect on the score. 

Under the floodlights at Slemish Park, there wasn’t an air on a perfect night for hurling.  Gort showed their intent when McClean fired over their opening score from a free in the first minute but the Rasharkin response was perfect.  A Declan McKay sideline wasn’t dealt with in the Gort full back line and ‘Bimbo’ took full advantage, sweeping the sliotar to the back of the net for the games first goal in the second minute.

The Turf Lodge men answered with three points in quick succession, Darren Boyd, Martin Ward and McClean (free) as they began to get used to the conditions.  Both sides were struggling with the floodlights although McClean was already a handful for the Rasharkin defence.  Three clean catches in the opening five minutes with direct ball played into his path gave the Gorts an edge in attack that Rasharkin struggled with.  Donagh Quigg split the posts in the seventh minute to tie the sides once again before Rasharkin scored their second goal.  James Scally sending the sliotar into the heart of the Gort defence where Conor McFerran applied the finish.

Rasharkin were causing the Gort na Mona full back line plenty of problems but the Turf Lodge side went on to produce five minutes that put them in control of the semi-final.  Patrick McCaffrey split the uprights before McClean hammered a 21 yard free high into the back of the Rasharkin net, despite five men on the line.  A thunderous drive and while Tiarnan O’Boyle responded with a fine point with the next attack, the Gorts were celebrating a further three goals with the next three attacks, Patrick McCaffrey and two for McClean.  The Gorts fourth and McClean’s third was a piece of individual brilliance, collecting the sliotar and charging on goal, McClean spotted Brian Og O’Neill coming off his line and he lobbed the sliotar over the Rasharkin ‘keeper to the back of the net to open a nine point lead.

Rasharkin rejigged and dropped McKay in as sweeper but the damage was done at that stage.  Points from Eamon McNeill, Shane Hasson (free), Tiarnan O’Boyle and James Scally were in response to white flags from Martin Ward, Thomas McCaffrey, Connor McCann and three from McClean (two frees and one ’65) to take his first half tally to 3-5.

Half time: Gort na Mona 4-11 Rasharkin 2-6

After the first half fireworks, the second half had a sedate feel for the opening exchanges after the restart.  Rasharkin tighten up in defence and while they began to get to grips with the Gort attacking unit, they got no change from a well organised and strong Gort na Mona defence.

Shane Hasson’s second free of the night opened the scoring four minutes after the break but that was Rasharkin’s last score for 16 minutes.  A brace of points from McClean (one free) preceded their fifth goal of the night in the 44th minute.  The impressive Patrick McCaffrey sending a high ball into the heart of the Rasharkin defence where substitute Christopher McErlean met the sliotar first time, pulling to the back of the net with his first touch of the match.  A superb goal that effectively ended the match as a contest.  Gort na Mona began to unload their bench while maintaining control.

Martin Ward’s third white flag of the match opened a 16 point lead for the Gort’s before Rasharkin scored their third major.  Collecting a ball in from Scally, substitute Eoin Kennedy kicked the sliotar beyond Padraig Fryers in the Gort goals.

Rasharkin were reduced to 14 men when substitute Paul McMullan saw red for dangerous use of his hurl in the 58th minute but it had no bearing on the final score.  Scally (free) and Patrick McCaffrey rounded off the scoring as Gort na Mona saw out the remaining time with little alarm.

A solid performance from the Turf Lodge side who will go into the decider against St Pauls on Saturday week as favourites.

TEAMS

Rasharkin: Brian Og O’Neill; Conor Doherty, Daniel Doherty, Liam Tunney; James Scally, Aiden McKeever, Conor Hasson; Emmet McFerran, Tiarnan O’Boyle; Shane Hasson, Declan McKay, Donagh Quigg; Eamon McNeill, Brendan McMullan, Conor McFerran.

Subs: Daniel Hasson for T O’Boyle (39); Eoin Kennedy for E McNeill (45); Paul McMullan for L Tunney (45); Shane Doherty for B McMullan (57).

Scorers: Brendan McMullan 1-00; Conor McFerran 1-00; Eoin Kennedy 1-00; Tiarnan O’Boyle 0-2; Shane Hasson 0-2 (2 f’s); James Scally 0-2 (1 f); Donagh Quigg 0-1; Eamon McNeill 0-1.

Gort na Mona: Padraig Fryers; James Connolly, Neil Henry, Christopher Devlin; Gavin McKenna, Padraig McHugh, Mark Rea; Declan Hughes, Patrick McCaffrey; Thomas McCaffrey, Martin Ward, Connor McCann; Brendan Quinn, Darren Boyd, Desi McClean.

Subs: Christopher McErlean for N Henry (42); Patrick Cournane for B Quinn (44); Sean Doyle for M Rea (49); Conor Healy for M Ward (55).

Scorers: Desi McClean 3-7 (1-4 f’s, 1 ’65); Patrick McCaffrey 1-2; Martin Ward 0-3; Christopher McErlean 1-00; Connor McCann 0-1; Darren Boyd 0-1; Thomas McCaffrey 0-1

Referee: Malachy Leech (Oisins)


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