Naomh Éanna are champions as the Faughs run out of time

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship Final

Naomh Éanna 3-14 Carey Faughs 1-17

Saturday September 28

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Mhuire, Cushendall

Naomh Éanna’s incredible 2019 continued on Saturday evening as they claimed the Intermediate Hurling Championship for the first time in their history.  But my word they were made to fight every step of the way for their victory.  Carey Faughs, the unlucky bridesmaid’s once again but they had Naomh Éanna begging for the final whistle with the mother of all comebacks.

The Glengormely men opened a seven point deficit when Philip Curran buried his second major of the final.  Eight minutes remaining and life was good for Terrence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton’s side.  Not so.  Carey weren’t for laying down and reduced that Naomh Éanna lead to two points going into injury time.  They looked for all the world to be reeling the Hightown Road side in but somehow, Naomh Éanna saw the three minutes of injury time out.  The final score of the match fittingly going to John McGoldrick, the Naomh Éanna man put on an exhibition from placed ball over the hour with 1-9 and a man of the match performance.

Mark Donaghy at centre half, returning to his home turf excelled as did Cormac Ross and Killian Jennings while Philip Curran’s two majors was a just reward for his tireless efforts on the day.  Connor McBride top scored for the Faughs with seven of his nine points coming from frees while Cathal McAuley’s early goal gave them the dream start.  The contribution off the bench was vital for the Ballyvoy men with Daniel Martin and Martin Hunter splitting four points evenly in what looked like match turning cameo’s off the bench while Patrick Gillen grew in stature as the match progressed.  Peadar McVeigh put in a truly incredible performance from half back and certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side along with Kevin Murphy in the corner but Naomh Éanna weren’t to be denied adding the championship crown to their league promotion gained earlier this season.

Both sides hit the ground running from the first whistle and while the scores weren’t exactly flowing, Naomh Éanna and Carey played with super intensity and tackled ferociously in the opening exchanges.  Philip Curran with the opening point and Cathal McAuley following suit soon after for the Faughs but they soon changed a solid start to the dream opening when they scored the opening goal of the match in the third minute.  James McCouig sending the sliotar the way of Peader McVeigh from a quick free but his effort from distance dropped short.  Martin Curran in goals for Naomh Éanna couldn’t control the dropping ball and McAuley took full advantage.  Hammering the loose sliotar to the back of the net. 

The Naomh Éanna response was emphatic.  Keeping the Faughs scoreless for eight minutes, they scored 1-4 themselves to retake the lead and take control of the final.  Incredibly, all the scores coming from the hurl of McGoldrick.  Three frees and one point from play before scoring the major in the 13th minute, McGoldrick finishing after a superb move involving Philip Curran and Manus Mullan.

Carey replied with a brace of frees from Connor McBride before McGoldrick did the same for his side.  Carey edged the closing stages of the half with James Black and Connor McBride firing over brilliant scores either side of Eddie O’Connor’s 29th minute point to leave the Glengormley side 1-8 to 1-5 ahead at the short whistle.

The half time score was a fair reflection of the action in the first half with Naomh Éanna’s scoring burst effectively the difference.  The Hightown Road side came out of the changing rooms on fire though with McGoldrick (’65) opening the scoring and Philip Curran landing his first of two second half goals.  Manus Mullan once again in the thick of the build-up as Naomh Éanna opened a seven point lead just three minutes into the second half.

Carey needed a response and they hit back immediately.  Connor McBride (free) and Sean McLoughlin splitting the uprights before McAuley took his tally to 1-2 with a superb side line in the 37th minute.

Edward O’Connor doubled his own tally to briefly halt the Carey charge before Ruairi Donaghy opened a six point lead moments later.  Connor McBride and McGoldrick swapped frees before Carey turned the screw once again.  Connor McBride (free) and two points from substitute Daniel Martin bringing the Faughs to within a green flag with ten minutes of the match remaining.

It was now Naomh Éanna who needed a response and they did so with match defining fashion.  Matthew O’Hare first splitting the posts before Philip Curran emphatically scored his second and Naomh Éanna’s third major of the final.  Killian Jennings this time turning provider, escaping the presence of Kevin Murphy for one of the few times during the final, Jennings passed to Curran unselfishly and he applied the finish to open a seven point lead with eight minutes remaining.

Just like their semi-final win over Sarsfields, the Faughs showed incredible spirit in the time that remained.  They were denied what looked like a penalty when Rocket was dragged down but in Connor McBride they had a man possessed with a sole purpose of dragging his side back into the final.  Another brace of points (one free) preceded two superb points from substitute Martin Hunter and Carey looked like they could possibly pull of an incredible comeback.  Connor McBride’s seventh free of the night brought them to within two points in the last minute of normal time but time wasn’t the friend of the men from Ballyvoy.  Naomh Éanna seemed to all but seal their maiden Intermediate crown with a free in the second minute of injury time and they saw out the little time that remained.

A breath-taking ending to a pulsating championship final and a fine advert for hurling within our county.  Naomh Éanna’s stock within the game continues to grow as they add the Intermediate hurling championship to the football crown they won 12 months ago.  They’ll be playing at the top table in both big ball and stick codes in 2020 but for now their thoughts will turn to an Ulster campaign where they will meet the winners of the Derry championship between Banagher and Swatragh (final 29th September) on Sunday October 13.

TEAMS

Naomh Éanna: Martin Curran; Niall O’Connor, Rian Gillen, Ruairi Diamond; Cormac Ross, Mark Donaghy, Joe Maskey; Ryan Bogue, Ruairi Donaghy; Philip Curran, Manus Mullan, Edward O’Connor; John McGoldrick, Matthew O’Hare, Killian Jennings.

Subs: Ruairi Crummey for E O’Connor (54); Cormac Jennings for K Jennings (inj); Michael McGivern for R Diamond (inj).

Scorers: John McGoldrick 1-9 (7 f’s, 1 ’65); Philip Curran 2-1; Edward O’Connor 0-2; Ruairi Donaghy 0-1; Matthew O’Hare 0-1.

Carey: Chris Butler; Kevin Murphy, Sean McBride, Patrick Gillen; Michael McVeigh, James McCouaig, Peader McVeigh; Colm McBride, Sean McLoughlin; Caolan McCaughan, John McBride, James Black; Fiachra McVeigh, Cathal McAuley, Connor McBride.

Subs: Daniel Martin for J McBride (41); Conaire Butler for F McVeigh (42); Nat Hunter for S McLoughlin (48); Martin Hunter for C McAuley (50).

Scorers: Connor McBride 0-9 (7 f’s); Cathal McAuley 1-2; Daniel Martin 0-2; Martin Hunter 0-2; James Black 0-1; Sean McLoughlin 0-1.

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)


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