Battling second half sees St. Enda’s lift North Antrim Minor B title

North Antrim Minor  B Hurling final

St. Enda’s 1-13 Clooney Gaels 0-13

St Enda’s produced a battling second half performance to overcome the challenge of Clooney Gaels in this North Antrim Minor B Hurling final at a wet and windy Slemish Park, Ballymena tonight. The Ahoghill side had recovered from an early goal from Oisin Quinn to gain the upper hand in the opening half, striking six unanswered points to lead 0-6 to 1-1 after 15minutes.

Michael Devenny was the man who got St. Enda’s opening point but Clooney Gaels came storming back with points from James O’Boyle, Luke Mullen, Liam Kelly, Colla McDonnell (free), Paddy Logan and a second free from the sweet striking McDonnell to move two in front at the end of the opening quarter.

Luke O’Connor replied from a 40 meter free and at this stage the Clooney side were enjoying the better possession but shot three wides before Colla McDonnell extended their lead from another long range free and that was how it stood at the first water break.

When play resumed the Hightown side started to get a foothold in the game and Eoin Logue dragged his shot wide of the upright after Fionntan O’Connell spilled a dropping delivery in the 20th minute. Ahoghill replied and Colla McDonnell sent another long range free between the uprights and followed with another from play to put his side 0-9 to 1-2 ahead after 23 minutes and they were dictating matters at this stage.

The impressive Ronan Eager pulled one back for St. Enda’s but again Clooney found a response and Colla McDonnell split the upright from near the left hand touchline before Luke O’Connor pointed a 20 meter free for the Glengormley side to leave it 0-10 to 1-5 for the South West side at the break.

After the break it was St. Enda’s who slowly wrestled control from their opponents and the excellent Ronan Eager closed the gap to one in the opening minute before Luke O’Connor levelled matters from a long range free.

As St Enda’s continued to take the game to their opponents Fiontan O’Connell pulled off a great save to deny Eoin Logue before O’Connor pointed another free to put his side ahead for just the second time in the game but Clooney Gaels hit back through James O’Boyle to square the contest once more by the 40th minute.

Both sides were battling for every ball as if their lives depended on it but St. Enda’s were starting to get on top though Colla McDonnell looked to be in for a goal but he delayed his shot and was closed down by the Hightown side’s defence.

Play was becoming a bit ragged with the underfoot conditions becoming more difficult by the rain but Ronan Eager soloed through the heart of the Clooney defence to put his side ahead for the third time and they were beginning to enjoy more and more of the play.

They received a setback however when they had a player side-lined following a bad pull and a second yellow card but it seemed to galvanise them as they headed for the second water break.

On the restart Colla McDonnell levelled the contest from a close range free but almost immediately Ronan Eager restored St. Enda’s lead and the strong running number 11 was beginning to cause a lot of problems for the opposition.

The Clooney side were now struggling for scores but a good move involving Colla McDonnell and Conhuir Johnston placed Paddy Logan in the clear and he brought matters all square once again with ten minutes remaining and it still looked anybody’s game.

It was to prove to be the Ahoghill side’s last score however with St. Enda’s hitting the front once more through the impressive Eager and in a strong finish Michael Devenny added a couple more to see his side three ahead at the fulltime whistle

St. Enda’s: Pearse Rodgers, Sean Murray, Declan Breen, Conor McAllister, Colm Curran, Dara Maguire, Ciaran McAllister, Luke O’Connor, Owen Kennedy, Eoin Logue, Ronan Eager, Conor McNicholl, Oscar Smyth, Oisin Quinn, Michael Devenny. Subs Eoin O’Hare, Ryan Noble, Ronan Kalla, Malachy McGibbon, Ciaran McGinnley,

St Enda’s scorers:  Michael Devenny 0-4, Luke O’Connor 0-5, Ronan Eager 0-4, Oisin Quinn 1-0                                                     

Clooney Gaels: Fiontan O’Connell, Shea Neeson, Joseph Logan, Charlie McCloskey, Liam Kelly, Sean O’Neill, Harry O’Donnell, James O’Boyle, Luke Mulholland, Luke Mullen, Patrick Dougan, Shay Madden, Conhuir Johnston, Matthew Mullen, Cola McDonnell.

Clooney Gaels scorers: Colla McDonnell 0-6, James O’Boyle 0-3, Paddy Logan 0-2, LiamKelly 0-1, Luke Mullen 0-1

Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)

Paddy Gray (North Antrim hurling development officer) with St. Enda’s captain Oscar Smyth.

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