Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship Group 2
Naomh Eánna 0-12 St Galls 2-17
St Galls pulled away late on to score a deserving victory at Hightown on day 1 of this year’s Bathshack sponsored Antrim senior hurling championship. The scoreline suggests that this may have been all one-way traffic but the result hung in the balance until a late scoring burst of 1-3 sealed the points for the West Belfast side. It was a frustrating senior debut for the Glengormley outfit. St Galls dominated the puck out from both keepers while their forward division were only able to contribute 0-4 from play.
St Galls on the other hand had match winners in every sector from Sean Burke in defence to CJ McGourty in attack, while in the middle third Niall O’Neill, Jackson McGreevy and Kieran McGourty would also have been contenders for man of the match. On the edge of the square Conor Burke looked threating every time he secured possession and but for a stunning point blank save in first half injury time from Naomh Eánna netminder Martin Curran, would’ve walked away from this game with a hattrick.
Afterwards St Galls manager Chris Dornan was full of praise for his side. “I think we were the better team over all. They had a wee purple patch first five, ten minutes, but I thought we really battled well and we had the match winners.” One player who was singled out for special praise was 1st half replacement Marcus Donnelly. Donnelly, who Dornan described as “brilliant” came into the game in bizarre circumstances after Karl Stewart tangled with Mark Donaghy going for the games first ball. The St Galls stalwart fell awkwardly and had to be withdrawn with an ankle injury, but Donnelly came in and made his intentions clear that he wants to be in the starting 15 the next day out against Loughgiel.
Naomh Eánna started well and when Daniel Lowry knocked over a point on the ten-minute mark, the homeside lead 0-3 to 0-1, but when CJ McGourty converted a ‘65’ just before the water break, the sides were level at 0-4. But there were warning signs before the first break as both McGourty and Donnelly both got in behind the Naomh Eánna defence only for some last-ditch tackling preventing gilt edged goal chances.
On 24 minutes Sean Burke did find himself in such a position and his low shot to the net gave Curran no chance. Burke was put in the clear by a clever reverse pass from CJ McGourty which took out two home defenders. This gave the visitors a three-point advantage but Naomh Eánna responded well with scores from Cormac Ross and Cormac Jennings to go in at half time all square. Naomh Eánna 0-10 St Galls 1-07.
The second half belonged to the visitors as CJ McGourty added three points in the opening eight minutes, with brother Kieran assisting on the third after intercepting a Naomh Eánna puck out. St Galls dominated the midfield battle where Jackson McGreevy in particular shone. Darrach Cooper replied for Naomh Eánna as the home team tried to force their way back into the contest but three more McGourty frees gave St Galls a five-point cushion as the game slipped away from the hosts.
As the game ticked into injury time St Galls found another gear and went for the kill. Firstly, CJ McGourty brought his haul for the day to 0-10, and after proving provider for Mark Napier, Kieran McGourty capped an excellent performance with a score of his own before Burke got in behind the home defence to poke the ball under the advancing Curran.
Naomh Eánna: Martin Curran, Manus Mullan, Niall O’Connor, Ruairi Diamond, Mark Donaghy, Cormac Ross (0-3 3f), Edward O’Connor, Joe Maskey (0-1), Eoin Conlon (0-2), Jason Higgins, Ruairi Donaghy (0-1), Cormac Jennings (0-3 2f), Daniel Lowry (0-1), Darrach Cooper (0-1), Killian Jennings.
Replacements: Oliver Breen for Jason Higgins HT, Aidan McGowan for Cormac Ross 51 minutes, Phillip Curran for Oliver Breen 54 minutes & Michael McGivern for Ruairi Diamond 58 minutes.
St Galls: Kurtis McGreevy, Liam McCluskey, Sean Burke, Jack Hopkins, Niall O’Neill, Aodhan Gallagher, Ryan Irvine, Anthony Healy, Jackson McGreevy (0-2), Karl Stewart, Kieran McGourty (0-1), Patrick Friel (0-2 1f), CJ McGourty (0-10, 7f, 1 ‘65’), Conor Burke (2-0), Mark Napier (0-2).
Replacements: Marcus Donnelly for Karl Stewart 1 minute & Gregory McGreevy for Anthony Healy 47 minutes.
Referee: Mr Colin Murray.