Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship – Group 2
Naomh Eánna 1-12 Loughgiel 2-24
Paul McIntyre reports from Páric Eánna, Hightown
As expected Loughgiel saw off the challenge of Naomh Eánna on Sunday afternoon to claim top spot in Group 2 of this year’s Bathshack sponsored senior championship. A dominant second half which saw the Shamrocks push a three point lead out to fifteen-point win. While the scoreboard suggests it was an easy win, the final score was a bit harsh on David Ross and Jamie Curran’s side.
Only three points separated the two sides at the break as underdogs Naomh Eánna gave as good as they got but they failed to make the most of their possession. Aided by a strong breeze, the homeside tried to hit the twin towers of John McGoldrick and Darrach Cooper, but more than often the delivery would be overcooked as they racked up eleven first half wides.
It was a Naomh Eánna attack that missed the physical presence of county player Joe Maskey greatly. Without a direct powerful runner, they became over reliant on the long ball and Loughgiel sweeper Tony McCloskey was happy to mop up plenty of breaking ball. They were also dealt a defensive blow with Cormac Ross also ruled out through injury. Eoin Conlon came in at centre half back with Mark Donaghy retreating back to act as a sweeper in a move which was working, but once the homeside went down to fourteen players, Loughgiel seized the opportunity and went for the jugular.
For the visitors, Benny McCarry failed to recover from his ankle injury picked up last week against St Galls so Joey Scullion kept his place on the edge of the square while the return of Liam Watson will have to wait for another two weeks as he continues his work to get to full fitness.
Aided by the elements, Naomh Eánna went route one from the first minute and took the lead o six minutes when Matthew O’Hare’s clearance from his own half deceived everyone and found its way to the back of the Loughgiel net much to the surprise of Chris O’Connell. The Shamrocks responded well and with James McNaughton in a rich scoring vein of form, the sides were level after 12 minutes.
Naomh Eánna then enjoyed their best spell of the game and rattled off the next five points. The pick of them a sideline cut from John McGoldrick, while defenders Niall O’Connor and Oliver Breen also got in on the scoring act.
It was then Loughgiel’s turn to work the scoreboard as their half forward trio of Eddie McCloskey, Ryan McKee and McNaughton all helped the Shamrocks take control of the game and creep into a two-point lead, 0-11 to 1-6 with five minutes to the half time break.
McGoldrick pointed as Naomh Eánna approached the half time break in front but as soon as the clock turned red, McNaughton was put in the clear by Shea Casey and despatch the ball to Curran’s goal with great aplomb. This helped the Shamrocks to a three-point lead, 1-12 to 1-9.
With the wind now in their backs Loughgiel started to pick off their scores with a bit more ease as Naomh Eánna relied on frees to stay in touch. Their cause not helped when the lost midfielder Higgins to a second yellow card.
There was still only five points between the sides as they emerged after the second half water break, but as the rain lashed down in Glengormley, so did the Loughgiel scores and an injury time goal from Eddie McCloskey sealed a semi-final against either St Johns or St Galls in two weeks’ time.
Naomh Eánna: P. Curran, N. O’Connor, M. Mullan, M. O’Hare (1-0), O. Breen (0-1), E. Conlon, E. O’Connor, R. Donaghy, J. Higgins (0-1), K. Jennings (0-1), C. Jennings (0-2 2f), D. Lowry, J. McGoldrick (0-4 1f, 1 sideline), D. Cooper, M. Donaghy (0-2).
Subs: D. Maguire for D. Lowry 28 mins.
C. O’Connell, S. Dobbin, T. McCloskey, R. McCloskey, O. McFadden, D. McMullan, Declan McCloskey, D. McKinlay (0-1), Daniel McCloskey (0-2), R. McKee (0-3), J. McNaughton (1-13, 10f), E. McCloskey (1-4), S. McGrath, J. Scullion, S. Casey (0-1).
Subs: B. McAuley for D. McKinley & S. O’Boyle for J. Scullion, both 46 mins, P. Boyle for S. McGrath 52 mins.
Referee: Mr Michael Hardy