Tir na nÓg reach the promised land

Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-Final

Tír na nÓg: 2.16 (22) Glenariffe: 2.14 (20)

By Aimee McAtamney

Tír na nÓg hurlers reached the Intermediate Hurling Final, after a nail biting encounter with Oisin’s Glenariffe at Loughgiel on Saturday. A game that was drawn 7 times throughout sixty plus minutes served up everything for the couple of hundred spectators present. Despite being three points down at the second water break, Tír na nÓg found another gear to clinch a well deserved and long over due, two point win which sets them up for a clash with South West neighbours Cloney Gaels next weekend

 It took both teams a number of minutes to settle with Tír na nÓg striking two wides and Oisin’s hitting four but after three minutes, the blues were the first to settle their nerves when Daniel Martin set Eamon Óg McAllister off on a run. The talented forward only had one thing on his mind, and he cut through the Oisins defence to find the back of the net and get his side off to the best possible start.

With both teams evenly matched throughout the pitch much of the play was balanced, Seamus McDonnell finally broke the deadlock for Glenariffe and got their first score from play. Man of the match Caoimhin Duffin who controlled matters from the very beginning, inspired his team with a huge score from centre half back before younger brother and top scorer Seán was fouled and got his first of 14 scores of the evening.

Glenariffe were now about to hit their purple patch. With pin point accuracy Kieran McKendry, Conor Patterson and Shane O’Connor were playing delightful balls into their full forward line, and the Oisin’s took full advantage. Firstly, Paul McDonnell stole the ball of the Tír na nÓg defence, he rounded his defender and found the top corner of the net. Dancing around the defence it was the turn of Caolan O’Connor, two minutes later. He was unfortunate to be denied by Kevin Sheerin who was at full stretch to stop his effort. Before the first water break Alex O’Boyle (1) and Sean Duffin (2) traded frees and Kieran McKendry, who was influencing the game, also pointed to leave the margin at 1 after 15 minutes.

Before half time both teams would score a major, with the clock running onto 38 minutes still only one point separated two evenly matched sides. Sean Duffin showed composure all evening even when he was fouled himself, he was capable of resetting and splitting the posts. Inside danger man Caolan O’Connor had the Tír na nÓg defence in turmoil on occasions after 20 minutes he pointed. A foul on Ciaran McKeown who was contributing to attack after attack for Tír na nÓg, gave Seán Duffin another opportunity to point. The next 60 seconds brought a different intensity to the game. Alex O’Boyle won a ball on the sideline, he ran direct and burned off his man to beat the keeper on his near post. This put Oisin’s one point in front, but the lead was short lived, as from the immediate puck out Colm Duffin broke the ball into the path of Niall Devlin who pulled on the spilled ball to find the back of the Oisins net. Kevin Sheerin was called upon again when Paul McDonnell’s effort ricocheted off his shoulder over the bar. With the game in the balance again, Conor Kerr helped his side take the lead with a point from play before Seán Duffin hit his sixth score if the game. Before the short whistle Ciaran Logan got the score of the half from wide on the sideline, to give Tír na nÓg a one point advantage at half time in an exciting 38 minutes of hurling.

The Oisin’s started much stronger at the beginning of the second half with scores from Seamus McDonnell and Alex O’Boyle, but Tír na nÓg introduced their captain Ryan O’Neill to the fray and it was clear to see his immediate impact. With only 5 minutes played in the second half Sean Duffin opted to go low with a 20m free, but Oisin’s full back Randal McDonnell dealt easily with this shot. Duffin made amends moments later when he converted yet another free but Alex O’Boyle then swung the advantage back in Glenariffe’s favour with a free and a 65′ finding the target. Substitute Dan McKillop also had an immediate impact, with a point from play which helped his side take the largest margin in the game to three points.

Before the second water break Duffin and Seamus McDonnell exchanged  point and when play resumed sharp shooter Duffin pointed again after a free on brother Caoimhin. Substitute Kevin Kerr was involved in the next play for the blues when he won a high ball, and passed it out to Colm Duffin who handed the ball to brother Seán to cut the deficit to the minimum once again. Paul McMullan was having a great game between the sticks for the Oisins and when he was called upon on the 52nd minute he made no mistake and pulled off a great save from Sean Duffin’s shot

 With his team 2 points down Seán Duffin took the game by the scruff of the neck as he scored a point from play, one from a free and then produced the score of the game, a sideline cut from 35 metres out to put his side in the lead, a lead they held until the end. Glenariffe pressed hard to try and salvage the game, but Tír na nÓg defence stood firm through Tony Martin, Daniel Martin and Christy Sheerin who won two frees out in the dying minutes, one of which Duffin converted from within his own half. The Randalsown fans were calling for the final whistle as the game went over 70 minutes but to their relief the long awaited whistle came and Tír na nÓg were in their first Intermediate final.

Tír na nÓg now face local rivals Clooney Gaels Ahoghill in the Intermediate Championship next Saturday.

Tír na nÓg

1. K.Sheerin 2. T. Martin 3. C. Sheerin 4. D. Martin 5. C. Fitzgerald 6. C. Duffin 7. C. O’Neill 8. A. McNeilly 9. C. McKeown 10. E. Óg McAllister 11. C. Logan 12. S. Duffin 13. N. Devlin 14. C. Duffin 15. S. McKinley 17. R. O’Neill 18. O. McAtamney 19. D. Fagan 20. D. Mallon 21. S. Carey 22. P. Sheerin 23. E. Martin 24. S. Donnelly 25. K. Kerr Subs: R. O’Neill for C. Fitzgerald, S. Donnelly for S. McKinley Scorers: E. Óg McAllister (1.0), Caoimhin Duffin (0.1), S. Duffin (0.14- 11 frees), N. Devlin (1.0), C. Logan (0.1)

Glenariffe

1. P. McMullan 2. M. Haughey 3. R. McDonnell 4. C. McToal 5. N. Murray 6. C. R Patterson 7. D. O’ Boyle 8. S. O’ Connor 9. K. McKendry 10. S. McDonnell 11. C. Kerr 12. A. Cosgrove 13. C. O’Connor 14. P. McDonnell 15. A. O’Boyle 16. S. McToal 17. M. McAllister 18. A. McDonnell 19. D. McKillop 20. M. O’Boyle 21. P. Burns 22. D. Haughey 23. O. Kearney 24. K. McDonnell Subs: D. McKillop for C. Kerr, K. McDonnell for S. McDonnell, M. O’Boyle Scorers: S. McDonnell (0.4), P. McDonnell (1.1), A. O’Boyle (1.4- 2 frees/1 65′), K. McKendry (0.1), C. O’Connor (0.1), C. Kerr (0.1), D. McKillop (0.2)


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