Creagh Concrete Minor Hurling Championship Final
Loughgiel 4-15 Ballycastle 1-15
Saturday September 12
Brendan McTaggart reports from Armoy
An inspired performance from Rian ‘Bubles’ McMullan, and four goals over the hour, ensured Loughgiel retained their Minor Hurling Championship title with nine points to spare over Ballycastle. The sides were tied at half time at Armoy but the Shamrocks put in a magnificent second half to make it two minor crowns in a row for the Healy Park side.
McMullan top scored for the Shamrocks with 1-7 over the hour, just one point of his tally coming from placed ball as he tortured the Ballycastle defence. He had plenty of company however. Ronan McCollum and Jack McCloskey were livewires in the Loughgiel attack while defensively, their captain Ruairi McCloskey pushed McMullan all the way for the man of the match accolade. Time and again when the Town attacked, the Shamrock’s full back was the one who came clear in an eye-catching performance.
Ballycastle had the elements in their favour during the first 30 minutes and while they attacked with verve and style, Loughgiel’s ability to score majors proved to be the difference on the day. The Town were on the back foot for the second half having not taken advantage of the considerable wind blowing at their back.
For Ballycastle, Seamus McAuley starred. A performance full of energy style and class while Feargal McKiernan, Ronan Laverty and Mark McClean also shone bright for the Black and Amber. McAuley scoring their major late in the game but it was too little too late as the Shamrocks had put daylight between the sides by that stage.
The Shamrocks settled into the final quickest with Conor O’Mullan and Jack McCloskey going close to scoring goals before McCloskey scored their opening major. The sides were tied on two points each when Rian McMullan and Ronan McCollum pressed and harried the Ballycastle defence to turnover possession. McMullan spotted the run of Jack McCloskey and despite Tiernan Smyth’s attempt to intercept, McCloskey gathered and fired home.
Ballycastle began to find their feet in the game with McAuley and McKiernan influential. They held a two point lead with four minutes of the first half remaining and were in the ascendancy when Loughgiel struck their second major. A long ball from Conor Dickson causing problems in the Ballycastle full back line and with the sliotar falling lose, Ronan McCollum pounced.
The sides were tied on 2-5 to 0-11 at the short whistle and it was advantage the Shamrocks. It was going to take something special for the Town to get over the line but the Shamrocks attacking unit moved through the gears in the second half.
Rian O’Mullan, Ronan McCollum and Conor O’Mullan finding their range with Christy McGarry adding his name to the score sheet. The Shamrocks held a four point lead by the second half water break but the Shamrocks took a massive step to retaining their crown with their third goal.
Ruairi McCloskey sending a free from deep to the edge of the square and Rian O’Mullan was first to the breaking ball. Pulling the sliotar first time to the back of the net and when he landed the next two points, he stretched the Dunloy lead nine points with just under 10 minutes of the match remaining.
The Shamrock’s fourth goal came with three minutes of the hour remaining with Eunan Laverty getting his reward for a tireless hour for his side and while Seamus McAuley took his tally to 1-7 two minutes later, it wasn’t enough for the Town.
Tempers frayed and boiled over at the end of the hour with Enda Og McGarry and Cailin O’Connor seeing red but it had little impact on the final score. Loughgiel were home and hosed by that stage as the Town cast frustrated figures all over the pitch. Their wait for a first minor title since 1990 continues while the conveyor belt of talent coming from the Shamrocks continues to churn.
Loughgiel: Kevin McAuley; Finn Henry, Ruairi McCloskey, Ruairi McCormick; Conal McCloskey, Enda Og McGarry, Conor Dickson; Christy McGarry, Damian Quinn; Eunan Laverty, Conor McCormick, Conor O’Mullan; Ronan McCollum, Rian McMullan, Jack McCloskey
Subs: Ben McGarry for D Quinn (59)
Scorers: Rian McMullan 1-7 (1f); Ronan McCollum 1-2; Jack McCloskey 1-1; Damian Quinn 0-2; Christy McGarry 0-2 (1f, 1’65); Conor O’Mullan 0-1
Ballycastle: Tiarnan Smyth; Patrick McAllister, Liam McCollum, Mark McClean; Eoin Boylan, Ronan Laverty, Jack McGowan; Seamus McAuley, Reuben McClean; Jack Egan, Cailin O’Connor, Feargal McKiernan; Darragh Kelly, James Bakewell, Joseph McToal
Subs: Jack Colgan for D Kelly (49); Croistai McAuley for L McCollum (49); Tiarnan Hegarty for P McAllister (inj)
Scorers: Seamus McAuley 1-7 (5f); Feargal McKiernan 0-4; Cailin O’Connor 0-1; Jack Egan 0-1; Reuben McClean 0-1 (1f); Mark McClean 0-1
Referee: Vincent Boyle (Dunloy)