Town snatched U21 title after great last quarter

Down Memory Lane

Antrim Under 21 Huring final 2012

Ballycastle 2-13 Cushendall 1-15

Team captain Paul McLernon lifts the Neill Patterson Memorial Cup for the U21 Hurling Championship after Ballycastle’s win over Cushendall in the 2001 Under 21 final in Loughgiel

A fantastic final quarter saw Ballycastle snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against luckless Cushendall in Saturday evening’s pulsating Under 21 Hurling final at Fr Healy Park, Loughgiel to claim their third title at this grade in six years.

Four minutes into the second-half Cushendall looked winners all the way when they stretched their three point half-time advantage to six, and they were five ahead again entering the final quarter after replying to a brief Ballycastle comeback.  The Ballycastle defence had been struggling against a potent Dall forward line, with full forward Dominic Delargy tormentor in chief, but when it mattered most they raised their game and during the final nineteen minutes of play (sixteen normal time and three of injury time) they conceded just one more point, and that came from Cushendall midfielder Paddy McNaughton.

Dominic Delargy celebrates after scoring the Cushendall goal.

At the other end the twin strike partnership of Ciaran Clarke and Conor McGarry got to work and boosted by a goal from McGarry in the fifty-third minute they edged one point ahead to set up a finish which will long be remembered. Paddy McNaughton’s fine point on the run brought the Ruairi Og level in the fifty-fifth minute but in the five minutes of normal time which remained, plus the three minutes of extra time, they failed to raise another flag.

Ballycastle appeared to have thrown their chance away when Ciaran Clarke missed from a free and Eoin McAlonan squandered two great chances from play, and when the ball broke to Cushendall sharpshooter Eoin Laverty thirty meters from goal there seemed to be only one outcome.

 When Laverty pulled his shot wide of the target extra-time seemed the likely outcome, but Ballycastle got one more opportunity and Conor McGarry wrote his name in the record books with a brilliant point which clinched a remarkable game and sent the Neill Patterson Cup back to ‘The Town’.

Ballycastle’s Ciaran Clarke in action during the 2012 final win over Cushendall

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