By John McIlwaine
When wishing all the Antrim men well yesterday about their links to various county teams in the three hurling finals in Croke Park this weekend I forgot to mention Loughgiel’s Barney McAuley, and as things turned out he was only one who ended up on the winning team.
For the past year Barney has been working in Enniskillen and after helping out with Fermanagh hurlers in a coaching role in last year’s competition he decided to line out with the men in green this season.
Yesterday at Croke Park Barney lined out at centre-back as the Ernesiders beat Ollie Bellew’s Cavan in the Lory Meagher Cup final by 3-26 to 1-17 to collect the trophy for the first time since 2015, emulating his Loughgiel clubmate Liam Watson who collected the trophy with Warwickshire in 2017. Of course there is a strong connection with Loughgiel and Fermanagh after former Shamrock Shane Mulholland was tragically killed in a road accident in 2015. Shane had moved to Fermanagh when he married his wife Vanessa and hurled of the Derrylin club and for Fermanagh.
Croke Park has been a happy hunting ground for Barney McAuley and yesterday was the third time he has picked up a winners medal at headquarters. In 2006 he was a member of the Antrim team who beat Carlow in the Christy Ring Cup final and his biggest win of all came six years later in 2012 when Loughgiel Shamrocks beat Coolderry of Offaly in the All Ireland Senior Club final. Who would have thought that fifteen years after that Christy Ring success and nine years after winning the Tommy Moore Cup, he would be back on the sacred sod of Croke Park doing it all again.
Well done Barney on your well deserved success.