Casement SC Antrim Junior Hurling Championship Group 1
Lámh Dhearg 1-22-1-16 All Saints, Ballymena
Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown
Lámh Dhearg got the better of All Saints Ballymena for the third time this season after a tight opening encounter to the Casement SC Junior Hurling Championship at Hannahstown saw the hosts run out 1-22-1-16 winners on Tuesday evening.
After a succession of early wides, the opening score arrived courtesy of Daniel Murray’s converted free with Ciaran Neeson landing a fantastic point immediately after to quickly draw All-Saint’s level.
Murray swung over his first from play of the evening to restore his sides lead and Declan Lynch then offloaded to Fionn Mervyn who split the posts and doubled the host’s advantage.
Neeson halved the deficit with a free in response, but Gerard Smyth came out and gathered before confidently floating over a point.
Back-to-back scores from Damian Gillan and Daire Hasson drew the visitors level and despite Daniel Murray edging his side back in front a Ciaran Neeson free restored parity at 0-05 apiece.
All Saints were ahead for the first time on 20 minutes after Luke O’Rawe flicked the ball out wide for Gillan who picked off his second score of the half.
But less than 60-seconds later the opening goal saw the lead change hands again. Declan Lynch floated a shot towards goal, it dipped, and Ciaran Cassley was caught out trying to swing the danger clear as it bounced past him and gave Lámh Dhearg a 1-05-0-06 lead.
A third point from Damian Gillan instantly made it a one-point game with Aidan McGuigan then hitting back at the other end after All Saints survived a scramble in their defensive third.
Daniel Murray extended the lead with his fourth point of the half following a nice Fionn Mervyn pop off and he would add a further point before the half was out, in-between a converted Ciaran Neeson free.
Neeson converted his fourth free to ensure that just two-points separated the sides at the interval (1-08-0-09).
Lámh Dhearg made a bright opening to the second period and increased their lead with three points on the spin.
Declan Lynch added to his first half goal with a simple conversion in front of the posts and Aidan McGuigan doubled his personal tally in the aftermath.
A drag down on Ronan Fegan afforded Daniel Murray the opportunity to further extend the lead and he did just that with his second converted free of the evening.
All Saints had the chance to hit back when Mark Lynch collided with Cormac Magill and referee Lorenzo McMullan signalled for a penalty.
Ciaran Neeson seized the responsibility and made no mistake- firing past Francis Dugan to make it 1-11-1-09.
Daniel Murray converted a free in response though Damian Gillan hit back-to-back points to reduce arrears to a single point.
Murray measured up back-to-back frees to restore his sides three-point advantage, but the half was shaping up to be a shoot-out between Murray and All Saints talisman Ciaran Neeson who converted back-to-back frees of his own to make it a single-point game yet again.
The introduction of long-term absentee Mark Finnegan yielded instant dividends as he floated over a point and Daniel Murray swung over his fifth point from play shortly after.
Although the theme of the half returned as All Saints got back to within a single score following a converted 65’ from Neeson and Damian Gillan taking an off the shoulder pass from Eoghan Daly and splitting the posts to make it 1-16-1-15.
Points from Daniel Murray and another from Finnegan gave their side a three-point advantage for the fourth time in the half.
Neeson would add a further free before the evening was out to bring his personal tally to 1-09.
It was the hosts who ended the game strongly, Declan Lynch popped over his second point of the evening and then earned a free which Daniel Murray converted to bring his individual tally into double figures.
Lámh Dhearg lost Aidan McGuigan to a second yellow card late-on, however the 14-men closed the game out with scores from Mark Finnegan and Daniel Murray (free) to give them a 1-22-1-16 win at the conclusion.
Lámh Dhearg: F Dugan, C Nolan, M Lynch, T McKenna, R Diamond, P Mervyn, SP Gibson, M Hamill, A McGuigan (0-02), F Mervyn (0-01), D Lynch (1-02), D Murray (0-13, 0-07f), R Fegan, G Smyth (0-01), P Fitzsimons. Subs: M Finnegan (0-03) for SP Gibson (47), J Brady for G Smyth (50).
All Saints: C Cassley, P O’Kane, C McAfee, K Brady, P Magill, L O’Rawe, C Neeson, G Miskella, V Eslar, C Magill, D Gillan (0-06), C Neeson (1-09, 0-07f, 0-01 65’), D Hasson (0-01), E Daly, D McNally. Subs: R McAuley for D Hasson (52).
Referee: Lorenzo McMullan (Bredagh)