Rossa’s first half display sets them up for opening win

Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship Group One

O’Donovan Rossa 0-26 McQuillan’s Ballycastle 2-16

A great display of scoring taking from home side Rossa steered them to a six point win over Ballycastle in Tuesday evening’s opening game in the Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship at Shaw’s Road. Eighteen times in the opening half Rossa raised a white flag, but it was their performance in the second quarter of the game in particular that gave them the edge, outscoring the visitors by 10 points to three, after the sides were tied at 0-8 to 1-5 at the first water break.

During that second quarter the men in blue and gold hit points from every angle, to take a grip on the game that Ballycastle could not get free from, hard though they battled during the second half.

Rossa hit the ground running and they went 0-5 to 0-0 clear through Deaglan Murphy (2), Aodhán O’Brien, Aidan Orchin and the dangerous Dominic McEnhill. It was seven minute before Ballycastle troubled the scoreboard operator, Conor Boyd opening his team’s account with a fine point from distance and when Tiernan Smyth laid a ball off to Ciaran Clarke the county star finished brilliantly to leave just a point between the sides.

Although the ‘Town’ improved in the second half, the hosts always had enough in hand with James McLister scoring his side’s second goal in final minutes of the game. Boyd added another excellent point to bring the sides level and they were still tied at the first water break as Ciaran Clarke and Deaglan Murphy exchanged points.

As is often the case in games the water break broke the momentum and Ballycastle restarted a shadow of the team they had been minutes earlier. Rossa on the other hand were back to their best and for the next fifteen minutes they gave an exhibition of score taking with corner back Aidan Orchin and half back Aodhan O’Brien hitting some exceptional points and by the time the half time whistle sounded they were eight to the good on a scoreline of 0-18 to 1-7  

Ballycastle started the second half with two early points from Ciaran Clarke and Seamus McAuley but Rossa kept their opponents at arm’s length as Stephen Beatty, Deaglan Murphy and Gerard Walsh all found the target.

To their credit Ballycastle kept battling away but they could not get the goal they needed to make the breakthrough until James McLister found the target late in the game. Rossa will be delighted with their positive start and will go into Saturday’s round 2 game against Naomh Eanna knowing they are in the knock-out stages, and with a great chance of securing a semi-final spot.

Ballycastle now face Loughgiel, conquerors of Naomh Eanna on Tuesday evening, knowing they need to get a result to keep their championship hopes alive, and that should be a game worth watching at Pairc MacUlillin. Throw-in 4pm  

ROSSA: D Armstrong; C Orchin, Stephen Shannon (0-1), A Orchin (0-3); A O’Brien (0-5, 0-1f), M Armstrong; G Walsh (0-1), Deaglan Murphy (0-5, 0-4fs); Dáire Murphy, Seaghan Shannon (0-2), C McGuinness; T Morgan, S Beatty (0-3), T Murphy (0-3).

Subs: D Rocks for Morgan (46), E Trainor (0-1) for Dáire Murphy (50), C Shannon for A Orchin (52), C McGettigan for Beatty (60).

BALLYCASTLE: R McGarry; O Kearney, T McIlroy, R Laverty; C Boyd (0-3), M Donnelly, N McAuley; R McClean, S McAuley (0-1); C Butler (0-1), KB McShane, C Donnelly; T Smyth (0-1), J McLister (1-0), C Clarke (1-7, 0-6fs, 0-1 ’65).

Subs: M McClean for R McClean (HT), F McKiernan for Smyth (44), L Donnelly for McShane (49), E Elliot for S McAuley (50), J McGowan for C Donnelly (53).

REFEREE: F McCotter (Sarsfield’s).

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