Brendan McTaggart previews the Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship
A few days later and we’re back out again. The championship is here, it’s coming at us thick and as a fan, you’d want it no other way. The managers, coaches and physios up and down the country might have a different take on that one. Looking at my predictions from last weekend, I’ve had worse starts. Three out of four and but for Christy McNaughton splitting the posts from a ridiculous angle, it would have been a full house.
Dunloy and Cushendall played out a great opener and like always, there was very little between the teams. Nothing if you go with the score line at the end of the hour but in terms of how they matched up, they cancelled each other out as both attempted to play to their strengths. Keelan Molloy outstanding in midfield for the Cuchullains while Arron Graffin dominated as sweeper for the Ruairi’s.
Cushendall welcome St John’s to Pairc Mhuire today looking for their first win of the championship while the Johnnies will be hoping to build momentum gained from their hard-fought win over Tir na nOg. The Randalstown side gave the Corrigan Park side their fill of it and more on Tuesday past. They have a ‘free hit’ this championship with no-one expecting much of them. With less pressure comes a freedom to express and the Whitehill side are giving it a fair rattle. They welcome Dunloy for their second home game this championship campaign and they will need to meet this game with the same intensity and fervour as they against the Johnnies. The Cuchullains looked rusty against Cushendall and they will be glad to have another game so soon to get back into action again to get some momentum.
Group One had wins for Loughgiel and Rossa over Naomh Eanna and Ballycastle. The Shamrocks with a youthful line out proved to be too strong for the Hightown Road men with James McNaughton wrecking havoc while the performance of the evening belonged to the men from the Shaws Road. They started the game against Ballycastle as slight favourites but blazed a trail behind them in the opening 30 minutes, amassing an impressive 18 points before the short whistle and a seven point lead that rarely looked in doubt in the second half. The Jeremiah’s make the trip to Pairc Eanna knowing a win will seal at least a quarter-final place.
This weekend’s live streamed game comes in Paic Mac Uilin with the Shamrocks travelling to face the wounded animal. Two sides steeped in the history of the Antrim hurling championship with the Volunteer Cup split between them 37 times, Loughgiel on top of the list, 20 times being names champions of Antrim.
Ballycastle will hope for a better showing as they, like Loughgiel, look to blood fresh players into their ranks for hopes of a brighter future. They have the capabilities of upsetting the form book and causing Hugh McCann’s side problems but the Shamrocks will always be a fierce some opposition. I’d expect Loughgiel to make it two from two in the evening throw in.
For the other ties, Dunloy should have too much for Tir na nOg while Rossa will start favourites against Naomh Eanna. The eye catching tie will be Cushendall vs St John’s and while the Ruairi’s have had the edge over the Johnnies in recent meetings, there is rarely anything between them. This could be a draw again but I think the home side will just edge the Corrigan Park side once more.