Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship Group 1
Carey Faughs 0-13 Cloney Gaels 0-16
Ten minutes into the second half of Wednesday evening crucial Group 1 game in Carey the visitors Cloney Gaels had a man sent off with a straight red card. At that stage the Faughs were leading by three points and were well placed to go on and cement a spot in the semi-finals, but incredibly the home team never scored again for the remainder of the game, despite having a host of chances, and the men from Cloney edged their way back into the game before adding three points in injury time to seal the win.
With ex county player James O’Connell in top form Cloney Gaels dominated the opening ten minutes, O’Connell hitting three points and Ronan Graham and Finbar O’Neill one each as they opened a 0-5 to 0-1 lead, the Carey point coming from their excellent corner forward Conor McBride. With McBride leading the line the Faughs fought their way back and were just two adrift at the first water break (0-3 to 0-5). The fightback continued on the restart and two more from McBride and one from Caolan McCaughan put them ahead, but three more from James O’Connell, in reply to two by McBride before the interval saw the sides deadlocked on 0-9 apiece at the short whistle.
Carey started the second half in top form and added three excellent points in just two minutes, McBride getting two of them and his fellow corner forward Conlith McKinley the other, as they moved three ahead. O’Connell and McBride exchanged points to keep the Faughs three to the good and when the Gaels had substitute Patrick Graham jnr sent off soon afterwards the smart money was on Carey to push on for the win.
However no team thrives on adversity quite like Cloney Gaels and they lifted their game and slowly but surely edged their way back into contention. Two more from man of the match O’Connell closed the gap to a single point before full forward Donal Graham brought them level. As they game went into injury time O’Connell put them in front and it was clear Carey were treading water. The men in green had a host of chances to draw level, and indeed seal the win, but a series of shots just went wide of the target, one of them kicked wide from the edge of the ‘square’ when a goal seemed certain.
Of course when you miss that many chances you are in danger of paying the price and the Ahoghill men took full advantage as Owen Neeson and James O’Connell popped over two late points to run out winners by three.
This of course is not the end of the road for the Carey men as they still have two games to play, but it makes their home game with Glenariffe this weekend virtually a knock out affair. A win against the Oisins would bring them level with the Glenariffe men, but they would need to beat them well to move above Sunday’s opponents on score difference. However a win at all would give them a chance and it would all depend on their final game with Gort na Mona, one that was postponed on the opening day because of Covid 19.
Cloney Gaels final game is at home to St Gall’s at the same time on Sunday. A win or even a draw would put the Ahoghill men in the driving seat for top spot, but a win for Chris Dornan’s side would leave the two of them level on seven points, though it would take a victory by at least eight points to see the men form Milltown overtake them on score difference.
All to play for then. That is why the Intermediate Championship is the most exciting of all.