Creagh Concrete Minor Hurling Championship final
Loughgiel Shamrocks 4-21 Glenariffe Oisins 3-23
A point deep in injury time at the end of extra time by Loughgiel full forward Jack McCloskey won the Shamrocks their third title on the trot in an epic Antrim Minor Hurling final at Armoy on Saturday afternoon.
Two minutes before the end of normal time the Oisins appeared to be cruising to their first minor title as they held a seven point lead, but in a game of stops and starts it was a further 14 minutes before the final whistle was sounded by which time Loughgiel had drawn level, the equalising point coming from McCloskey who showed great composure to send a free from beyond midfield straight between the posts to tie the scores at 3-16 apiece and herald extra time.
The vital scores that brought Loughgiel back into contention in second half injury time though came from substitute Danny McAuley who scored two goals, the first of which really set the comeback alight.
Glenariffe got away to a brilliant start when their star full forward Niall McGarrel hit three points in the first two minutes. Orrin O’Connor added another and after Loughgiel opened their account through left half back Ben McGarry, McGarrel struck another point and O’Connor hit the first goal of the game to put his team 1-5 to 0-1 ahead. However Loughgiel started to gain a bit of possession and inspired by a goal from Ronan McCollum, and some great points from Jack McCloskey, the closed to within two points at the first water break.
After the break Glenariffe regained control and with McGarrel in brilliant form at the edge of the Loughgiel square they opened a gap again, McGarrel scoring 1-2 and corner forward Brogan O’Connor grabbing two points. Once again when it appeared the Oisins had the upper hand Jack McCloskey hauled his team back into the game with three points and when Ben McGarry added another they went into half time just four in arrears. (2-9 to 1-8).
With the breeze behind them in the second half Loughgiel started well and closed the gap to a goal when Ronan McCollum pointed in the second minute, but McGarrel and centre back Daniel Kearny came back with points apiece to stretch the Oisins lead to five. Two pointed 65s by McCloskey closed the gap to a goal again but things began to look very promising for the Oisins when McGarrel pointed from play and soon afterwards substitute Calum McIlwaine scrambled the ball over the line for his team’s third goal.
The gap was seven points as the game went into added time and when substitute Danny McGarry got his team’s goal the Oisins still appeared to be safe. Things looked even better when McGarrel came back with an Oisins point to put his team five ahead on 35 minutes but with players from both sides going down with cramp all over the field the time dragged on an on. When McGarry got his second goal Loughgiel knew there were back in the game and McCloskey stepped up and sent over a point it was back to the minimum.
With the Oisins fans calling for the final whistle the tension was unbearable, but it didn’t effect Jack McCloskey who stepped up and hit a brilliant long range equaliser with 40 minutes on the clock to bring the game to extra time.
When Loughgiel grabbed the first score in extra time to go ahead for the first time in the game you felt that the Oisins were in trouble, but they showed great resolve to hit back again and for a time it was score for score until just before the break in extra time when midfielder Conor Dickson struck a telling blow by grabbing Loughgiel’s fourth goal to give his team a two point lead.
With tiring limbs it was no surprise that chances were missed at both ends which you would normally expect to be taken, but Glenariffe got back on target with three on the trot through McGarrel (2) and Orrin O’Connor. It was point for point down the home straight and when Daniel Kearney put Glenariffe level two minutes from time it looked like he had earned his team a replay, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by Jack McCloskey whose point from a 65 sealed the 3-in-a-row for the Shamrocks
Special mention must go to the host club Glen Rovers Armoy who had the grounds in tip top conditions, and they even provided a piper to lead the teams around in the pre match parade. Their stewarding of the event, considering the size of the crowd who attended, was second to none. Well done to Philip Christie and his team.
Mark Christie, Ronan McLaughlin, Ruairi McCormick, Cahir Connolly, Ronin Sheridan, Finn Henry, Benn McGarry, Conor Dickson, Charlie O’Hagan, Darragh Patterson, Ronan McCollum, Tiago McGarry, Roan McGarry, Jack McCloskey, Eoin McGarry.
Subs – Liam Glackin, Danny McAuley, Ronan Fitzgerald
Phelin Ward, Matthew Black, Mark McSparran, Eamon Ward, Cathan Graham, Daniel Kearney, Cailin Devlin, Patrick McIlwaine, Odhran Gillan, Ronan Leech, Aidan McSparran, Orrin O’Connor, John Morgan, Niall McGarrel, Brogan O’Connor.
Subs – Calum McIlwaine, Oisin Mort.
Referee – Patrick Tumely (Lamh Dhearg)