Andersonstown SC IHC Final
Cathaoir an Ri 3-17 Kickham’s Creggan 1-18
Patrick McIlwaine reports from Dunsilly
There were scenes of unbridled celebration and tears of joy as Carey Faughs put a 19 year wait behind them to lift the Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling Cup when they overcame the challenge of Kickham’s Creggan in an excellent final today at Dunsilly.
The Ballyvoy side last lifted the trophy back in 2002 when they defeated Loughgiel seconds in the decider but recent finals haven’t been kind to the Carey men, losing deciders in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 with the 2015 defeat coming at the hands of today’s opponents.
Kickham’s Creggan beat the Carey side in Armoy in that 2015 final and were fancied in some quarters for today’s game after their win over Ahoghill in the semi-final but it was Cathaoir an Ri who grabbed the initiative right from the start and never really looked like being headed.
In a tough, uncompromising encounter the Ballyvoy side got off to a great start when Daniel McBride rattled the Creggan net in the second minute after being set up by John McBride.
Caolan McCaughan added a point before Sam Maguire replied with a point from distance for the Kickham’s and a pointed free from Oran McCann left just two between the sides with 8 minutes gone.
The North Antrim side were showing greater hunger and desire however as they hit the next three points on the bounce with Conor McBride (f), Shea Hunter and James ‘Rocket’ Black on target to move them five in front with 13 minutes on the clock.
The South West men were living on scraps but Oran McCann fired over their third point from a ‘45’ and the same player followed with another from play to cut the deficit to three by the 17th minute as referee Colum Cunning signalled for the first water break.
When play resumed it was Carey who continued to call the shots with the impressive Conor McBride pointing his second free of the afternoon and Paddy Gillan adding another from play to restore their five point advantage.
With the challenges going in hard and fast the free count increased as Oran McCann converted his third of the contest and Tiernan McLarnon added a fine score from play to leave just a goal between the sides after 22 minutes.
Conor McBride and Oran McCann exchanged further frees and when McCann followed with another from play the deficit was down to two with eight minutes of the opening half remaining.
Creggan replaced Tiernan McLarnon with Sean Duffin as their efforts seemed to be gaining some momentum but Carey finished the half superbly as the excellent Conor McBride pointed from play before firing low to the Creggan net to leave his side 2-8 to 0-8 ahead at the break and fully deserving of that lead.
Liam McCann replaced Danaan O’Hara in the Creggan defence for the second half but Shea Hunter increased the Cathoir an Ri lead to seven with a point on the restart with Conor McCann replying for Creggan.
The momentum was with the Ballyvoy side however and Caolan McCaughan split the posts from out on the right to move them seven ahead and the Kickham’s were in need of inspiration and for a brief spell it appeared to have arrived.
They looked to be gaining the initiative as they dominated a five minute period that yielded four unanswered points with Oran McCann getting them on their way with a point from play and he followed with another from a free and when Conor McCann and Morgan Nelson added two more the Faughs lead had been reduced to three again with only eight minutes of the new half gone.
It was to prove a false dawn however as Caolan McCaughan squeezed the ball home from close range despite being surrounded by three defenders and when James McCouaig followed with a massive point from 70 yards in the 10th minute the Ballyvoy men were six in front and looking good.
The Kickham’s were still giving it everything and a fine piece of individual play from Conor McCann saw him sell a couple of dummies before blasting the sliotar past Cathal ‘Bart’ McAuley to leaver five in it at the second water break.
The South West side produced a strong finish to beat Cloney Gaels in their semi-final and would have been hoping for a similar finish here and McCann followed with a point before being clattered by a couple of defenders as he attempted to break through on goal.
There was still plenty of time remaining but Oran McCann decided to go for goal and his effort was repelled by a Carey defence who were putting their bodies on the line and cleared to safety. A couple of points from the excellent Conor McBride in reply to one from Oran McCann kept the Ballyvoy men in pole position and there would be no way back for the Kickham’s.
McBride from a free and another from play and a superb effort from James ‘Rocket’ Black saw Cathaoir an Ri move seven clear with two minutes of normal time remaining before Creggan’s Thomas McCann saw Red.
To their credit Kickham’s kept battling against the odds and were rewarded with late points from Aidan Maguire and Kealan McCann but these were merely consolation scores at this stage of the game with the men from Ballyvoy running out deserving winners by five points.
Cathaoir an Ri played with a hunger and intensity that their opponents quite simply couldn’t match. They won the majority of dirty ball over the hour with their defence giving nothing away. Cathal ‘Bart’ McAuley in goals, Sean McBride, Peadar McVeigh and James McCouaig were best in a rock solid attack who afforded their opponents little time or space.
Daniel McBride and Patrick Butler were on top at mid-field with McBride picking up an early yellow card and being called ashore as a precautionary measure late in the game while their full-forward line of Conor McBride, James ‘Rocket’ Black and Patrick Gillan gave the opposition defence a torrid time.
Cathaoir an Ri: Cathal McAuley, Daniel Hill, Sean McBride, Zach McCaughan, Michael McVeigh, Peadar McVeigh, James McCouaig, Daniel McBride, Patrick Butler, Shea Hunter, John McBride, Caolan McCaughan, Patrick Gillan, James Black, Conor McBride. Sean McLaughlin for Daniel McBride, Conleith McKinley for Patrick Butler
Kickham’s Creggan: Emmet Long, Aidan Maguire, Declan McCann, Danaan O’Hara, Sam Maguire, Thomas Mccann, Aiden McKeown, Tiarnan McLarnon, Ruairi McCann, Conor McCann, Morgan Nelson, Oran McCann, Jake McAteer, Kealan McCann, Kevin Rice. Subs: Sean Duffin for Tiernan McLarnon, Liam McCann for Danaan O’Hara,
Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)