Late goal surge seals it for the Shamrocks

Under 20 A Hurling Championship

Loughgiel Shamrocks 3-12  Ballycastle McQuillan’s 1-12

A strong finish saw Loughgiel win the Under 20 Hurling title at Armoy on Saturday as they came from behind to beat a Ballycastle side who had led from the third minute when Tiernan Smyth got their only goal of the game. The boys from the Town had led by four at half time and while the Shamrocks and were still two to the good at the second water break. Jack Egan edged the black and amber three clear by the 51st minute but Loughgiel produced a stroming finish as they grabbed three late goals to win by six.

Rian McMullan put Loughgiel ahead in the opening minute with a point from play but Ballycastle came back with a Tiernan Smyth goal and points from Seamus McAuley and Jack McGowan to lead by four by the eight minute. Three points inside two minutes, one from a Rian McMullan free and two from play by ‘Bicky’ McGarry cut the gap to a single point, though a Seamus McAuley point on 13 minute put two between the sides at the first half water break.

Seamus McAuley who top scored for Ballycastle

Another McAuley point from a free in the twenty third minute stretched Ballycastle lead to three, and though Bicky pulled one back for the Shamrocks, McAuley and Smyth hit two on the trot for Ballycastle to move four ahead by the twenty-eight minute. Right half forward Michael McGarry cut the gap back to two with a point from play on thirty-one minutes, but another point from Seamus McAuley just on the half time whistle had the Town four up at the break.

The third quarter was score for score for a long time with Rian McMullan and Michael McGarry cutting the game to three for Loughgiel and Seamus McAuley restoring the four point cushion but just before the second half water break Loughgiel hit two unanswered points through Bubbles McMullan and Damian Quinn to leave just two between the sides on 45 minutes.

Ballycastle still appeared to be in control when Jack Egan pointed to put them three ahead on 51 minutes, but a Loughgiel goal a minute later by the ever dangerous Bicky McGarry brought Loughgiel level.

Ballycastle responded well when Tiernan Smyth restored their lead with a point on 53 minutes but Loughgiel were back on terms when Bubbles McMullan sent over from play just twenty seconds later. It still looked anyone’s game with just five minutes left for play, but a bad mix up in the Ballycastle defence saw Michael McGarry get in for Loughgiel’s second goal, though Tiernan Smyth cut it back to just two at the end of normal time.

In injury time Ballycastle battled to save the game but a goal from substitute Jack McCloksey proved a killer blow and centre back Enda Og McGarry sealed the win with a point from play just before the end.  

Loughgiel’s Declan McCloskey and Shane O’Boyle lift the cup after heir win over Ballycastle in the final of the Under 20 Hurling Championship at Armoy. Pic by Sean Paul McKillop

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