Ulster Intermediate Hurling Club Championship quarter-final
Cathaoir an Ri (Antrim) v Eire Og An Charraig Mhor (Tyrone)
Ballycastle 1-30pm Sunday
Referee: Tarlach Conway
Cathaoir an Ri, the Antrim Intermediate champions, dip their toes into the waters of Ulster for the first time when they take on serial Ulster participants, Eire Og An Charraig Mhor in Ballycastle this Sunday.
The Faughs put a 19 year wait behind them when they defeated Kickham’s Creggan in this year’s Andersonstown SC final at Dunsilly and make a step into the unknown when they face the men from Carrickmore who collected the Tyrone title for the 23d time when they beat Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon in this year’s final.
The Ballyvoy side were excellent in this year’s Intermediate championship and certainly forced people to sit up and take notice when they beat a fancied Emmet’s Cushendun by 11 points in the Antrim semi-final in Armoy.
Their opponent in the final, Kickham’s Creggan had impressed in their semi-final marathon against Cloney Gaels which took extra time to decide with the Kickham’s finishing strongly to win by six points and they would have been regarded as favourites in some quarters going into the final against the Carey men.
The Faughs hadn’t won an Antrim IHC since 2002 when they beat Loughgiel seconds and carried an unenviable record of defeats in the 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019 deciders but they put all that behind them this year to produce a strong and polished performance to beat Creggan and get that monkey of their back.
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.
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.
Creggan kept battling to the end but 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.
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 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
Sunday’s opponents – Eire Og Carrickmore
Carrickmore Eire Óg retained the Tyrone Senior Hurling Championship title thanks to a deserved 0-16 to 0-9 success over Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh.
There was little between the sides throughout the first-half with Cain Ferguson and Dermot Begley among the points for their respective sides before efforts from Sean Óg Grogan and Cormac Munroe helped the winners establish a 0-7 to 0-5 interval advantage.
A Begley brace extended Carrickmore’s lead on the restart before Ferguson and Brannon Molloy responded for Dungannon. Eire Óg finished strongly with points from Ruairi Slane, John McGurk, Brian McGurk and Dean Rafferty to lift the Benburb Cup.
Their opponents in that final and indeed in the majority of Tyrone finals over the years were Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh who have competed in the Antrim leagues for quite a number of years and have proved difficult opponents.
Carey hold their fate in their own hands however and if Catahal McAuley, SeanMcBride, Peadar McVeigh, James McCouaig, Patrick Butler, Patrick Gillan, Caolan McCaughan, James Black and the superb Conor McBride can reproduce the form they have shown throughout this year, then they should be in with a very good chance. The weather forecast for the weekend is giving strong winds and rain on Saturday, but things look more settled for Sunday which is good news for both teams.