Con Magees face tough task against Craobh Rua in Saturday’s semi-final

Ulster Junior Hurling Championship sem–final

Glenravel Con Magees take on Armagh champions Craobh Rua in Saturday’s Ulster Junior Hurling Championship quarter final at Davitt Park, Belfast. Fresh from their win over Tyrone champions Naomh Colum Cille the Glenravel side bid to make it to the Ulster final for the first time. When they last won the Antrim title back in 2014 the men from the Tenth glen made it through to the semi-final with a win over Carryduff in Loughgiel, but they came up just short against Castleblaney in the semi-final in O’Neill Park, Dungannon, a Blaney side who went on to take the provincial title that season.

At the start of the 2021 season the hopes were not particularly high amongst the Con Magees hurlers. However they brought in a new management team, headed by former Sarsfields hurler Ciaran ‘Tub’ McKernan and along with club secretary Henry Duffin, assisted by Martin Scullion they slowly but surely began to turn their season around. An impressive win over Lamh Dhearg in the semi-final lifter spirits considerably, and though they still went into the county final against Glenarm as rank outsiders, they produced their best performance in years to record a famous win and clinch their 7th Junior title.  

It was all of eight weeks before they were back in action again, a long break by any standards, but McKernan and his team handled the lay-off very well and played a series of challenge games to get the sharpness back. Conditions were far from ideal when they face the Tyrone champions Naomh Collum Cille at Ballycaste two weeks ago, but though they struggled against the wind in the first half, they came good in the second and ended up winning by double scores  2-16 to 1-8.

Craobh Rua 3-10 St Eunan’s 2-8

Craobh Rua had won their second Armagh Junior title in 2020, (their first coming in 2013) but because of Covid last year they never got the chance to compete in Ulster. However they retained the League and Championship titles this season and a win over Armagh city club Cuchullains saw them secure their spot in the Ulster Junior semi-final, where they faced Donegal champions St Eunan’s of Letterkenny.

Two first half goals from Armagh footballing star Jarly Og Burns helped the Camlough men over the line.

Tiarnan O’Hare, Man of the Match from the county final, fired over five frees while Ryan Lewis rattled off 1-2.

Conor McKevitt and O’Hare claimed early scores to give Craobh Rua a lead that they would keep for the remainder of the contest.

Burns’ first major along with a Lewis point split two efforts from the visitors. O’Hare slotted over two 65’s while younger brother Oisin also got on the score sheet.

Jarly Og rattled the net for a second time, followed by scores from the accurate O’Hare and Fiachra Bradley.

St Eunan’s replied as Craobh Rua carried a comfortable 2-8 to 0-4 lead into the break.

O’Hare and Lewis traded scores with the opposition before Conor O’Grady netted for the away team to close the gap to five.

The Armagh winners replied emphatically as Ryan Lewis raised a green flag. St Eunan’s claimed their second goal, but the Camlough men were too far ahead by that stage.

Craobh Rua Scorers: Jarly Og Burns 2-0, Tiarnan O’Hare 0-5 (5f), Ryan Lewis 1-2, Conor McKevitt 0-1, Oisin O’Hare 0-1, Fiachra Bradley 0-1.

The Armagh champions will provide strong opposition to the Glenravel men this weekend. They will need to be at their very best on Saturday to get the better of the Camlough men, but if Cathal Hynds, Conleth O’Loan, Padge O’Neill, James Duffifn and Niall Donnelly can reproduce the form they showed in the quarter final, they are in with a chance of making the club’s first ever provincial final.

The Con Magee’s team who beat Naomh Colum Cille in the quarter final was –

R Donnelly, B O’Neill, SL Kerr, M McQuillan, P O’Neill, E McCusker, M McDonnell, J Duffin 0-2, C Henry, J Fyfe, N Donnelly 0-7 (6f), C Hynds 1-1, C O’Loan 1-5, (4f & 1 pen), R Lennon, D Traynor.

Subs: S McKay 0-1 for D Traynor (38), S McCusker for C Henry (46), S Burns for P O’Neill (57).

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