Cushendall stall the Portaferry celebrations

Antrim Hurling League Division 1

Cushendall 5-19 Portaferry 5-15

Cushendall kept their slim chances of winning the Division 1 league title alive when they beat Portaferry in Saturday’s high scoring game in Cushendall. However the men from the Ards are still firm favourites to win their first title in almost 20 years, for if they beat St John’s in their final game in Portaferry on Wednesday evening the title will be theirs. Cushendall on the other hand would need to beat Dunloy in their final game and hope that the Johnnies do them a favour in Portaferry.

In the game itself Portaferry got away to a strong start and after Sean McAfee and Neill McManus put them two ahead the visitors came back strongly and goals from Daithi Sands and Tom McGrattan, plus points from Callum Smith and Fionn Turpin had them six clear after eight minutes. A minute later McManus hit back when he fired a free to the net and after adding a point, Scott Walsh was also on target to cut the gap back to a single point.

A special word of praise for this man. Ryan McCambridge got married on Friday but turned out of the Ruairis 24 hours later, and played his part in a winning performance.

Ronan Blair pointed for Portaferry to put them two ahead again but two goals from play from Alex Delargy and Sean McAfee swung the game back in the home team’s favour.  The goals weren’t finished yet however and on 22 minutes Tom McGrattan got his second and his team’s third. Ronan Blair and Daithi Sands pointed to bring the Down men level on 29 minutes, but Neill McManus edged the Ruairis back in front at the end of a thrilling first half.

Cushendall’s Liam Gillan and Portaferry’s Ronan Blair exchanged points early in the second half before McManus got his second goal from play which heralded a change. Ronan Blair replied with a point but the home team got eight of the next nine points, six of them from McManus and two from Niall McCormick to open a six point gap as the game went into injury time.

Portaferry came back with a goal from centre back Caolan Taggart to keep their hopes alive, but McManus slammed the door on their chances when he landed the last score of the game from a free.

Cushendall goalkeeper Eoin Gillan in action during his team’s win over Portaferry at Paric Mhuire on Saturday. Pic by Sean Paul McKillop

CUSHENDALL

Eion Gillan, Liam Gillan, Aaron Graffin, Ronan McAteer, Mark Donaghy, Eoghan Campbell, Ryan McCambridge, Scott Walsh, Niall McCormick, Dominic Delargy, Sean McAfee, Francis McCurry, Alex Delargy, Neill McManus, Paddy McGill.

PORTAFERRY

Pearce Smyth, Ronan Smyth, Callum Smyth, Ryan Convery, Barry Trainor, Caolan Taggart, Ciaran Savage, Matthew Conlan, Fionn Turbitt, Conor O’Prey, Ronan Blair, Niall Milligan, Tom McGrattan, Daitihi Sands, Eoghan Sands

Referee – Colum Cunning (Dunloy)

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