Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship
Cloney Gaels 3-18 Cushendun Emmet’s 1-17
A fantastic display by Cloney Gaels corner forward James O’Connell, which saw the ex-county star end with 2-11 to his name, steered his team to victory over Cushendun in Wednesday evening’s opening game in the Intermediate Hurling Championship round robin at Ahoghill.
The corner forward had been well shackled during the opening twenty minutes of the game when he was held scoreless from play, but he was always a danger and in the final ten minutes of the opening half he cut loose to score 1-3 and give his team the lead at the break. His second goal came ten minutes from the end of the game, with the outcome in the balance, before adding two more points to take the game away from the visitors and get his team off to a great start.
Cushendun will be disappointed at the outcome, but they can take heart from a good display that had them in the game up until the last ten minutes, and in David Kilgore and Conlaoith ‘Loaf’ McNeill they had two men who pushed O’Connell hard for the man of the match award. Kilgore turned in a brilliant performance, scoring seven points from play, while ‘Loaf’ was not far behind. The full forward ended with 1-6, his well taken goal from play, while two of his points from frees were superb, one of them from well inside his own 65.
The game started at a hectic pace and Cloney Gaels had two points on the board inside the first minute, the first a pointed free by O’Connell at the throw-in and the other from play by full forward Donal Graham. Cushendun hit back with a great gem of a score from David Kilgore and one from a ‘Loaf’ McNeill free, and after O’Connell put the home team back in front Loaf struck for his team’s goal on seven minutes, firing the ball past Francis Neeson after catching a great ball sent in from the corner by Harry Kilgore. Two quick points from the same players, both from play put the Emmet’s four clear and they appeared to be getting on top, but the Ahoghill men never panicked and over the next ten minutes they clawed their way back, outscoring the visitors by 4 to 1, the points coming from Ronan Graham, Donal Graham, Borris O’Connell and James O’Connell, while Harry Kilgore got the Cushendun point.
Cushendun came back and two brilliant points inside a minute from David Kilgore and one from a Loaf McNeill free which put them four clear again just seven minutes out from half time, but the rest of the half belonged to O’Connell as he finally shook off the shackles of the Emmet’s defence to fire home his first goal before adding a pointed free. Conrad McDonnell responded with a point to edge Cushendun ahead again, but two more from O’Connell in the 28th and 30th minutes gave the home side a one pointe lead at the break. (1-10 to 1-9)
The second half started like the first, at breakneck speed, and David Kilgore had two points on the board inside 90 seconds to put his team back in front. James O’Connell levelled from a free but a massive strike from McNeill from inside his own levelled matters again and Pearse Bannon put the visitors back ahead after being put clear by David Kilgore.
Back came Cloney with two points from play by O’Connell, one them from a tight angle on the left, but David Kilgore struck again to level the game for the fifth time. Neill Borris O’Connell got Cloney’s noses back in front but three in a row from David Kilgore, Conrad McDonnell and Loaf McNeill, just on the third quarter mark, swung the pendulum back in the Emmet’s favour.
That was as good as it got however for the Cushendun men and when James O’Connell got in behind their defence to drill a ground shot to the net there was a definite swing in the home team’s favour. Substitute Eoin Graham added a point, and though Loaf landed another massive point for the Emmet’s it was to be their last score, while O’Connell two more before a great break by Patrick Graham saw the left half forward place full forward Donal Graham for his team’s third goal.
In the last seconds of the game a Cushendun player received a bad injury following an accidental collision with an Ahoghill opponent. The player needed medical attention and an ambulance was called, which arrived inside half an hour. A word of praise for those who attended to the stricken player and I know you will all join me in wishing him a speedy recovery
Francis Neeson, Harry O’Donnell, James Magee, Dairmaid Graham, Finbar O’Neill, Bernard Graham, Daniel O’Nell, Eamon Brady, Neill O’Connell, Owen Neeson, Thomas McGlone, Patrick Graham, Ronan Graham, Donal Graham, James O’Connell.
Subs – Colla McDonnell and Eoin Graham
Gareth McGhee, Sean Hamilton Aidan Corbett, Jack McKay, Tom Scally, Conor McHugh, Matthew McCartin, Oisin McMahon, Pearse Bannon, Harry Kilgore, David Kilgore, Calum Kilgore, Conlaoith McNeill, Conor Bannon.
Subs – Gavan McCormick and Dominic Sharkey
Referee – Fionntan McCotter