Rasharkin Make a Winning Start 

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship

Rasharkin 3-19 All Saints 1-14

Friday August 8

Brendan McTaggart reports from Quinn Park, Ballymena

Rasharkin made a winning start to their Junior Championship campaign at a sun kissed Quinn Park on Friday evening as they saw off the challenge of All Saints in what was a feisty affair.  The men from Dreen had 11 points to spare over the home side in a match that had that championship feel right from the first whistle and two red cards in the second half but ultimately it was Rasharkin who had the superior firepower and defensive nous to take the honours.

The visitors dropped Shane Hasson into a sweeping roll and kept Donagh Quigg and Conor McKeever on the inside forward line.  The twin attacking threat proved to be more than a handful for the All Saints men, scoring 2-12 between them, 2-7 of that from play.  Both men showed touches of brilliance throughout the hour and an ability to take scores from anywhere on the pitch.

The Ballymena men started this contest well and in Ciaran Neeson they have a player who they can rely on in attack.  Top scoring for his side with 1-7, Neeson was the outstanding player for All Saints.  His natural instincts in attack were matched with his ability to win clean ball in the middle third, a quality asset for the Ballymena men.

In an attempt to come to terms with Rasharkin’s tactics and attacking threat, All Saints rejigged their line up to leave Kevin Brady and latterly, substitute Cathair Cunning in the sweeping role but such was the quality of ball into the Rasharkin forward line along with the intensity of pressing from their forward unit, it was an unenviable task to try and keep the Rasharkin attack quiet.

Both sides finished the match with 14 men, Gary Miskella seeing red for a second yellow card with a quarter of the game remaining while Ruairi O’Boyle was sent off in the last minute of the hour.  In a contest where referee Sean Elliott would have needed eyes on the back of his head, it should be said the Lamh Dhearg official allowed the game to flow and both teams got on with it, adding to the championship intensity and making for an entertaining game.

The sides were tied on five points apiece when the first goal of the game came in the 17th minute.  Conor McKeever with a super catch and holding off two challenges, still had the presence of mind to find Conor McFerran in space and he made no mistake.

All Saints response was emphatic, scoring the next five points unanswered with Ciaran Neeson, Cormac Magill and Damian Gillan all finding the posts to take a two point lead with seven minutes of the first half remaining but Rasharkin dominated the closing stages of the first half.  Their second major came with six minutes of the half remaining, Ruairi O’Boyle’s effort dropping short and Conor McKeever ghosted behind the All Saints defence, judged the flight of the sliotar and with a deft touch, beat the rushing Ciaran Cassley in the All Saints goal.  A wonderful piece of skill that ignited the St Mary’s men as they scored a further four points in quick succession to go in at half time 2-9 to 0-10 ahead at the short whistle.

The visitors to Quinn Park started the second half in the same mood with a further three points registered to make it 1-7 without reply before Cormac Magill got the home side firing again in the 37th minute.

The sides went score for score before the game changed through the dismissal of Miskella.  Rasharkin capitalised on the numerical advantage by scoring their third goal.  Tiernan O’Boyle sending the sliotar long from the heart of the Rasharkin defence to the waiting Donagh Quigg.  The Rasharkin forward deflected the sliotar into space with a delightful touch and raced through on goal.  His finish was emphatic and effectively sealed Rasharkin’s win with a little over ten minutes remaining.

All Saints looked for goals that would bring them back into the tie with a number of frees dropping into the Rasharkin square and their efforts were rewards with five minutes remaining.  Substitute Daire Hasson holding off Rasharkin tackles before passing to Ciaran Neeson and he showed his attacking instincts once again, doubling on the sliotar in mid-air to give Liam Tunney no chance with an unstoppable shot from close range.

It was a case of too little too late however as Rasharkin showed enough to control the time that remained despite Ruairi O’Boyle seeing red.

Rasharkin now cast their sights to a meeting with Junior ‘B’ winners, St Brigids while All Saints travel to Davitts in the next round of fixtures.

TEAMS

All Saints: Ciaran Cassley; Dwayne McKee, Colum Neeson, Kevin Brady; Terence Diamond, Gary Miskella, Padhraig Magill; Jack Magill, Vincent Esler; Eoin Magee, Damian Gillan, James O’Boyle; Ciaran Neeson, Liam Cassley, Cormac Magill

Scorers: Ciaran Neeson 1-7 (4f’s); Liam Cassley 0-2; Cormac Magill 0-2; Eoin Magee 0-1; Damian Gillan 0-1; James O’Boyle 0-1

Rasharkin: Liam Tunney; Connaire Donaghy, Conor Doherty, James Higgins; Ruairi O’Boyle, Daniel Doherty, Aidan McKeever; Emmett McFerran, Tiernan O’Boyle; Shane Hasson, Conor McFerran, Declan McKay; Conor McKillop, Donagh Quigg, Conor McKeever

Scorers: Conor McKeever 1-8 (4f’s 1 ’65); Donagh Quigg 1-4; Conor McFerran 1-2; Tiernan O’Boyle 0-2 (1 ’65); Declan McKay 0-2

Referee: Sean Elliott (Lamh Dhearg)

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