Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship
Cushendall 1-21 St John’s 1-16
Sunday September 4
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pairc Mhuire, Cushendall
It wasn’t quite a one man show for the Ruairi’s on Sunday but it wasn’t far off. Christy McNaughton was unplayable against St John’s and his tally of 1-15 for the hour tells you everything you need to know. A closer look, with eight white flags coming from open play is impressive in itself. McNaughton scored all but one of Cushendall’s scores in the opening 30 minutes as they trailed the Corrigan Park men by the minimum at the interval and while he was equally as impressive after the restart, he had more support. Namely Paddy McGill. He finished the game with four points, all coming in the second half and from different ranges and angles. McGill showing glimpses of returning back to his best in a Ruairi shirt.
The Johnnies had eight different scorers on the day and always looked a threat. Conor Johnston, Conor Hand, Oisin McManus and Shea Shannon gave the Ruairi’s defence plenty of problems and were full value for their lead at the interval but Cushendall’s third quarter pushed them into a four point lead by the 40thminute and a lead they would expertly manage for the remainder of the game.
This was a feisty game that had plenty of championship ‘feel’ about it, both sides looking for the direct route to the semi-finals and tempers flared on a number of occasions. No mention of a dead-rubber at Pairc Mhuire with the chase for the Volunteer Cup alive and well.
The game was barely three minutes old when the first goal came. Scott Walsh playing a cross-field ball to McGill and he deflected the sliotar into Christy McNaughton’s path. He was dragged down with the goal at his mercy and despatched the resulting penalty with power. He followed his major with two white flags to leave Cushendall four ahead after 10 minutes. St John’s upped their game however and by the time the Ruairi’s scored again, they were behind on the score board. Oisin McManus and Conor Johnston splitting the uprights before they found the back of Eoin Gillan’s net in the 14th minute. Aaron Bradley with delightful footwork to evade Cushendall tackles and found Conor Johnston. He skipped past his man and despatched the sliotar expertly. A mammoth free from Padraig Nugent followed as the Johnnies began to play some excellent hurling but Cushendall and Christy McNaughton hit back.
Three points in as many minutes from Christy edged Cushendall ahead again but the home side were overly reliant on his individual brilliance while St John’s had threats everywhere. Nugent landed another huge free before Dominic Delargy became the second Ruairi player to register a score in the 27th minute. Ruairi Galbraith restored parity to the score line once more before the Johnnies opened up the Cushendall defence once more. Aaron Bradley again involved and passing to Oisin McManus. His shot was instinctive and rasping only Gillan was equal to his effort to deflect the sliotar out for a ’65 that McManus converted. A Peter McCallin point followed before NcNaughton took his half time tally to 1-6 to leave the minimum between the sides on the stroke of half time.
Half time came just when Cushendall needed it and allowed the Ruairi’s to regroup. The sides swapped scores through Conor Johnston and Christy McNaughton before Cushendall went through the gears. Five points in as many minutes, McGill and four from Christy McNaughton (one free) took the Ruairi’s into a four point lead. The Johnnies replied with a brace of points from Oisin McManus (frees), but Cushendall’s interplay and decision making began to open the St John’s defence more frequently. White flags from McNaughton came either side of McGill’s third point of the half by the 51st minute and while Conor Johnston replied for the visitors, Sean McAfee and McGill opened a five point advantage with seven minutes of the hour remaining.
St John’s dug deep once more with Ruairi Galbraith firing a brace of scores before Shea Shannon left just two between the sides with four minutes remaining. It would be the last score St John’s would register however as Cushendall added further gloss to the score line. A brace of frees from Christy McNaughton preceded McGill’s fourth of the match to ensure Cushendall safe passage to the semi-finals.
Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Liam Gillan, Paddy Burke, Martin Burke; Mark Donaghy, Eoghan Campbell, Scott Walsh; Alex Delargy, Ryan McCambridge; Dominic Delargy, Sean McAfee, Aiden McNaughton; Paddy McGill, Christy McNaughton, Francis McCurry
Subs: Niall McCormick for R McCambridge (45); Andrew Delargy for F McCurry (50); Cormac McClafferty for D Delargy (55)
Scorers: C McNaughton 1-15 (1-00 pen, 7f’s); P McGill 0-4; S McAfee 0-1; D Delargy 0-1
St John’s: Declan Creggan; Conal Morgan, Ryan McNulty, Odhran Carleton; Peter McCallin, Padraig Nugent, Ciaran Johnston; Michail Dudley, Aaron Bradley; Michael Bradley, Conor Johnston, Conor Hand; Oisin McManus, Shea Shannon, Ruairi Galbraith
Subs: Ciaran McKenna for C Morgan (37)
Scorers: Conor Johnston 1-2; O McManus 0-4 (3fs, 1 ’65); R Galbraith 0-3; S Shannon 0-2; P Nugent 0-2 (2 f’s); P McCallin 0-1; Ciaran Johnston 0-1; M Bradley 0-1
Referee: Colum Cunning (Cuchullains)