Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship Quarter Final
Saturday 17th September
Report by Niall Kelly
Michael Davitts 2-13 Glen Rovers Armoy 3-12
Photographs: Bert Trowlen
Armoy sealed their Junior Semi Final berth after weathering a few nervy last moments in Davitt Park. The Glenshesk men went into proceedings as favourites and after having clinically despatched two majors to Thomas Maguire’s net after five minutes of the second half and with a nine point margin now in their favour, they looked to have fulfilled the role to a tee. Indeed, the men in blue and white were in cruise control and it seemingly appeared they would coast their way to victory. However, a spirited and resilient Davitt’s side, spearheaded by Don Whelan and his magic wand, refused to follow the script and mounted a comeback effort which frayed the nerves of the visiting management and faithful alike during the closing exchanges. Davitt’s number ten can feel somewhat aggrieved not to have finished on the winning team as he notched a dazzling individual tally of 1-10 and his ability from the placed ball kept the hosts within distance of their North Antrim counterparts.
It was the home side who started brightest and established a 0-04 0-02 lead by the fifteenth minute. Marcus Toner and Don Whelan (3) were on target for Davitts with the ever-dangerous Tommy Burns and Colin Lordan raising the white flag of the umpires for Armoy. The visitors were growing in confidence as the half progressed and Turlough McBride fired over two consecutive frees to level proceedings a few minutes later.
Momentum continued to sway to and fro as both sides duelled valiantly to gain the ascendency but neither could establish any true dominance on the game. Davitts were heavily reliant on the genius of Whelan from placed balls. More often than not though, he delivered, and on the twentieth minute he had re-established the hosts’ lead after guiding the sliotar over the bar with devastating accuracy on three occasions in quick succession.
Armoy were in need of a score and talisman Tommy Burns duly obliged as his long-range, swerving effort crept just inside the post perfectly to invigorate his side. Turlough McBride had his bearings correct once again before Eamonn McCaughan stamped his authority on proceedings as he latched onto a Rocky Dillon pass before curling a sumptuous effort between the sticks to level matters.
Whelan again would respond for the hosts but Armoy were now dovetailing nicely in attack and dealt their hosts a hammer blow just before the interval. Ciaran McKenna’s sideline cut bounced invitingly for the onrushing Tommy Burns who kept his composure before rifling low and hard into the despairing Thomas Maguire’s net. PJ McBride popped up with another point before Whelan just had enough time to reply to leave the scores at half time 0-09 to 1-08 in favour of the men from the Glens.
The opening five minutes of the second half proved to be decisive in the fate of this game as Armoy ran rampant. PJ McBride continued where he left off before the half as he competently despatched from close range before Eamonn McCaughan grabbed his side’s second major as he unleashed a blistering effort into the top left of the Davitts goal. To further add salt in the wounds, ‘Rocky’ Dillon hammered home a penalty two minutes later and Davitts were left dumbfounded.
The hosts though rallied superbly and refused to wilt despite the now ominous gap between the sides. Whelan grabbed another from range before Marcus Toner presented his side with a lifeline after plundering his way through the heart of the Armoy rear-guard and blasting home to the net to galvanise his men. Davitts cut further into the lead as Cormac Maguire and Whelan pointed and suddenly the margin was down to three points with fifteen to go.
Credit must go to the visitors though who remained composed, PJ McBride replied to a Toner effort and grabbed two inspirational scores to bolster his side before Burns pointed from range and Armoy seemed to have a handle on things again. They were keeping the sliotar well and trying to take the sting out of the game.
Matters then turned fiery and there was a tempestuous atmosphere for the remainder of the game which resulted in Davitt’s netminder receiving his marching orders after a robust challenge on Colin Lordan. A few other altercations were bubbling over too which resulted in a sizable portion of added time. As the clock then ticked through into injury time, Don Whelan sparked hope of completing a revival when he rifled spectacularly to the net from a long range free to trigger a raucous roar from the home spectators. But it was not be as Armoy stood resolute under the high balls that soared in as the game reached its conclusion.
Davitts will take great heart in their performance. They were dogged and determined throughout the game but will no doubt surely lament that opening five minute period of the second half. Despite the scare, Armoy will be fully focused now on their intriguing encounter with Glenarm in the semis. Glenarm have been tipped by many as the favourites to lift the Junior crown but with talented options within their arsenal, Armoy will certainly fancy their chances.
Davitts: T Maguire; O Gorman, M Rowntree, C Cunningham; C Heaney, C Gallagher, A McLaughlin; D Mooney, P Óg Carleton; D Whelan (1-10,) S McGivern, M Toner (1-02;) C Maguire (0-01,) A Rowntree, J McNally
C Devlin; C Coyles, S Devlin, A Devlin; L Devlin, E O’Hara, T McBride (0-03;) J McFetridge, J Dillon (1-00;) C McKenna, T Burns (1-03,) E O’Boyle; E McCaughan (1-01,) C Lordan (0-01,) PJ McBride (0-04)
Referee: Danny O’Neill (Gort na Mona)