Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship
St John’s 1-18 Ballycastle 1-17
Sunday September 18
St John’s edged Ballycastle in the opening quarter-final on Sunday afternoon with the minimum between the sides at the end of a frenetic second half. Oisin McManus with what turned out to be the winning score in the second minute of injury time, coming from a ’65 and taking his tally to 1-7 for the game. The Town had chances in a final ten minutes that neither side really took control off. When Eoin McAlonan pointed from distance he left the minimum between the sides with ten minutes remaining. They never pushed on however, leaving the door open for the Johnnies who misfired in the closing stages but did enough to earn the win.
The two goals were major scores in this game and came in either half when one side looked to be in control. Ballcastle led by three when Oisin McManus netted in the closing stages of the first half while the Johnnies stretched ahead by four when Cathal Conor found the back of Simon Doherty’s goal. Smyth was a shinning light for Ballycastle with his forward play immaculate and always giving the Town an option.
The opening exchanges were dominated by Ballycastle who started much brighter than the Corrigan Park men. They opened the scoring with a brace of frees from Tiernan Smyth, either side of Oisin McManus opening score.
The opening goal chance fell to Conor Hand in the 10th minute after Michael Bradley and Shea Shannon combined to find him in space but Ryan McGarry was well placed to save his effort.
Points from Aaron Bradley and McManus (’65) followed but Ballycastle looked more hungry than St John’s and pressurised them at every opportunity. Scores from Smyth (three frees), Diarmuid McShane and Seamus McAuley were answered by a solitary score from Aaron Bradley for St John’s to give The Town a three point lead with eight minutes to go in the first half.
A brace of scores from Shea Shannon and Michael Dudley were answered by Ronan McGarry and Diarmuid McShane. McShane’s score the result of excellent inter-play from Ballycastle to set him free and restore the Town’s three point lead in the last minute of the first half.
St John’s struck with the next play to stave the Ballycastle challenge. Ciaran Johnston gathering the sliotar in a world of space in the heart of the Ballycastle defence. Dragging the defenders his way, he found McManus in space and he finished emphatically. McAuley and Ronan McGarry pointed in response to Dudley and McManus (free) to leave the scores tied at 0-11 to 1-8 at half time.
St John’s started the second half a different team and had Ballycastle on the back foot. Shea Shannon took centre stage, firing three points in an eight minute period that saw the Johnnies take control while McManus scored his first from play in the same time to give their side a four point lead.
Ballycastle needed a response and found it through Cathal Conor. Winning the sliotar in a contest he looked second favourite for, Conor charges at goal and fired to the back of the net in the 39th minute. A score Ballycastle badly needed and revived their hopes of making the semi-final.
The St John’s response was quality. Substitute Oisin Donnelly and Aaron Bradley brought them three ahead. Smyth answered for Ballycastle with a free but they should have had another major midway through the half. Joe McToal overcooked his pass to Smyth who was in acres of space and the goal at his mercy.
A brace of McManus frees were answered by scores from Conor Boyd and McToal and when Eoin McAlonan pointed in the 50th minute, a grandstand finish was set up for the final ten minutes.
It never really materialised. St John’s dominated without ever taking their chances. A run of six wides in the closing ten minutes always kept Ballycastle in touch while Ryan McGarry’s save to deny McManus from point blank range was right out of the top drawer.
A McManus free was answered by a Joe McToal point as the game entered injury time. McManus took his tally to 1-7 for the hour with a ’65 but they had further chances to stretch their lead that came and went. Ballycastle rolled the dice deep in injury time with Seamus McAuley’s free dropping on the edge of the square, all the Town could muster was a free from Diarmuid McShane as referee Kevin Parke called time before the sliotar could be pucked out.
St John’s progress to the semi-final and a repeat of their clash with Dunloy at the same stage last year in two weeks-time.
St John’s: Simon Doherty; Conal Morgan, Ryan McNulty, Odhran Carleton; Peter McCallin, Padraig Nugent, Michael Bradley; Andy McGowan, Shea Shannon; Michail Dudley, Conor Hand, Ciaran Johnston; Rory Galbraith, Aaron Bradley, Oisin McManus
Subs: Oisin Donnelly sub C Hand (HT); Domhnall Nugent for R Galbraith (52); Ciaran McKenna for P McCallin (60)
Scorers: O McManus 1-7 (4fs 1 ’65); S Shannon 0-4; A Bradley 0-3; M Dudley 0-2; R Galbraith 0-1; O Donnelly 0-1
Ballycastle: Ryan McGarry; Oran Kearney, Matthew Donnelly, Oisin McAuley; Eoin McAlonan, Neal McAuley, Ronan Laverty; Cian Waldron, Ronan McGarry; Seamus McAuley, Conor Boyd, Joe McToal; Tiernan Smyth, Michael Dallat, Diarmuid McShane
Subs: TT Butler for M Dallat (HT); Dermot Donnelly for R Laverty (36); Cathal Connor for C Waldron (47)
Scorers: T Smyth 1-6 (6fs); D McShane 0-3; J McToal 0-2; S McAuley 0-2; R McGarry 0-2; E McAlonan 0-1; C Boyd 0-1
Referee: Kevin Parke (Naomh Eanna)