Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship – Quarter-Final
Loughgiel 3-27 Rossa 0-20
Sunday 18 September
Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly
For 40 minutes at Dunsilly, this was a titanic tussle of free flowing hurling littered with touches of brilliance. Loughgiel and Rossa were playing out a mini-classic with the type of hurling that left even the neutrals in attendance at Dunsilly purring. In the end, Loughgiel’s brilliance in the final quarter gave the Shamrocks an emphatic victory to book their place in the semi-final against Cushendall.
The contest was end to end for long periods. Loughgiel with their young attack firing. Paul Boyle defying physics and gravity while the experience of Eddie McCloskey was pulling the strings. The lightning speed may not be there these days but Eddie remains a step ahead between his ears. The perfect foil for the likes of James McNaughton, Shan McGrath and Dan McCloskey to play off.
But at the other end of the pitch, Aodhan O’Brien was performing minor miracles for a Rossa team who had lost Adrian Kenneally before throw in. A blow for the Jeremiah’s given they were without the talents of Michael Armstrong (injured) and Stephen Beatty (suspension). Scoring points from ridiculous angles and frees from any range, O’Brien was outstanding. For 30 minutes he was helped by the mercurial talents of James Connolly until he too had to come off injured, just before half time. Seaghan Shannon, Dara Rocks, Eoin Traynor and Stephen Shannon shinning for long periods but effectively the game left them midway through the second half. O’Brien looked like his race was run, moving to the edge of the square while Loughgiel fired over four points in as many minutes. Taking a four point lead to seven in the space of as many minutes and the Shamrock’s never looked behind them. Two Paul Boyle majors in the space of five minutes added gloss to the score line but Loughgiel’s overall play was certainly eye catching. Slick passing, movement off the shoulder and speed of thought was mesmerising.
On a day where Rossa needed everything to fall their way to possibly make the last four, Loughgiel were in simply irresistible form and looked to have found a winning combination in attack to compliment a strong defence.
The opening quarter was helter-skelter hurling with 15 points scored, eight of those to the men in red and white. It was almost exhibitional hurling but neither side could lay a glove on the other such was the speed of thought and play shown by both sides.
But for all the brilliance on show, Loughgiel’s first goal came from an error in the Rossa defence. Dan McCloskey’s effort for point but it was blocked and Rossa ‘keeper Philip Crean looked to stop the sliotar from going out for a ’65. Shan McGrath picked his pocket however and fired to the back of the net in the 17thminute. It didn’t stop Rossa’s and Aodhan O’Brien however. In a first half where he would score seven points, Loughgiel couldn’t stop him and they did try.
Stephen Shannon’s mammoth score in the 22nd minute left the minimum between the sides but Loughgiel rallied. Points from Eddie McCloskey (two) and three from McNaughton (one free) were answered by O’Brien and Thomas Morgan to leave the Shamrocks 1-14 to 0-13 ahead at the half time whistle.
The second half didn’t start with the same feverish entitlement than the first but a brace of scores from O’Brien (free) and Eoin Traynor preceded points from Eddie McCloskey and Stephen Shannon.
O’Brien split the uprights in the 36th minute to leave the minimum between the sides but that was as close as the Shaws Road men got to the Shamrocks. Incredibly, they would only register another two points in the 24 minutes plus injury that remained while Loughgiel found a bewildering level of brilliance Rossa just couldn’t live with.
Paul Boyle at his blistering best while McNaughton danced and weaved his magic from open play and frees. With 15 minutes of the quarter-final remaining, five points separated the sides. Rossa brought Adrian Kenneally on to the full forward line in the hopes of some magic but they couldn’t curtail the Loughgiel juggernaut.
The Shamrock’s second goal came in the 52nd minute with six between the sides. McNaughton providing the assist for Boyle who soloed through on goal and sent the sliotar to the back of the net.
Eddie McCloskey’s sixth point of the match followed before Loughgiel’s third major followed in the 57thminute. McNaughton standing over a free just inside his own half and well within his range but played the sliotar into the path of substitute Maol Connolly. Finding Boyle in space, Connolly passed and Boyle’s finish was emphatic. A simple yet brilliant move that underlined the Loughgiel performance.
Loughgiel continued to add to the score board, their foot to the throat of Rossa’s championship and they played with relentless brilliance. Emphatic, mesmeric, spell binding hurling from the men in red who set up a mouth watering semi final with Cushendall in two weeks time.
Loughgiel: Chrissy O’Connell; Tiernan Coyle, Rory McCloskey, Ronan McCloskey; Enda Og McGarry, Declan McCloskey, Odhran McFadden; Dan McCloskey, James McNaughton; Paul Boyle, Eddie McCloskey, Donal McKinley; Rian McMullan, Shay Casey, Shan McGrath
Subs: Ruairi McCormick for Ronan McCloskey (12); Caolan Blair for Rory McCloskey (18); Declan Gillan for O McFadden (40); Maol Connolly for R McMullan (44)
Scorers: P Boyle 2-4; J McNaughton 0-9 (4fs 1 ’65); E McCloskey 0-6; S McGrath 1-3; D McCloskey 0-2; E Og McGarry 0-2; R McCormick 0-1
Rossa: Philip Crean; Conor Boyle, Chris McGuinness, Ciaran Orchin; Stephen Shannon, Gerard Walsh, Eoin Traynor; Seaghan Shannon, Aidan Orchin; Dara Rocks, James Connolly, Aodhan O’Brien; Thomas Morgan, Cormac McGettigan, Dominic McEnhill
Subs: Diarmuid Rogan for J Connolly (30); Adrian Kenneally for D Rogan (44); Owen May for A Orchin (56)
Scorers: A O’Brien 0-11 (3fs 2’65s); T Morgan 0-3; Stephen Shannon 0-1; E Traynor 0-1; Seaghan Shannon 0-1; D Rocks 0-1; J Connolly 0-1; G Walsh 0-1
Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)