McKeever points Rasharkin into final

Casement SC JHC Semi-Final

Rasharkin0-12 Cloughmills 0-9

Pics by Bert Trowlen

A personal tally of 0-8 from Conor McKeever paved the way for an excellent victory for St. Mary’s Rasharkin over a fancied St. Brigid’s Cloughmills and this keenly contested Casement SC JHC semi-final in Dreen on Saturday.

The big number 15 was in great form, both from play and from placed balls but he was only one of an excellent all round home side who’s greater desire and fighting spirit got them through to a final where they will face Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm.

It was the other Conor, Conor McFerran who got Rasharkin off to the perfect start as he pointed after 15 seconds to serve notice that his side were up for the task in hand and when Conor McKeever followed with another in the opening minute the home side were on their way.

Cloughmills looked rattled by the intensity of the St. Mary’s opening as McKeever sent a long range free between the uprights and followed with another from similar distance to move Naomh Muire 0-4 to 0-0 ahead with only 8 minutes gone.

St. Brigid’s went into this one as favourites and the former division 2 side showed glimpses of just why they were tipped as favourites as they came back with points from Liam Kearns, and long range frees from Aaron Smylie and Ruairi Laverty to close the gap to the minimum by the 11th minute and suddenly we had a real championship clash on our hands.

Liam Tunney makes an outstanding save to deny Cloughmills corner forward Corey Blair.

The visitors might have gone ahead two minutes later but Liam Tunney in the Rasharkin goals brought off an excellent save to deny Corey Blair before Conor McKeever replied from a free at the other end to extend his side’s lead.

Things were beginning to liven up with a few meaty challenges going in from both sides as Liam Kearns from a free and Ruairi Laverty with an excellent point from distance for the Cloughmills side kept the travelling support on their feet and in fine voice.

Just when it looked like the visitors were getting on top it was that man McKeever who came back for the Dreen side as he pointed a 20th minute free and added another from play to edge his side two in front but an excellent point from corner-back, Martin Dobbin in reply left it finely balanced at the break.

Rasharkin started the second half as they did the first and Shane Hasson moved them two in front with a point after 10 seconds but the Biddies came back strongly with two from the excellent Liam Kearns to tie it at 0-8 apiece by the 38th minute.

McKeever for Rasharkin from another free and Smylie with a massive point from his own half had the side’s level once more at the end of the third quarter and it still looked anybody’s game at this stage but this would prove to be Cloughmills final score as the St. Mary’s intensity started to tell.

Shane Hasson struck an inspirational point to give Rasharkin back a lead they would not again lose and Conor McKeever brought his personal tally to 0-8 from a ‘65’ in the 58th minute before substitute Conor McKillop followed with the last point of the game to see the home side into the final.

St. Mary’s went into this one as underdogs but they showed the battling qualities that they will need again in abundance when they face Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm in a final where they will again start as outsiders.

That is unlikely to bother them and indeed could provide that bit of motivation they need and while Shane O’Neill’s have been the form team in both league and championship this year they will face a Rasharkin side who will relish the challenge.

Rasharkin: 1 Liam Tunney, 2 Daniel Doherty, 3 Conor Doherty, 4 James Higgins, 5 Ruairi O’Boyle, 6 Emmett McFerran, 7 Aidan McKeever, 8 Thomas McMullan, 9 Tiernan O’Boyle, 10 Shane Hasson, 11 Conor McFerran, 12 Eamonn McNeill, 13 Declan McKay, 14 Donagh Quigg, 15 Conor McKeever.

Cloughmills: 1Christopher McKernan, 2 Martin Dobbvin, 3 Sean McKendry, 5 Johnny Duffin, 6 Conor Laverty, 7 Joe Smyth, 8 Ruairi Laverty, 11 Micky Devlin, 12 Eoin Dobbin, 13 Corey Blair, 14 Liam Kearns, 15 Stephen Smyth, 19 Stephen Martin, 20 Aaron Smylie, 22 Reece Watt

Referee: Aidan Kelly (St. John’s)

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