Late surge sees Shane O’Neill’s take Junior title

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship Final

Shane O’Neill’s 1-21 Rasharkin 0-16

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly

Glenarm produced a strong finish on Saturday afternoon to finally banish their junior championship voodoo.  Eight points separated the sides at the end of the hour as the Shane O’Neill’s saw off the dogged resistance of Rasharkin in the final quarter. It was the Glenarm mens’ first Junior title in 65 years, though they have won Intermediate and Intermediate Reserver titles in the interim, but the Junior had eluded them. They lost a few finals in recent years when they appeared to be nailed on to win, but that was all forgot about today when team captain Darren Hamill lifted the cup.

Glenarm corner forward Kevin O’Boyle celebrates after scoring the only goal fo the game to set his team on the road to victory

With just one point between the sides at the half time whistle, a goal was always going to be a massive score and it proved to be the case with Kevin O’Boyle making the most of indecision in the Rasharkin defence with a little over ten minutes of the final remaining. 

The major gave Glenarm the confidence they needed to push for home with Nial McGarel producing an awesome display of point taking at the death.  He would finish with four points with two of those coming after the Glenarm goal when they pushed for victory.

Rasharkin will look at the opening ten minutes of the second half and rue their inability to convert major chances.  A series of handling errors and good Glenarm defending hurt the challenge of the men from Dreen and breathed oxygen into the Glenarm side.

The final quarter belonged to the Shane O’Neill’s however as they bridged a 24 year gap from their last championship win and 65 years since the last time they took home the Junior championship to Glenarm.

In a cagey opening to the final, neither side really took control in the opening exchanges.  Darren Hamill was accurate from placed ball while Conor McKeever was following suit for Rasharkin.  Sean O’Boyle split the uprights before Donagh Quigg and Conor McFerran edged Rasharkin ahead after ten minutes.  It signalled an awakening in the Shane O’Neill’s camp however.

Playing with whatever wind was blowing at Dunsilly in the first half, Glenarm looked to go through the gears with quick fire scores from Ciaran Magill (two), Hamill (free) and Niall McGarel put a three point gap between the sides and Glenarm were beginning to show their true potential with some lovely use of the sliotar.

Rasharkin’s Shane Hasson in action during the Junior Championship final against Glenarm

A Hamill free in the 17th minute put four between the sides before Conor McKeever (free) and Conor McFerran got the score board ticking again for the men from Dreen.  

Dylan McLaughlin and Hamill (free) restored the four point lead for Glenarm but Rasharkin finished the half with a flourish.  McKeever knocked over another brace of frees before Quigg left the minimum between the sides.  Tiernan O’Boyle raised the white flag from distance, a truly memorable score with the Rasharkin defender under pressure and off balance while sending the sliotar towards the target to bring the sides level but Glenarm had the final say with Dylan McLaughlin’s second point of the half giving them a 0-10 to 0-9 lead at half time.

In a half where Glenarm played the majority of the hurling, Rasharkin would have been delighted to trail by just one point.  The St Mary’s side were back on terms with the first attack of the second half when Conor McKeever split the uprights and while it was their last score for ten minutes, Rasharkin’s chances were slipping with every missed goal chance.

Conor McKeever had chances but couldn’t trouble Michael Abram in the Glenarm goals.  Despite the reprieves, the Shane O’Neill’s weren’t exactly punishing Rasharkin at the other end of the pitch.  Six wides in a seven minute spell with two points from Hamill (one free) was cancelled out by a brace of frees from McKeever.

Rasharkin full forward Donagh Quigg shoots for goal but Glenarm keeper Michael Abram made another fine save to deny the St Mary’s man

Dylan McLaughlin and Quigg split the posts before McKeever landed another free that gave Rasharkin the lead for the first time since the third minute with a quarter of the match remaining.  

Glenarm dug deep however and seemed to find another gear, especially in the middle third.  They turned the pressure on Rasharkin and reaped the reward through Hamill’s frees (two) and a Kieron O’Boyle before scoring the only goal of the game.  A cross-field ball was played into Hamill on the edge of the square and while it looked like Rasharkin were favourites to clear the danger, the sliotar fell to Kevin O’Boyle and he pulled first time to the back of Liam Tunney’s net.

Rasharkin responded well with the next two scores of the game, both from McKeever frees by McGarel took centre stage in the closing minutes.  Three points, two of them from outrageous angles put daylight between the sides while Rasharkin spurned another goal chance at the other end of the pitch.  Substitute Eamonn McNeill and Quigg with the chances but the writing was on the wall for Rasharkin’s championship hopes. Scores from Padraig McDermott and Hamill’s seventh free, eighth point overall rounded off the scoring and sealed a memorable afternoon for the Shane O’Neill’s.

Glenarm captain Darren Hamill loses his helmet as he battles for possession with Rasharkin’s Ruairi O’Boyle and Aidan McKeever. Pic by Paddy McIlwaine

TEAMS

Shane O’Neill’s: Michael Abram; Ben O’Boyle, Barry Hamill, Conal Ward; Padraig McDermott, Declan McDermott, Aidan Scullion; Daniel Black, Kieran O’Boyle; Sean O’Boyle, Darren Hamill, Dylan McLaughlin; Kevin O’Boyle, Ciaran Magill, Niall McGarel

Subs: Kevin O’Boyle for B O’Boyle (34); Liam Og McLaughlin for C Ward (inj); Sean O’Hare for D Black (inj)

Scorers: D Hamill 0-8 (7fs); C Magill 0-2; D McLaughlin 0-4; K O’Boyle 1-00; N McGarel 0-4; S O’Boyle 0-1; K O’Boyle 0-1; P McDermott 0-1

Rasharkin: Liam Tunney; Daniel Doherty, Conor Doherty, James Higgins; Ruairi O’Boyle, Connaire Donaghy, Aidan McKeever; Emmett McFerran, Thomas McMullan; Shane Hasson, Tiernan O’Boyle, Conor McFerran; Declan McKay, Donagh Quigg, Conor McKeever

Subs: Eamon McNeill for C Donaghy (HT); Conor McKillop for A McKeever (49)

Scorers: C McKeever 0-11 (8fs 1 ’65); D Quigg 0-3; C McFerran 0-1; T O’Boyle 0-1

Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)

To the victor goes the spoils!
County chairman Ciaran McCavana presents the Junior Hurling Championship cup to Glenarm captain Darren Hamill

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