Magic Jack fires Shamrocks to Ulster Final

Leadon Timber Frame Ulster Minor Hurling Championship Semi-Final

Loughgiel 3-18 Lavey 1-6

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dean McGlinchey Park, Ballinascreen

Loughgiel minors continued their love affair with the Ulster Minor Cup on Saturday afternoon as they swept aside the challenge of Lavey.  It was a clinical performance from the young Shamrocks who after a slow start, soon found their feet and came to terms with the challenge brought by the Derry men.

Jack McCloskey’s reputation in the game continues to soar with the Shamrocks star forward contributing 3-5 over the hour, two of his three goals simply outrageous as he put the Lavey defence to the sword in a man of the match performance.  While McCloskey’s scoring exploits will take the headlines, Liam Glackin at midfield made Loughgiel tick.  On another day he would have been a shoo-in for man of the match but the nature of McCloskey’s goals made it impossible to ignore.

Loughgiel midfielder Liam Glackin hand passes the ball out to team mate Darragh Patterson to set up another attack.

Ben McGarry and Ronan Fitzgerald also caught the eye for the Shamrocks who conceded just two points in a dominant second half.

Lavey started this semi-final superbly and looked to be a match for Loughgiel in the opening quarter but as they game progressed, they couldn’t live with the attacking threat posed by the Shamrocks.  Connor Melaugh, Eoin Scullion and James Sargeant all putting in a huge shift for the Erin’s Own men while Jack Convery got their major at the end of the first half.

In what was far from a ‘dirty’ game of hurling, surprisingly referee James Connors gave three red cards.  In fairness to the Donegal whistler, he did well to quell tempers when they threatened to boil over when the game went into the last 10 minutes.  Melaugh and Codai McGarry seeing red while Conor McGurk was unlucky to see his game ended early in the last minute of normal time.

With the sides finding their feet in the opening exchanges, the free takers took centre stage.  Loughgiel looked to McCloskey and Roan McGarry firing over scores either side of a Eoin Scullion point for Lavey.

James Sargent in action for Lavey in Saturday’s semi-final in Ballimascreen.

The Derry men took the lead with Scullion (’65) and Conor Downey splitting the uprights, Downey’s effort instinctive and from distance.  A morale boosting score that saw the Lavey support find their voices but it would be their last score for almost 15 minutes as Loughgiel took control.

Darragh Patterson brought parity to the sides before McCloskey’s first major.  Tiago McGarry playing the sliotar up the right into McCloskey’s path where he spun his defender and finished to the back of Conall Moore’s net from an acute angle.

McCloskey and Codai McGarry fired over before James Sargeant’s first of the match briefly halted the Loughgiel charge.

The Shamrocks continued to be hugely clinical in the time that remained in the first half.  Fitzgerald, Glackin and Ben McGarry (’65) all splitting the uprights before they scored their second major.

Ben McGarry lofted a free towards the Lavey goal where McCloskey plucked the sliotar out of the air to claim a ball he just had no right to take.  If the catch was good, his finish was outrageous.  Predatory instinct, clinical, brilliant to put 12 between the sides.

With the next attack, Lavey were awarded a penalty with referee James Connors spotting a push.  Sargeant’s effort was saved by Mark Christie but Convery pulled the rebound to the back of the net in what was the last action of the half.

Loughgiel full forward Codi McGarry keeps his eye on the ball

The first half belonged to Loughgiel and their attacking unit.  Lavey made a bright start to the second half with Sargeant pointing a free but it was going to take something special for the Erin’s Own men to get back into the game as Loughgiel continued to show their prolific side in front of goal.

Points from Fitzgerald (two), McCloskey (two) and Darragh Patterson inside a four minute spell put to bed any thoughts of a Lavey comeback.  Sargeant split the uprights in the 43rd miunute for his first from play but it would be their last score of the game.

The Loughgiel third goal came with the next attack.  Tiago McGarry with the delivery and McCloskey judged the flight of the sliotar superbly before doubling in mid-air and firing to the back of the net to complete his hat-trick.  A quite brilliant piece of hurling brilliance that brought a purr from the Loughgiel support.

Tempers threatened to boil over with some challenges coming in late and Melaugh and Codai McGarry seeing red.  Fitzgerald split the posts for his third of the half and fourth overall before Ben McGarry and Jack McCloskey completed the scoring. 

Lavey were wasteful throughout the second half with a number of frees going off target and late in the game they looked for goals but the Loughgiel defence stood firm.  The Shamrocks now look forward to a final meeting with Carrickmore as they continue their defence of the Ulster Cup.

Liam Glackin lands a long range point


Loughgiel: Mark Christie; Ronan McLaughlin, Pearce Patterson, Ashdon McGarry; Tiago McGarry, Ben McGarry, Preston McGarry; Liam Glackin, Charlie O’Hagan; Ronan Fitzgerald, Darragh Patterson, Ryan O’Boyle; Jack McCloskey, Codai McGarry, Roan McGarry

Subs: Danny McAuley for D Patterson (52); Conan Johnston for B McGarry (54); Oisin Convery for L Glackin (55)

Scorers: J McCloskey 3-5 (1f); R Fitzgerald 0-4; B McGarry 0-3 (1f 1’65); D Patterson 0-2; R McGarry 0-2 (1f); L Glackin 0-1; C McGarry 0-1

Lavey: Conall Moore; Ronan Birt, Ryan McGarvey, John McGurk; Connor Melaugh, Eoin Scullion, Lorcan Collins; Charlie Curley, James Sergeant; Patrick Birt, Jack Convery, Charlie Mulholland; Rian Collins, Conor Downey, Lorcan McDonnell

Subs: Conal Bradley for C Mulholland (52); Cathal Mulholland for P Birt (54); Eoin Young for L McDonnell (60)

Scorers: J Sargeant 0-3 (1f); J Convery 1-00; E Scullion 0-2 (1f 1’65); C Downey 0-1

Referee: James Connors (Donegal)

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