Leadon Timber Frames – Ulster Minor Hurling Cup Final
Loughgiel 3-11 Eire Og, Carrickmore 0-8
Saturday 7 January
Brendan McTagart reports from Dean McGlinchey Park, Ballinascreen
Loughgiel retained the Ulster Minor Cup on Saturday afternoon with a brilliant second half display that saw off the dogged resistance of Carrickmore. The young Shamrocks held Eire Og scoreless for the entirety of the second period as they made the most of the wind at their back.
Led superbly by captain and man of the match, Ben McGarry, two of the Shamrock’s majors came from the younger of the McGarry brothers, Roan. One in either half coming after Jack McCloskey’s opening goal and were pivotal in deciding the outcome of this final.
The Tyrone men started with savage intensity from the first whistle, tackling, hooking and blocking everything that moved in a red and white shirt as they tried to make the most of having the wind at their back in the first half, and while Loughgiel struggled with the elements, their two goals late in the half proved essential.
Roan McGarry would top score for the Shamrocks with 2-2 for his hours work while Jack McCloskey was hot on his heels, finishing with 1-4. The two young Shamrocks with another impressive display that warmed the travelling Loughgiel support on a cold afternoon in south Derry.
The opening score of the contest came in the second minute through Eire Og’s, Aidan Woods. The talented full forward would finish the game with 0-5 beside his name and was a constant threat for the Tyrone champions. Roan McGarry opened his and Loughgiel’s account with the next attack but both sides were showing signs of nerves in the opening exchanges. Conn Sweeney was playing deeper to try and nullify the threat of the Loughgiel inside forward line while Ashdon McGarry was spare in the Loughgiel defence. Woods (free) and Shea Munroe split the posts for the Carrickmore men before a free from Jack McCloskey kept Loughgiel in touch but it was clear even at that early stage the wind was going to be a major factor in the final.
With Sweeney influential at the heart of the Eire Og defence, they looked to build a lead with Woods (free) and Munroe (two) putting four between the sides with ten minutes of the half remaining. In truth, it could have been more with the Tyrone men hitting a number of wides during their purple patch.
With the next attack Loughgiel scored the first goal of the final. A long ball into the heart of the Eire Og defence wasn’t dealt with properly and Codi McGarry collected the loose sliotar. He found Jack McCloskey in space and he pulled first time to give Kevin Hughes no chance between the sticks.
Eire Og looked to recover and did hit the next point of the game through a Woods free but again a brace of wides either side hurt their challenge. A fact that was compounded as the game ticked in to first half injury time. Jack McCloskey’s long free fell short and the Eire Og defence failed to clear the danger. Roan McGarry pounced on the loose sliotar and punished the Carrickmore men with Loughgiel’s second goal to give them the lead for the first time in the final.
There was still time for one more attack with Woods splitting the posts for the fifth time in the first time with his fourth free to leave the sides tied on 0-8 to 2-2 at half time.
In a half where Carrickmore had did the majority of the hurling, Loughgiel were fortunate to go in level at half time but they showed their predatory instinct in front of goal to give them a huge advantage in the second half.
With the wind showing no signs of dissipating, Loughgiel started the second half superbly. A point from Jack McCloskey was preceded by a huge free from Ben McGarry moments later to put Loughgiel two clear. A ’65 from Loughgiel captain McGarry made it three unanswered as Eire Og were camped in their own half before a touch of brilliance brought about the third Loughgiel goal.
Ben McGarry sending the sliotar to the edge of the square and with the chance looking to have gone, his brother Roan got flicked the sliotar to the back of the net. A brilliant piece of individual brilliance that all but ended the final as a contest just 11 minutes into the second half.
Further scores from Darragh Patterson and Ronan Fitzgerald before Eire Og’s first attempt at a score came 17 minutes into the second half. The Shamrocks were well on top but struggled in front of the target with a series of missed chances.
Roan McGarry, McCloskey (free) and Darragh Patterson put further daylight between the sides as they put further gloss on the score line.
Eire Og went in search for goals to try and revive their flailing chances but Mark Christie was equal to any chances that came his way.
Jack McCloskey scored the last score of the final, a remarkable point considering he had lost his balance as a Carrickmore challenge came late. A touch of class and a sign of the confidence McCloskey is playing with as he sealed a comfortable victory for the Shamrocks.
Loughgiel: Mark Christie; Ronan McLaughlin, Pearse Patterson, Ashdon McGarry; Tiago McGarry, Ben McGarry, Preston McGarry; Liam Glackin, Charley O’Hagan; Ronan Fitzgerald, Darragh Patterson, Ryan O’Boyle; Jack McCloskey, Codi McGarry, Roan McGarry
Subs: Danny McAuley for R O’Boyle (53); Conan Johnston for C McGarry (53); Ronan Casey for D Patterson (58); Conan McCormick for C O’Hagan (58); Eddie Smyth for P McGarry (58)
Scorers: R McGarry 2-2; J McCloskey 1-4 (2f); D Patterson 0-2; B McGarry 0-2 (1f 1’65); R Fitzgerald 0-1
Eire Og: Kevin Hughes; Cillian Kerr, Cormac McCrystal, Senan Munroe; Darragh McPhillips, Daithi McIlhatton, Michael Coyle; Francey Hurson, Conn Sweeney; Padraig McCrystal, Shea Munroe, Dylan Devlin; Caolan Martin, Aidan Woods, Conor Kerr
Subs: Padraig Gavin for S Munroe (40); Conor McGarvey for D Devlin (53); Darragh Coney for C Martin (53)
Scorers: A Woods 0-5 (4f); S Munroe 0-3
Referee: Alan Nash (Doire Trasna)