St. Mary’s edge real thriller at Dreen

ACHL Division 3

Rasharkin 2-20 All Saints 1-18

St. Mary’s Rasharkin and All Saints Ballymena served up a real thriller at Dreen on Wednesday night with some of the hurling and scores right out of the top drawer. The home side hit four unanswered points in the opening four minutes and three more at the start of the second half and in the end those scores proved the difference between the sides.

In between division 3 new boys All Saints gave as good as they got with their number 12, Ciaran Neeson hitting 1-15 on the night in an exhibition of free taking as good as anything I’ve seen with at least seven of his scores coming from beyond the ‘65’ yard line.

Neeson’s goal with time almost up came too late to influence the result and in the end Rasharkin deserved their five point win but they were given a run for their money by an All Saints team who have improved immeasurably under the management of Chris Dornan and certainly don’t look  out of place in this division.

Conor McKeever, Donagh Quigg, Conor McFerran and McKeever again shot Rasharkin into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead by the fifth minute before Ciaran Neeson opened All Saints account with his first point of the night from a ‘65’ with seven minutes gone.

Caolan Maria restored the home side’s four point advantage but the visitors were beginning to gain a foothold and Padraig Magill from play and Ciaran Neeson from a 30 meter free in the 12th minute and another in the 15th closed the gap to the minimum.

Rasharkin responded and Conor McFerran and Ruairi O’Boyle with a massive long range effort moved their side three clear again but the Ballymena men looked like drawing level but Eoin McGuigan was fouled as he bore down on goal with Neeson pointing the resulting free.

Mid-fielder James O’Boyle hit a good point and another couple of pointed frees from the mercurial Neeson had the Slemish Park side two in front with four minutes remaining to half time as the visitors continued to edge the exchanges and a further exchange between Neeson for the visitors and McKeever for Rasharkin had Chris Dornan’s side two in front at the break.

As in the first half, it was St. Mary’s who started on the front foot and within four minutes they had taken the lead as Conor McFerran, Aidan McKeever and Conor McKeever from a free had them ahead by the fourth minute.

Two more from Aidan McKeever and Cathair Henderson moved the Dreen side three in front before Neeson finally got All Saints off the mark again when he sent over a free from more than 70 meters out and another from a similar distance had the visitors back in touch with 9 minutes of the new half gone.

McKeever and Donagh Quigg edged the Dreen side three in front once more but once again that man Neeson hit the target from distance to keep his side’s hopes alive and so it continued with the respective teams sharp shooters keeping the score board ticking.

With ten minutes of normal time remaining it still looked anybody’s game but when Donagh Quigg raced through the All Saints defence to plant the sliothar in the net matters swung decisively towards the home side.

James Higgins hit an excellent point and when Conor McFerran got a touch to a dropping ball in a challenge with Ciaran Cassley in the All Saints nets to guide the sliotar over the line Rasharkin had suddenly opened up an eight point lead.

Cathair Henderson added a point with James O’Boyle replying at the other end and Conor McKeever converted a free before Ciaran Neeson put the icing on a fine individual performance as he fired to the Rasharkin net but there would be no way back for the Ballymena side.

A great game of hurling with some excellent scores with the free taking of Ciaran Neeson the highlight of the night but in the end it was the greater all round power of Rasharkin that saw them finish strongly to edge home comfortably in the end.

Rasharkin: 1 Liam Tunney, 2 Conor Doherty, 3 Daniel Doherty, 4 Connor Higgins, 5 Ruairi O’Boyle, 6 Shane Hasson, 7 Daniel Hasson, 8 Emmet McFerran, 9 James Higgins, 10 Cathair Henderson, 11 Conor McFerran, 12 Aidan McKeever, 13 Donagh Quigg, 14 Conor McKeever, 15 Caolan Maria. Subs 17, Conan McMullan, 18 Terry McGregor

All Saints: 1 Ciaran Cassley, 2 Daniel Gray, 3 Colum Neeson, 4 Kewvin Brady, 5 Cathaoir Cunning, 6 Luke O’Rawe, 7 Conor O’Rawe, 8 Padraig Magill, 9 James O’Boyle, 10 Cormac Magill, 11 Damian Gillan, 12 Ciaran Neeson, 13 Eoin McGuigan, 14 Gary Miskella, 15 Joseph O’Rawe. Subs: 17 Jack Magill, 19 Vincent Esler,

Referee: Darren McKeown (St. Gall’s)

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