Antrim Division 2 Reserve League at Cushendall (11-05-23)
CUSHENDALL RUAIRI OG 3-18 CUSHENDUN EMMET’S 3-15
By Denis O’Hara
SPRING-HEELED sharpshooter Joe McNaughton masterminded this narrow Antrim Reserve League derby victory for the home side at Cushendall.
The lanky winger plundered 1-13 in an extremely entertaining and competitive clash of the Coast Road young guns.
Anxious to impress their respective senior team bosses it was local rising star McNaughton who set a blistering early pace.
In the evening sunshine of the first half there was a constant cry to – ‘Slip it to Joe’ – who often materialised in open ground to pick off a string of points from play. He was also deadly accurate from placed balls.
The 17-year-old, a grandson of the late Tully sea captain Danny McNaughton, was the major influence for the Ruari Og’s,and given superb support by midfielder Paddy Sharpe and upfront centre men Daire Mort and burly full forward Euan McKillop.
Apprentice electrician McKiilop was not the only bright spark on show as the Emmet’s had their special marksman in Eoin ‘Cubby’ Magee.
Not to be outdone he helped restore pride and purpose in the second session when shifted from corner forward
to a roving loose cannon role around the midfield. Cubby duly obliged with twelve points..
Sedate supervision by laid-back Glenravel referee Ryan O’Reilly kept the showdown to a refreshingly sporting level.
The Emmet’s were made to pay for overly lax marking in the first half to leave acres of room for the home boys, especially McNaughton and turned five points ahead (1-11 to 2-3) at the interval.
The Dall players, comfortably in control, it seemed, looked stunned when young Euan McSparran pickpocketed two goals.
Keeping Cushendun from drifting out of sight amid the early pressure was the singularly impressive wing back Pearse McKeegan, a strong contender for ‘Man of the Match’ accolade with his robust aggression and stinging deliveries.
Another McKeegan, Colm, was also in fine form, this time as goalkeeper.
Normally regarded a lethal corner forward, Colm’s eye-catching saves, including a blinding point-bank stop, used his nimble speed to repeatedly skip through a bunch of attackers and make lengthy clearances.
Ironically, at the other end of the Emmet’s formation was hefty full forward John V Morgan, Garron Tower’s present Colleges All Star hurling goalkeeper.
He had two sizzling shots cleverly turned over the bar by Cushendall ‘keeper Paddy Doherty, and also a hand in the two goals by his cousin Euan McSparran.
Just as the Emmet’s threatened to slice the gap to nothing up popped substitute Rory Sharpe to get the better of Colm McKeegan. four minutes from end.
Another replacement, Matthew McCann and a Joe McNaughton free added points to widen the gap to six points before the dogged determination of Cushendun midfielder Dominic Sharkey paid off through a splendid goal sixty seconds from time.
CUSHENDALL B:-Paddy Doherty; Ruairi McAuley, Dominic Bergin, Paddy Mooney;
Mark Emerson, Eoin McAlister, Darren McLaughlin;
Paddy Sharpe and Stephen McAuley;
Joe McNaughton, Daire Mort, Finlay Walker;
Conall McAteer, Eunan McKillop, John Mtchell.
Subs used- Rory Sharpe, Matthew McCann, Fintan McCormick, John Birt.
EMMET’S:-Colm McKeegan; Archie McKay, Declan McKernan, John Joe O’Connell;
Michael McHugh, Andrew Breslin, Pearse McKeegan;
Aidan McSparran and Dominic Sharkey; Conrad Duffin, Ryan McCurdy, Michael Dunne;
Eoin Magee, John V Morgan, Euan McSparran.
Sub used-Ciaran Magee.