Corbett bridges the gap to settle the Emmet’s

Division Two SHL at The Riggs


By Denis O’Hara

ICE COOL Aidan Corbett proved an admirable second-half substitute for the Emmet’s in this rip-snorting Antrim Division Two league tie against Shane O’Neill’s at The Riggs.

Corbett, on the bench for starters with normal midfield player Thomas Scally an uneasy first-half deputy at full back, settled the nerves of the home boys with an unflappable performance to stub the earlier dominance of Glenarm’s confident forwards.

Emmet’s team boss Rory McQuillan had to make switches after his hit and miss side turned two points light (0-9 to 2-5).

Glenarm, looking every bit the outstanding 2022 champions of Division Three and county JHC winners, bagged two goals with relative ease during the last six minutes of the opening session.

Something had to be done. On came Corbett to shore up the back line and give goalkeeper Gareth McGhee necessary protection.

Corbett’s assured play, excellent anticipation and thoughtful deliveries turned the tide at the seaside.

Suddenly there was a mood change on the home front, the team also boosted by another second half alteration – that of the versatile prospect Colm McKeegan.

Scally went to bolster the spluttering centre field area, where his running and confident striking grew into the rough and sometimes rumbustious encounter.

It was no surprise to see old fashioned shoulder to shoulder conflict from two teams with a proud lengthy history in hurling, a rivalry on the north coast stretching back to 1904 when the clubs were among the first four in the area to be registered with the GAA.

Referee Lorenzo McMullan had to keep a handle on some illegal body checking, and over physical stickwork – and dished out two early yellow cards to two Glenarm wingers.

The excellent turnout of home and away fans for this midweek treat watched the teams slug it out – level on six occasions.

Glenarm corner forward Niall McGarel picked off an instant lead point from a free. Then it was the turn down the pitch for the ubiquitous Conor ‘Smiler’ McHugh. On the comeback trail, following an injury, Smiler scored an exquisite point from a sideline cut.

The ding-dong action had the Shane’s in front again through the outstanding Dillon McLaughlin, matched by one through Fintan McQuillan.

The see-saw struggle, played out at pace, saw McHugh and the ever industrious half back Jack McKay inch the Emmet’s ahead.

Flying wing forward David Kilgore and McHugh made it 6-3, and in between were those two bookings for illegal stickwork.

Shane’s reliable goalkeeper Michael Abram saved from Kilgore before a Conlaoth ‘Loaf ‘McNeill point and dazzling solo run and fine finishing point by McHugh – and another David Kilgore quality finish lifted Cushendun 8-4 ahead.

Suddenly, Glenarm, always probing for a major score found the net with a superb Aidan Scullion finish following McGarel’s dancing run from the right corner flag and a pinpoint inside pass. Scullion sustained a whack during his brave finish.

Loaf McNeill then converted a free after Scally was fouled sixty yards out.

Right away, Glenarm hit back in an enthralling passage of play with a wonder goal by Dillon McLaughlin, after taking off on a left-wing sprint and a flashing angled volley across Gareth McGhee and into the top right corner.

McLaughlin followed with the final first-half say, a minor to leave his side two points clear at the break.

The pulsating action resumed with McHugh magic – blazing through the Glenarm backs to be hauled to the ground.

The referee had no option other than to award a penalty 45 seconds into the session.

Always the man for the job. Up stepped Loaf to arrow a blistering shot to the back of the net, and a one-point home lead.

Showing no sign of anxiety the Shane O’Neill players stormed straight back with three unanswered points. Loaf and Ciaran Magill swapped points. Then it was the turn of David Kilgore to aim accurately inland and Glenarm’s still polished performer Darren Hamill clipping an exceptional long-range point towards the sea skyline.

Class will always surface and Hamill, who has provided hurling on the Antrim coast with a repertoire of silken skills since his youth days as a top notch prospect in Garron Tower teams, paraded his timeless skills from the centre half position – after short start on the ’40’.

Seven minutes from the end the Emmet’s snatched an opportunist goal after Loaf’s ’65’ free pinged off a post. Quickest to the dropping ball was substitute Colm McKeegan, to slam the rebound to the net. Two minutes later it was all up for gritty Glenarm when James Morgan first-timed to the net, and now a seven points home advantage.

Goalkeeper Gareth McGhee joined in the late, late Emmet’s surge to point a long-range free, with the final say by the tireless McHugh.

EMMET’S: Gareth McGhee; Mark McSparran, Thomas Scally, Sean Hamilton; Sean McKay, Jack McKay, Callum Kilgore; Dominic Sharkey and Aidan McSparran; Fintan McQuillan, James Morgan, Conrad McDonnell; Connlaoth McNeill, Conor McHugh, David Kilgore. Subs used:-A Corbett, C McKeegan, D McQuillan, C Magee

Scorers: C McNeill (1-7), C McHugh (0-4), D Kilgore (0-4), J Morgan, C McKeegan (1-0 each), F McQuillan, G McGhee (0-1 each).

SHANE O’NEILL’S: Michael Abram; Liam McLaughlin, Barry Hamill, Conal Ward; Ciaran McAuley, Dan Black, Declan McDermott, Sean O’Boyle, and Ben O’Boyle; Ciaran Magill, Darren Hamill, Dillon McLaughlin; Brian McDermott, Aidan Scullion, Niall McGarel.

Scorers:-D McLaughlin (1-5), A Scullion (1-1), N McGarel (0-3), C McAuley, C Magill, D Hamill (0-1 each),

Ref: Lorenzo McMullan (Bredagh).

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