O’Neill’s Sportswear Hurling League Division 1
Ballycaslte 0-17 Ballycran 3-18
Ballycran made the long journey to Ballycastle on Wednesday evening and came away with a ten point victory to maintain joint top spot at the top of the Division table, trailing Loughgiel on score difference, to set up a showdown with the Shamrocks at Fr Healy Park on June 4th in the last game before the league splits.
A badly depleted Ballycastle team did well in the first half, despite gifting the visitors 2-1 in a five minute spell, but the Down men were dominant after the break and hit some fine scores on their way to victory.
With Neill McAuley rolling back the years at centre back Ballycastle started well and were 0-3 to 0-0 ahead after five minutes, the points coming from a McAuley 65, Lorcan Donnelly and Cathal Connor. Paul Sheehan got the visitors on the scoreboard with a well struck free and though Lorcan Donnelly hit back with one for the home side, Sheehan and Scott Nicholson brought Ballycran back to within a point, before Eoin McAlonan sent one over to put the Town 0-5 to 0-3 clear.
Disaster struck for the home side in a three minutes spell between the 17th and 20th minute as they let the Down men in for two goals and a point, which brought them from one behind to six ahead, but to their credit Ballycastle battled back really well as they his six points without reply between the 21st and 29th minutes to draw level again. Lorcan Donnelly started the run with one from a free before Neill McAuley sent one over from distance after picking up a clever sideline ‘cut’ from Rambo McCarry. Lorcan Donnelly, who was giving the Ballycran defence a lot of problems, added two more, McCarry hit one from play before Reuben McClean brought them level, but the men from the Ards got back ahead just on half time when Scottie Nicholason sent one over from play.
Ballycastle were dealt another blow when Neill McAuley did not emerge for the second half and when Ballycran stated strongly with two points from Sheehan and a goal from James Savage it was clear they would be hard to restrain.
Ballycastle stayed in touch with two points from Lorcan Donnelly and one from Feargal McKiernan, but Ballycran were now controlling the game and they added six on the trot with Scott Nicholson and Conor Dorrian adding two apiece, while Sheehan and Ben Arthurs got the other two. Donnelly and McAlonan pulled a couple back for Ballycastle but Ballycran always had an answer and Dorrian, Nicholson and substitute David Gilliland added points to wrap up a ten point win.
Craoiste McAuley, Oran Kearney, Conal Colgan, Jack McGowan, James McLister, Neal McAuley, James McShane, Eoin McAlonan, Ronan McCarry, Reuben McLean, Cian Waldron, Cathal Conor, Lorcan Donnelly, Cailin O’Conor, Feargal McKiernan
Subs – Thomas McIlroy, Conor Donnelly, Oisin McAuley
Stephen Keith, Brad Watson, Gerard Hughes, Rory Brown, Aaron Dorrian, Sean Ennis, Cormac McAlister, Liam Savage, Scott Nicholson, Conor Dorrian, Conor Woods, Philip Miskimmin, Ben Arthurs, Paul Sheehan, Jake Miskimmin
Referee – Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)