O’Neill’s Sportwear Division 1 Hurling League
Loughgiel 1-23 St Enda’s 1-15
Loughgiel ended their Senior Hurling League campaign with a win over St Enda’s at Fr Healy Park on Sunday, the Shamrocks in control for most of the game. Going into the match they knew they had already wrapped up the league title, but with both teams meeting in the first round of the championship in three weeks’ time it was important for them to lay down a marker.
The home side led by six at half time 1-11 to 0-8, their goal coming from Paul Boyle who finished off a good three man move with an excellent finish. Though they stretched that lead out to nine midway through the second half, Naomh Eanna fought back well and a goal from full forward Ruairi Donaghy helped them close the gap to four with ten minutes left for play. That was as good as it got for the visitors however and when Bubbles McMullan won a long poc-out for the Shamrocks, and weaved his way through the Naomh Eanna defence to slam home a goal, there was no way back for the Glengormley men.
There was little between the sides in the opening quarter, most of the Loughgiel scores coming from James McNaughton frees, while Michael McGivern, Ruairi Donaghy and centre back Cormac Ross replied for St Enda’s. A superbly taken goal by Paul Boyle just before half time gave the home team a definite edge, and it could have been worse for the visitors had it not been a fantastic save by goalkeeper Martin Curran two minutes after Boyle’s strike.
Damon McMullan added to Loughgiel’s total early in the second half and with midfielder Ben McGarry adding two top class scores it appeared to be all plain sailing. However St Enda’s kept battling and when full forward Ruairi Donaghy worked his way in along the endline and fired home from a narrow angle it gave them hope. Luke and Eddie O’Connor added points to keep them in touch, but when Rian McMullan got in for a goal there was no way back.
After the final whistle North Antrim chairman Martin Magee presented the league trophy to Loughgiel captain Declan McCloskey and many of their young fans joined in the celebration pic, but there are bigger days ahead for both teams, starting with that meeting between the two of them on August 5th at Hightown.