Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Champions – Round 2
Loughgiel 1-17 Ballycastle 0-19
Loughgiel held off a late rally by Ballycastle to make it two wins out of two in Group 2 of the Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship in Cushendall on Sunday. A brilliantly taken goal from Loughgiel’s Shan McGrath had given the Shamrocks the lead for the first time and they appeared to be holding that lead fairly comfortably going into the last ten minutes of the game.
However Ballycastle found another gear going down the home straight and outscored Loughgiel by four points to one to close within a single point in injury time. They had a couple of half chances to get that equalising score in the minute or so that remained, but Loughgiel held on to earn the win and set things up for next week’s meeting with Cushendall at Fr Healy Park.
Going into the game short five or six regulars the Town were rank outsiders but they did not perform that way and went 0-2 to 0-0 ahead after four minute with points from a long range free from Conor Boyd and one from play by Rambo McCarry. Loughgiel got on the scoreboard when James McNaughton pointed a 65 which was gifted to them by a Ballycastle defender who tried a pass back to goalkeeper Ryan McGarry from out on the wing and overhit the shot, sending it wide. The full forward brought the Shamrocks level when he sent one over from play on seven minutes but Ballycastle came back with three on the trot, two from Tiernan Smyth frees and one from play by Ronan McCarry to go three clear at the end of a low scoring opening quarter.
The pendulum swung the other was at Loughgiel came back with three unanswered points, two of them from James McNaughton and one from Ruairi McCormick, but two more pointed frees by Smith had the Town two clear again by the twenty fourth minute. Loughgiel were struggling to get a grip on the game but they produced a brilliant finish to the opening half with a point from play by corner back Tiernan Coyle, two from frees by Shan McGrath and a brilliant solo goal by McGrath to go in at the break with a four point lead. (1-8 to 0-7)
Ryan McCook brought Ballycastle back to within a goal when he pointed in the opening minute of the new half, but Loughgiel responded really well with two sweetly taken points from James McNaughton and ‘Bicky’ McGarry and another from a free by Shan McGrath to push the gap out to six. Points from Seamus McAuley and Tiernan Smyth closed the gap to four again but Loughgiel came back right away as James McNaughton soloed through for a beauty of a point and Shan McGrath added one from play. That middle ten minutes of the second half was score for score with Ballycastle getting it back to four again, but each time Loughgiel had an answer and when they were still five clear entering the last ten minutes you felt the Town needed a goal to revive their challenge.
The goal they needed didn’t really ever look like coming but they made a good fist of it without a goal as Tiernan Smyth added points from frees in the 52nd, 54th and 55th minutes to close the gap back to the minimum. As he had done at vital times throughout the game Shan McGrath grabbed a Loughgiel point when it was really needed to open the gap to two again with just a minute of normal time left to play. When Smyth closed the gap to the minimum once again a shock result looked on, but a clear cut chance never came for the Town and the Shamrocks squeezed home by a single point.
Chrissy O’Connell, Tiernan Coyle, Declan McGarry, Ronan McCloskey, Enda Og McGarry, Damon McMullan, Caolan Blair, Ryan McKee, Dan McCloskey, Cathal Hargan, James McNaughton, Ruairi McCormick, Jack McCloskey, Paul Boyle, Shan McGrath.
Subs – Christy McGarry for Jack McCloskey (inj); Darragh Patterson for Cathal Hargan; Donal McKinley for Paul Boyle
Ryan McGarry, Oran Kearney, James McLister, Reuben McClean, Jack McGowan, Conor Boyd, Eoin McAlonan, Rian McCook, Cian Waldron, Lorcan Donnelly, Ronan McCarry, Seamus McAuley, Cathal Conor, Ciaran Butley, Tiernan Smyth.
Subs – Mark McClean for Reuben McClean; Fearghal McKiernan for Cathal Connor; James McShane for Cian Waldron.
Referee – C Cunning (Dunloy)