McClean magic swings it Gort na Mona’s way

Casement SC Junior Hurling Championship Group 2

All Saints 1-12 Gort na Mona 1-16

A piece of individual magic from ace marksman, Dessie McClean with six minutes remaining swung this Casement SC JHC Group 2 clash between Gort na Mona and All Saints in Ballymena, very much the way in favour of the men from the Mona Bye-pass.

The visitors were slow to get into their rhythm and it was All Saints who made the early running with Eoin McGuigan pointing from a break away in the opening minute and Ciaran Neeson adding a second with three minutes gone.

A great long range free from mid-fielder, Neill Henry got the visitors off the mark but Neeson replied immediately with an outrageous point from 60 meters and when Cormac Magill fired to the Gort na Mona net with only seven minutes gone, things were looking good for Chris Dornan’s side.

Neeson moved the home side five ahead from another free in response to a Dessie McClean free at the other end with Neill Henry from long range and McClean with his first from play closing the gap to three with seventeen minutes gone.

A great catch by Neeson and a superb finish moved the Quinn Park side four ahead but Neill Henry struck his third of the evening from within his own half and slowly the visitors were getting to grips with their opponents.

Playing with a greater intensity they were denying their opponents time on the ball and double marking Neeson when the ball came his way and a point from Darron ‘Diesel’ Boyd and a couple from Dessie McClean had the sides tied at 1-5 to 0-8 at the short whistle.

It was All Saints who started the second half on the front foot and Ciaran Neeson looked to be in for a goal in their first attack but John Kelly pulled off a superb reflex save to deny the Ballymena marksman.

Damian Gillan edged the home side back ahead with a point in the third minute but again Henry displayed unerring accuracy as he drove a 70 meter free between the uprights to tie matters once more.

The Ballymena side were still edging the exchanges and Eoin McGuigan had an attempt on goal saved at the expense of a ‘65’ which Neeson converted to restore his side’s lead but the same player was wide from another ‘65’, a minute later.

Henry from another long range special and Neeson from a free exchanged further point before Liam Cassley got through for his first point of the evening to move the home side two in front by the 16th minute and at this stage they were looking good.

Slowly though the Turf Lodge men began to stamp their authority on the game as Neill Henry from long range and Darron Boyd from closer to goal brought it all square with 10 minutes remaining.

Henry from a 50 meter free and McClean from close range moved Gort na Mona two ahead with Damian Gillan responding with a point for All Saints to close the gap to the minimum once more.

Darron Boyd replied to open the two point gap once more as the home side struggled to match the intensity of their opponent and when they failed to deal with a long ball into the danger area Dessie McClean sent a cheeky chip over Ciaran Cassley before finishing to the net.

The home side fought to the end and a couple of pointed frees from Ciaran Neeson saw the gap closed to three but the goal they needed never looked like materialising and another Neill Henry special as the game edged into injury time sealed it for the Enright Park side.

This win sees Gort na Mona finish Group 2 in second place to Cloughmills who completed their programme unbeaten with a win over St. Brigid’s Belfast in Cloughmills today  to top the group.

All Saints can take some consolation from the fact that they finished third and will face the second team in Group 1, Lamh Dhearg in the quarter-finals while Gort na Mona will play St. Mary’s Rasharkin in their quarter-final.

All Saints: 1 Ciaran Cassley, 2 Conor O’Rawe, 3 Colum Neeson, 4 Kevin Brady, 5 Dwayne McKee, 6 Luke O’Rawe, 7 Daniel Gray, 8 Padhraig Magill, 9 Damian Gillan, 10 Cormac Magill, 11 Eoin McGuigan, 12 Liam Cassley, 13 Jack Magill, 14 Ciaran Neeson, 15 Joseph O’Rawe

Gort na Mona: 1 John Kelly, 2 Conor Connolly, 3 Gavin McKenna, 4 Conor Healy, 5 Declan Hughes, 6 Padraig McHugh, 7 Nathan Gibson, 8 Neill Henry, 9 Aaron Hicks, 10 David Dixon, 11 Darron Boyd, 12 Nail Healy, 13 Manus McMullan, 28 Joseph Monaghan, 15 Dessie McClean, 18 Christopher Devlin,

Referee: Paul O’Neill (Creggan)

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