McAlonan’s last gasp strike steers the Town into last four

Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-final 

Rossa 1-16-1-17 Ballycastle 

Kevin Herron reports from Corrigan Park 

Eoin McAlonan steered over the winning point in the 65th minute at Corrigan Park as Ballycastle stunned favourites Rossa with a full deserved 1-17-1-16 win in the quarter final of the Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship on Sunday afternoon. 

Despite making a slow start a Ciaran Butler goal on the stroke of half time ensured Ballycastle only trailed by two at the short whistle and they would eventually forge ahead through a Tiernan Smyth free on the 43rdminute. 

Having looked in control of proceedings for much of the opening half, Rossa were chasing and levelled on a few occasions via Gerard Walsh frees before their talisman departed to a red card in injury time. 

Lady-luck looked to have smiled on the Shaws Road outfit however as Stephen Beatty looked to have forced extra time with a last gasp equaliser, only for McAlonan to win the game at the other end and book the North Antrim side a semi-final with Cushendall in a fortnights time. 

Gerard Walsh sends over an early point as Rossa get off to a flying start

Rossa came flying out of the blocks at Corrigan Park with five unanswered points in the opening minutes. 

Dominic McEnhill began the procession with an angled effort that dropped over before Thomas Morgan doubled the lead. 

A good link-up between Eoin Trainor and Dara Rocks resulted in Rocks adding his sides third and Trainor himself would add his name to the scoresheet with a confident effort.

Gerard Walsh converted his first free of the half before Seamus McAuley responded for Ballycastle. 

Rossa extended their lead through points from Aodhan O’Brien and Walsh (free), but back-to-back points from James McShane and Tiernan Smyth (free) saw the North Antrim side remain in touch. 

After a few scoreless minutes Aidan Orchin dropped over from range, only for Ciaran Butler to respond after collecting Tiernan Smyth’s side-line ball, holding off the subsequent pressure and guiding the shot over. 

James McShane’s second score in as many minutes had three between the sides (0-08-0-05), though points from Thomas Morgan and a converted Gerard Walsh free restored Rossa’s five-point advantage. 

Points were traded between Eoin McAlonan and Dominic McEnhill before Ballycastle landed a blow on the Rossa rear-guard before the break. 

On the stroke of half time Ryan McGarry drove a long ball forward that dropped in the area, a scramble ensued, and Ciaran Butler pulled on the loose ball and found the net to ensure his side trailed 0-11-1-06 at the interval. 

Ciaran Butler (extreme left) got Ballycastle back in the game with a goal nearing half time

Both sides were off the mark within the opening sixty-seconds of the restart as Thomas Morgan’s early point was cancelled out by Matthew Donnelly at the other end. 

Aodhan O’Brien doubled his account for afternoon, but a foul on Ronan McCarry allowed Tiernan Smyth the opportunity to hit back and he doubled his account from the placed ball.

For the third time since the restart Rossa went three clear with Walsh squeezing a shot inside the near post, again Ballycastle replied as Eoin McAlonan found Reuben McClean to slot over the bar. 

Ballycastle closed the deficit for the first time in the half after Dominic McEnhill was penalised for chopping down on Seamus McAuley’s hurl and Smyth converted the resulting free. 

By the 41st minute the sides were level for the first time thanks to a superb Conor Boyd shot that dropped over the black spot.

Momentum was with Ballycastle and they hit the front for the first time through a fourth Smyth free of the contest. 

Rossa were back on terms through free-taker Walsh’s third of the game, but after Pearse Short was adjudged to have unfairly barged Ciaran Butler off the ball it allowed Tiernan Smyth to edge his side 1-13-0-15 in front. 

It was a lead that Ballycastle would hold until the 58th minute when Rossa had the chance to pull level through Walsh and he made no mistake, temporarily tying things up again. 

Substitute Feargal McKiernan who hit two excellent points in the last quarter

A super Tiernan Smyth free had Ballycastle out in front with 60-seconds remaining and they would double their advantage through a fine point from substitute Feargal McKiernan. 

Rossa had four minutes to try and salvage things but midway through added time they were reduced to 14-men after Gerard Walsh was cited for fouling Ryan McGarry off the ball. 

With the use of an extra-man Ballycastle appeared to have sealed victory thanks to a superb, angled point from McKiernan that had his side 1-16-0-16 to the good. 

There was to be late drama however as Eoin Trainor dropped a high ball into the area that spilled away from Ryan McGarry and Stephen Beatty was on hand to scramble the loose ball over the line and tie things up at 1-16 apiece. 

There was still time for a winner and Ballycastle showed their composure in the dying embers with Eoin McAlonan picked up a loose ball just inside his own half and fired it over the bar to the delirium of the Ballycastle supporters- who sensed it was enough. 

In the end it was as referee Kevin Parke sounded his full-time whistle in the aftermath of Matthew Devlin’s puck-out as Ballycastle were able to celebrate a win that wasn’t predicted pre-match. 

Stephen Beattie appeared to have brought the game to extra time when he scored a Rossa goal five minutes into injury time

Rossa: M Devlin, C Orchin, C McGuinness, C Shannon, A Orchin (0-01), S Shannon, P Short, D McCartney, S Beatty (1-00), D Rocks (0-01), E Trainor (0-01), G Walsh (0-06, 0-04f), T Morgan (0-03), D McEnhill (0-02), A O’Brien (0-02). Subs: C McGettigan for A Orchin (38), D Rogan for D Rocks (44). 

Ballycastle: R McGarry, O Kearney, C Colgan, R McClean (0-01), J McLister, C Boyd (0-01), E McAlonan (0-02), J McGowan, R McCook, R McCarry, J McShane (0-02), S McGarry (0-01), C Butler (1-01), M Donnelly (0-01), T Smyth (0-06, 0-05f). Subs:  C Waldron for R McClean (44), F McKiernan (0-02) for M Donnelly (52), L Donnelly for R McCarry (56). 

Referee: Kevin Parke (Naomh Éanna)

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