Super Shamrocks seal semi-final place

Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship – Quarter Final

Loughgiel 3-26 St John’s 0-15

Sunday 17 September

Brendan McTaggart reports from Pearse Park, Dunloy

We were always going to get a reaction from their defeat to Cushendall.  Just two short weeks ago, the knives were out for the Shamrocks but my word Loughgiel answered a lot of their critics in spectacular fashion on Sunday afternoon. 

Plenty of pundits had speculated that St John’s would give Loughgiel their fill of it and more in this quarter-final.  The Johnnies were much improved against Dunloy in their last group game but they simply had no answer to a rampant Loughgiel side who were relentless for the full 60 minutes.

Nine different scorers and just six points of their final tally of 3-26 coming from placed ball, Loughgiel purred through the gears to book a mouth-watering semi final against Dunloy.  Goals from Dan McCloskey and Shan McGrath came before Paul Boyle’s major with just over ten minutes of the hour remaining.  Boyle giving a stunning performance and finishing top scorer with 1-6.  He had plenty of support on the day though with Dan McCloskey knocking over three points along with his goal and Rian McMullan with four points all from play.

Shan McGrath celebrates after scoring Loughgiel’s third goal

St John’s looked to set up the same way as they did with such success against Dunloy and play an intricate and precise, short passing game with runners from midfield.  They couldn’t get their rhythm or fluency however.  In a largely forgettable contest for the Corrigan Park men, they managed just five points from open play and one of those coming in a second half that saw them struggle in the face of the barrage of hurling brilliance from Loughgiel.

From the first whistle, Loughgiel were firing on all cylinders with their first major coming after just three minutes.  James McNaughton playing the ball into Christy McGarry and while he was well tackled, Dan McCloskey was on hand to take advantage of the loose sliotar and slam it home.

Loughgiel’s ability to win possession in midfield and find runners coming from deep carved open the Johnnies defence on numerous occasions.  Despite playing against the wind, Loughgiel roared into a seven point lead after the first quarter.  St John’s kept in touch with Oisin MacManus’ frees but they couldn’t stop the Shamrocks rampage.  Ruairi McCormick, Rian McMullan (3) and Shan McGrath (free) putting the difference to double figures – ‘Bubbles’ trio of points coming in the space of two minutes.

St John’s did finish the half on top, Conor Johnston splitting the uprights in the 27th minute for what was their first score from open play for 13 minutes while MacManus fired over a brace of frees in the time that remained to leave seven points between the sides at the half time whistle.  1-13 to 0-9.

St John’s centre back Ciaran Johnston solos out of defence

While seven points isn’t an insurmountable lead by any stretch of the imagination, it was going to take something special for St John’s to turn their fortunes around.  It didn’t happen.  What we did get was more brilliance from the young Shamrocks as the Johnnies floundered.  

Like the first half, Loughgiel found the back of the net soon after the restart.  They already had another point on the board from a Shan McGrath free before the Loughgiel forward found the back of Simon Doherty’s net.  On hand to punish indecision in the St John’s defence, McGrath was never going to pass up the opportunity.

St John’s looked to the bench with Ruairi Galbraith and Lorcan Heenan coming on in a move that saw Conor Johnston play further up the pitch but they got no change from a tight Loughgiel defence that looked a completely different prospect from their previous outing against Cushendall.  St John’s rarely looked like troubling Chrissy O’Connell between the sticks for the Shamrocks, although he did make one super save to deny Conal Bohill in the 40th minute.  Loughgiel had already opened the gap to 11 points by that stage with scores coming from Paul Boyle, McNaughton (free) and Ruairi McCormick.  McCormick’s score coming from easily 100 yards out and brought about the biggest cheer of the day from the Shamrock support.

With MacManus one of the changes made by the Johnnies, Aaron Bradley took over the free-taking duties and looked composed.  He fired over five points in the second half from placed ball but St John’s really were living off bread crumbs, such was the dominance of Loughgiel all over the pitch. 

With Boyle in magnificent form and Dan McCloskey putting in a mountain of work, Loughgiel never wavered.  Points from all angles, touches of brilliance and movement off the ball that certainly would have pleased Hugh McCann and his backroom team. 

Paul Boyle punches the air after scoring the Shamrocks fourth goal

The third major came in the 49th minute and had its own touch of class about it.  Caolan Blair delivering the ball into McGrath who deflected the sliotar into the path of Boyle.  A very deliberate deflection that wrong footed the St John’s defence with Boyle hammering home from the angle. 

St John’s continued to look for ways to penetrate the Loughgiel defence but found little change while the Shamrocks continued to have no such problems at the other end of the pitch.

When the final whistle came, it felt more like a relief for the Johnnies.  Loughgiel were rampant and while St John’s did hit an inordinate number of wides throughout the hour, they couldn’t live with the Shamrocks in this type of form.

Loughgiel progress to the semi-final and a meeting with their old rivals and reigning champions, Dunloy.  On this type of form, that one promises to be a cracker.


Loughgiel: Chrissy O’Connell; Tiernan Coyle, Rory McCloskey, Ruairi McCormick; Declan McCloskey, Damon McMullan, Caolan Blair; Enda Og McGarry, Ryan McKee; Dan McCloskey, James McNaughton, Rian McMullan; Shan McGrath, Paul Boyle, Christy McGarry

Subs: Ben McGarry for D McMullan (44); Jack McCloskey for J McNaughton (57); Donal McKinley for R McCormick (60); Cathal Hargan for C McGarry (60)

Scorers: P Boyle 1-6; J McNaughton 0-6 (4fs); Dan McCloskey 1-3; S McGrath 1-2 (2fs); R McMullan 0-4; R McCormick 0-2; R McKee 0-1; Declan McCloskey 0-1; C Hargan 0-1

St John’s: Simon Doherty; Darragh McGuinness, Jack Bohill, Matthew McCartin; Conall Morgan, Ciaran Johnston, Sean Wilson; Shea Shannon, Conor Johnston; Ryan McNulty, Conal Bohill, Danaan McKeough; Oisin Donnelly, Oisin MacManus, Aaron Bradley

Subs: Ciaran McKenna for O Donnelly (19); Ruairi Galbraith for D McGuinness (37); Lorcan Heenan for O MacManus (37); Michael Darragh for S Wilson (52); Jordan McAllister for D McKeogh (52)

Scorers: A Bradley 0-7 (5fs); O MacManus 0-6 (5fs); S Shannon 0-1; Conor Johnston 0-1

Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.