Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-final
Creggan Kickhams 3-11 Cushendun Emmet’s 0-14
Former county captain Conor McCann guided his team to the final of the Intermediate Hurling Championship with a man of the match display in Saturday’s semi-final against Cushendun at Fr Maginn Park, Glenravel. McCann, who missed all of last season through injury only returned to action a few weeks ago, but he showed just how vital he is to his team as he scored 1-10 of their 3-11 total, four of those points coming in the last eight minutes to pull his team clear of danger.
Cushendun, for whom Conlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill was top scorer, battled to the end but it just wasn’t their day and the concession of two goals in the 25th and 27th minutes was a blow they never recovered from.
Playing with the wind and rain at their backs Cushundun came close in the opening seconds when David Kilgore’s low shot was just inches wide of the post, but they struggled to get to the pace of the game, despite the elements being in their favour.
Kevin Rice got Creggan off to a great start when he fired in a low angled shot, and though the Emmet’s goalkeeper Gareth McGhee got a hurl to the ball he couldn’t prevent it crossing the line. Corner forward Diarmuid Mulholland added a point from a free on five minutes before McCann got his first two points from frees in the 7th and 8th minutes to pull his team six clear.
David Kilgore got his team on the scoreboard with a point in the 10th minute, but that was cancelled out by McCann, who added his third pointed free a minute later, but there was some relief for the Emmet’s fans as Loaf McNeill added two quick points, one from a free and the other from play to cut the deficit to four by the end of the opening quarter.
McCann got a great point from an awkward angle on 18 minutes, but the Emmet’s were starting to get back into the game and a sideline ‘cut’ by McNeill saw corer forward Oisin McMahon win possession before turning and firing over the Creggan crossbar. Loaf added one from a free on 21 minutes, Fiontan McQuillan followed that with a well taken score from play and when David Kilgore sent over a real beauty from distance the tide appeared to be turning.
However that is when disaster really struck the Emmet’s as Creggan hit back with two goals in as many minutes. Conor McCann got the first from a penalty after match referee Darren McKeown adjudged that Cushendun goalkeeper Gareth McGhee had taken the Creggan man down in the large square, but things got even worse two minutes later when a harmless looking ball by Thomas McCann slipped from McGhee’s grasp and ended up in the back of the net. McGhee has been one of the top goalkeepers in this county for many years now, but as we all know his position is a lonely place to perform. Probably every player on the field yesterday let a ball slip from their grasp in those desperate conditions but the mistakes by the poor old goalkeeper are always highlighted.
That goal put the gap out to six again, but McNeill gave his team a boost with two late points to send them in at half time, just four behind.
McNeill brought the gap back to three when he sent over a great score in the opening minute of the second half, but McCann responded with the first of his six second half points. McCann and McNeill exchanged points in the 33rd and 40th minutes to keep the gap at four, but Creggan went through a spell when a number of chances went astray as McCann’s radar appeared to malfunction, and when McNeill came back with two points at the other end the gap was suddenly back to just two.
Hopes were high for a really exciting finish, but Cushendun failed to raise another flag in the final eight minutes, plus injury time, while McCann steadied the Creggan ship as he hit over four unanswered frees to see his team through to a final meeting with Sarsfields in two weeks’ time.
Cormac Rice, Aiden Maguire, Aidan McKeown, Jake McAteer, Sam Maguire, Kealan McCann, Liam McCann, Sean Duffin, Ruairi McCann, Morgan Nelson, Oran McCann, Kevin Rice, Thomas McCann, Conor McCann, Diarmuid Mulholland.
Ethan Carey Small for Liam McCann. Lee Johnston for Diarmuid Mulholland
Gareth McGhee, Jack McKay, Sean McKay, Sean Hamilton, Calum Kilgore, Donal O’Hara, Thomas Scally, Conor Bannon, Dominic McQuillan, Harry Kilgore, Fiontan McQuillan, Fiontan McQuillan, Connlaoth McNeill, Colm McKeegan, Conor McHugh, David Kilgore.
Subs – James Morgan for Colm Mc Keegan: Conrad Mc Donnell for Fiontan Mc Quillan.
Referee – Darren McKeown