Ulster Junior Football Club Championship quarter-final
Blackhill Monaghan 5-11 Rasharkin 1-7
The feel good factor that accompanied St. Mary’s loyal band of supporters from Ballela, outside Banbridge to Clones on Sunday looked like continuing when Eammon McNeill rattled the Blackhill net in the 5th minute to give his side the lead in this Junior Championship quarter-final.
24 hours earlier the Rasharkin camogs had written their own little bit of history by travelling to Ballela and defeating the Down champions to qualify for their first Bridie McMenamin Shield final and when McNeill got in behind the Blackhill defence to fire past Michael Shevlin the travelling Dreen Gaels were in good voice.
Ryan Lynch pointed a free to move his side three ahead but that lead would last only a minute as everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Antrim champions.
They conceded a penalty for a foot block in the 12th minute which Darren McElroy tucked away and within two minutes the superb Phillip Donnelly would add two more and Blackhill led by 10 with only 17 minutes gone.
By half time the Monaghan champions had increased that lead to 3-5 to 1-1 with Thomas Geehan, McElroy and Donnelly adding points as the wheels came off the Rasharkin challenge.
Thomas Geehan added a fourth goal, four minutes into the second half as the Antrim champions continued to make uncharacteristic mistakes and a fifth from substitute Hugh Byrne after 10 minutes put paid to any chance of a Rasharkin comeback.
A Red card to Ryan Lynch after 8 minutes of the second half added to Rasharkin’s problems but to their credit they performed much better in the second half while never looking like getting back into contention.
They hit their first point for over 30 minutes through their best forward, Eammon McNeill and McNeill would kick four more between the 16th and 26th minute and the Rasharkin number 14 brought his personal contribution for the evening to 1-6 with the game’s final score in injury time but it only served to put a better reflection on the final scoreline.
Blackhill certainly enjoyed their bit of fortune and on another day three of their goals could have been prevented but that takes nothing away from a polished performance by an excellent side.
They had pace to burn and moved the ball at a speed their opponents quite simply couldn’t live with and in Ryan Courtney, James Daly, Ciaran Courtney, Thomas Geehan, Darren McElroy and Phillip Donnelly they had superb performers.
For the Antrim champions it quite simply didn’t happen on the day but when the disappointment of defeat subsides they will reflect on a season where they won their own domestic league and championship and can look forward to life in division 2 of the Antrim league next season.
Daniel Doherty, Thomas McMullan, Donagh Quigg and Oran McMullan worked hard over the hour and a number of the younger members of the squad didn’t look out of place when introduced from the bench while Eammon McNeill carried their only real threat in attack.
1 – Andrew Hasson
2 – Pearse Kelly
3 – Emmet McFerran
4 – Daniel Doherty
5 – Fergus Quigg
6 – Conor Hasson
7 – Tiernan O’Boyle
8 – Thomas McMullan
9 – Ruairi OBoyle
10 – Donagh Quigg
11 – Cathal Mooney
12 – Oran McMullan
13 – Shane Hasson
14 – Eammon McNeill
15 – Ryan Lynch
Subs: Cormac McMullan, Fergus Quigg, Oisin Casey, Pearse McTeague, Killian O’Boyle, Jack Quinn, Colm Kennedy, Conor Higgins, Ethan McAfee, Liam Quigg, Fearghal Kennedy