Posts by thesaffrongael

Photographer and GAA writer who has been covering hurling, football and camogie for almost forty years

St Patrick’s finish their season on a high

McCormick Cup (Final)

St Patrick’s Lisburn 1-15 Casement’s Portglenone 1-07

St Patrick’s Lisburn claimed another piece of silverware for the year when they added the McCormick cup to the Junior championship crown when they proved too strong for Casement’s in an enjoyable encounter under the lights at Cloney on Sunday evening.

The Lisburn men suffered relegation from the second grade this season but after a positive championship campaign and success on the South West trail Niall Ward’s charges underlined current wellbeing and the promise of a quick return to division 2 next season.

The Lisburn men were first to give employment to the scoreboard attendant at Cloney and following a foul on Denver Taggart Eoin Fay stepped forward to steer the resultant award between the posts.

Casement’s with the reserve championship stowed away, were quick to reply as mid fielder Oisin Doherty concluded an eye catching approach before sending confidently between the posts to draw level.

Lisburn were quick to regain advantage as Niall Ward, again on the cusp of a fine personal showing came forward from the back to send Eoin Fay in to raise white and when he provided the same service for Josh Mc Mullan the full forwards lay off opened the way for Mark Torbitt to follow suit.

Lisburn had started well and looked well up for this one following a reversal in last week’s Ulster assignment when they lost out to Armagh representatives Collegeland O’ Rahilly’s but Casement’s were just a point in arrears at the end of the opening quarter when Niall Kelly hoisted back to back white flags.

The Full forward was not hard pressed to despatch a 30 metre free between the posts following an indiscretion on the incoming Peter Duffin and then again from 50 metres when Stephen Kelly was upended in progress.

Having seen their advantage reduced to the bare minimum St Patrick’s, with the ever busy Niall ward pulling the strings combining with full forward Josh Mc Mullan they assumed control.

Francis Mc Meel punished an indiscretion on the impressive McMullan by sending between the posts and when Denver Taggart added a couple more and Niall Ward followed suit the reigning Junior champs were in control.

Niall Kelly did add a point to the Casement’s total in the 25th minute but St Patrick’s were set to complete the opening period on the positive and after Niall Ward linked with Josh Mc Mullan to open the way for Ben Mc Mullan to split the posts the strong running Eoin Fay added another to ensure a healthy 0-09 to 0-04 interval advantage.

Having concluded the opening period on the positive Lisburn started the second in similar fashion with the strong running wing half back Eoin Fay striding forward to add a 32nd minute point before both Francis Mc Meel and Denver Taggart followed suit.

The St Patrick’s men had nipped away to a snug looking 0-12 to 0-05 advantage and they were in control.

Casement’s did hint at recovery when replacement Michael Donnelly added a 42nd minute point but although the substitute followed with another a few minutes later St. Patrick’s replied through Rory Kennedy and Mark Chemek at the other end to extend the Lisburn lead to 0-14 to 0-06 at the end of the third quarter.

Casement’s tried to respond but St Patrick’s were calling most of the shots.

Rory Kennedy and Conor Dixon were both denied by the woodwork when both, in turn came close to finding the net in the 47th minute.

A James Mc Lernon point offered some hopes of a late comeback to the Casement’s but such was soon negated at the other end when Conor Dixon pointed at the other end and followed with a goal shortly after and the die was well cast.

Rory Kennedy and Francis Mc Meel conspired in excellence to open the way for Dixon to the target and when he finished in style to the corner of the net the end was in sight and the Junior champs had moved 1-15 to 0-07 ahead with the long blast imminent.

Casement’s responded and a late combination involving replacements BJ Donnelly and Dan O’ Boyle saw the former finish to the back of the net but it proved to be too little too late as the long blast quickly followed and the silverware was Lisburn bound as they breasted the winning line full value for a 1-15 to 1-07 win.

St Patrick’s Lisburn: Peter O’ Neill, Shane Mc Evoy, Jack Mc Mullan, Colm Burns, Mark Torbitt (0-01), Tigheaman O’ Meallaigh, Eoin fay (0-04), Sionnan O’ Suilleabhan , Thomas fay, Ben Mc Mullan (0-02), Mark Chernak (0-01), Denver Mc Taggart (0-01), Francis Mc Meel (0-02), Josh Mc Mullan (0-01), Niall Ward (0-O1).

Subs

Ray Kennedy for T Fay

Conor Dixon (1-01) for S O’ Suilleabhan

Daniel Cartland for E Fay

Peter Casey (0-01) for D Taggart

Casement’s: Brian Mc Manus, Adrian Mc Keever, Declan Dobbin, Chris Convery, Conor Magee, Paddy Carey, Declan Mc Erlean, Stephen Kelly, Oisin Doherty (0-01), Eamon Kelly, Eoin Doherty (0-01), Mark Graham, Niall Kelly (0-02), Donal Murphy, Peter Duffin

Subs

Tony Convery for P Duffin

Michael Donnelly (0-02) for D Murphy

BJ Donnelly for E Kelly

Adrian Carey for E Doherty

James Mc Lernon (0-01) for C Convery

Daniel O’ Boyle (1-00) for O Doherty

Referee Jarlath O’ Donnell (Glenravel)

Tara come close but Ballymacnab book semi-final spot

All-Ireland Junior camogie quarter-final

Ballymacnab (Armagh) 1-11 Tara (London) 2-7
IT HAS been a busy but successful weekend for Armagh champions Ballymacnab. Having won their first Ulster club title on Friday evening with a 2-4 to 2-2 win over Banagher, they edged home in Glenavy on Sunday against Tara from London.But if anyone had said after the first quarter that this game was going to be a nail-biter, not many would have believed it for Ballymacnab looked to be coasting after dominating the play and going into a 1-6 to 0-2 lead.

Eimear Smyth and Aoibhinn O’Hare were troubling the visitors’ defence while the half-back line of Louise Toner and the Crillys pinned Tara back into their own half.Aoife Crilly’s shot for a point from out on the wing wasn’t properly cleared in the 8th minute and Aoibhinn O’Hare fired home from 20 metres. There then followed a run of five points in five minutes from three Eimear Smyth frees, Emma McParland and Shelly McArdle.Claire Ryan had scored Tara’s two points, both from frees, and the only threat coming from Tara seemed to be Loughgiel’s Laura Connolly who had a superb game at midfield.The game turned however after 20 minutes when another free from Ryan dropped around the goal area and Kerry Sommers swept it home. Connolly added an excellent point and the London side were just three points down at the break, 1-6 to 1-3.

The arrival of sub Tessa Crowley to midfield lifted Tara for the second half. She was involved in the three scores that brought her side back into contention after Smyth had opened the half with two pointed frees for Ballymacnab.Crowley pointed frees in the 10th and 19th minute but a third effort in between fell short and again Kerry Sommers was on hand to find the net. Thus the teams were level 2-5 to 1-8 with ten minutes remaining. Smyth, from a free, and Connolly swopped points, but a Tara defender was penalised for a high tackle for an easy point for Smyth with Aoibhinn O’Hara bursting through for a second score.

Tara sub Paula Dunne scored an excellent point in reply, but time ran out for the exiles and Ballymacnab claimed their place in next month’s All-Ireland semi-final by the narrowest of margins.

Ballymacnab : C Toner, M O’Toole, T Maguire, A McParland, L Toner, A Crilly, C Crilly, D McKee, Á Maguire, M McAleavey, M McArdle 0-1, A O’Hare 1-1, E McParland 0-1, E Smyth 0-8 frees, E McKee 1-0.Subs : L Smith for D McKee (30), M McParland for E Mckee (53), M McCone for L Toner (48), G Gray for A Crilly (62).

Tara : L Hawkes, E Kelly, C Killeen, A Flynn, J Traynor, S mcNicholl, A O’Meara, K O’Keefe, F Morrisey capt., E Hogan, C Ryan 0-2 frees, L Connolly 0-2, K Sommers 2-0, S Glynn, H Murphy.Subs : P Dunne 0-1 for K O’Keefe (HT), T Crowley 0-2 frees for J Traynor (33).Referee : P McDonnell (Cavan).

Pics by Bert Trowlen

Graham Lauds Team Effort

Bridie McMenamin Cup final

By Liam Tunney

“That was a real game,” remarked St Mary’s Ahoghill manager Dermot Graham after his side clinched the Bridie McMenamin Shield in Saturday’s thrilling final in Lavey.

“In all the other games, we were so far ahead of the opposition it was unbelievable” explained a beaming Graham as the raucous celebrations continued behind him.

Of the 15-39 scored by the Cloney side in their last three games, 10-09 of that came from the well-worn hurl of Noreen Graham. Even more impressively, the full-forward only played in two of them.

Graham acknowledged her importance but was keen to stress how she was well-assisted by those around her after being closely marshalled by a well-prepared Lavey defensive unit.

“Noreen Graham would be looked on as a real scorer, but Lavey double-marked her and we found it more difficult to get ball into her. Thank God the other girls stood up when they were needed and got the scores.”

After Graham’s 58th minute rocket the cake was iced by Paula Gribbin in the final minute, a redemptive moment for the half-forward who suffered the bereavement of her father during the season.

The heartbreak of loss is something that the team feels keenly, with Ciara and Brona McGuigan also suffering the loss of their sister Claire earlier in the year and Graham touched on the day’s emotion.

“The year Paula has had along with Brona and Ciara McGuigan, it’s a nice finish for all of them to have. It’s really, really brilliant, a really, really good feeling.”

Captain Fiona Blaney hinted in her victory speech about the influence of the manager in driving their success during the season and hinted at the possibility of another term at the helm for Dermot, who will be no doubt keen to keep the momentum going from this season.

“The camogie team had been struggling for a while and when we started going on this bit of a run in championship you could feel the momentum there.”

“We were getting better numbers at training and girls seemed to get that bit of enthusiasm for it,” he continued, “and as everybody knows, a win really gels people together. That really showed out there today when it was needed.”

With the talent in their ranks and momentum behind them, Graham’s Girls will be hoping he remains in the dug out next season.

Frustration the order of the day for Cargin

AIB Ulster Senior Club Championship Preliminary Round

Cargin 0-12 Derrygonnelly Harps 2-10

Brendan McTaggart reports from Corrigan Park, Belfast

Frustration.  The 10 year frustrating wait for that elusive win in the provincial championship continues for Cargin, Derrygonnelly adding their names to Crossmaglen, Killclogher and Gaoth Dobhair in recent years.

Two soft and avoidable first half goals, missed frees and an under par performance all adds to the frustration for Damian Cassidy and his side.  Outscoring the Fermanagh champions eight points to six, playing into a strong breeze will act as scant consolation and add to the, yes, frustration.

A day that promised so much, ended with more questions than answers.  An hour of football that brought more what if’s than what about’s.  Maybe eight days wasn’t the ideal preparation, maybe. 

After the county final, Mick McCann spoke about needing an extra Budweiser to help with the knock he picked up at the end of the hour.  Even the King of Beers couldn’t help him make the starting 15.  A huge loss to the Erin’s Own men and it showed when he was introduced with 16 minutes of the hour remaining.  A baller who plays with flair, a ball carrier who can evade tackles and be the playmaker.  It was just too much of an ask, even for him at that point.

The Cargin midfield came under huge scrutiny after the first game against Lámh Dhearg and they answered most of those questions and critics in the replay.  On Sunday they couldn’t stamp their authority on the game, the loss of Gerard McCann to a knee injury eight days ago certainly felt as the match progressed.

Kieron Close was a bright light in the first half, leading the fight with three points in the opening 30 minutes – two from play.  Cargin were rocked by the concession of the early goal and while it may have looked soft, the circumstances before the major add to the disappointment.  Cargin ‘keeper John McNabb had been struggling from the first whistle and had been down for treatment.  With the next attack and 40, maybe 45 yards from goal, Conall Jones took aim.  The ball looped into the back of the net with McNabb blinded by the sun and a pair of players jumping in front of him.  The Toome side responded well with Close the focal point of their play.

The second goal was a sucker punch.  Trailing by a point and Close scoring a brace of points in the space of 60 seconds beforehand, it was another counterattack from the Harps.  Down the Cargin left, Stephen McGullion broke past the tackles and shot for goal.  The ball broke to Gavin McGovern who looked like he was inside the small rectangle and McGovern made no mistake.

Derrygonnelly had their tactics on point.  Leaving space for their power runners to make use off and they rucked for possession like packs of hungry wolves.  They hit hard and fair in the tackle and along with pace in their breaks, Cargin were on the backfoot.  The referee came under scrutiny during the first half and added to the Cargin frustrations.  Paul Faloon is renowned for letting the game go but he left some big, big hits unpunished, especially in the first half without calling for a free.  The Fermanagh men packed their defence with 14 men in their own ’45 on numerous occasions and they took full advantage of Faloon’s style of officiating.  The Cargin attack couldn’t get on the front foot and looked laborious in possession with no incision and attacking impetus lacking. 

A six point deficit at half time and Cargin had hardly turned a wheel.  They needed something special in the second half playing against the wind but the Erne County champions kept them at arm’s length.  The threat of Jamie Gribbin all but nullified, Pat Shivers coming off before being introduced as a ‘Plan B’ on the edge of the square late on.  No space for a long ball into Michael Magill on the edge of the square and Tomás McCann was living off scraps.

The Cargin defence were superb in the second half, James Laverty and Justin Crozier running themselves into the ground to join the attack as Derrygonnelly retreated.  The introduction of Kevin McShane helped to get a footing in midfield but by the time Mick McCann was brought on, seven points separated the sides.

The Cargin pressure increased but they were going to need a goal or something inspirational to get over the line.  Neither happened.  The hope, if not expectation was still there.  Cargin were faced with a similar situation in the first match against Lámh Dhearg but the Harps were a different animal.  They had a strong defence, well organised and more defensive than the Hannahstown side were and an attack who were willing to break at pace or keep ball and be patient if the breaks required it.

Cargin’s Kieran Close

Michael Clarke’s 50th minute point was their third in five minutes, all unanswered to leave four points between the sides and maybe the introduction of McCann was timed to perfection.  Cargin pressed, looked for gaps and a yard of space but that was becoming increasingly difficult.  Goal chances were non-existent never mind at a premium. 

Donagh McKeever was sent off for a second yellow card late in the game before McShane scooped over with an instinctive effort in injury time.  Neither had any bearing on the game.  The disappointment was visible for all to see at the final whistle as the Erin’s Own men left the Corrigan Park pitch.  The Golden Egg of a run in Ulster must wait for at least another 12 months for the Erin’s Own men with Derrygonnelly progressing to a meeting with Tyrone champions, Trillick.  Something that Cargin manager Damian Cassidy would have relished with his past in the county.  Frustration.

Shamrocks win first Ulster minor title

Leadon Timber Frames Ulster Minor club Hurling final

Loughgiel Shamrocks (Antrim) 1-14 Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon (Tyrone) 1-10

A NEW name went on the Leaden Timber Frames Ulster minor club hurling Cup on Sunday with Loughgiel Shamrocks powerful first half setting them up for a first title as the competition reached the quarter-century milestone.

The Antrim champions had the aid of the breeze for that opening half and turned over with a 0-11 to 0-3 advantage. Indeed they were six points up (four of them from Michael McGarry frees) before Eoghan Ruadh got their first score from a Cian Ferguson free after 15 minutes.

LOUGHGIEL’S SHANE O’BOYLE GRABS A HIGH BALL

Ferguson scored the other two Dungannon points from frees as well as the competition favourites pinned his side back in their own half.

But things changed on the re-start when a long ball from Michael Little was pumped into the Loughgiel square and knocked down into the path of Rory Weir who pulled it to the net.

However from the puck-put, the Shamrocks went up the field and some good passing put Odhran McGrath in the clear and he also hit the net. 

But the Tyrone men were not going away and Ferguson pointed two frees and Sean Paul McKernan pointed from a side-line around 45 metres out and the gap between the teams was cut to 1-11 to 1-6.

Loughgiel needed to lift their game and a couple of points from Michael McGarry frees and another from Rian McMullan stretched their lead.

Just as well as Eoghan Ruadh came back strongly with points from McKernan, Donaghy, Ferguson and Little to make for an exciting finish with Kevin McAuley making two excellent goal-line clearances and one of his defenders turning away a 20m free.

At the close presentations were made to the Players of the Match for each team (Conall Devlin for Eoghan Ruadh and Loughgiel’s Rian McMullan) and also to Ballinascreen president Seamus Doherty who began the competition in 1995 and who has been a driving force in promoting it over the past quarter of a century.

LOUGHGIEL CAPTAIN DECLAN McCLOSKEY RECEIVES THE CUP AFTER HIS TEAM’S WIN

Loughgiel : Kevin McAuley, Conor Henry, Ruairi McCloskey, Christy Dickson, Enda óg McGarry 0-1, Declan McCloskey (capt), Tiernan McAlonan, Shane O’Boyle, Cathal Hargan 0-1, Ryan Hill, Michael McGarry 0-7 frees, Frank Boyle, Rian McMullan 0-4, Odhran McGrath 1-0, Christy McGarry 0-1.

Subs :  Conor O’Mullan for F Boyle (25)

Eoghan Ruadh : C Molloy, J Donnelly, F Devlin, B Rush, A Toner, C Devlin capt, SP McKernan 0-2, 0-1 sideline, M Little 0-1 free, C Fitzgerald, Matthew McCann 0-1, C MacGinty, F Donaghy 0-1, C Hughes, C Ferguson 0-6, 0-5 frees, R Weir 1-0.

Subs : C McCrory for B Rush (38), Mark McCann for C Fitzgerald

Referee: Alan Nash (Derry)