Posts by thesaffrongael

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

St Enda’s won their first county hurling title in 1992

Had it not been for the Coronavirus epidemic the hurlers of Naomh Eanna would have been getting ready for the club’s first ever season in Division 1 of the All County Hurling League in a couple of weeks’ time. Last season the boys from Hightown won the Division 2 league title and the Intermediate Hurling Championship under the guidance of Terence Sambo McNaughton, and though the Cushendall and Antrim legend has moved on to take his home club Ruairi Og but the Glengormley men were still looking forward to the challenge.

Twenty-eight years ago St Enda’s won their first ever county hurling title when they beat All Saints Ballymena in the Junior Championship final at Casement Park. Two weeks earlier they had qualified for the decider when they beat St Paul’s by 2-7 to 0-3 in the South Antrim final.

Thanks to JJ Lawell I have received a report of the game and I have added my photos to reproduce a famous day in the club’s history.

Antrim Junior Hurling Championship final 1992


St Enda’s 3-12 All Saints Ballymena 0-5

St Enda’s got off to a flyer with an early goal from Donal O’Connor

Two goals in the first nine minutes helped St Enda’s take their first Junior Championship title as they raced to a sixteen point win over All Saints Ballymena at Casement Park.

Donal O’Connor opened the scoring for St Enda’s after six minutes with a fierce 20 yard drive to the net and three minutes later Sean Ward drove the ball past a helpless Sean Magee in the Ballymena nets to give them a six point lead.  Despite being reduced to fourteen men after nine minutes the Glengormley men never looked like losing their control of the match and they went on to lead at the interval by eight points (2-4 to 0-2).

Early second half scores by Paddy Dornan, who covered acres of ground throughout the match, and Paul Steele, reinforced St Enda’s grip on the proceedings. The third goal after 48 minutes finally seemed to end the game as a contest after good work by David Maguire set up Ciaran Campbell for goal number three.

For Ballymena Stephen McAfee tried particularly hard with thee fine second half points and he received good support from Liam Maybin and Liam Donnelly, but they never looked likely winners.

When they did threaten they found St Enda’s keeper Brenan Prenter in superlative form as he dominated his area with a series of fine saves and catches. For St Enda’s David Maguire, Paddy Dornan, Ciaran Campbell and Joseph Ward made telling contributions as they guide the club to their first ever county hurling title.

Team captain David Maguire lifts the Cup after St Enda’s win.

North Antirm Dinner 1989


North Antrim GAA Awards dinner 1989

After the high of reaching the All Ireland final there was a great buzz about the North Antrim dinner in 1989. Jim Nelson and Peter Finn and hurling board chairman Fergus McNaughton were among the guests. Loughgiel had bridged a seven year gap to win back the Senior Championship and the Cushendall juvenile teams were going strong.

Antrim secure promotion in heady days of 2010

 Just a few weeks ago Antrim supporters were looking forward to a trip to Wicklow for a National Football league game. Not a fixture that would normally have seen the Saffron followers travel in great numbers to the Garden County but this one was different.

The long suffering Antrim supporters had seen their dreams of promotion from division 4 shattered a number of times in recent years but a superb win on day five of this year’s league campaign brought about a confidence that this year we would get the job done.

There have been many false dawns before of course but that victory over previously unbeaten Limerick at Portglenone and more importantly, the manner of the victory was the reason for the new feel good factor.

A win away to Wicklow would have seen Lenny Harbinson’s side with one foot in division 3 and with just one more game after that, at home to Waterford it was looking good for the Saffrons.

Covid-19 put Antrim’s promotion hopes on temporary hold and what will happen if or when the leagues resume is open to much speculation and at present we have much more urgent and compelling matters to think about as we deal with this terrible pandemic.

Harbison and Frank Fitzsimmons before him, have done a good job in difficult circumstances in rebuilding an Antrim side who have been starved of success since those heady days of 2009 and 2010 where Antrim reached an Ulster Championship final and gained promotion to division 2.

Today we are going to look back at that memorable 2010 NFL campaign which saw ‘Baker’ Bradley’s side beat Sligo at Casement Park in their opening game and go on to top the division 3 table before losing to the Yates County in the league final at Croke Park.

Paddy Cunningham has been recalled to the Antrim panel this year as was Michael and Thomas McCann and all three were prominent in the 2010 campaign. Cunningham scored 1-5 in that opening game against Sligo on February 7th while Michael McCann weighed in with three points as the Saffrons prevailed 1-12 to 0-14 winners against a very good Sligo team.

Antrim Scorers v Sligo:

P Cunningham 1-5 (1-0 pen, 2f); M McCann 0-3 (1f); D O’Hagan, C Close, M Magill, G O’Boyle 0-1 each.  

It was away to Breffni Park on day two and Antrim proved much too good for a Cavan side who had suffered defeat to them in the 2009 Ulster semi-final and this win proved even more emphatic than the championship win in Clones. Cunningham matched his 1-5 from day one with 0-8 while Thomas McCann impressed with 1-3 with his Cargin colleagues, Michael Magill 1-0, Michael McCann and Tony Scullion completing the scoring.

Antrim scorers v Cavan:

P Cunningham 0-8 (4f), T McCann 1-3, M Magill 1-0, M McCann, T Scullion 0-1 each  

Antrim had certainly hit the ground running and when Fermanagh visited on March 6th they had no answer to a slick moving Saffron side who continued to impress as they remained top of the division, Paddy Cunningham continued to find the target, both from play and frees and added 0-7 to bring his tally to 1-20 in three games with the Cargin contingent again to the fore and James Loughery and Conor Murray getting their name on the score-sheet.

Antrim Scorers v Fermanagh:

P Cunningham 0-7 (0-4f), M Magill, T McCann 0-2 each, G O’Boyle, C Close, J Loughrey, K O’Boyle, C Murray 0-1 each  

The Saffrons appeared to be facing their toughest test since round 1 when they made the long journey to Hyde Park to face Roscommon on day four of the league and so it proved to be but Baker’s men prevailed in a tight encounter running out 0-14 to 0-12 winners. Again the irrepressible Cunningham led the way with 0-9 as expectations of promotion to division 2 grew.

Antrim Scorers v Roscommon:

P Cunningham 0-9 (0-5f), M McCann, K Close 0-2 each, M Magill, J Crozier, J Loughery 0-1 each

Those promotion hopes took their first setback when they hit the road again for another away fixture against Offaly and despite a Paddy Cunningham goal from the penalty spot it was the Leinster side who prevailed by the narrowest of margins, 1-8 to 1-7.

Antrim Scorers v Offaly:

P Cunningham 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), B Herron, C Close 0-1 each

It was back to Casement on day six with Antrim determined to get back to winning was following their setback against Offaly when the ‘Wee’ county visited. Louth had been going well in the league and a win in Belfast would have kept them very much in the promotion race but they came up against an Antrim side who’s pride had been wounded in Offaly.

Cunningham’s fine vein of scoring continued with another 1-6 and a goal from Justin Crozier propelled Antrim to a convincing 2-14 to 2-6 win over a Louth side who battled hard but were well beaten in the end.

Antrim Scorers v Louth:

P Cunningham 1-6 (5f), M McCann 0-3, J Crozier 1-0, G O’Boyle, T McCann 0-2 each, K Niblock 0-1  

Antrim’s final game in the 2010 saw them travel to Wexford with nothing less than a massive defeat guaranteeing them a place in the 2010 division 3 final. Despite a determined performance by a Ciaran Lyng led Wexford, the visitors kept in touch right to the final whistle before losing their second game of the campaign 1-11 to 0-12 but still topped the table on score difference to join Sligo in the league final.

Antrim Scorers v Wexford:

P Cunningham 0-4 (0-3f), M McCann, B Herron 0-2 each, T O’Neill, J Loughrey, G O’Boyle, T McCann 0-1 each

Antrim75026–915–70+2410Advanced to final and promoted to Division 2 for 2011
Fermanagh71064–617–86–342Relegated to Division 4 for 2011

Sligo gained revenge for that opening day defeat in Belfast when they defeated Antrim in that 2010 league final in Croke Park but promotion to division 2 had been secured and the future of Antrim football looked bright.

Things have slipped since then with a lot of that very good Antrim side stepping away from duty and today the Saffrons play their football in division 4. Antrim have come close to a promotion place over the last number of years and hopefully when we get over the Coronavirus they can regain the momentum that was very much with them prior to the postponement of the leagues and gain that much needed promotion to division 3.

Dunloy camogs tasted Ulster glory in 1994

Back in 1994 Dunloy camogs ended a 33 year wait when they won thier first senior championshiip title since 1961 by beating Cushendall in the final in Glenravel. They went on to collect the club’s first Ulster title by beating Down champions Leitrim Fontenoys in the final, the Antrim champions having home advantage on the day. This is the report and pictures I did at the time for the Ballymoney Times. Just a little note for the younger people reading this and looking at the photos. Camogie was played 12 a side in those days. John McIlwaine.

(Many thanks to Paul McLean and Jimmy Gaston for their assistance with this)

Dunloy come good in second half

Dunloy Cuchullian’s 3-11 Leitrim Fontenoy’s 0-12

Dunloy won their first Ulster Club Camogie title on Saturday when they came from behind to beat Down champions, Leitrim, in a thrilling final played in damp and difficult conditions at Pearse Park, Dunloy.

For 20 minutes of this fiercely contested game Dunloy played second fiddle to a very impressive Leitrim side who opened a 0-8 to 0-2 lead. Their chances of that first Ulster crown looked unlikely but they steadied to improve their position by half time before getting on top in the second half when a late scoring flurry saw them safely home.

Dowdsy! Elaine Dowds who scored 1-1 in her team’s Ulster final win over Leitrim

Taken aback

Dunloy seemed taken aback by just how good their opponents were during the opening quarter as the Down girls played some great camogie. They opened their scoring in the third minute when Maureen O’Higgins sent over a free and though Dunloy levelled through Majella McMullan soon afterwards, they dominated the next 15 minutes when they hit five points without reply.

Maureen McAleenan, who had a brilliant game for the Down champions, restored Leitrim’s leads. Maureen O’Higgins knocked over two quick points before McAleenan added two more to put her team 0-06 to 0-01 ahead.

Elaine Dowds kept Dunloy in touch with a well struck point from play, but Leitrim regained the initiative with two more points from McAleenan, one a real beauty from beyond midfield.

Maureen McAleenan who scored 0-7 for the Down champions

Dug deep

Six points adrift Dunloy appeared to be in trouble. The fluency of which had been a trademark of their play the past season seemed to have deserted them but to their credit they dug seep to raise their game when it was really needed.

Two points form frees from Ann McKee brought them to within four points by the twenty-fifth minute. Oonagh Elliott appeared to have the breakthrough when she broke away to knock the ball into the net, but referee Margret Brolly had already blown for a free and the goal was cancelled.

Sinead McMullan pointed the resultant free to bring the Antrim champions to within three and though Monica McCartan made it back to four again Anne McKee hit an injury time point to leave Dunloy 0-09 to 0-06 in arrears at half time.

Anne McKee sends over a Dunloy point

Fiercely determined

The determination shown by both teams in a fiercely contested second half had to be seen to be believed. The sluggishness that Dunloy had shown in the early stages of the first half was now gone and with the breeze behind them they made their bid for victory.

Anne McKee gave an early boost with a point, but Leitrim responded with two more points from the influential Maureen McAleenan.

Dunloy get the break

As with so many closely contested games the break of the ball can so often decide matters and in this case it was Dunloy who got the break when an Anne McKee side-line found its way through a crowded goal mouth into the net.

Majella McMullan brough Dunloy back on terms by the forty fifth minute with a well taken point from play but Leitrim retook the lead when Nuala Magee struck over a great free two minutes later.

That was to be the Down teams last score however as Dunloy’s greater all-round ability started to tell. Oonagh Elliott brought them level again ten minutes from time and less than a minute later Sinead McMullan put them front when she pointed a 30’.

Oonagh Elliott breaks past her marker

A McMullan free was blocked down soon afterwards and Elaine Dowds reacted quickest to knock home Dunloy’s second goal and four minutes from time Brenda Kearns made it three when her well placed shot went under the crossbar.

It was all Dunloy now and Sinead McMullan ended the scoring in the final minute when she again from the target from a 30 to leave her team eight clear at the end.

Sally McGrath played well in nets while in defence Sinead McMullan, Joan Elliott and Donna Brogan were best.

After a slow start midfield settle down well to play well while in the forwards Majella McMullan, Elaine Dowds and Oonagh Elliot were best.

For Leitrim, Nuala Magee was outstanding in defence well supported by Donna Greenan and Monica McCartan. Bernie Kelly played well at midfield while Maureen McAleenan was superb up front. Full forward Maureen O’Higgins also played well.

Dunloy captain Anne McKee receives the Ulster cup


Sally McGrath, Sinead McMullan (0-3), Joan Elliott, Deidre Cunning, Donna Brogan, Helen McMullan, Anne McKee (1-4), Christine McCamphill, Majella McMullan (0-2), Brenda Kearns (1-0), Elaine Dowds (1-1), Oonagh Elliott (0-1)


Lil Cunningham, Donna Greenan, Monica McCartan (0-1), Nuala Magee (0-1), Teresa Burns, Bernie Kelly, Monica Rooney, Majella Murray, Rosaleen Cunningham, Maureen McAleenan (0-7), Grainne McCrickard, Maureen O’Higgins (0-3). Subs – Bernie Gallagher for T Burns, Anne Marie Kennedy for R Cunningham

Referee – Margaret Brolly (Derry)