Posts by thesaffrongael

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

Antrim left scratching their heads as Louth win

Leo Murphy Cup Group 2

Antrim 1-10 Louth 1-12

Antrim management and supporters were left scratching their heads in despair after their side had lost by two points to a good Louth side at Dunsilly today in the Leo Murphy U20 Football Development league.

The visitors were on top for most of the opening half with their defence dominating and they led by 1-5 to 0-2 at the half way stage thanks to an excellent goal from Tom Johnston. The Saffrons struggled to break down a well organised Louth defence but might have had a goal of their own but Cormac McGettigan was denied by visiting keeper Ciaran McMahon after finding himself clear on goal.

After the break it was the home side who slowly got on top with Eoin McMenamim taking control at mid-field and a Peter Henvey goal with ten minutes remaining saw them hit the front for the first time and they looked to be on their way to a second victory in two weeks.

A couple of minutes later McMenamim was shown a straight Red following an off the ball incident and with Antrim leading by two, Henvey received Black following a pull down and all of a sudden the Saffrons were down to 13.

Louth went on to hit the final four points of the game to claim the points and look in good shape going into the championship but Antrim will surely reflect on the number of chances they missed over the hour, including two decent goal opportunities in the second half.

It was the team in red who looked the more assured and organised in the opening thirty minutes with Tom Johnston’s daisy cutter to the corner of Gary Murray’s net in the 17th minute putting them in a commanding position.

The Leinster side were first off the mark when Sean Healy pointed them ahead and Conal McCaul increased that lead to two before Ciaran O’Neill pulled one back for Hugh McGettigan’s side. Antrim should have gone ahead after ten minutes but Cormac McGettigan was denied by Ciaran McMahon after a strong run through the middle.

Luke Matthews extended the Louth lead to two from a close range free before an Eoghan McMenamim point left just two in it at the end of the opening quarter. Johnston fired to the net after 17 minutes to give Louth a decided edge and by half time they had moved 1-5 to 0-2 ahead with Conal McCaul and Carl Gillispie their scorers.

It was a different story after the break and whatever Hugh McGettigan and his backroom team said to their side at the break obviously worked. Eoghan McMenamim opened their account with an early point and after Conal McCaul replied for the visitors the Saffrons began to gain control.

Adam Loughran from a free, Aaron McNeilly, Conor Stewart, Ciaran O’Neill and substitute James McDonnell added points and when Peter Henvey got on the end of a good build up to finish to the net the home side had hit the front for the first time and the momentum was very much in their favour.

Rory Brolly converted a close range free after the ball had been moved forward for encroachment and it looked like being Antrim’s day. Brolly then looked in for a goal when he was put clear by Loughran but he opted to palm the ball instead of catching it and only managed to direct it into the grateful arms of McMahon.

Ronan Gribbin then had a guilt edged opportunity when Seaan Elliott’s cross fell into his path but his first time effort screwed wide and  things then took another  turn for the worse as indiscipline crept into the Saffrons play.

Eoghan McMenamim, who had been outstanding at mid-field was shown Red and shortly after Peter Henvey followed him to the sideline following a black card and Louth took full advantage as they hit the last four points of the game to claim the spoils.

Carl Gillispie began the comeback and Conal McCaul, Gillispie again and Ciaran Keenan were all on target as the visitors edged home winners by two points.

Antrim must now get themselves ready for a championship opener against the winners of Derry and Fermanagh but despite this defeat they are in reasonable shape going into that tie. If they can put some of the mistakes they have been making over their three Leo Murphy Cup games behind them and harness the positives from those games then they won’t be too far away.

Antrim: Gary Murray, Eunan McAteer, Jamie Lamont, John Morgan, Marc McAffee, Cormac McGettigan, Ronan Gribbin, Eoghan McMenamim, Ciaran O’Neill, Aaron McNeilly, Peter Henvey, Adam Loughran, Dominic McAteer, Ryan Stewart, Rory Brolly. Subs: Seaan Elliott, Eoin Hynds, Conal McDonall, Daniel Foster, Conall Murray, James McDonnell, Oisin Doherty, Miceal Ferris, Conall Finnegan,

Louth: Ciaran McMahon, Donal Kenny, Peter Lynch, Kieran Murtagh, Ciaran Murphy, Tom Jackson, Glen Stewart, Sean Healy, Daragh Malone, Ciaran Keenan, Conal McCaul, Ben Collier, Luke Matthews, Carl Gillispie, Cillian Rice, Conor Garland.

Referee: Dan Mullan (Derry)

Galeic Life All Star pics

Many thanks to the guys at Gaelic Life, and photographer Michael Cullen for these great pics from last weekend’s Gala dinner. Another great night

St Pat’s edge St Louis in extra time thriller

Ulster Colleges Camogie – Corn Uan Uladh Final

St Pat’s, Maghera 3-6 St Louis, Ballymena 1-7

Friday January 17

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Naomh Pádraig, An Lub

It took extra time under the floodlights in south Derry on a bitterly cold Friday evening but the large crowd in attendance at The Loup were treated to a match of top class camogie.  It took extra time to separate the sides and goals from Clare Gunning and Blathnaid McLaughlin put St Pat’s Maghera in control in the first period of extra time and they proved to be decisive. 

There wasn’t much between the two sides and indeed after 20 minutes, it looked like St Louis would finally end their long wait for another senior camogie title.  They had the upperhand in those opening exchanges with Eimear McMullan, Brigid Delargy and Caoimhe Molloy all prominent but for all their pressure, they didn’t transfer that into points on the board.

St Pat’s maghera celebrate their victory over St Louis in Friday night’s final at the Loop.

St Pat’s dominated the closing stages of the first half and were denied a goal by the width of the crossbar and the brilliance of Orlagh Convery in nets.  McCullagh’s effort coming back off the woodwork before Convery denied Gunning from close range.

Both defences were immense in the first half with Brigid Delargy for St Louis a rock in the full back line while Laura Scullion and Aimee Lennon excelled for a St Pat’s defence who performed heroically in the face of a constant barrage of pressure from St Louis in those opening 20 minutes.

St Pat’s fought back and trailed by just two points at half time with the score reading 0-4 to 0-2 at the short whistle.  It may have been a low scoring encounter but the large crowd in attendance were kept intrigued in what was a titanic tussle between two evenly matched sides. 

The second half began with more of the same high intensity camogie that had graced the opening half but St Pat’s struck first when they scored the first major of the final.   Captain Céat McEldowney giving them the lead for the first time in the match and set up a grand stand ending to a gripping encounter. 

St Louis responded with a quite brilliant goal of their own with eight minutes of normal time remaining.  Caoimhe Molloy rifling the sliotar from 30 yards to the back of the St Pat’s net to give St Louis the lead once again.  With bodies going down all over the field with cramp, the play became broken and there was nine minutes added at the end of the hour.

St Louis Bronagh Laverty in action during Friday night’s final defeat by St Pat’s

A late equalising point from Clare Gunning took the final to extra time where St Pat’s had that wee bit extra when it counted.  Goals at the start of either period of extra time was the difference in the end with Gunning’s goal a touch of class.  A brilliant touch and deft finish under pressure while McLaughlin’s goal was a predator’s instinct.

Overall St Pat’s just shaded a close contest.  In joined captains Céat McEldowney and Laura Scullion they had two exceptional talents while Clare Gunning and player of the match Bronagh McCullagh were brilliant throughout.  St Louis battled superbly to the very end and looked out on their feet at the final whistle in what was an energy sapping 80 plus minutes of schools camogie.

St Louis Mary McKillen


St Louis: Orlagh Convery; Maeve Mulholland, Brigid Delargy, Laura McAleese; Brónagh Laverty, Eimear McMullan, Sarah McIlhatton; Caoimhe Molloy, Maura Downey; Mary McKillen, Emma McAreavey, Caitlin Crawford; Katie Molloy, Aimee Traynor, Kyra Doherty

Subs: Aoibhin McCloskey for K Molloy (HT); Aimee Traynor for L McAleese (60)

Scorers: Caoimhe Molloy 103 (1 f); Maura Downey 0-2; Caitlin Crawford 0-1; Kyra Doherty 0-1

St Pat’s: Eimear McEldowney; Heather O’Hagan, Aisling Porter, Abi McNeill; Doireann Donnelly, Laura Scullion, Carla McEldowney; Bronagh McCullagh, Céat McEldowney; Leah Lennon, Clare Gunning, Evanne Martin; Cara McElwee, Aimee Lennon, Blathnaid McLaughlin

Subs: Niamh McCullagh for C McElwee (41); Emma Collins for D Donnelly (ET 1)

Scorers: Clare Gunning 1-2; Blathnaid McLaughlin 1-1; Céat McEldowney 1-00; Bronagh McCullagh 0-2; Evanne Martin 0-1

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Glen Rovers, Armoy)

Antrim Business Forum secure Sheedy and McGrath for their 2020 lunch

Tipperary All Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy and star midfielder Noel Mc Grath have been confirmed as the special guests for the Saffron Business Forum’s annual lunch in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Friday 29th May. Sheedy, who last season went back to manage his native county after a nine year gap, and his star midfielder McGrath, who overcame cancer to return to the very top of the game, maintains the high standard of guests at this prestigious event which has seen legendry stars like champion jockey AP McCoy, Kilkenny great Henry Shefflin and Tyrone’s Peter Canavan on stage in previous years.

Details of tickets will be revealed later by Tony Shivers and his team

Saints & Slimmers at All Saints GAC

All Saints GAC Galgorm Resort “Saints & Slimmers” Up and Running

Ballymena’s All Saints GAC award winning health and well being programme, Saints & Slimmers, returned for a 5th successive year this week. Started in January 2016 the 6 week project has witnessed a record 160 participants sign up for this year’s programme. Those taking part are teamed with fellow “Slimmers” in a bid to be crowned overall Saints & Slimmers Champions, 2020.

With health and well-being at its heart Saints & Slimmers provides opportunities for regular team exercise, promotion of positive mental health, development of teamwork skills, dance and many social activities. Participants have been assigned to a team and are following a 6 week programme of activity. Those involved will be spin cycling in the early morning before winding down with a brisk walk that evening. Circuit training, aerobic workouts and the all important team challenges will keep everyone entertained while the finale dance-off in the splendour of the Tullyglass House Hotel will provide a fitting celebration of the participants efforts.

But don’t let the “Slimmers” reference mislead you. This programme is about far more than that as Club Chairman Jim Brady elaborates:

“Our annual programme places its emphasis clearly on the achievement of personal goals for all involved. For some that might be simply getting out of the house for an activity at a time of the year when the long nights and inclement weather may put you off leaving home. For others it may be an opportunity to meet new people, to try something new or indeed … to lose some weight. Whatever the goal the programme seems to have captured the imagination of local people in great numbers since it started 4 years ago with some 600 people in total taking part. As well as providing the participants with a range of activities to undertake we offer mental wellness sessions, a range of social events to attend and many opportunities to step outside of their comfort zone. All of our fitness tutors are locally based and that means that as well as channelling funding towards them during the programme they also get a chance to show off their product and attract spin-off business as a result throughout the remainder of the year”. 

In 2017 the programme was recognised at the Irish News Club & Volunteer Awards when it was awarded the prestigious award for best Club Health & Well Being initiative. This year’s programme sees participants range in age from 18 to 65 years of age and activities are tailored to individual need and fitness.

Charity features as an integral part of the programme and last year the organisers at All Saints designated the McMillan Unit at Antrim Area Hospital as the beneficiaries of their efforts. A sum of over £5k was raised principally through the team “Spinathon” at the Harmony Hub in the centre of Ballymena in February. This year a similar event on Saturday 8th February will raise funds to benefit the Children’s Hospice. 

The club would like to thank those local sponsors who have supported individual teams and events. They include Ballymena Running & Athletic Club, McKillop’s Spar Frys Road, Connolly’s Spar Dunclug, Tullyglass House Hotel and the overall programme sponsor Galgorm Resort and Spa. The theme for the teams this year are flowers and they are appropriately named as: The Teamkit Tulips, The Do-Jo Daffodils, The Doherty Meats Marigolds, The Fitzsimons Opticians Foxgloves, The Pizza Parlour Pansies, The Knockdene Healthcare Heathers, The Flamingo Forget Me Nots, The Sitting Room Snowdrops, the Studio 365 Sunflowers, The Steele Physio Primroses, the Prime Fitness Ponsettias and the Rafferty Property Roses. 

So over the next few weeks if you happen to see a group of Roses or Pansies jogging past you on the street give them a shout of encouragement and help them to bloom!