Posts by thesaffrongael

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

Great day’s fun at Antrim Forum for Cumann na mBunscol finals

At the double! St. Patrick’s & St. Brigid’s Ballycastle who were winners of the Cumann na mBunscol camogie and hurling at the Antrim finals in Antrim Forum on Tuesday


Antrim All-County Finals

The top primary schools in the county met up at the Antrim Forum to determine the indoor champions for 2017/2018 across four of Gaelic games codes on Tuesday February 20th. The champions and runners up of South Antrim, North Antrim and South West Antrim were all there keen to gain the top prize and be crowned county champions.

The first competition to be decided was the camogie with St Mary’s Portglenone, St. Patrick’s and St.Bridgit’s Ballycastle, Gaelscoil Na Bhfal, Bunscoil Phobal Feirste all competing. The two Belfast schools hurled tremendously however it was their country cousins who proved top dogs in this competeition. When the Ballycastle girls and the Portglenone girls met there was only the bear minimum between them with the Ballycastle girls retaining the trophy after defeating St.Mary’s 2-1.

The hurling had: Mary Queen of Peace Glenravel, Bunscoil Phobal Fierste, St. Patrick’s and St.Bridgit’s Ballycastle,  Holy  Child Belfast competing. This was far more clear cut in terms of the young men from the ‘castle railroading over the other teams in the competition and finishing out convincing winners and county champions. There was nothing between the other three teams in the competition and their games were very tight affairs.

Holy Trinity, Belfast winners of the girls football and Bunscoil Phobal Fierste winners of the boys football

The girls’ football like the camogie was a tight affair with only one goal separating the champions and the runners up in the competition. Teams from: Holy Trinity Belfast, Creggan, St John the Baptist Belfast, Mount St Michael’s Randalstown played against each other with the final game pairing up the two unbeaten teams of Creggan and Holy Trinity Belfast. The Belfast girls emerged as victors but really the game could have went either way.

The last competition of the day saw three teams compete for the title: Bunscoil Phobal Fierste, Holy Trinity Belfast and St. Joseph’s Crumlin compete to become indoor boy’s county champions. The two Belfast teams proved too strong for their SW rivals and when the two city teams came head to head they served up a classic with the Bunscoil scoring a goal at the death to win not only that match but ultimately the competition as they went on to defeat St. Joseph’s in the final game of the day.

Congratulations to all the teams who qualified to take part and special congratulations to all the winners on the day. Many thanks to the referees Simon Mc Crory  and Jarlath O’Donnell and also to our sponsors. The boys girls now have the outdoor sevens to look forward to.

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Strong second half sees Portglenone comfortably through


Glenavy’s Michael Johnston looks up as Shane Delargy, Portglenone moves in to challenge

O’Cahan Cup preliminary round

Casement’s Portglenone 0-10  St. Joseph’s Glenavy 0-4

Casement’s Portglenone pulled away in the second half to comfortably deal with the challenge of newly promoted St. Joseph’s Glenavy in this O’Cahan Cup preliminary round game played on the new floodlit pitch at O’Cahan Park.

The new ground was in splendid condition and a wonderful development by the Casement’s club which will surely assist with the development of a club who appear to be travelling in the right direction.

Tonight they fielded a youthful side buoyed on by success in the Ulster league away to Cootehill on Sunday and those outings in the Ulster league have obviously benefited them and they looked much sharper than their opponents from early in the contest.

This was Glenavy’s first outing of the season and it took them a while to get up to pace but they did put in an excellent second quarter to put themselves in with a shout at half time. After the break however the home side seemed to find another gear as they took control to run out convincing winners.

It was Casement’s Portglenone who made the early running and aided by three excellent points from Paddy Kelly and another from his sibling, Michael they eased into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

The visitors began to settle however with their possession game frustrating the opposition and by half time they had closed the gap to two with Michael McCourt 0-2, Niall McCann and Peter Trainor all on target. Indeed had the Chapel Hill side shown a greater accuracy during this period they might well have been ahead but the home side weathered the storm to finish strongly with points from Dermot McAleese and Ronan Kelly.

At half time it was 0-6 to 0-4 in favour of the Bannsiders and at this stage it looked like we were in for a tight second half but in truth in never really materialised. Indeed the Glenavy scoring dried up at this stage of the game and while they enjoyed plenty of possession during the second period they lacked the penetration up front to trouble a dominant Portglenone defence.

Left: Kieron McKenna sets out on a run for Portglenone as Aidan Mckee looks on. Right: Paddy Kelly, who kicked four excellent points for Casements lays the ball off.

Paddy Kelly added a fine point to increase his side’s lead to three after three minutes and with Aidan McKee and Ryan McGuigan dealing with everything that came their way the home side started to get on top.

Their more direct approach started to pay dividends with Kieron McKenna producing a number of strong runs from deep in defence to open up the opposition who were still battling well in both defence and at mid-field where Michael Johnston and Jake Nelson were getting through a power of work.

Ronan Kelly pointed another free and the impressive Michael Kelly again hit the target as the visitors started to tire and in the end it proved a comfortable enough evening for the home side. They certainly look to be in good shape going into the season ahead and will harbour ambitions of challenging for honours.

They looked solid in defence where Aidan McKee, Dermot McAleese and Kieron McKenna all impressed and Shane Delargy and Stephen Kelly got through a lot of work at mid-field. In attack Paddy and Michael Kelly led the charge with Michael Hagan and Ronan Kelly also impressing.

Glenavy will have benefited from this game as they prepare for life in division 1 this season and to be fair to them they came up against a team with several Ulster league games under their belt. Gerard Hamilton in goals, Chris Scullion, Sean McGirr, Oisin Hamill and Jonathan Phillips were strong in defence while Michael Johnston and Jake Nelson were a formidable pairing at mid-field. Michael McCourt ,Peter Trainor and Niall McCann were best in attack.

Portglenone: Brian McManus: Ryan McGuigan, Aidan McKee, Johnny Convery:  Ronan Delargy, Dermot McAleese, Kieron McKenna: Shane Delargy, Stephen Kelly:  Michael Kelly, Michael Hagan, Patrick Graffin: Ronan Kelly, Adrian Carey, Paddy Kelly. Subs: Fergal O’Kane for Stephen Kelly, Gerard McAleese for Adrian Carey.

Glenavy:  Gerard Hamilton: Martin Nelson, Chris Scullion, Sean McGirr: Ryan Phillips, Oisin Hamill, Jonathan Phillips: Jake Nelson, Michael Johnston: Neil Scullion, Michael McCourt, Peter Trainor: Eoin Henry, Niall McCann, Malachi Doherty

Referee: Jarlath O’Donnell (Glenravel)

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Goals galore for Ahoghill as they see off St Enda’s

South West Antrim Senior Football – O’Cahan CupCRLL2303PJ O’Connell turns away after scoring his team’s fifth goal. – Pic by John McIlwaine

Ahoghill 5-12 – St Enda’s 0-13

Goals made the difference for Ahoghill in Tuesday night’s O’Cahan Cup preliminary game under the Cloney floodlights as the home side romped to a fourteen point win over understrength visitors St Enda’s. Two goal in the first five minutes set the trend for Ahoghill, the first coming from Eoghan Graham and the second from PJ O’Connell. St Enda’s responded with three unanswered points from Donal Walsh (2) and Micky Morgan to cut the gap to just four points, but the home side regained full control with two more goals before the break from James O’Connell and Donal Graham to lead by 4-5 to 0-8 at half time.13Michael Morgan pulled a point back for St Enda’s at the start of the second half but three quick scores from PJ O’Connell, Danny O’Neill and Eoghan Graham pulled the home side further clear. St Enda’s were matching their hosts much better at this stage and indeed could have been much closer had they taken a few of the good opportunities they created. James McAuley and the accurate Donal Walsh hit some good scores, but Ahoghill had always a reply and had the game sown up long before PJ O’Connell got their fifth goal in the 56th minutes to book a place against Cargin in the first round proper.


1 – Francis Neeson

2 – Eamon Brady

3 – Bernard Graham

4 – Patrick Graham (jnr)

6 – Stephen O’Connell

7 – Fionbar O’Neill

8 – Neill O’Connell (jnr)

9 – Thomas McGlone

10 – Daniel O’Neill

11 – James O’Connell

12 – Eoghan Graham

13 – PJ O’Connell

14 – Donal Graham

15 – Owen Neeson (jnr)

St Enda’s

1 – Brendan Morgan

2 – Dermot McNulty

3 – Conor Smyth

4 – Cillian Jennings

5 – Niall Heatley

6 – Damian Gault

7 – Ryan Kennedy

8 – Daniel Kennedy

9 – Michael Morgan

10 – Anto Morgan

11 – Donal Walsh

12 – Paudie Hamilton

13 – James McAuley

14 – Gerard Crossey

15 – Donal Clarke

Subs – Eoin McNulty for Morgan;

Fiachra McIlhatton for Crossey

Michael McAuley for Clarke

Referee – Sean McAtamney – Tir na nÓg

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Referee Health Checks take place in Garvaghey

Referee Health ChecksUlster GAA have just held their free referee health checks at a specially arranged mobile clinic at the Tyrone GAA Centre in Garvaghey.

This annual initiative offers the opportunity for all referees on the provincial panel to avail of a full screening health check free of charge.

Speaking at the clinic, Ulster GAA President Michael Hasson said: “The health and wellbeing of all our members is very important and we continue to promote healthy living and lifestyles to our membership, especially players and officials, who are obviously the most active”.


The focus of our games is usually on the players but recent research has shown that some referees are covering similar distances to players in our top games. A referee needs to run the length and breadth of the pitch throughout a full game so these checks are essential”.


These health checks give our referees a clear picture of their medical position at the start of the new season and the opportunity to get any health concerns checked out “.


The mobile clinic health checks were facilitated by the team from 3fivetwoGroup.

St. Galls GAA player wins Translink Ulster GAA Young Volunteer of the Year Award

Translink Ulster GAA Volunteer of the Year
Ursula Henderson, Translink, Sean Kelly, St. Gall’s GAA and Michael Hasson, Ulster GAA

Fifteen-year-old Sean Kelly, a member of St. Gall’s GAA Club in Belfast has been announced as the overall winner of the Translink Ulster GAA Young Volunteer of the Year Award for 2017.

The awards programme, in its first year, was designed to celebrate the important contribution young GAA volunteers make to their own communities. Clubs across Ulster were invited to nominate young people throughout the year and each month, a panel of experts chose someone for the monthly prize. Sean, who won in June, was subsequently selected as the overall winner. His prize package includes a full set of playing jerseys for his club, as well as a commemorative jacket and trophy for himself.

Presenting Sean with the award at half-time during the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup final, Ursula Henderson, Translink said:

On behalf of Translink, I warmly congratulate Sean, who is the first ever winner of the Translink Ulster GAA Volunteer of the Year Award.


The initiative has proved to be a wonderful way to recognise the time, talent and commitment young people contribute to the communities we serve. We were very impressed with the standard of entries received, as each month saw inspiring and hard-working young people rewarded for the volunteer work they do.


Sean stood out as a team player, who balances his commitments as a member of the under-16 panel alongside volunteering to make sure the club facilities are in great condition for everyone to enjoy. He is a very worthy recipient of the overall award and a great role model for others.


We’d like to thank all of the GAA clubs across Ulster who supported the initiative by submitting nominations throughout the year. It was clear from the number, and standard of entries, that young people like Sean make a really positive contribution which does not go unnoticed and is highly valued by those around them.”


Ulster GAA President Michael Hasson said:

The Translink Young Volunteer Award emphasises the impact that young people are making every day in their GAA clubs and Ulster GAA is proud to raise the recognition of these contributions to the Association across all nine Ulster counties.”


I congratulate Sean on being selected for this inaugural award. He emerged from a high-quality month of nominees in June 2017 at a time when the GAA season was in full flight and volunteering efforts would have been at their highest. Sean comes from an urban area where there are many temptations outside of the local GAA club and this presents unique challenges to young people in this environment. The GAA is delighted that young people like Sean, who is only 15, choose to volunteer readily in club activities.”