Posts by thesaffrongael

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

Pat Battler Mullaney RIP

By Dennis O’Hara

PAT ‘Battler’ Mullaney, one of Antrim and Ulster’s most accomplished hurlers, died last weekend.

The stylish forward also campaigned with distinction with the Belfast Rossa GAC.

He belonged to a ‘Golden Age’ of hurling – during the 1950’s and early 1960’s – and was a key performer for a rampant Rossa side that was the first team to clinch four successive Antrim Senior Hurling Championships, the opener in 1956. The fabulous formation also paraded the uniquely gifted dual county and provincial star, Seamus ‘Stout’ McDonald.

The legendary Mullaney was involved in some notable county conflicts, an era that included players such as Kevin Armstrong, Seamus Gallagher, Billy Feeney, Robbie and Brendan Elliott, Brendan ‘The Bear’ Donnelly, Bobby McMullan, Dessie Cormican, Paddy Morgan and Johnny Coyle.

One of the outstanding victories during which Mullaney produced inspired stick work was the NHL 7-4 to 5-5 win against mighty Kilkenny at Corrigan Park in 1953. ‘Battler’ was also heavily involved in Antrim’s win of the All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship of 1959.

The death of Pat Mullaney, once a competent and competitive amateur golfer at the Balmoral and Ballycastle Clubs, followed the recent passing of another ex-Antrim hurler of the 1950’s – Pat Flynn of Belfast Patrick Sarsfields.

Silverbridge pay the penalty as Termon advance

FonaCAB Ulster Minor Football Tournament (Preliminary Round)

Termon (Donegal) 1-10 Silverbridge (Armagh) 0-6

This preliminary round of the St. Paul’s tournament, played at Colaiste Feirste  saw a good Termon of Donegal overcome the challenge of Silverbridge of Armagh to advance to the quarter-final where they will face Emmyvale of Monaghan next Sunday, 15th December. The Tir Connaill champions had it mostly their own way throughout though they did survive a mighty goalmouth scramble.

The Donegal side led 0-6 to 0-2 after 15 minutes and a goal from the penalty spot from Ryan McFadden saw them push on to a commanding 1-7 to 0-4 lead at the halfway stage and they were good value for that lead.

After the break McFadden was offered the opportunity to increase the Termon lead from the same scenario but this time the Silverbridge keeper dived full length to his left to make an excellent save and deny the Termon man.

It had little influence on the result however and in a low scoring second half Termon outscored Silverbridge 0-3 to 0-2 and on this showing will fancy their chances of giving the fonaCAB tournament a real rattle.

Kilcoo open with a win at St. Paul’s

fonaCAB Ulster Minor Football Tournament quarter-final

Kilcoo 3-6

Killyclogher 1-4

Kilcoo minors took the first step in matching the achievement of their senior side when they proved too good for a battling Killyclogher in the opening game of the St. Paul’s minor tournament at Shaw’s Road today.

In a game that took some time to come to life, first half goals from Jimmy Magee and two from man of the match, Justin Clarke put the Magpies in a commanding position at the break but Killyclogher grabbed a lifeline in the final moments of the half with Oran Toal intercepting a stray pass and playing in Potter who fired to the net.

Justin Clarke was outstanding for the Mourne side throughout as his side controlled the opening half and had a lot of the hard work done by the half way stage. The Tyrone side will rue the concession of those first half goals however with the second and third the result of poor defending and when Gavin Potter was sent off two minutes after the restart it was always going to be a big ask for the Tyrone side.

This game took a while to come to life with Justin Clarke getting the winners off the mark with a point from a 12th minute free. Both sides had wasted opportunities prior to this score, but Kilcoo were off target with a couple of efforts, while Killyclogher dropped several short when playing into the breeze.

Clarke added another with an excellent point from play before Porter opened Killyclogher’s account as he cut in from the left before firing over.

It was the Down champions who began to take command of matters at this stage as Shealan Johnston sent an excellent hand pass over the Killyclogher defence to free Jamie McKee and McKee fired confidently to the Killyclogher net for the game’s opening goal.

Mark Hayes for the Tyrone champions and Justin Clarke traded points before Clarke reacted quickly when his side were awarded a free and as the opposition defence switched off he sent his shot from 20 meters past Oran Grimes in the Killyclogher goals.

Killyclogher responded through a Potter point at the other end but Kilcoo struck with their third goal with three minutes remaining to the break when Clarke gathered a misplaced kickout by Grimes and his low shot across goal deflected off the far post and into the netand with a three-goal cushion, it was looking good for the Down champions,

Grimes redeemed himself when he got his fingers to a screamer from Clarke to tip over just before half time to leave Kilcoo leading 3-4 to 1-3 at the short whistle.

With the wind behind them seven points didn’t look an unassailable lead but in an early altercation Kilcoo’s Jack Devlin was booked and before play restarted Potter received his marching orders for the Tyrone men after McCusker went down injured.

What already looked a difficult task for Killyclougher had become a much tougher task and despite their best efforts they never really looked like getting back into contention in a very low scoring second half.

Justin Clarke got Kilcoo on their way with a pointed free in the 40th minute and while Joe McGurk responded with a good point, a Shealan Johnston free on 44 minutes for KIlcoo was to prove the final score of the game.

KIllyclogher went searching for goals but Michael Rafferty’s shot sailed just wide of the post and that was as close as they got to the goal that might have reignited their challenge.

Luke Clarke was issued a black cark in stoppage time to add to his previous yellow with this upgraded to red but it had no effect on the final outcome and it is Kilcooo who now go forward to the semi-final.

Kilcoo: A Curran; C Rogers, T Fettes, C Madine; L Clarke, A Morgan, M Hynes; N Doyle, R Tumelty; J Morgan, S Johnston (0-1 free), J Devlin; J Clarke (1-5, 1-3 frees), S McCusker (1-0), J McKee (1-0).

Killyclogher: O Grimes; C Conway, J McSorley, M Devlin; M Rafferty, J Rafferty, O McGettigan; O McCann, D Monaghan; B Quinn, O Toal, J McGurk (0-1); G Potter (1-2), M Hayes (0-1 free), L Higgins. Subs: C O’Hagan for O McGettigan (HT), P Corcoran for B Quinn (44).

Referee: Brendan Toland (Antrim)

Antrim sail to Kehoe Cup semi’s

Antrim Captain, Conor McCann goes to the turf but scores his second major of the day in Antrim's comprehensive win over Wicklow
Antrim Captain, Conor McCann goes to the turf but scores his second major of the day in Antrim’s comprehensive win over Wicklow

Kehoe Cup – Round 2

Saturday December 7

Antrim 5-27 Wicklow 2-10

Brendan McTaggart reports from GAA Centre of Excellence, Abbotstown

Antrim continued their rich pre-season form with another comprehensive victory over Wicklow in the Kehoe Cup on Saturday afternoon.  A victory that, while it was expected, the standard of hurling and performance from all 21 players will have pleased Darren Gleeson and his management team.

Four goals in a first half that saw Antrim build a commanding lead, 11 of their 17 first half points coming from play and tearing apart a side who they face in the first round of the league in January.  A return to action in a Saffron shirt for Neil McManus, the Ruairi Og man helping himself to 10 points during his 45 minutes of action, two goals apiece for Conor McCann and James McNaughton.  The Loughgiel star clearly enjoys playing on the pristine surface at the Abbotstown venue, continuing on from this time last year, McNaughton was sensational before having to come off injured after an incident that saw Wicklow centre half Warren Kavanagh red carded.

A bright performance from debutant Aodhan O’Brien in midfield who dovetailed well with Eoghan Campbell while Alex Delargy came off the bench to score 1-1 in a 12 minute cameo, taking his tally to four goals in three games in an Antrim shirt this season.

Showing nine changes from their win over Armagh on Tuesday night, the first goal of the game came after just 30 seconds.  Dan McCloskey turning over possession before releasing the sliotar into the path of his Shamrock clubmate, McNaughton.  Playing a one-two with McManus, McNaughton got clear and drive the sliotar to the back of the net.

James McNaughton breaks through the Wicklow defence to score a goal in the opening minute of the game

The second goal came in the sixth minute and it was McNaughton once again.  Picking the sliotar with a delightful touch, McNaughton raced towards the Wicklow goal from 50 yards out.  Three defenders on his heals, McNaughton found a yard and made no mistake.  A blistering start for the Saffrons as they dominated their opponents from the first whistle.

Antrim held a 14 point lead after 10 minutes by the time the Garden County finally registered a score, full forward Andy O’Brien holding off the challenge of Stephen Rooney but it was a brief respite from the Saffron charge for his side. 

Their third goal was the Antrim response and McNaughton turned provider this time.  Sending the sliotar into the path of McCann and the Saffrons captain sent the ball to the back of the net at the second time of asking in the 15th minute.

McCann doubled his goals tally two minutes later with the Saffrons leading by 17 points.  Rooney delivering the sliotar high to the heart of the Wicklow defence and the Creggan man used his body to fend off the Wicklow challenge and turn his marker.  He pulled on the sliotar first time and the match was effectively over as a contest after just 17 minutes as Antrim built a 20 point lead.

Points followed as Antrim continued with their relentless pressure.  James O’Connell’s 18th minute point meant all six of the Antrim starting forwards had recorded their name on the scoresheet.  Michael Bradley’s distribution from the middle of the park into the full forward line pivotal to the Saffrons performance.  They led by 23 points when McNaughton’s game was cut short with injury and Moorhouse saw red.  McManus pointed the resulting free and while Wicklow rallied with a flurry of frees from Andy O’Brien (two) and Jack Doyle (one), McManus (two frees) and Campbell ensured Antrim held a 23 point lead at the interval.

Phelim Duffin races clear of Enda Donohue…

Wicklow had the elements in their favour but with a commanding lead and a man extra, Antrim were able to dictate the contest after the restart.  Wicklow full forward would prove to be a massive handful for the Saffrons defence during the second half, scoring the first of his two goals in the 51st minute from a penalty. 

Antrim made changes with McCambridge, Nugent, Conor Johnston, Molloy, Delargy and Sean Duffin all introduced at different times during the second half and while the game lacked the same flow and cohesion of the first half, it never looked like Wicklow would get close to causing Antrim any serious concerns.

Wicklow did continue to push hard however and O’Brien got his second goal in the 57th minute.  Catching a long delivery and instinctively firing the sliotar beyond Conor McAllister but Antrim responded by finding the back of the Wicklow net for the fifth time with nine minutes remaining.  Substitutes Ronan Molloy and Alex Delargy combining before the Ruairi Og man made no mistake with a smart finish.

A comfortable afternoons work for the Saffrons who set their sights back on the McGurk Cup and a meeting with Longford in seven days time.


Antrim: C McAllister; P Duffin, S Rooney, C Boyd; G Walsh, R McGarry, C McHugh; A O’Brien, E Campbell (0-4); J McNaughton (2-1), N McManus (0-10 8 f, 1 ’65), M Bradley (0-2); C McCann (2-2), J O’Connell (0-1), D McCloskey (0-2)

Subs: R McCambridge (0-1) for J McNaughton (28); D Nugent for M Bradley (n/t); Conor Johnston (0-2 1f) for N McManus (46); R Molly (0-1) for A O’Brien (46); A Delargy (1-1) for J O’Connell (53); S Duffin for G Walsh (53); G Walsh for D McCloskey (65)

Wicklow: C Staunton; D Quinn, M O’Brien, B Kearney; P Keane, W Kavanagh, C Moorhouse; J Doyle (0-2 1f), C Breen; L Evans, D Staunton, G Weir; G O’Brien, A O’Brien (2-8 1-00 pen, 3 f’s, 1 ’65), G Hughes

Subs: G Byrne for C Breen (20); P O’Brien for C Moorhouse (20); S Germaine for G Byrne (24 blood sub, reversed 26)

Saints & Slimmers registration opens this Sunday

It’s Back!

All Saints GAC Saints & Slimmers. the award winning Health & Well Being programme. is making a return in 2020.

Six weeks of fun and fitness culminating in the finale night on Friday 21st February.

Recognised by the Irish News with a 1st place position in their Club & Volunteer Awards the programme combines healthy exercise with team games and social activity while supporting physical and healthy well-being (… and weight loss if you want it). Oh, and it’s also great craic.

So if you want to meet new people, experience new things, step outside your comfort zone and “put the winter in” in the company of great people then this is the programme for you. Registration opens this Sunday (8th December) and there are only 150 places (full house last year). When they’re gone-they’re gone!

Costs are frozen at last year’s prices (£40 registration/ £10 per week thereafter).

To sign up simply text your name to 07702566865 from 9.00am on Sunday and we will be in touch.

Information day is Sunday 15th Dec in St. Brigid’s PS, Broughshane Road, Ballymena at 3.00pm.

The programme starts with Induction on Sunday 5th January followed by the first day of fun on Monday 6th January. So have a great Christmas and see you in the New Year at “Slimmers – Twenty Twenty”.