Posts by thesaffrongael

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

Shane O’Neill’s and Naomh Brid to edge tight semi-finals

Casement SC JHC Semi-Final

Saturday’s Casement SC JHC semi-finals both have the makings of tight and entertaining encounters with three of the top four teams in division 3 of the ACHL doing battle. The odd team out of the four is St. Mary’s Rasharkin but the Dreen side have put indifferent league form behind them to top their championship group and so enjoy home advantage for their meeting with Cloughmills.

Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm v Glen Rovers Armoy Saturday 3-00pm (Feystown)

The first semi-final throws together league winners, Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm and Glen Rovers, Armoy and as group winners the Feystown men enjoy home advantage against an Armoy side that they beat twice in the league.

When the sides met in Armoy on the 13th June Shane O’Neill’s recorded a high scoring 5-19 to 3-12 victory over the home side and the Glenarm men were again successful in Feystown when they ran out 1-20 to 0-7 winners and by virtue of those results will start Saturday’s encounter as firm favourites.

This will no doubt suit the visitors to Feystown who were drawn in what some considered the group of death with Shane O’Neill’s, St. Brigid’s and Lamh Dhearg and the Glen Rovers only qualified for the quarter-finals with a win over Lamh Dhearg in Armoy in their final group game after losing to both Shane O’Neill’s and St. Brigid’s.

Glen Rovers performed reasonably well in those two defeats, losing by a point at home to St. Brigid’s and scoring 3-10 on their visit to Feystown but eventually losing by 9 points.

Their win over Lamh Dhearg saw them drawn away to group 1 runners up, Michael Davitt’s and a win at Davitt’s Park is never easy and so it proved to be but the North Antrim side pulled out all the stops to win by 3-12 to 2-13 and that game will have given them the ideal preparation for Saturday’s encounter.

Shane O’Neill’s have been in top form this season, suffering only one league defeat at home to St. Brigid’s Cloughmills and they avenged that defeat when they travelled to Cloughmills in round 2 of the league by winning 4-20 to 3-17.

Two goals from corner-forward Kevin O’Boyle and goals apiece from Darren Hamill and Niall McGarel were the vital scores in a game that eventually decided the destination of the division 3 league and these three with Barry Hamill, Declan McDermott and the O’Boyle’s, Ben, Kieran and Sean and Dylan McLaughlin should give Shane O’Neill’s the edge on Saturday.

PJ McBride led the Armoy challenge against Davitt’s and finished with 0-4 while Thomas Burns was also to the fore with 1-3, Eamonn McCaughan, Rocky Dillon and Colin Lordan all to the fore for the visitors. The afore mentioned with Conor Devlin, Emmet O’Hara, Arthur Devlin and Owen Kinney will spearhead the Armoy challenge and they might not be too far away but I would expect home advantage to swing it Shane O’Neill’s way.

Rasharkin v Cloughmills Saturday 3-00pm (Rasharkin)

League form would suggest that St. Brigid’s will start this one as firm favourites despite St. Mary’s enjoying home advantage by virtue of topping their group in the championship. The Cloughmill’s men finished second in the league to eventual winners, Shane O’Neill’s and were the only team to beat the Glenarm men.

That win came at Feystown which would suggest that the ‘Biddies’ will not be over concerned by travelling to Dreen but they should never the less be wary of a Rasharkin side who seem to have found their best form in the championship following a less than impressive league campaign.

Rasharkin recorded only four wins in their 12 league starts and are the only team of Saturday’s semi-finalists to not make the cut when the league split and finished second bottom at the league’s end.

St. Mary’s have put that indifferent form behind them in the championship however and topped group 1 though it has to be said, group 1 wasn’t as strong as group 2. The  Dreen side beat what was in front of them however and after wins away to Ballymena and at home to the other St. Brigid’s (the Musgrave Park version) They defeated Davitt’s in Rasharkin to top the group.

Their opponents on Saturday, Naom Brid, Cloughmills finished second in group 2 with wins over Armoy and Lamh Dhearg with their only defeat suffered at the hands of Shane O’Neill’s in Cloughmills on the 2nd September.

As runners up in the group they had to play a quarter-final against All Saints and had little difficulty accounting of the Ballymena side in Cloughmills.

Cloughmills are strong in defence where Sean McKendry, Johnny Duffin and Conor Laverty anchor a solid unit. Ruairi Laverty and Geoffery Og Laverty form a solid mid-field partnership while defender turned attacker, Aaron Smiley, Liam Kearns and Mickey Devlin, if available form a real attacking threat.

Rasharkin will look to Conor Doherty, Ruairi O’Boyle and Emmet McFerran in defence while Tiernan O’Boyle has emerged as strong mid-fielder this season and could be partnered by the experienced Thomas McMullan with Declan McKay also dropping deep.

Perhaps the strongest unit in the St. Mary’s side is there half-forward line where Shane Hasson, Conor McFerran and Eamon McNeill all offer a serious threat while the pace of Donagh Quigg could also cause problems in the full-forward line.

Home advantage will certainly give Rasharkin a fighting chance and a big home support will get behind the men from Dreen but if Naomh Brid are at their best then I expect them to win this one and set up a final meeting with Shane O’Neill’s.

Rossa fight back to claim Nipper Quinn Shield

Nipper Quinn Shield 

Rossa 6-03-1-12 St Johns 

Kevin Herron reports from Pairc Rossa

Rossa fought back from 7-points down at the beginning of the second half to claim the Nipper Quinn Shield on home soil with a 6-03-1-12 win over St Johns at Pairc Rossa on Sunday afternoon. 

The Johnnies were much more confident in the opening stages and were 0-06 ahead before the hosts replied. 

Five of those scores were from the placed ball as Lewis Rafferty and namesake Jack helped themselves to a brace each from frees, Brian Gough converted a 45’ in between and Jack Rafferty notched up the only point from play. 

It took Rossa while to get to grips with things, but they soon restored parity, Jack Cunningham did well to parry an initial shot- though Conor Stewart fired home at the second time of asking and moments later Adam McCahey struck a second to make it 2-00-0-06. 

St Johns edged ahead again through a super point from Oliver Donnelly and further scores from Jack and Lewis Rafferty helped their side to a 0-09-2-00 lead at the break. 

An Oliver Donnelly shot early in the second period squeezed beyond the reach of the Rossa goalkeeper and had St Johns six-points to the good for the second time in proceedings. 

Donnelly added his second point of the afternoon to increase his sides lead, but Rossa fought back. 

Adam McCahey added a point to his first half goal and then Lorcan O’Reilly sent a free spinning towards the net to reduce arrears to a single goal (1-10-3-01). 

The Young Rossa fans behind the goal can’t hide their delight as Lorcan O’Reilly struck a goal for their side

Back-to-back frees from Jack Rafferty were the perfect response for St Johns- but that advantage would soon disappear. 

McCahey converted a free for Rossa and then slipped a pass inside to Sé Whitteker who slammed a shot inside the near-post to make it a one-point game (1-12-4-02). 

A converted free from Fionn Collins levelled and had the final on a knife-edge with ten minutes remaining. 

Momentum was with the home side, and they hit the front for the first time though a Patrick Hamill strike and later clinched things through a second Whitteker goal to move 6-03-1-12 ahead. 

St Johns piled on the late pressure in the hope of setting up a grandstand finish, but the closest they came was a free from Oliver Donnelly that was blocked on the line as Rossa saw out time to lift the Nipper Quinn Shield at the games conclusion. 

South Antrim Chairman Frank Caldwell presents joint captains Fionn Collins and Tiernan McDonnell with the Nipper Quinn Shield after their comeback win over St Johns

Naomh Eánna get the better of St Pauls

Nipper Quinn Plate 

St Pauls B 3-04-4-12 Naomh Eánna B

Kevin Herron reports from Pairc Rossa

A brace from Naomh Eánna captain Colm Kane helped his side to claim the Nipper Quinn Plate on Sunday morning with a 4-12-3-04 win over St Pauls B at Pairc Rossa. 

St Pauls opened the scoring in the game through a Matthew O’Neill point, but they soon fell behind as Nathan Burns turned over possession and switched the play to Colm Kane- who shot low to the net for the opening goal. 

Kane doubled his and Naomh Eánna’s tally with a second goal moments later, before adding a point. 

The Hightown Road outfit were in the ascendancy with Laochra Geraghty slamming home his sides third and points following from Ruairi O’Connell-Scullion and Sean Cunningham.  

Already with 2-01 to his name so far- Kane chalked up four scores in succession, three of which came from play and the other from a free. 

Just before the break Jonathan McCrory slipped a pass to Aidan Johnston and he found net for St Pauls, though at the interval the Shaws Road men were 3-07-1-01 behind. 

Naomh Eánna extended their lead upon the resumption, Kane dropped a free into the path of Darragh McIlroy to fire a fierce drive into the net. 

Sean Cunningham and Kane (free) added further points before the talisman would depart through a knee injury. 

St Paul’s briefly rallied and found their second goal through Darragh Loughran, points followed through Jude Burns and Daire Devlin- the latter of which would see a further free drop and spin into the net. 

Under the cosh since the injury to Kane, Naomh Eánna got back on the front foot with three scores in succession. 

Nathan Burns converted a free and further points were added courtesy of Odhran McAllister and Sean Cunningham. 

A late Daire Devlin free was scant consolation as Naomh Eánna ran out convincing winners to claim the Nipper Quinn Plate. 

With Kane unable to join his team-mates on the field, instead they decided to join their injured captain on the side-line as South-Antrim chairman Frank Caldwell presented him with his sides silverware. 

South Antrim Chairman Frank Caldwell presents injured Naomh Eánna captain Colm Kane with the Nipper Quinn Plate

Glenravel see off St Gall’s in intriguing final

WS DENNISON ANTRIM LGFA INTERMEDIATE CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

ST GALLS 1-6 CON MAGEES GLENRAVEL 2-9

Erins Own Cargin hosted an eagerly anticipated Antrim LGFA Intermediate final on Sunday afternoon in Toome. The Con Magees girls, last year’s beaten finalists, had been unbeaten in 2022 championship series up to the final and had impressed with away wins at both Gort na Mona and Glenavy as well as a first victory against St Galls at home. The Milltown Row girls grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat against Glenavy on the opening day and although were beaten in Glenravel, they impressed in their final section game scoring 5-15 away to Gort na Mona.

And so the scene was set. The pitch was in perfect condition with a strong cross field wind gave a slight advantage to the team defending the town goal. Glenravel won the toss and took that advantage but it was St Gall who struck first, straight from the throw in through Cuisle Wilson who split the posts from out on the right wing after being played into space by Joint Captain Stephanie Cochrane. Dual County Minor Sarah Fyfe was getting on a lot of early ball for the Con Magees and was rewarded with a well taken point in the 5th minute after a strong run through the heart of the St Galls defence by Clare Emerson. Both Sarah and Glenravels other wing forward, Kirsty Laverty were effective in disrupting Eimear Magorrian’s kickout and Kirsty was rewarded when she slotted over from 21 m out. The Glenravel team were camped in the St Galls half but a tigerish St Galls defence could not be easily breached.  The strong running Niamh Bellow lifted the siege and it was now time for the Glens girls to defend and they were as adept as the city girls were in that art. A fine individual Mairiosa McGuinness point in the 9th minute brought parity. Straight from the kickout an excellent team score was claimed by Glenravel with no fewer than 9 players involved. Bronagh Laverty secured possession from Caitlin McKeown’s kickout who passed to Ellen Hynds on her own 45, Ellen to Kirsty who with a strong cross field pass found Sarah Fyfe. With possession back to Kirsty another long ball forward was won by Molly Woulahan, who found Maeve Mulholland running off her shoulder. Maeve passed the ball into Laoise McKenna who set up Ellen Hynds, now up at the 13m line, but the route to goal was closed. Ellen found Aimee Traynor who pointed from close range despite the close attention of 4 St Galls defenders.

Another Sarh Fyfe interception set up Molly Woulahan who rounded 3 defenders to raise her first white flag of the day. Within a minute Molly doubled her tally when she was on the end of a Sarah Fyfe free and coolly pointed using the outside of her right boot. Glenravel continued to dominate possession but the St Galls defence put in good strong tackling and blocking as typified by Fiona Johnston. Johnston overturned another Glenravel attack, on to Bellew and then to full forward Meabh McCurdy who pick up the ball on the 45 and jinked her way forward to score a fine individual point to leave 2 between the teams. As defences dominated it resulted in some high pressure shots from both sets of forwards but the score board remained unaffected. Kirsty Laverty again overturned a wayward pass to set up Molly Woulahan, who pointed under pressure. Clare Emerson pointed from a 30m free with 3 minutes to go until half time and in the following minute Kirsty Laverty pointed after she again overturned possession, which saw Glenravel open up a 5 point lead, which was no more than their played deserved at that stage. Eimear Magorrian came of her line to intercept a long searching ball from Emerson destined for Traynor and placed Bellew who counter attacked at pace and as McGuiness sucked in 2 defenders, for once Meabh McCurdy got free and headed for goal. An excellent save by Caitlin McKeown was followed up in similar style by Maria McKenna only for McCurdy to blast to the top corner of the net from close range. McGuinness pointed in the next passage of play and with in the next minute another excellent McGuinness point was registered. In the blink of an eye the teams were back level again as referee Gerard Dougan called for half time with the score St Galls 1-5 Con Magees Glenravel 0-8

Glenravel started the 2nd half in a similar attacking style as to how much of the 1st half had been. A 35m free from Clare Emerson rattled the cross bar and a minute later Traynor again poached in for another point. Niamh Bellew was still to the fore in the St Galls defence and with a long kick played in Cuisle Wilson who’s shot came off the post. For the next 12 minutes both defences were on top form as no matter what each forward line tried, their endeavour was snuffed out their opponents rear-guard. A Mairiosa McGuinness free came back off the post and Stephanie Cochrane was the quickest to react and with the white flag raised the teams were all square again as we moved into the last quarter. With scores at a premium, momentum in the final quarter was going to be massive. A probing pass from Kirsty Laverty was picked up by Molly Woulahan and though faced with a wall of Cosgrove, Bradley and McKeown, cut through the middle and lifted the net with a well struck goal to put 3 points between the teams with 13 minutes to go. As space opened up in the St Galls defence, Glenravel were now more direct with 2 shots from distance from substitute Torie Edgar narrowly pulled wide of the post by the crossfield wind. St Galls pressed forward but the defensive Glenravel unit all worked hard to shut down any options that appeared. Laoise McKena began to have a huge influence in around the mid field section. A long freekick from Maria McKenna from the halfway line found Molly Woulahan out on the right wing on the 21. McKenna’s pass had got over St Galls defensive wall and although Woulahan had a lot of work to do, she again went direct and scored her 2nd goal of the day with 3 minutes of normal time remaining.  St Galls needed to get scores quickly but again the defensive unit of Coulter, McKenna, Mulholland sisters, Laverty, McAleenan & McNeill were solid. In fact Magorrian in the St Galls goal twice was at hand to deny Laoise McKenna’s goal bound shots in the 5 ½  minutes of injury time. As Gerard Dougan blew the final whistle the Glenravel girls claimed the win on a score of St Galls 1-6 Con Magees Glenravel 2-9.

An intriguing game which although both teams did not set up defensively saw each defensive unit have a massive influence in the game. Glenravel created the more openings going forward but for all the play the Con Magees had, by half time St Galls were very much in the game. The work rate from both teams was very impressive especially with the Glenravel team, despite having 21 of their football squad involved in the previous day’s Intermediate Camogie Championship Semi Final victory, having that bit more energy in the tank, be more ruthless and in the end and finish the game strongly. Sundays victory now means that the Glenravel girls can erase the painful memory of last season’s loss at the same stage. Sometimes you got to lose a final to learn how to win a final and no doubt a talented St Galls squad with such big playing numbers and strong underage teams coming through, will regroup and aim to go one better in 2023. Meanwhile Glenravel now carry the Antrim torch into the Ulster series where they will meet the Derry senior champions,  Steelstown in 3 weeks’ time in Derry. Although the Derry champions, with home advantage, will be firm favourites, based on recent form the Glenravel girls will be no walkover.

CONN MAG AOIDH – Caitlin McKeown Aisling Mulholland Maria McKenna Eimhear McAleenan Bronagh Laverty Colleen McNeill Erin Coulter Clare Emerson Ellen Hynds Kirsty Laverty Maeve Mulholland Sarah Fyfe Aimee Traynor Laoise McKenna Molly Woulahan Orla Donnelly Torie Edgar Bronagh McKay Niamh McKay Chloe McAuley Clodagh McCann Jaime Woulahan Emily Sharpe Ellie Jo Butler Eimear Butler Caitlin Law Megan Law Caoimhe Higgins Suzannah Browne Anita McKeown Meabh Fyfe Aisling Kerr Niamh O’Donnell Chantelle McLarnon Clodagh McPeake Aisling Donnelly Aoibhin McKenna

NAOMH GALL – Eimear Magorrian Fiona Johnston Megan McGlinchey Nicole McKeown, Niamh Bellew, Bethy Cosgrove, Eimear Bradley, Aveen Maginn Aoife Turley Cuisle Wilson Aine Sheehan Stephanie Cochrane Jenny Browning Meabh McCurdy Mairiosa McGuinness Erin McCarren Alex Burns Claire Cosgrove Hannah Cosgrove Fionnuala Haughey Cora Bellew Chloe McDonald Hannah Loughran Niamh O’Neill Erinn Tieger Brid Turley Ella Wilson Kerrie O’Hara Helen Ward Lisa Wilson

Antrim have eight players on TG4 Junior Team of the Year

All Ireland Junior champions Antrim have eight players on the TG4 LGFA Junior Team of the Year which was announced today.

The Saffrons are represented by goalkeeper Anna McCann, defenders Aislinn McFarland, Niamh McIntosh, Saoirse Tennyson and Sarah O’Neill, midfielder Lara Dahunsi, who was player of the match in the drawn final at Croke Park, plus forwards Cathy Carey (team captain), who was Player of the Match in the replay against Fermanagh in Armagh Athletic Grounds and Orlaith Prenter whose last gasp free in Croker earned her team a second bite of the cherry.

Team captain Cathy Carey lifts the cup in Armagh after her team’s win over Fermanagh

While eight is a great number to have on the team there are a couple of others who will feel agrieved at not making the team, one in particular who springs to mind is Grainne McLaughlin who scored eight points in the final replay.

A great honour for not only the players selected, but for the rest of the team and management who have worked so hard to bring the All Ireland Junior title back to the county.

The girls will receive their awards, along with the Intermediate and Senior teams, at the 2022 TG4 All Star banquet at Dublin’s Bonnington Hotel on Saturday, November 19.

Lara Dahunsi who was Player of the Match in the drawn game in Croke Park.

TG4 Junior Team of the Championship

Anna McCann – Antrim
Kristine Reidy – Limerick
Aislinn McFarland – Antrim
Niamh McIntosh – Antrim
Sarah McCarville – Fermanagh
Saoirse Tennyson – Antrim
Sarah O’Neill – Antrim
Lara Dahunsi – Antrim
Aisling O’Brien – Fermanagh
Cathy Carey – Antrim
Bláithín Bogue – Fermanagh
Rachel Sawyer – Carlow
Sara Doyle – Carlow
Orlaith Prenter – Antrim
Eimear Smyth – Fermanagh

The Antrim team on parade before the start of the drawn game in Croke Park.