Posts by thesaffrongael

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

Lámhs show battling qualities to see off Rasharkin

ACHL Division Three

Lámh Dhearg 1-21-1-19 Rasharkin

Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown 

Lámh Dhearg returned to winning ways in the first post-split fixture of the league with a 1-21-1-19 victory over Rasharkin at Hannahstown on Wednesday evening. 

Things were looking good for the Lámhs at the interval, leading 1-12-0-10 with Odrán Waldron grabbing the vital goal. 

But Rasharkin began positively after the break and when Declan Lynch received a second yellow-card- they made use of their numerical advantage and drew level through a Connor Higgins goal midway through the half. 

The hosts showed great determination to see off a late Rasharkin onslaught and avenge defeat at the Dreen a few weeks ago. 

Both sides went into Wednesday’s encounter looking to respond to their weekends results. The visitors beaten by league leaders Cloughmills, while Lámh Dhearg were pegged back in injury-time by Con Magee’s and as a result missed out on a top-half finish. 

Lámh Dhearg started on the front foot with Fionn Mervyn floating over successive scores, both arriving after layoffs from Ciaran Boyd. 

It took Rasharkin a few minutes to respond, but they replied with three unanswered points to edge in front. 

Donagh Quigg dropped over the initial response and Conor McKillop’s leveller was quickly added to by Conor McFerran. 

Parity was restored when Fionn Mervyn turned provider for Paddy Cunningham to steer over his first of the evening and a second soon followed after an angled effort that drifted between the posts. 

A converted Odrán Waldron free extended the hosts lead, but Rasharkin twice cut the deficit. 

Tiernan O’Boyle hit back from the same scenario at the other end, and despite Ciaran Boyd hitting a magnificent score from range- O’Boyle nailed another free to make a one-point game again (0-06-0-05). 

It was all square for a second time when Conor McKillop picked off a fantastic score from range. 

But the sides weren’t to be tied for long as the opening goal of the game arrived shortly after. 

Odrán Waldron turns home a goal that would prove decisive at the games conclusion

Rhys Camlin’s quick puck-outs were successful, and, on this occasion, he picked out Paddy Cunningham in the channel and he sent a high ball to the edge of the square where Gerard Smyth flicked it on and shot towards goal- Liam Tunney kept out the initial shot, but Odrán Waldron stabbed the loose ball to the net to make it 1-06-0-06. 

Waldron wheels away in celebration

Frees were traded between O’Boyle and Waldon in the aftermath and Rhys Camlin was forced into a smart stop when O’Boyle tried to go low from an angled dead-ball. 

O’Boyle reduced the deficit again- though Paddy Cunningham conjured up his third point in response. 

Rasharkin again narrowed the margin through a well-executed side-line puck from Conor McKeever. 

Four unanswered points before the break had the hosts on the front foot heading for the interval. 

Odrán Waldron dropped over his third free and Paddy Cunningham followed that with a fantastic long-winded effort that sailed between the sticks. 

Two more points came courtesy of Daniel Murray and Waldron (free) before O’Boyle landed his fifth placed with the final action of note in the first half as Lámh Dhearg held a 1-12-0-10 lead at midway. 

Rasharkin started the second period brightly with back-to-back points that left the goal separating the sides. 

Conor McKillop added to his two first-half points and Tiernan O’Boyle opened his account for the second period from a free. 

The hosts were under the cosh in the early stages and things went from bad to worse when Declan Lynch was shown a second yellow-card and subsequent red for a chop on his opponents stick. 

O’Boyle converted the resulting free and his side had little under 25 minutes to try and make most of their numerical advantage. 

Odrán Waldron floated over his first point from play to relieve a bit of the pressure on his side, but Tiernan O’Boyle conjured up his first score from play in reply. 

Back-to-back frees from Kilkenny native Waldron opened up a four-point advantage (1-15-0-14)- though Donagh Quigg doubled his tally for the evening at the other end. 

An outstanding Paddy Mervyn point was cancelled out by a fine effort that dropped over the bar from the stick of Shane Hasson.  

With little under a quarter of an hour remaining Rasharkin found the net and in doing so restored parity for a third time as Connor Higgins low strike deceived Rhys Camlin and ended up in the corner of the net. 

The visitors failed to kick on and the 14-men of Lámh Dhearg forged ahead once again, Odrán Waldron added another two frees to his ever-increasing tally and in between times Paddy Cunningham picked off another excellent score as the Hannashtown outfit were 1-19-1-16 to the good. 

Rhys Camlin ensured his sides lead stayed intact, making a tremendous point blank-save to deny Tiernan O’Boyle- who took a swipe at the follow-up that was adjudged to have snuck over the bar. 

Points were then traded between Paddy Cunningham and Cormac Gaston and despite Odrán Waldron again opening up a three-point gap, it was again reduced thanks to Tiernan O’Boyle replying. 

Try as they might, Rasharkin couldn’t find the net for a second time- which would have swung the game- as the hosts defended resolutely into injury-time and held on for the win. 

Lámh Dhearg: R Camlin, C Nolan, J Brady, M McGuigan, P Mervyn (0-01), D Lynch, F Mervyn (0-03), C Boyd (0-01), A McGuigan, D Murray (0-01), O Waldron (1-10, 0-08f), P Cunningham (0-05), D Cunningham, G Smyth, SP Gibson. Subs: N McGarry for G Smyth (47), M Lynch for D Cunningham (47).

Rasharkin: L Tunney, C Donaghy, C Doherty, E Kennedy, R O’Boyle, S Hasson (0-01), A McKeever, C McKeever (0-01f), T O’Boyle (0-10, 0-08f), C McKillop (0-03), C McFerran (0-01), D Quigg (0-02), C Higgins (1-00), C Gaston (0-01), T McGregor. 

Referee: Niall Clifford (Cuchulainn)

Naomh Padraig – Ag Obair Le Chéile

Small Rural Clubs and Amalgamations

By Marty Bellew
I made the decision to move from Belfast to North Antrim a load of years back. Well, actually, my wife made the decision for me. Her mother’s family, from Cushendall and her father’s from Loughgiel, when someone with that genetic mix tells you to do something there’s no point in arguing. My own family are Naomh Gall people through and through. My nieces and nephews and their fathers are all very active in the club to this day. The youngest brother, Ciaran, ‘Barrett’ migrated to the North West a few years back and is the current net minder for Setanta Hurling Club in Killygordon, Donegal. He claims he’s the best keeper in the county – he’s not! But he loves every minute of playing for his club and the great friends he has made along the way. A small club offering him an experience to match the childhood memories spent in the hustle and bustle of Belfast playing for St Galls.
When you move away from the place where you grew up, one of the biggest decisions you have to make is deciding on a club for your children. It’s more important than picking a house or a school, it’s life-changing and something my wife and I did not take lightly. With her mum being a Regan from Cushendall and her father being a McFadden from Loughgiel, naturally we chose … Naomh Padraig North Antrim, as our club.

Naomh Padraig was formed 8 years ago to serve a purpose, a vision. That being, to provide sporting opportunities for children in small rural communities with dwindling populations. Numbers in small rural Primary schools are on the decline, aided by a government turning their backs on them through cuts to funding and the withdrawal of key services. Likewise children from small rural communities need the help and support of others to sustain and develop their national games. Naomh Padraig started off as an amalgamation of Armoy, Carey and Cushendun. Cloughmills joined in a little later too. The trend in recent years, within the GAA, has been for families to bypass their small local club for the big established neighbour. For many it is the easier option and can you blame them? Life is hectic, these are stressful days we live in and people look for ways to counter that.
My family threw ourselves headfirst into the club. I didn’t want to drop our kids off at the
pitch for someone else to have to give up their free time. With the limited abilities I have I offered my services as a coach. Eventually I became safeguarding officer too, my reward for non-attendance at that year’s AGM. I haven’t missed an AGM since due to the fear of ending up as toilet attendant, fundraising committee member or worse, coach of the pre-schoolers – my daughter is four now and I can’t control her let alone 15 more like her. My wife plays an active role in the life of the club too. She is finding her feet in the role of PR whilst washing kits, serving food and some. We will get her to the
other side of the fence eventually. She just doesn’t know it yet!
The early years of an amalgamation are tough. The first few AGM’s were feisty, some believed in the system and others decided it wasn’t for them. There is some politicking goes on. Have you ever listened to a conversation between an Armoy and a Carey man? Then Cushendun want hurling played one way and Cloughmills another, you slowly get the picture. Our various clubs want matches and training to be at their home ground, naturally. They want the very best for the children of their area. Why wouldn’t they? Those children have the same GAA hopes and dreams as children from more populated places. But there is a way!! Eventually, with the will of the collective, and through great leadership, Naomh Padraig found its feet. Through trial and error, give and take, we discovered amalgamations can be hugely rewarding, they can be a success, whatever that means. People from those small rural communities started to buy into the process and numbers slowly began to rise. What started out as a couple of hurling teams grew to fielding teams at every juvenile age

group. Then came the Camogs!! Initially a pipe dream, developed by the most underappreciated members of any GAA club, women! They have been phenomenal in getting teams up and running, sourcing kits, coaching, leading and organising fixtures – something they need a lot of help with from the higher powers. They have led the club by example along with the help and support of a few very talented men. In recent times Naomh Padraig has begun the process of feeding players back into the parent clubs, and even some to county teams. Something we could only dream of in the early years. Dropoff levels are tiny – a great indication that something is working. The recent successes of Carey Faughs and Cushhendun at intermediate level have been supported in some small part by the development of players through the Naomh Padraig system. There are plenty more on their way.
My families’ experience with Naomh Padraig has been rewarding and enriching. We have found a home from home. The pride and energy people from small rural communities have in themselves is endearing. Outsiders, blow-ins to the club, add another dimension, they see something different. We heave a Kilkenny man, a Bellaghy man and people from places in Ireland I have never even heard of, all offering a fresh perspective. We have even dipped our toes in Gaelic football on the odd occasion, a culture shock to the hurling men of North Antrim. I have enjoyed the arguments between a few colourful characters in our club over it. I may even have stirred it up from time to time.
The foundations of the GAA, the beauty of our sport is its people. All of them, including those from areas suffering from depopulation. Being involved with small communities standing up against this trend has been inspiring. Do they have to work harder than the big established clubs? Do they have greater problems to solve? Undoubtedly, but working through these challenges is what makes it all worthwhile. It builds character, it builds resilience and it instils pride.
Thanks to everyone in Armoy, Carey, Cushendun and Cloughmills for welcoming us with open arms into your clubs – our clubs. They’ve been some of the happiest days of our lives.

Shamrocks at a different level

Antrim Hurling League – Division 1

Cushendun 1-10 Loughgiel 4-25

Photos by Mickey Morgan

Loughgiel turned in a polished display on Wednesday evening when they visited Cushendun in Division 1 of the Antrim Hurling Leagues, tuning on the style as they ran out winners by 27 points.

One club official I spoke to today told me that he felt the Shamrocks were the sharpest side they had met all season, operating at a different level than the Emmets, who have found life in the top division very testing.

A goal from an early free by Rian Bubbles McMullan was the start Cushendun did not need, but in fairness to the Emmet’s they stayed in touch quite well and trailed by 2-15 to 1-10 at break, David Kilgore getting the goal for the home side while Dan McCloskey got the Shamrocks second.

 They scoring rate continued at a high rate for the visitors after the restart as they added another 2-10 to their tally, while restricting Cushendun to just two points, the Shamrocks goals coming from Dan McCloskey and Enda Og McGarry.

The Shamrocks trail Portaferry by a point at the top of the table, though the Down men have a game in hand. That game will be played on Sunday when they take on Rossa, while Loughgiel sit it out. With most of the county players back in action for the second stage of the league it should be very interesting run-in for the teams in contention. That of course will not affect Loughgiel whose county star James McNaughton is off to the USA for a few weeks, but they will be looking forward to getting him back in the red jersey before the championship commences in six weeks’ time.  

 Mals on top in Championship rehearsal

ACFL Division 3

St Malachy’s 0-13 Laochra Loch Lao 1-06

With the prospects of coming together in the opening round of the championship later in the year St Malachy’s stood firm to gain victory over their opposition in that one when they recorded a three point verdict over the visiting Laochra Loch Lao on Wednesday evening.

Little had separated them in recent meetings over the past couple of seasons and those who anticipated much of the same in this latest coming together were proved quite correct.

The opening period did go according to script with little separating them and in the event both defences proved strong in their respective rear guard actions but the home side’s unit, a mix of youth and experience was to gain the edge.

A foul on Mc Givern was suitably punished when Vernon despatched the placed ball between the posts but in the event this score received prompt reply in kind at the other end.

Such tit for tat activity was indeed to provide the script for the opening period as Vernon was to supply a further three points from frees and the visitors adding a couple in response and the Market’s side concluded the first thirty minute period 0-04 to 0-03 ahead.

St Malachy’s refreshed by the interval respite started the second period on a very positive note and when Mc Givern, Quinn, and Vernon raised respective white flags and Mc Cavanagh followed suit the South Belfast men looked on their way.

The visitors were not about to cry enough hover and back they came with a brace of points to signal intent just at the three quarter mark.

Big Rick followed with a point for the Mal’s in reply but the men from the West side of the city followed quickly with the only goal of the encounter to leave only a score between the sides.

In the event when questions were being asked of the South Belfast men St Malachy’s were to provide the answer in a positive fashion.

With their visitors pushing hard in search of victory or even a share of the spoils, Colly Connolly stood tall between the posts and made a quick intervention to defy and clear his lines and the issue was resolved shortly after when Vernon added his 9th score of the game and a late point ensured a 0-13 to 1-06 victory for St Malachy’s

An excellent game between a couple of committed sides with the forthcoming meeting again in championship in a few weeks promising another thriller in prospect.

St Malachy’s: C Connolly, S Carson, C Corr, D Quinn (0-01, M Connolly, P Hanna, A Dobbin, C Vernon (0-09), J Mc Givern (0-01), R Mannelly, G Mc Glennan, P Carlisle, P Smith (0-01), K Mc Kavanagh (0-01)

Return of the Antrim & Dublin Friendship Games 2022

Cumann na mBunscol Aontroma were delighted to welcome the return of the Antrim vs. Dublin Friendship Games today, following a 3-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

This is a once in a lifetime experience for these children, who travelled to St. Patrick’s Drumcondra on Monday to compete with their Dublin counterparts across all codes followed by a guided tour of Croke Park, which really capped off a day to remember for our future county stars.

This year’s event was extra special with the county moving from what was a traditional Belfast Only XV to an All-County XV, enabling players from Belfast, North Antrim and South-West Antrim to represent their county together in Gaelic Football (Boys & Girls), Hurling,

The north and south west Antrim schools met at St Brigid’s PS in Ballymena beofre meeting up with their Befast counterparts in Belfast on route to Croke Park