Posts by thesaffrongael

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

Ardoyne Kickham’s Award night for 2020 and 2021

Report and photos by Brian McKee

Ardoyne Kickhams members recently gathered in their newly renovated Flax Street clubrooms for their Senior Presentation Dinner. The event celebrated the achievements of the North Best club, both on and off the field, over the past two years. Both club chairman Philip McTaggart and club president Alex Trainor, spoke passionately about the proud tradition of Ardoyne Kickhams in keeping gaelic games and culture alive in the Ardoyne community in the face of the hardship and the conflict within this community, through which members of the Kickhams emerged with great pride and undaunted spirit. Philip was particularlypleased that Camogie, in which Ardoyne Kickhams has previously produced not only great players but also very successful teams, is once again being established in the Kickhams club.

The Kickhams had plenty of reason to celebrate given their progress over all codes in recent years. Senior football manager, Ross Carr, presented medals to members of the senior football team to mark their success in the 2020 Antrim Junior championship. Senior hurling manager, Ollie Bellew presented awards to members of the senior hurling team that has made great progress over the past few seasons.

Local MLAs Gerry Kelly and Minister Nichola Mallon presented team and individual awards on the evening. North Belfast MP, John Finucane, finally managed to get his hands on silverware this season as he joined Gerry Kelly in presenting the Martin Cup, won the previous evening to team captain Odran Mullan.

A special Community Spirit award was presented to Nichola Bradley of the North Belfast Community Foodbank for the magnificent work carried out by the Foodbank during the pandemic. It is a source of great pride that many members of the Kickhams continue to devote their time and resources to working in partnership with the Community Foodbank. A club truly at the heart of its community. The future looks bright for Ciceam Ard Eoin!

Big day for Tir na nOg

Ulster Camogie Junior Club semi-final

Tir na nOg (Antrim) v Ballyholland (Down)

Whitehill 12-30

Saturday promises to be a big day for the Camogs and footballers of Tir na nOg Randalstown with the ladies facing Ballyholland harps in the Junior Club semi-final at Whitehill at 12-30 and the footballers then taking the short trip over to Ahoghgill where they meet Carrickcruppen of Armagh in the Ulster Intermediate club quarter-final.

Tir na nóg Randalstown secured their place in the camogie semi-final of the 2020 Ulster Junior Camogie Championship when they travelled to Cavan on Saturday and beat Crosserlough by 2-9 to 1-5 in the quarter final

The Randalstown girls had a star in full forward Aine Devlin who bagged 2-6 in a terrific performance, despite having to retire before half time through injury.

The Randalstown club will be hoping that Devlin will have recovered sufficiently to take part in tomorrow’s semi-final against the Down champions who are likely to provide the Whitehill girls with a stiff test and we at the Saffron Gael wish both teams the best of luck on Saturday and will carry coverage of both games on this website.

Tír na nÓg v Crosserlough: A Sheerin, S Shannon, O McKeown, E McAreavey, D Johnston, B Devlin, S O’Dolan, S O’Neill, M Hegarty 0-3 (2f), E Falloon, Caitlin McGaughey, Cameron McGaughey, O Prenter, Á Devlin 2-6 (0-6 frees), N Martin.

Subs: C O’Neill for Á Devlin, H Crilly for O Prenter, C Martin for S Shannon 

Tir na nOg can overcome Carrickcruppen challenge

Ulster Intermediate club football championship quarter-final

Tir na nOg (Antrim) v Carrickcruppen (Armagh)

Ahoghill 2.30pm

By Paddy McIlwaine

Antrim Intermediate champions, Tir na nOg, Randalstown face a stiff Ulster opener when they take on Carrickcruppen of Armagh in this weekend’s quarter final in Ahoghill but it is a challenge they are capable of overcoming.

The Randalstown side have been the outstanding team in Intermediate championship and division 2 of the league this season and after going through division 2 unbeaten they went on to defeat All Saints in the Antrim Intermediate championship final and were good value for that win.

It has been another fine season for the men from Whitehill and after claiming the Intermediate hurling title for the first time last year they added the division 2 football title and Intermediate football championship this term and will play their football in division 1 and senior championship next season.

Tir na nOg qualified for the semi-final of the Antrim championship from Group 1 where they suffered their only defeat of the season when they lost on day two to All Saints in Ballymena, having won their opening game to St. Teresa’s.

In what was regarded as the tougher of the two qualifying groups, Tir na nOg went on to record wins over Con Magee’s, Davitt’s and Ardoyne to finish in second place to the Ballymena men and qualify for a semi-final meeting with Sarsfields.

Tír na nÓg 1-14 Sarsfield’s 0-9

Tir na nOg proved too good for Sarsfield’s in this OB Construction IFC semi-final at Davitt Park to set up an all South West final against All Saints. The Whitehill side was solid at the back and much more fluid in attack as they led throughout this semi-final and were full value for their win in the end.

In a fairly even first half Tir na nOg just edged the exchanges to lead 0-6 to 0-4 at the interval. The South West side pushed on at the start of the second half as they added five points in the opening nine minutes to give themselves a lead that looked fairly comfortable even at this early juncture.

It took just 18 seconds for Ciaran O’Neill to thump over another from range, with Aaron McNeilly adding one from the left and then Ciaran McKeown fisted over when through as the Randalstown side dominated the early second half exchanges.

Tir na nOg had matters well in control when they went on to lead 0-13 to 0-5 at the second water break and while Sarsfields closed the gap in the final quarter a late goal from keeper, Sean Paul McAtamney from the penalty spot ensured there would be no way back for the Stewartstown Road side.

Meanwhile All Saints had advanced from the same group as winners and when they overcame Dunloy in the semi-final to set up a third meeting of the season with Tir na nOg in the final the scene looked set for a classic decider.

Tír Na nÓg Randalstown 2-14 All Saints Ballymena 1-10

Played under floodlights at Kelly Park in Portglenone, Tír Na nÓg Randalstown deservedly claimed this year’s Intermediate Championship title after seeing off All Saints with seven points to spare.

 After claiming the Division Two title earlier in the season, Michael O’Kane’s side had too much for their neighbours and bar a five minute spell in the third quarter, the Ógs were more than comfortable with anything that the All Saints threw at them.

An early Daniel Martin goal helped them to settle quicker into the contest and in half forward Darragh Fagan, they had the games stand out player. Fagan contributed seven points to his cause, but the Randalstown bench also made a telling contribution.

Ciaran Dobbin was introduced after 41 minutes. His goal six minutes after being introduced put paid to any idea of an All Saints comeback after the Slemish Park side cut the arrears from seven to just two.

Dobbin also added a point as the Randalstown men saw the game out in convincing fashion to book an Ulster championship date with Saturday’s opponents, Carrickcruppen.

Tir na nOg are a solid outfit right through from goalkeeper, Sean Paul McAtamney to Kevin Sheerin on the edge of the square and have serious performers all over the field. Barry McCormick at centre-half-back captains the side and leads by example while Ciaran O’Neill and Caoimhin Duffin flank him in a strong unit.

McCormick’s brother Darren and Ryan O’Neill are likely to line out at mid-field and in the previously mentioned Darragh Fagan, Aaron McNeilly, Daniel Martin and Ciaran Dobbin they have a serious scoring threat.

Fagan finished with 0-7 against All Saints in the final while Dobbin added 1-1 when coming on from a strong bench which included Christy Sheerin and Eamon Og McAllister.

What of Carrickcruppen?

Armagh always produce strong contenders in this grade and Carrickcruppen will provide the Antrim champions with a firm test after a good win over Culloville in the county final.

Cruppen had their homework done, they marked Culloville’s key men out of the game and had the finishers at the other end of the pitch as well as a touch of luck for the all-important goal.

Oisin O’Hare and James Bennett were solid in the Carrickcruppen defence and O’Hare did a brilliant job on marking Culloville’s talisman Niall Rowland.

Blaine Hughes in goals is the Armagh county keeper and weighed in with four pointed frees against Cullovillle while Eoin Woods, Tiernan Kelly, Stephen Loughran and Cathal O’Grady were all on target against the ‘Blues’

It’s been 17 years since Carrickcruppen last won the Armagh Intermediate title and Carrickcruppen manager Barry Flynn, who manages alongside Paul Cunningham, was delighted with the win and the prospect of playing in Ulster was as far away as ever only three seasons ago.

Carricruppen were in Division 2B at that stage and struggling so this year’s success is all the more remarkable but never the less deserved and they will be hoping to keep that winning run going on Saturday.

It’s been a while since the either side has kicked a ball in earnest with Tir na nOgs win over All Saints coming on the 30th October and Carrickcruppen’s success coming in early November and just how these long lay-offs affect the competing sides remains to be seen.

Michael O’Kane and Seamus Hefferon will have the Whitehill side well prepared however and while they should respect the Armagh champions they have nothing to fear. Tir na nOg have been excellent all season and if they can build on their Antrim final performance then I would expect them to advance to the semi-final.

Carey Faughs were the first Ulster Champions

By Paddy McIlwaine

In last week’s preview of the Ulster Intermediate club hurling championship opener I wrongly stated that Sunday’s quarter-final meeting with Eire Og, Carrickmore was Carey’s debut in the competition – but that was not the case.

In fact the Ballyvoy side were the winners of the first Ulster Intermediate title in 2004 in the first Year of the competition. Cathoir an Ri were actually beaten in the semi-final of the Antrim Intermediate Championship that year by Cushendall second string who then beat Loughgiel in the final, but the competition rules stated that only Intermediate club sides could play in the competition.

The Carey side were nominated and went straight into the final where they met and defeated Eoghan Ruadh of Coleraine in Loughgiel, before travelling to London for the All Ireland semi-final where they lost to Robert Emmet’s.

Carey manager John McVeigh who played on the Faughs team which won the first ever Ulster title in 2004

The present manager of Carey Faughs, John McVeigh played at centre forward on the team while Michael Heggarty, who was part of John’s backroom team was the man who lifted the trophy seventeen years ago. My research also revealed another interesting fact. Lee O’Reilly, a nephew of Curly and myself, played at corner-forward on that Carey side.

The brother and I recently discussed which of his uncles he inherited his hurling skills from but after a lengthy debate we came to the conclusion that they came from neither of us and that our less than illustrious hurling careers had little influence on Lee’s success.

Oisins Juvenile Awards night

Glenariffe Oisins juveniles celebrated what has been a terrific season when they held their annual awards evening in the Larragh Lodge Restaurant on Saturday. The Under 15 team who this season won all five competitions they entered were the stars of the evening, picking up the county Feile na nGael trophy, the All Ireland Feile, the McMullan Cup, the League and Under 15 Championship. The Under 12 girls were also collecting silverware with U12 captain Scarlet Kerr receiving the Scullion Cup.