Antrim travel to the Athletic Grounds, Armagh on Sunday for the final game in Group 4 of the Tailteann Cup to face Fermanagh with both sides in good form going into Sunday’s fixture.
Sunday’s opponents have been making their presence felt in the Tailteann Cup competition and this weekend’s encounter promises to be a tantalising shoot-out between the Ulster sides who have each recorded two wins to date in the competition.
Antrim beat Wexford by 2-15 to 0-14 to complement their earlier win in the competition against Leitrim (3-18 to 2-12) and put themselves into the reckoning to make further progress.
Wexford made a bright opening but when Aghagallon’s Ruairi McCann pounced for two goals in quick succession their opponents began to falter.
With Conor Stewart a dominant presence at midfield, Patrick Finnegan a lively creative force and Dominic McEnhill accurate from both frees and play, the Antrim machinery remained in top gear as the match progressed.
Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly will take satisfaction from his team’s win over Leitrim (1-19 to 2-7).
Sean Quigley was very much to the fore in the Fermanagh attack while Ryan Lyons and Ryan Jones were hugely impressive for the Lake sider’s and helped their side overcome a tricky opponent.
Leitrim’s two goals helped to keep them in touch but Fermanagh found another gear to win fairly convincingly in the end.
With both sides already qualified for the quarter-finals the opposing managers may possibly take the opportunity to experiment but a win would still be important for momentum and possibly a favourable draw in the quarter-finals.
Sunday’s opponents met at Corrigan Park earlier in the year in division 3 of the National League. Thirteen minutes into the second half the Saffrons led 3-7 to 0-8 after Peter Healey fired home their third goal following a defence splitting build up but they would add only two further points.
For the second week running, Fermanagh produced a stunning finish against an Ulster rival to keep their Division 3 promotion hopes alive as Antrim were left the victim of the smash-and-grab which left them shell shocked.
Fermanagh came back strongly and Ultan Kelm’s goal re-energised Kieran Donnelly’s side but Pat Shivers point with six minutes of normal time remaining moved Antrim four in front and they appeared to have weathered the storm.
However Sean Quigley fisted home from a Garvan Jones delivery to level and with time almost up a turnover was punished by Conor McGee as Fermanagh took the most unlikely of wins.
Fermanagh went on to gain promotion and Antrim were left to reflect on what might have been after drawing with the division 3 winners, Cavan but there are certainly signs that Andy McEntee’s project is gaining momentum.
The Meath man has assembled a side who on their day are capable of competing against the best and have found a bit of consistency in the Tailteann Cup and will go into Sunday’s meeting in Armagh in confident mood.
Ruairi McCann, Adam Loughran and Dominic McEnhill have been in a fine vein of scoring form in the competition while the more established players like Marc Jordan, Peter Healey, Paddy McBride, Ruairi McCann (Creggan) and Conor Stewart have all been in fine form.
Odhran Eastwood has started on the bench in recent games but scored a goal against Fermanagh in that heart breaking one point defeat and can provide another scoring threat if called upon.
Fermanagh will start this one as favourites but I expect Antrim to throw off the shackles and push them all the way and I believe we have the players to record a third win in the Tailteann Cup and go forward to the quarter-finals with confidence.
Neither side could raise a green flag over the hour’s hurling in this midge infested encounter at Fr Maginn Park but Glenravel had done enough to secure a good victory over neighbours Ballymena. Good opening quarters from them in the first and second half provided the launch pad for this victory though the visitors did not give up at any stage and went in search of goals towards the end but to no avail.
All Saints went ahead in the opening minute when Eoin McGuigan pointed from out on the right hand side. This was cancelled out by a fine score from young Cormac McKeown but back came the visitors with their talisman Ciaran Neeson putting them ahead from a free after three minutes but that would prove to be the last time they led in this game. Glenravel would go on to dominate the remainder of the first quarter with points from Cormac McKeown (0-04), Conleth O’Loan (0-02), Declan Traynor and Declan McAuley with the opposition only managing a single point from Eoin McGuigan.
So at this point Glenravel led on a 0-09 to 0-03 scoreline and were looking comfortable. But Ballymena were having none of it and over the second quarter they went on to score five points, four from Neeson and one from Liam Cassley. In that time, Glenravel could only muster a couple of points from Conleth O’Loan so the sides went in at halftime with Con Magees ahead by three, 0-11 to 0-08 and all to play for in the second half.
In a mirror image of the first half, All Saints would score first in that second half again from the sweet striking of Ciaran Neeson but again the home side took control of the rest of the third quarter with six unanswered points from Declan Traynor (0-02), Ciaran McIlfatrick, Odhran McAleenan, Declan McAuley and Ciaran Laverty. Cormac Magill did pull one back for All Saints to leave the score at 0-17 to 0-10 in favour of Glenravel. Ciaran Laverty had taken over free taking duties for Glenravel and he nudged them ahead from a placed ball with ten minutes left on the clock. At this stage Ballymena were dropping everything short in search of goals but Glenravel’s defence led by the timeless Shan Lee Kerr, who had a fantastic hour’s hurling at full back, were in no mood to yield anything. All Saints only joy came from a point by Damian Gillan with eight minutes remaining. Glenravel managed the aerial unslaught well in defence and would come back with two further scores from Cormac McKeown and Ciaran Laverty to seal a good victory in the midgy mayhem of Maginn Park.
Both sides will face tough tasks this coming Sunday when Ballymena host Cloughmills and Glenravel travel to the city to face Lamh Dearg. Both games throw in at 2pm.
Glenariffe bounced back from last week’s heavy defeat to Cloney Gaels as they beat Sarsfields at home in Wednesday evening’s Division 2 League game.
Goals at either end of the opening half put the Oisins in a strong position, Seanie McIntosh getting the first one in the opening minute, while Caolan O’Connor got the other one just second from the half time whistle to give his team a 3-10 to 1-07 half time lead, the other goal coming on 18 minutes from Alex O’Boyle, while corner forward Joe McGurk got the Sarsfields goal in the 11th minute.
Daniel Smyth got the opening point of the second half for Sarsfields, but the Oisins came back strongly with a point from Caolan O’Connor and two inside a minute by Seanie McIntosh. Two from Daniel McKernan frees kept the Belfast men in touch, but a run of points from Caolan O’Connor, Seanie McIntosh and Brogan O’Connor took the game beyond the Paddies and a late goal from penalty came too late to save the game.
Seanan McToal, Michael Haughey, Niall Murray, Daniel Kearney, Cathan Graham, Donall Kearney, Aaron Cosgrove, Kieran McKendry, Conor Patterson, Odhran Gillan, Caolan O’Connor, Alex O’Boyle, Oliver Kearney, Martin McAlister, Seanie McIntosh
Naoise O’Faolain, Darragh Coleman, Jack Daniels, Ronan McKenna, Caolan McKernan, Enda McCartan, Garry Lennon, Daniel McKernan, Daniel Smyth, Niall McAlea, Oisin Coleman, Joe McGurk, Gerard McKernan, Brenan Jackson.
When Clooney Gaels are in town the action’s never dull and so it was at Cherryvale on Wednesday night as they edged out5 a 6 goal thriller to win by five points against a good Bredagh side.
The Down men will feel they should have got something from this contest and 3-20 would win most games but they just could not shake off the men from Ahoghill.
It was Bredagh who got off to a great hitting three early points and when their full-forward got in for an early goal things looked to be going the way of the home side.
Ronan Graham finally got the visitors off the mark with a point in the 5th minute but Bredagh continued to dictate matters and got through for a second goal, their number 14 again the man on target in the 12th minute.
In between Clooney Gaels had managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over with points from James O’Connell 0-3, and a Fionbarr O’Neill long range special but they were soon in trouble.
Bredagh struck their third goal of the contest to move 3-5 to 0-5 ahead after 14 minutes but Ahoghill started to enjoy a wee bit of success and replied with unanswered points from Bernard Graham and a couple of converted frees from ace marksman, James O’Connell.
Patrick Graham gave his side a glimmer of hope when he fired to the Bredagh net in the 20th minute and both sides exchanged points in the run in to half time with PJ O’Connell, James O’Connell, Ronan Graham and James O’Connell again the men on target for Ahoghill.
These scores brought Hugh Dobbins side back to within striking distance but the Gaels still looked to have it all to do as they turned around for the second half, trailing 3-11 to 1-12.
The first 20 minutes of the second half produced some excellent end to end hurling and point taking of the highest order with Fionnbar O’Neill, Eoin Graham, Owen Neeson, Eamonn Brady, James O’Connell from a ‘65’, Donal Graham, Ronan Graham and O’Connell again bringing the Gaels total to 1-20.
Bredagh were still hanging in there and leading by a point at this stage but the men from Clooney finished strongly to out-score their opponents 2-5 to 0-5 going down the home straight.
Not for the first time this season, James O’Connell set the ball rolling with a goal and his brother PJ added another to swing the contest in the way of the South West side who ran out five point winners in the end.
Cllooney Gaels scorers: James O’Connell 1-12, PJ O’Connell 1-1, Patrick Graham 1-0, Ronan Graham 0-3, Fionnbar O’Neill 0-2, Owen Neeson 0-2, Eoin Graham 0-1, Donal Graham, 0-2, Bernard Graham 0-1, Eamonn Brad 0-1