Super Saffrons See Off Laois

Allianz Hurling LeagueDivision 1b

Antrim 3-18 Laois 1-18

Sunday 12 March

Brendan McTaggart reports from Corrigan Park, Belfast

Mick Bradley who played superbly when moved to centre back

And breathe! 

Antrim came out of a barnstorming second half against Laois on Sunday afternoon to defeat the O’Moore County and secure their Division One status for 2024.  Six points between the sides at the end of a pulsating 70 minutes but the scoreline and performance mattered little on the day.  This was a game that needed winning and the Saffrons stood up to be counted.  A second half performance that saw them hold Laois to just four points while they played with intensity, power, guile when it was needed and a determination to get the job done.

Darren Gleeson’s men had leaders all over the pitch.  Michael Bradley moving to centre half after the opening 20 minutes and played out of his skin while Ryan McGarry dealt with anything Laois could bring his way.  People will look at Conal Cunning’s final tally of 1-10 and say he had a good game.  Those who watched the match will see his performance and say he was outstanding.  Dropping deeper, breaking lines, picking passes, Coby led Laois a merry dance along with man of the match Nigel Elliott.  Starting for the first time in an Antrim shirt since 2019, Elliott was outstanding.  Firing Antrim’s opening goal in the fourth minute, looking like he may have to come off soon after with a dead leg but he put in a performance for the ages.  Laois couldn’t live with him with his pace, power and work rate immense.

Neil McManus’ goal just before half time set Antrim up well for the second half

It wasn’t all sunshine and daisies for Antrim on Sunday however.  They needed a goal in first half injury time to haul themselves back into this game after a first half played largely on Laois’ terms.  They played with the elements and with Enda Rowland’s restarts landing between the 21 and 45 yard line, they were causing the Antrim defence plenty of trouble.  Aaron Dunphy and Tomas Keyes lively on the breaks while Antrim seemed to be shot-shy at the other end.  While they were playing against the wind, they probably took too much out of the ball.  Goal chances did come and go but when taking a score was the easy option, they looked for a pass to carve open a Laois defence that were swarming them at every opportunity.

With Elliott and McManus’ goals leaving just two between the sides at half time, Antrim regrouped.  The second half performance was everything Gleeson would have wanted, scoring three points in injury time to give the scoreboard a little more of a healthier outlook but one the Antrim performance deserved.

The changes made throughout the game were pivotal.  Playing Gerard Walsh at six was quickly changed with Michael Bradley returning to centre half where he played so well after Eohan Campbell’s dismissal against Waterford.  Neil McManus moved to the edge of the square with James McNaughton roaming out to the middle third.  McNaughton’s speed was causing Laois plenty of problems but the physicality McManus brought on the edge of the square meant the ball would stick and the Antrim forwards thrived off it.

Conal Coby Cunnning who gave another fine display in today’s win over Laois,

The power and pace of Elliott, Niall McKenna and Keelan Molloy at rucks allowed the Saffrons to turn the screw in attack.

They were back ahead by the 46th minute, Cunning (free), Joe Maskey and McManus finding their range but if the second Antrim goal revived their challenge, the third put them in control.  A sideline ‘cut’ from Gerard Walsh was broke in the air by Maskey and Nigel Elliott gathered the sliotar.  Cunning ran off his shoulder, collected the pass and made no mistake with a cracking finish.  Counting the last scores of the first half, it meant Antrim hit 2-5 in 18 minutes to just one point from Laois in the same period of time.  Game defining, league defining. 

Joe Maskey in action during Antrim’s win over Laois

Laois looked to their bench to try and get back into the game with Willie Dunphy, Stephen Bergin and James Duggan all introduced into the attack but Antrim never looked like letting this one go.  They managed the game in those closing stages, keeping a three or four point lead while Laois rarely looked like threatening Ryan Elliott’s goals.  The one chance they did have, a 25 yard free from ‘keeper Rowland but Stephen Rooney was on hand to ensure the Antrim nerves were calmed in the closing stages.

Eoin O’Neill scored a customary classy point when introduced, leaving the Corrigan Park patrons in the stand purring as the sliotar sailed between the uprights while Laois were reduced to 14 men late in the game.  Substitute Gearoid Lynch seeing red for a dangerous challenge on Bradley when tempers threatened to boil over.

“I’ve been up here now what feels like a lifetime and it’s the first time we can properly prepare for the Championship”, the words from a relieved Darren Gleeson at the end.  Job done for the Saffrons who entertain Tipperary next Sunday with an eye on the Leinster Championship, league points on the board and top table status secured once more.


Antrim: Ryan Elliott; Paddy Burke, Ryan McGarry, Stephen Rooney; Joe Maskey, Gerard Walsh, Niall O’Connor; Michael Bradley, James McNaughton; Keelan Molloy, Niall McKenna, Nigel Elliott; Conal Cunning, Neil McManus, Conor Johnston

Subs: Seaan Elliott for C Johnston (35); Domhnall Nugent for N McKenna (63); Scott Walsh for N O’Connor (63); Paul Boyle for J Maskey (67); Eoin O’Neill for N Elliott (inj)

Scorers: C Cunninh 1-10 (9fs 1’65); N McManus 1-1; N Elliott 1-00; N McKenna 0-2; K Molloy 0-2; J Maskey 0-1; P Burke 0-1; E O’Neill 0-1

Laois: Enda Rowland; Ian Shanahan, Liam O’Connell, Donnchadh Hartnett; Padraig Delaney, Patrick Purcell, Fiachra Fennelly; Jack Kelly, Aidan Corby; Stephen Maher, Ryan Mullaney, James Keyes; Tomas Keyes, Martin Phelan, Aaron Dunphy

Subs: Willie Dunphy for M Phelan (42); James Duggan for R Mullaney (51); Gearoid Lynch for A Corby (58); Stephen Bergin for J Keyes (62)

Scorers: S Maher 0-7 (6fs); A Dunphy 1-4; T Keyes 0-2; J Kelly 0-2; R Mullaney 0-1; J Keyes 0-1; M Phelan 0-1

Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)

Keelan Molloy in action against Laois at Corrigan Park

The Corrigan Creche – Niall McKenna and Neil McManus with their beautiful daughters at the end of Sunday’s game at Corrigan Park

Shamrocks up and running with a win

Antrim Senior Camogie League – Division 1

Loughgiel 3-21 Cushendall 3-6

The Antrim Camogie League finally got underway in earnest on Tuesday evening at Fr Healy Park when champions Loughgiel recorded a big win over a Cushendall side who had in their ranks a good few of the Antrim team who had won the All Ireland Junior title at Croke Park.

The celebrations from Sunday’s famous win over Armagh may, or may not, have been completed, but four goal hero in Croker two days earlier, Dervla Cosgrove showed she hadn’t lost her touch when she fired a ball to the Shamrocks net on four minutes, in reply to an earlier point from the home side’s Christine Laverty.

Luca McNaughton and Amy Boyle drew Loughgiel level by the sixth minute, but goal number two for the Ruairis three minutes later from Ellen Leech, another of Sunday’s scorers, put Cushendall back in front. However as the half proceeded Loughgiel began to get on top and a five minute spell of dominance, which brought points from Claire McKillop, Chloe Higgins and Lucia McNaugthon, and a goal from Caitrin Dobbin, turned the game firmly in Loughgiel’s favour and they went on to lead by 2-9 to 2-3 at half time.

The second half was dominated the Shamrocks as they opened with five points on the trot, before Christine Laverty grabbed her team’s second goal. The excellent Lucia McNaughton grabbed three of the next five points, to take her second half total to six. Caoimhe O’Hara pulled a goal back for Cushendall and Orlagh O’hara added a point, but Una McNaughton finished it all with a point from play from half back to get the champions away to a winning star.

Bradley stars in emphatic Cargin win

ACFL Division 1

Erin’s Own Cargin 0-18 Tir na nOg 1-06

A personal haul of 0-08 by centre forward Ciaran Bradley featured prominently as Cargin proved to be the better side as the Toome men recorded a nine point victory over the visiting Tir na nOg on Wednesday evening.

Ronan Devlin’s men deserved their victory over their visitors but the Whitehill men gave their hosts a run for their money and indeed it took some stout defending in the Toome men’s defence to deny the Randalstown men a couple of goal chances in the course of the hour.

Tir na nOg net minder, Sean McAtamney came forward to despatch a 29th minute penalty to the back of the net and it took the tenacity of Sean Og O’ Neill and a superb ‘rob’ when Kevin Kerr was about to pull the trigger to deny the wing man a certain goal.

The visitors arrived in Toome following a win over St Gall’s on Sunday and were forced to field with an extensive injury list but Kevin O’ Kane’s charges stood toe to toe with their hosts in the opening quarter.

Cargin were first to open as Ciaran Bradley pointed in the 2nd minute to punish an indiscretion on Mark Kelly but the visitors were quick to respond as Kevin Sheerin took aim from 30 metres and directed between the posts.

Similarly when the hard grafting David Johnston sent Michael Clark in to raise white, Darragh Feagan rose highest in the edge of the box to fist over the bar and tie the contest for a second time.

The Whitehill side remained on par with their hosts and were still on terms at 0-03 apiece at the end of the opening quarter.

Cargin took some time to settle into the game but with Gerard McCann starting to make his presence felt they added unanswered points through McCann, John McNabb and three from Ciaran Bradley to ensure a healthy 0-08 to 0-03 lead as half time approached.

Tir na nOg were still in there fighting and their endeavours were rewarded in the latter stages when Darragh Feagan was upended en route to the posts and when the match official pointed to the spot up came their keeper,  Sean Paul McAtamney to blast to the back of the net.

That last minute strike reduced the Cargin advantage to just a couple of points at 0-08 to 1-03 and left all to play for in the second half.

Ciaran Bradley and Darren Fagan exchanged points at the start of the second half but the home side began to get on top with Gerard and Paul Mc Cann gaining control in the vital central sector. Ciaran Bradley added back to back points before Paul McCann followed suit as the Toome side moved five points clear 0-12 to 1-04 by the 40th minute.

A fine Ronan Grbbin long range point brought quick reply from Darragh Feagan at the other end but try as they might there would be no way back for the visitors.

David Johnston added a point to the Cargin total when he raised a 50th minute white with Ronan Gribbin, Mark Kelly and Ciaran Bradley following suit as the home side moved clear.

Tir na nOg kept going to the end and it took a last minute intervention from Cahir Donnelly to deny Aaron Mc Neilly as he threatened to score.

A late Tom Shiver’s Point concluded the home side’s total with the final score coming from the visitors Aaron Mc Neilly with Cargin breasting the winning line 0-18 to 1-06 ahead.

Cargin: John Mc Nabb (0-1), David Johnston (0-01), Cahir Donnelly, Brendan Laverty, Justin Crozier (0-01), Sean Og  O’Neill, Ronan Gribbin (0-02), Gerard Mc Cann (0-01), Paul Mc Cann (0-01), Benen Kelly, Ciaran Bradley (0-08), Paudie Mc Laughlin, PJ Quinn, Mark Kelly (0-02), Michael Clarke (0-01)


Kevin Mc Shane for M Kelly

Tom Shivers (0-01) for P J Quinn

Odhran Molloy for G Mc Cann

Enda Mc Grogan for P Mc Laughlin

Eoin Coyle for M Clark

Tir na nOg: Sean Paul McAtamney (1-0), Ethan Higgins, Peter Cullen, Ryan Crilly, Ciaran O’ Neill, Caomhinn Duffin, Oliver Mc Atamney, Joshua Higgins, Ryan O’ Neill, Kevin Kerr, Sean Duffin, Darragh Feagan (0-03), Kevin Sheerin (0-01), Aaron Mc Neilly (0-02), Conor Hastings


 Pearce Sheerin for J Higgins

Brandon Mc Larnon for C Hastings

Declan Higgins for E Higgins

Referee: Conall Roberts (St John’s)

Cassie McArthur’s 3-3 sinks Ballycastle

Antrim Camogie League Division 1

Dunloy 4-8 Ballycastle 1-10

3-3 from Dunloy full forward Cassie McArthur gave the Cuchullains victory over Ballycastle in Tuesday evening’s Division 1 Camogie game at Pearse Park. Played in fog, rain and semi-darkness the conditions were not conducive to good camogie, but both teams produced a high quality game. Ballycastle, despite a good start when they went 1-4 to 0-0 behind, had good spells in the game, but they lacked the killer touch in front of goal which McArthur gave to Dunloy.

McArthur was first to score when she fired home the first of her hat-trick early in the game and her team added a further four points before Riana McBride opened the scoring for the visitors with a pointed free. McBride added another soon afterwards and when Niamh Cosgrove added one from play from distance it looked like they were back in contention.

However just two minutes from half time McArthur won a ball in the right corner before soloing in along the end line and crashing home her second goal to help her team to a 2-5 to 0-3 half time lead.

When Fionnuala Kelly grabbed an early second half point and Caoimhe Wright followed it up with a goal the signs were a bit more promising for Ballycastle but their hopes received another bad blow when Aine Magill soloed through from midfield and fired a shot from twenty meters out, right to the back of the Ballycastle net. Caoimhe Wright and Tara O’Neill pulled a couple back for the visitors but they could not get the goals needed to get back into the game and McArthur showed her great goal poaching qualities to complete her hat-trick and secure the Cuchullains win.

Comfortable afternoon for Casement’s

ACFL Division 1

Casement’s 3-9 Naomh Eanna 0-3

This proved to be a comfortable afternoon for the home side against a depleted St Enda’s at a blustery Kelly Park.

It was a slow start to the game as both teams kept possession waiting for an opening but it was Niall McKeever that opened the scoring in the 7th minute finishing with a point after a strong run.

Casements wing forward Aidan McAleese added 2 quick-fire points in 9th and 10th minutes to extend lead as the home side dominated the early exchanges. St Enda’s were struggling to put meaningful attacks to gether and got their first and only score of the first half through Christian Healy, who was proving to be the visitors main threat up front.

Corner forwards Michael Hagan and Oisín Doherty got on the scoresheet with a point each before Doherty raced onto a through ball to get the first goal of the game in the 18th minute as Poretglenone began to find they’re rhythm.

Aidan McAleese added a further point to leave the score at half time Casements 1-6 St Enda’s 0-1

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with the home side largely in control and a Paddy Kelly free and a point from play by Niall Delargy extended the lead. St Enda’s responded with points from a mark and a free to reduce the lead slightly, before Michael Hagan got his second point of the game in the 24th minute.

Casements finished with a flurry with Aidan McAleese finding the net after a flowing Casements move through the St Enda’s defence and Ronan Kelly got in on the act in the final stages with a goal to give the home side victory on a scoreline of 3-9 to 0-3

Portglenone: 1. Ryan O’Neill 2. Ronan Delargy 3. Shane Delargy 4. Ruairí Hagan 5. Caolan Tierney 6. Paddy Carey 7. Ryan Convery 8. Niall Delargy (0-1) 9. Niall McKeever (0-1) 10. Corey McLaughlin 11. Conall Delargy 12. Aidan McAleese (1-3) 13. Oisín Doherty (1-1) 14. Paddy Kelly(0-1) 15. Michael Hagan (0-2)

Subs Ronan Kelly(1-0) Kevin O’Kane, Michael Kelly, Ciaran Lynch, Connor McGhee