The first ever Devenish Antrim GAA Club All Star Awards evening in the prestigious West Belfast venue turned out to be a roaring success on Saturday night with clubs from throughout the county represented. Those who attended were regally entertained with music and dance, great food and star guests.
Of course the main attraction of the evening was the announcement of the Devenish GAA Antrim Club All Stars, plus the individual awards for Players of the Year and Referees of the Year. BBC’s Mark Sidebottom, who was MC for the evening, interviewed Antrim hurling team manager Darren Gleeson and his football counterpart Enda McGinley, while county chairman Ciaran McCavana addressed those in attendance. Colm McDonald, who refereed this years senior football final between Creggan and Aghagallon receveived the first award of the evening when he was presented with the Eamon Trainor Memorial Shield by Eamon’s brother Alec, while county chairman Ciaran McCavana presented an award for refereeing the All Ireland Minor Hurling final to Brendan Toland, head of referees, who accepted it on behalf of Colm Cunning of Dunloy.
There was a special reception for star of the evening Daithi MacGabhann, a young man who we all have taken to our hearts this year. Darragh was presented with a new football, courtesy of O’Neill’s who were sponsor of the awards. Two of Antrim’s All Ireland winning Intermediate Camogie Championship team Amy Boyle and Roisin McCormck were also in attendance and were delighted with the announcement that next year’s awards would also include Camogie
Well done Paddy Cunningham, the man who made it all happen.
Down champions, Burren had no answer to a slick St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass in this ladies Minor Championship quarter-final, played in Ahoghill today. The Antrim champions led from start to finish and had this one in the bag long before half time.
Maria O’Neill got the Moneyglass girls off to a perfect start when she rattled the Burren net after just 45 seconds and O’Neill was to prove a real thorn in the side of the Burren girls over the hour as she finished with 5-1 to her credit and proved un-markable.
Alicia Boyd raced through to open the scoring with a point from the throw in and although Eva Murdock pulled one back for the Mourne girls almost immediately they found themselves on the back foot for the remainder of the half.
Ciara O’Boyle added a point for Sarah McCann’s side before O’Neill got in for her second goal in the 7th minute and even at this early juncture it looked a long way back for the Down champions.
St. Ergnat’s were moving the ball around with great confidence while their defence afforded the opposition no space or time to settle and Leah Cassidy fired home her sides third goal following another point from Alicia Boyd to leave it 3-3 to 0-1 with only eight minutes on the clock.
Alicia Boyd, Aoife Kelly and Sarah O’Neill added points before Ciara O’Boyle finished to the net for her sides fourth goal in the 23d minute with Rachel McAteer momentarily relieving the pressure with the Down Champions second point with three minutes remaining to half time.
It was only momentarily however as Moneyglass came storming back and Nicole Cassidy pointed before getting in for her sides fifth goal to leave the Antrim champions leading 5-7 to 0-2 at the short whistle and even at this stage it looked all over.
There would be no respite for a battling but out classed Burren in the second half as St. Ergnat’s continued where they had left off at half time though it was Rachel McAteer who opened the scoring with a point in the 1st minute for the Mourne side.
The response from the Antrim champions was precise and clinical as Cliona Griffin and Leah Cassidy 0-2 replied immediately with points and Maria O’Neill and Cliona Griffin added goals by the 4th minute to put further daylight between the sides.
Hannah Murray added her first and St. Ergnat’s 8th goal with only 8 minutes of the second half gone and at this stage the visitors could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel but to their credit they kept battling against impossible odds.
They received some reward for their efforts with Caitlin Ryan, Rachel McAteer, Hannah Sloan and Aisling King adding points but there was no stopping a rampant St. Ergnat’s. Maria O’Neill added 2-1 in the run in to the final whistle with Ciara Scullion, Nicole Cassidy, Leah Cassidy and Hanna Murray all splitting the posts to put the icing on a thoroughly polished performance.
St. Ergnat’s now face Eire Og Carrickmore in next week’s semi-final at the same venue and the Tyrone champions are likely to provide the Moneyglass girls with a much stiffer challenge but on today’s performance the Antrim champions should start as firm favourites to advance to the decider.
St. Ergnat’s: Emily McCoy, Erin Duffin, Molly McCoy, Niamh Neeson, Sarah O’Neill, Saoirse McErlain, Aoife Kelly, Cliona Griffin, Ciara Scullion, Alicia Boyd, Maria O’Neill, Ciara O’Boyle, Hannah Murray, Leah Cassidy, Nicole Cassidy Subs: Kathy McCluskey for Erin Duffin, Maria McNally for Ciara O’Boyle, Leah Stewart for Leah Cassidy, Annie Griffin for Cliona Griffin
Ulster Junior Club Football Championship quarter-final
Denn (Cavan) 2-15 Naomh Comhghall 0-6
Antrim Junior champions, Naomh Comhghall had their Ulster dreams well and truly shattered by an excellent Denn of Cavan at Breffni Park on Saturday evening. The Antrim town side went into their Ulster debut without three key players from their Antrim county final victory over Rasharkin and set up defensively in an effort to contain the Denn men.
Things appeared to be going to plan when the sides went into the first water break tied on two points each but significantly the Cavan champions had kicked eight wides during an opening period where they dominated possession.
Cavell Keogan pointed Denn ahead in the opening minute and the Cavan men might have been further ahead but were guilty of some poor shooting and when Naomh Comhghall hit back with points from Miles Devine and Dylan Murdock to take the lead by the 9th minute things appeared to be going the way of the Antrim champions.
The Cavan side continued to create and waste chances before the impressive Ben Conaty levelled matters just before the water break and the same player edged his side ahead with his second of the game in the 22nd minute.
Denn were pushing up on their opponents and forcing turn overs as Naomh Comhghall found it increasingly difficult to penetrate a hard tackling defence and Leon Cobey stole forward from defence to fire over in the 25th minute and the right back might have had a goal.
The Cavan side continued to edge the opening half exchanges as Conaty took his personal tally to three to leave his side leading by 0-5 to 0-2 at the short whistle but at this stage there was little indication of what was to come in the second half.
Adrian Dougan’s side needed a good start to the second half if they were to get back into this game but it was the Cavan men who opened on the front foot and a good build up opened the Naomh Comhghall defence wide open and Thomas Edward Donohoe finished to the corner of the net with just two minutes on the clock.
Stephen Baxter’s side were beginning to play with great confidence and flow as goalkeeper, Mark Fegan stepped up to convert a ‘45’ and Oisin Kiernan and Caolain McCabe added two more as the Antrim men struggled to break out of defence.
Dylan Murdock, who was outstanding for the losers finally opened their second half account with a point in the 41st minute but the momentum was now with Denn as they replied with points fromThomas Edward Donohoe and James Brady.
St. Comgall’s never gave up as they continued to probe for an opening with substitute Peter McAuley pointing after making a mark and Tom Patchett added another to the approval of the Antrim town support but it was going to take something special to get them back into contention.
The Cavan champions were in no mood to let that happen as they finished in devastating fashion with Eoin Reilly firing home their second goal with ten minutes remaining and points from Ben Conaty, Mark Fegan, Cian McGann, Conor Courtney and Thomas Edward Donohoe in reply to a consolation point from Dylan Murdock, saw them run out convincing winners.
Naomh Comhghall: Anto Watson, Ryan McAuley, Kian Walker, Caolan O’Loan, Ruairi Griffin, Dylan Murdock, Michael McCabe, Miles Devine, Danaan O’Hara, Tom Patchett, Lewis Higgins, Paddy O’Connor, Oisin Crilly, James mcCabe, Paddy Quinn.
Minor Football Championship quarter final. St Mary’s Ahoghill – Sunday 2pm
This weekend St Ergnats Minor ladies play their first round of Ulster Minor football against the County Down champions St Marys GAC Burren. The match is sure to be good one, with both sides having a number of key players who have represented their counties and achieved numerous championship.
The Moneyglass ladies are no strangers to playing under pressure. They have flourished these past number of years, going above and beyond what any Antrim Ladies team has achieved before. It all started in 2017 when a group of U14 Moneyglass ladies won the Antrim U14 Féile. They went down to County Monaghan to participate in the John West All Ireland U14 Division 4 Féile Peil na n-Óg. In what can only be described as a show of determination, courage and skill the Moneyglass U14 ladies battled their way to the top winning the Division 4 Cup. They were the first team in the club’s history to make such as achievement.
Roll on 2018 and the same group of Moneyglass ladies found their way to winning the Antrim U14 Féile again, heading this time to County Meath to participate in the John West All Ireland U14 Division 3 Féile Peil na n-Óg. Following their success in the All Ireland Féile the previous year, now participating one division up, the St Ergants girls went out to try their best and make their club and community proud again. Well the girls done exactly that, battling their way into the Cup Final and winning the All Ireland Féile again! Two years in a row! Unbelievable!
2018 didn’t finish there though, the same group of ladies had the privilege of being invited to the prestigious Kilmacud All-Ireland 7’s tournament in County Dublin. The girls went up against teams from all over the Island. With their experiences in the Féile this only drove this unique bunch of girls on further, becoming the first ladies team in Ulster to win the U14 Kilmacud All Ireland 7’s Cup. One of their own players, Maria O’Neill was nominated as Player of the Tournament.
Throughout their U14 and U16 years the Moneyglass ladies have won numerous championships and league titles against some fantastic teams in Antrim.
As they now move into their Ulster Minor Quarter Final this weekend we would like to wish the girls and management all the best of luck!
The game is a home fixture for the ladies, 2pm at St Mary’s Ahoghill.
Let’s get out and support this talented bunch of girls!