League and McMullan Cup winners Glenariffe Oisins overcame a slow start to beat Ballycastle at Carey on Saturday and book their place in the Under 15 Championship final. Ballycastle had started well and were a point up in less than a minute thanks to a Cadhan Crawford free and they should have been further ahead, had Conor Donnelly’s well struck penalty not been saved by Oisins keeper Paddy Jo Harvey.
However a bad injury to centre back Darach Donnelly upset their rhythm and though the Oisins had not scored during the opening nine minute, when Niall Magee opened their account with a free from inside his own half it was if a switch had been turned on.
Duing the next seven minute they took control of the game as Magee hit three more from placed balls, Callum McIlwaine got two from play and Orrin O’Connor and Canice McInosh got one each to open a 0-7 to 0-1 lead at the first water break.
Conor Donnelly pulled another point back for Ballycastle on 23 minutes but Glenariffe were in charge by this stage and they extended their half time lead to 0-13 to 0-2, Niall Magee adding to his tally with a couple more pointed frees.
A couple more Conor Donnelly points early in the second half cancelled out a couple from Oisins’ Orrin O’Connor and Michael Furey, but it was only brief respite for the McQillan’s as the Oisins kept picking of the scores, and ended up with 24 in all to seal their place in the final against either Dunloy or Loughgiel who meet next weekend in the second semi-final.
Paddy Joe Harvey, Cahir McNaughton, John Scullion, James Kearney, Oran McClintock, Colla Ward, Donald Douthart, Callum McIlwaine, Niall Magee, Joseph Leech, Orrin O’Connor, Oisin Mort, Eoghan Robbin, Michael Furey, Canice McInosh.
Anthony Mullan, Conor Boylan, Cian Baudant, Patrick McCauahan, Finn Mullan, Darach Donnelly, Adam Hughes, Colm Kelly, Niall McLean, Eamon McCaughan, Conor Donnelly Tiernan Staunton, Oisin Colyles, Cathair Donnelly, Cadhan Crawford
It took over 70 minutes to separate these sides in a compelling game of hurling in the U15B Hurling Championship in Ahoghill today. In a game full of twists and turns it was a free from Niall May with the last puck of the sliotar, deep into extra time to swing it Rossa’s way and break the hearts of a gallant Naomh Padraig side.
It was Rossa who were first to register and they raced into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead early in the game as Naomh Padraig took time to settle but driven on by the impressive Callum Cane at mid-field they began to gain a foothold.
Cane was to have a massive influence as the game progressed and his free taking was right out of the top drawer but he was unfortunate to see two of his early efforts come back of the upright. From the second however Ryan Watson gathered the sliothar before firing to the net to level the contest.
Watson added a second goal when he wormed his way through a packed defence to move the North Antrim side ahead but Rossa replied with a goal from Liam McEnhill and with Corey Walsh, Niall May, Keevan Grieve and the towering McEnhill firing over some excellent points, they went on to lead by 1-9 to 2-3 at the half way stage and appeared to be taking control.
On the resumption of play it was Naomh Padraig who took the early initiative and Ryan McQuaid fired to the net after 30 seconds with Callum Cane pointing a number of excellent long range frees and his fourth of the half from a ‘45’ moved the North Antrim side four in front by the 10th minute.
Corey Walsh pointed a 12th minute free and the strong running Niall May added another before placing Liam McEnhill for a goal from close range to edge Rossa ahead again by the minimum at the second water break.
McEnhill was beginning to have a strong influence for the Shaw’s Road side as he moved them two ahead at the start of the final quarter and then Kieran McToal came to his side’s rescue with a good save as Rossa continued to press.
At this stage the momentum was with the South Antrim side but not for the first time Naomh Padraig found a response with Callum Cane pointing two excellent long range frees and when Ryan Watson got on the end of a long delivery to finish to the net from close range, Naomh Padraig were three in front.
The North Antrim lads looked on their way to the final at this stage but Rossa responded once more and a goal from Liam McEnhill tied the contest once more with three minutes of normal time remaining.
The superb Cane looked to have won it for Naomh Padraig as he edged his side ahead again from a free in the 30th minute but there was still time for one last attack and McEnhill split the posts deep into injury time to send the game into extra time.
The intensity and excitement of the contest continued as extra time got under way with Niall May moving Rossa one ahead after 30 seconds but the initiative was soon back with Naomh Padraig as Callum Cane sent a 70 meter free directly to the Rossa net through a crowded goalmouth.
Liam McEnhill and Colm Boyle replied with Rossa points to tie it for the umpteenth time and a point from Keevan Grive edged the Jerimiah’s one in front as the referee signalled for half time.
It was clear that this one was going to go right down to the wire as Liam McEnhill edged Rossa two in front as the second half of extra time got underway and a great point from Keevan Grieve moved the South Antrim side three in front and looked like sealing it for the Rossa.
Naomh Padraig were having none of it and substitute Calum Hughes fired to the Rossa net with time almost up and we looked to be heading for a replay. There was still time remaining however and Niall May pointed a close range free to pinch it for Rossa and break the hearts of a brave Naomh Padraig.
Both sides deserve massive credit for producing one of the best games of hurling I have seen for quite a while with both sides enjoying periods of ascendancy at different periods of the game and it was a pity there had to be a loser in the end.
Rossa: Oisin Boyle, Fionn Cregan, Shea Cunningham, Josh McIvor, Shea Flynn, Conall Shortt, Jude Collins, Corey Walsh, Colm Boyle, Keevan Grieve, Niall May, Ruairi McDonagh, Dara Boylan, Liam McEnhill, Daniel McGurk. Subs: Darra Morgan, Rossa Taylor
Naomh Padraig: Kieran McToal, Corey Quinn, Andrew McGarry, James McNeil, Ciaran Magee, Shay McGinley, John Magee, Callum Cane, Charlie Douthart, Brendan McQuaid, Ryan McQuaid, Liam Magee, Calum Magee, Ryan Watson, Jacob Newcombe. Subs: Seamus Mulholland, Calum Hughes, Junior Wilson.
As the Dunloy faithful poured onto the Corrigan Park pitch, Gregory O’Kane stood with the biggest smile in Ireland’s second city and taking the wishes from all those who found him among the crowd. His side had just produced a masterclass to defeat a Rossa side many seen as a tough opposition for the Cuchullains.
It didn’t happen. What happened was Dunloy purring through the gears and putting in a relentless display to see off the Jeremiah’s with 15 points to spare. Three goals before half time from the Cuchullains inside forward trio of Seaan Elliott, Conal Cunning and Chrissy McMahon with the majors that set up the Cuchullain’s win. O’Kane said the scores were pivotal but praised the forward play from his side: “In Championship games, goals are massive.
“Their alertness and just that composure to pick the perfect pass and give the man on the ball the right time… I thought our decision making around the three goals was fantastic.” The Dunloy manager continued: “Their skill-set is good and that’s backed up by their pace and movement. Once they take the right decision, then the score is on.”
The win sealed three championships in a row for the Cuchullains and O’Kane said they tried to forget about any of that and focus on the game: “Sometimes you get caught up (in the three-in-a-row hype).
“We don’t talk about that – we just want to play the next game and these boys are growing all the time. “They are growing every week, maturing well and they’re just a joy to manage. We just provide the platform for them and they take it on. We’re delighted today.”
With the integration of Eoin McFerran into the starting 15, the average age of the Cuchullains starting 15 lowers again as they continue to evolve while striving for hurling perfection. O’Kane has masterminded the evolution of this side and instilled his own hurling philosophy. The Dunloy manager said the club and community of Dunloy deserve the credit for the side who have won the Volunteer Cup three years in a row. He told us: “Every team grows and every team matures – we’re no different.
“Most of those boys are 22 or 23 years of age and their appetite for hurling is massive. They just want to play and get as much out of their careers as much as they can.
“If you have talent, you don’t want to waste it and get as much out of your career as you can and that’s what they’re doing now.
“Our club is massive but it’s not just about this team today, it’s about every family in Dunloy contributing by some small amount,” he said.
“These players had to come through from underage coaching to get to senior level. We just live for hurling in Dunloy and this is part of our DNA. So many of the players now are sons of the players who went before and we’re just delighted to get to this level.”
Rossa manager Colly Murphy kept his charges in a huddle for a little longer than usual on Sunday afternoon. His side had just tasted defeat in their first county final since 2004 and it was a bitter pill to try and swallow.
His side were swept aside by a brilliant Dunloy performance and the Rossa manager praised the champions: “Everybody says you have to lose one to win one. I don’t really buy into that but we’ll take it today.
“No complaints, they were at it from the start and on their game. We weren’t.
“The best team won and that’s why they’re champions. They’ll be very difficult to knock off their perch in the next few years.”
Rossa started the final well and matched the Cuchullains in the opening quarter. A number of wides hurt their challenge and as Dunloy grew into the game, the Rossa challenge faltered: “Our shooting wasn’t the best today,” said Murphy: “sometimes that happens. They got three goals today and I know when I get to look back on them, they all could have been avoided.
“That’s Dunloy for you though. They have that killer instinct and they went for it, fair play to them.”
In a year that saw Rossa win their three group games and reach the league and championship finals, they’ve built on last years performances and now have a solid foundation to maintain a challenge. Murphy agreed when he added: “We’re looking at it as progress. Everybody’s hurting and you know, there’s no words of comfort from me that can ease their pain but it’s a year we progressed one step further.
“We’ll take that and we’ll look at it over the winter and see where we go from here.”
It was a tough hour for Colly Murphy’s men who came up against a Dunloy side who were in no mood for fairy tales. Murphy admitted his side didn’t do themselves justice on the day but they would use it as a learning curve: “
Nobody goes out to play bad. Everybody went out to play as best they can. Some people underperformed, through no fault of their own. They were prepared mentally, physically, everything. As I say, some people had a bad day at the office. Deaglan (Murphy) and Stephen (Beatty) were maybe up to scratch but you can’t have two or three out of 15 but no one tries to go out and play bad.
“We’ll try and see who’s there next year. I feel sorry for these boy’s but when you lose, it makes winning more sweet. Today we’ll take today on the chin and I’ve told the boys to go out and in a funny way, celebrate because they did progress and they worked hard. Every other team in the county would have wished to be in our position today. Playing in a match on the 10th October, in this weather, in this ground and live on TG4.
“We’ll look at the positives, regroup and go from there.”