Eugene Traynor, singer, hurler… and friend to us all.

By John McIlwaine

Eugene Traynor was a hurling fanatic who loved the game and spent every available hour during his life playing or watching it. During my time covering our local games the man I saw most in the crowd was Eugene. Be it senior, minor or juvenile games Eugene was there to see the action and offer his opinion on the quality, or lack of it, of the various teams. An avid follower of Dunloy, he never lost that soft spot he had for Loughgiel, and when his grandchildren began wearing the red jersey he was there without fail to cheer them on.

Eugene started his career with the Shamrocks and won a minor championship medal with them, and was a sub on senior team that beat Dunloy in the 1963 county final in Glenariffe. Shortly after that he married Maureen McLaughlin and moved to live in Dunloy where he threw his lot in with the Cuchullains, as a player and later as a mentor.

Eugene Traynor (6th from right on the back row) with the Loughgiel 1963 team who beat Dunloy in the final in Glenariffe.

He played for Dunloy for many years after that, the highlight of his career with the Cuchullains coming in the 1976 county final against Rossa in Casement Park. Success eluded them on that occasion but the club’s push of senior honours continued and when the Cuchullains made the breakthrough in 1990 Eugene was part of the team management with his good friends Willie Richmond and Chris Elliott.

In the 1980s he was a selector under Sean McGuinness with the Antrim county team from 1984 to ’87. He admired McGuinness greatly and remained firm friends ever since. Eugene’s son Adrian told me that Sean had visited him a few weeks before his death and the night was filled with stories of hurling and of great players they had worked with.

Of course Eugene had tragedy in his life also and the loss of his son Paul a number of years ago was a bitter blow from which he never fully recovered.

Eugene with his good friend Chris Elliott

Dunloy PP Fr Blaney spoke highly of Eugene at his funeral on Saturday and spoke of his love of hurling and of the parishes of Dunloy and Loughgiel. He talked about his daily trips in the car over to Cloughmills, then on to Loughgiel before returning home to Dunloy, stopping for regular chats along the way. He also spoke of his love for music and his great singing voice which saw him perform with a range of local showbands from Walter Lewis, Leo McCaffrey and the Four Aces, and many of the mourners told me that he could have made the big time if he had been a little more driven.

One thing Eugene Traynor was driven by was the game of hurling and the love of the people involved in it. Be it Dunloy or Dublin, Ballycastle or Belfast, Loughgiel or Limerick, he was there to enjoy the action.

Eugene shares a joke with his niece Donna McLaughlin at one of the many games they attended together.

He will be missed at the games, leaning over the wire, offering his opinion, shouting words of encouragement (and even criticism on the odd occasion). However he will be missed most of all by his wife Maureen, son Adrian and daughter Siobhan, his loving grandchildren, and by the McLaughlin family, especially his niece Donna

To them were offer our sincere condolences.

Rest in Peace Eugene    

Late Johnnies goals break Ballycran hearts

Late Johnnies Goals Break Ballycran Hearts

By Liam Tunney @ Unit Updates

St John’s snatched victory from defeat’s snarling jaws in a pulsating game of hurling against Ballycran at McKenna Park this afternoon, with injury time goals from Domhnall Moran and Dannan McKeogh overturning a two-point deficit to take home the points.

Played in blistering sunshine on the Ards Peninsula, a tetchy first half ended with a Conor Woods goal putting five between the sides at the break, but with the hosts registering only 1-04 in the second half, the Belfast side chipped away at the lead, eventually reaping the benefits in added time.

Despite opening the scoring after a matter of seconds from midfielder Shea Shannon, the hosts assumed control of the early stages and points from Conor Woods and Cormac McAllister had the Down side in front with the next two attacks.

St John’s then had their first sight of the ‘Cran goal, Conor Johnston attempting an audacious reverse shot after a goalmouth scramble, but goalkeeper Stephen Keith was alert to the danger, springing low to his right to turn the sliotar around the post.

Ciarán Johnston converted the 65 to level matters, but a brace from Christopher Egan and a neat Michael Ennis point once again pegged back the Johnnies, only Conor Johnston’s reply attempting to stem the flow.

Ballycran corner forward Brendan Ennis pulls on the ball to send it past Simon Doherty in the St John’s goal. Pic by John McIlwaine

On nine minutes the Naomh Eoin defence looked on helplessly as the ball fell kindly for Brendan Ennis, who swept the ball home on the ground past the advancing Simon Doherty for the game’s opening goal.

The early stages had been fraught with off-the-ball exchanges and there was a lengthy stoppage as the home side lost corner-back Sean Ennis to injury and referee Darren McKeown appealed for calm among warring backs and forwards, but with play restored, Stuart Martin helped himself to a score to extend the Ballycran lead to six.

A further brace followed from the clinical hurl of Conor Woods but as it looked like the hosts were gaining momentum, St John’s corner forward Conal Bohill plucked a high ball from the Peninsula air and tapped over the bar to reduce the arrears to five.

Bohill’s intervention inspired a revival for the Whiterock men and points followed from Ciarán Johnston, Mícheál Bradley and Conor Johnston, the latter a beauty from under the stand, before Shea Shannon notched his second with another long-distance effort.

Conor Woods then pounced on a loose sideline ball to put four between the sides, but St John’s hit back immediately with a brace of Ciarán Johnston frees, before Woods caught the Johnnies with a sucker punch right on the bell.

Fielding a high ball in the full-forward line, the lively Woods wriggled free of his marker and buried the ball into the bottom corner of Doherty’s net to leave St John’s reeling and trailing by five at the break.

Christopher Egan’s hurl breaks over Conal Morgan’s as the timber flies in Saturday’s league game in Ballycran. Pic by John McIlwaine

Woods and Ciarán Johnston began the second half by trading frees, before Ciarán and Conor channelled their inner Paul and Barry Chuckle with a short free routine that ultimately ended up wide of the mark.

Domhnall Moran restored order with a long-range point before Ciarán Johnston won another free. No training ground set play on this occasion and he landed it from 45 yards to leave three points between the sides.

A further Johnston free and another huge effort from Moran saw the deficit cut to the minimum, but as the danger grew for Ballycran, they found a cushion, scores from Woods and Niall Breen edging them back into a three-point lead.

Another Moran-Johnston double followed before centre-back Barry McFall drove forward to level the score on 53 minutes after some neat stick work from Shannon and Aidan McMahon.

Just as the Johnnies manoeuvred into a promising position to mount a winning challenge, St Joseph’s hit them again. Doherty’s acrobatic save from a Christopher Egan shot fell into the path of Stuart Martin, who made no mistake with the rebound, pulling the ball into the empty net to leave them three ahead once again.

The action continued to be intense as Shannon swapped points with Woods, before another massive Barry McFall effort left two separating the sides in the 59th minute, when the visitors lost Ciarán Johnston to a second yellow card.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, St John’s were thrown a lifeline minutes later. With the ball ricocheting towards an empty net, Gerard Hughes got his hand to it and brought it clear, only for referee McKeown to rule he had touched it on the ground.

Domnhall Moran’s 20 m free rebounds off the bottom of Stephen Keith’s hurl, down off the ground and up into the net as St John’s grab an injury time winner. Pic by John McIlwaine

Up stepped Moran and with the goal line packed, somehow managed to squeeze the ball to the net in the 64th minute. Substitute Dannan McKeogh then added the proverbial insult to injury, wriggling through a minute later to poke the ball past Keith.

A cruel ending for Ballycran, who had done more than enough to warrant something from the game, but ecstasy for the Belfast men who refused to panic, continuing to pick off scores and clinical when the match-winning opportunity arose.

St Joseph’s Ballycran: Stephen Keith, Michael Hughes, Patrick Hughes, Sean Ennis, Gerard Hughes, Pádraig Flynn, Aaron Dorrian, Scott Nicholson, James Coyle, Michael Ennis (0-01), Conor Woods (1-07, 0-03f, 0-02 – 65), Christopher Egan (0-02), Brendan Ennis (1-00), Cormac McAllister (0-01), Niall Breen (0-01).

Subs: Stuart Martin (1-01) for Sean Ennis 12’, Huw Flynn for Aaron Dorrian 45’

St John’s: Simon Doherty, Jack Bohill, Ryan McNulty, Aidan McMahon, Conal Morgan, Barry McFall (0-02), Pádraig Nugent, Shea Shannon (0-03), Sean Wilson, Ciarán Johnston (0-08, 0-07f, 0-01 – 65), Mícheál Bradley (0-01), Oisín Donnelly, Conal Bohill (0-01), Conor Johnston (0-02), Donal McKernan.

Subs: Dean Madden for Pádraig Nugent 12’, Domhnall Moran (1-03) for Donal McKernan 12’, Dannan McKeogh (1-00) for Conor Johnston 51’

Referee: Darren McKeown (Naomh Gall)

Colm Lynn RIP

“He was a gentleman, a local legend, a fine hurler and a handsome devil”

By John McIlwaine

That was one of the many tributes paid to Colm Lynn this week at his wake, and quoted again at his funeral on Friday by Ballycastle PP Fr Daly, as Ballycastle said farewell to a much loved son of the ‘Town’. Born in June 1930 Colm grew up playing hurling and would become a major player during a golden era for Ballycastle’s when the McQuillan’s won five titles in seven years, including the club’s first 3-in-a-row in 1952, ’53 and ’54. They had won it 1948 and 1950 but relinquished their titles in ’49 and ’51 but they marked themselves down as one of the greatest ever teams to wear the black and amber by following it up to do the 3-in-a-row. Overall he won 5 championship medals. 1950, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’64

During the fifties Colm was a regular on the Antrim county team and played against many of the best hurlers in the country during that period, including the legendry Christy Ring of Cork. Local legend has it that Colm carried the scars to prove it.

He went on to coach and manage teams in the club and was a selector with Dermie Donnelly when Ballycastle beat Crumlin of Dublin in the 1980 All Ireland semi-final in Croke Park to become the first Antrim team to reach an All Ireland club final. He held various positions in the club’s committee over the years, including secretary, a post he held during his playing days in 1953 and ’54, and President and always had the club at heart.

Antrim camogs 1946. Deirdre Lynn (O’Gorman) is send from the right on the back row.

Colm met his wife Deirdre (O’Gorman) when she came to teach in Ballycastle in the 1950s. Deirdre, who played her club camogie with St Teresa’s, was a member of the Antrim All Ireland winning team of 1956. Always the charmer, he apparently told her the first time they met that he was going to marry her one day. That’s exactly what happened, and the happy couple were together for sixty years.  

Many of his former club mates attended Friday’s final farewell and watched as a hurl, bound in black and amber, was placed on his coffin as it was lowered into the grave. Among them was the great Robbie Elliott. Before Colm’s death there were only three members of that 3-in-a-row team still alive. Colm’s passing leaves just Robbie and his brother Raymond.

Colm leaves behind his wife Deirdre, sons Liam and Colm Og and daughters Una, Catriona and Eimear. To them we extend our sincerest sympathy.

Colm Lynn spent his 89 years in the town he was born in. Ballycastle will remember him as the stylish hurler who charmed us all during a life well lived.

May he rest in peace!

North Antrim Fixtures up to 28th April 2019

NA Junior League             23 Apr 2019         Ruairi Og                             v                              Glen Rovers                       6.45pm

NA Junior League             23 Apr 2019         McQuillans                          v                              St Brigids Cloughmills                      6.45pm

NA Junior League             23 Apr 2019         Shamrocks                          v                              Oisin                      6.45pm

NA Junior League             23 Apr 2019         Carey Faughs                     v                              Tir Na Nog                           6.45pm

Darragh Cup        23 Apr 2019  Shamrocks          v         Cuchullains                  7.15pm  

NA Junior           25 Apr 2019 Emmets                v          Shane O’Neills             7.00pm  

League

Feile B Final        Sat. 27 Apr Venue TBC                                                                              4.30pm

Feile A Final         Sat 27 Apr venue TBC                                                                                    5.30pm                                                                                                                                                                                

Plenty of hurling action this Easter weekend

Hurling previews

Hurling previews

Division 1

The hurling action gets underway early this weekend with Ballycran hosting St John’s on Saturday at 3pm in a game both sides really need to win. Ballycran lost to neighbours Portaferry on the opening day of the season and were not involved on the second weekend of fixtures so they badly need to get points on the board. St John’s opened their campaign with a big win over West Belfast neighbours St Gall’s but they came a cropper against Dunloy on Week 2 when they were well beaten by the league holders. The Johnnies will start as favourites in this one but any win you get in Ballycran is hard earned and it is far from a forgone conclusion.

Later in the day Rossa have home advantage against St Gall’s with a throw-in time of 5pm at Rossa Park. The Shaw’s Road men lost their opener against Dunloy but they had a good win last time out against Ballygalget and will be fancied to take two more points this time around.

Sunday sees and early start for the Ballycastle v Loughgiel game at Pairc MacUilin with a throw-in time of 1pm. Loughgiel impressed on the opening day as they gave new manager David McCann the perfect start by beating Cushendall, but their journey down to Portaferry last time around didn’t prove so fruitful, losing out by seven points. Newly promoted Ballycastle got a point on the opening day down in Ballygalget but lost to county champions Cushendall in their second game. Both teams need the win but Loughgiel must start favourites in this one.

At 3pm we have the second North Antrim derby of the day when Cushendall travel to Dunloy to take on the Cuchullains. These two seldom disappoint whether it be in league, championship for Feis Cup and though Cushendall haven’t got back to training since the end of the their All Ireland Club campaign they will still be out to show they are still contenders. Dunloy have two wins from two so far and were impressive against St John’s last time around to they get the vote to win on Sunday.

The final game in the division is an Ards Peninsula derby between Portaferry and near neighbours Ballygalget. Portaferry are level with Dunloy at the top of the table after an opening day win over Ballycran and victory over Loughgiel on day 2. Ballygalget need the points after picking up just one so far but they go into to this as outsiders with the boys in blue and gold getting the vote to make it three wins from three.   

St Enda’s are in action in Division 2

Division 2

In Division 2 Naomh Eanna host Glen Rovers Armoy on Saturday evening at 5pm. The Glengormley men have made a good start under new manager Terence McNaughton and sit joint top with Sarsfields and Carey Faughs and they will be favourites to collect another win against pointless Armoy.

Later in the day Sarsfields have a home game against Dungannon Eoghan Rua, this one throwing in at 6.45 at the Bear Pit. The Tyrone men are still unbeaten after drawing with Creggan on the opening day and beating Armoy last time out, but Sarsfields will be fancied to take advantage of having home venue in this one.

On Sunday there are a couple of very attractive games down for decision with Creggan hosting near neighbours Tir na nOg and Glenariffe crossing swords with Cloney Gaels in Waterfoot, both games throwing in at 1pm. Home advantage might just tip the scales in Creggan, but the Oisins v Cloney game is much harder to predict.

Junior champions Cushenun travel to Carryduff in Division 3

Division 3

The Division 3 action gets underway on Saturday at 3pm when Bredagh have home advantage over Lamh Dhearg. Later in the day Cushendun make the long journey to Carryduff for a 6-30 start with the Emmet’s needing a win after drawing last week against Cuchullains Armagh, but that will be easier said than done against the unbeaten down men.

On Sunday the men from Derry city, Na Magha, face the long trek to Feystown to play Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm, a round trip which is just over 150 miles. A long trip OK but if the weather on Sunday is as good as Bara has predicted it will be worth every mile of the journey.

Con Magees play Naomh Colum Cílle at Fr Magin Park on Sunday

Division 4  

St Teresa’s play their Belfast rivals Ardoyne on Friday night in Division 4 and will start as favourites. There are two games on Sunday in this division with All Saints taking on Loch Mór Dál gCais at Slemish Park at 1pm while at 3 O’clock we have a top of the table clash when Con Magees play Naomh Colum Cílle at Fr Maginn Park.