O’Donovan Rossa’s Croke to Casement The Final Mile

Rossa 24AFTER 115 miles and 30 hours, O’Donovan Rossa’s Great Solo Run finished up at Casement Park at 1pm today (Sunday) having left Croke Park at 7am on Saturday.

Hundreds of Gaels joined in for the final mile led by Tyrone footballer, Padraig Hampsey as it left the Devenish Complex and finished up at Casement Park with the overriding message of the event to highlight the urgent need to have the West Belfast venue redeveloped into a modern stadium that can act as a jewel in the crown of the GAA in Antrim and beyond.

The event began at GAA Headquarters with Kilkenny hurler and All-Ireland winner, Shane Prendergast flanked by Rossa camógs as the journey to Belfast began.

Runners completed at least a mile each before passing the ball to the next runner, but some literally went the extra mile as the ball made its way north and crossed into Ulster around 11pm on Saturday night.

The dark hours led into the light as Rossa made their way back home to Antrim where they passed Rossa Park on the Shaw’s Road and to the Devenish Complex where hundreds from Rossa and a number of other clubs throughout the city had gathered to finish the solo run.

Finaghy Road North was packed with Gaels, young and old as they turned onto the Andersonstown Road and crossed the finish line inside the grounds of the now derelict Casement Park to reiterate the message to ‘Build Casement’.

“We are overwhelmed by the response of Antrim Gaels to our Great Solo Run,” said Rossa chairman, Liam McAuley.

This initiative has highlighted the urgent need to build the new Casement Park to give our young Gaels a stadium in which they can aspire to play.

“The event was a great success and we thanks all who took part, from the organisers to the solo runners and of course, our generous sponsors for making this happen.

“We are also delighted to make a donation to PIPS Suicide Awareness and the Children’s Heartbeat Trust.

It was a long, hard journey for our solo-runners who took part throughout Saturday and right through until the finish here at Casement Park.

“We hope this initiative has highlighted the support for the redevelopment of Casement Park and can help to galvanise the community to see the project completed.”

Gort na Móna v Glenarm – The captains views

Huntinglodge(57) copyGorts looking forward to Ulster campaign

By Brendan McTaggart

After being put to the sword in the closing stages of the decider, Gort na Móna Captain Padraig McHugh was a relieved man when we caught up with him on the Armoy pitch: “They put it up to us so they did but the lads dug in and battled hard in defence.  The conditions there are awful, they may not seem too bad on the side line but there’s parts of the pitch that are seriously cut up, slippery and mucky but we got over the line and we’re back into the Intermediate and I believe that’s where we belong.”

McHugh paid tribute to the Gort defence for their defiance in the face of the Glenarm onslaught during the dying moments of the junior final: “The lads showed a bit of character towards the end and the defence was immense.  We were defending for our lives in there and there was people putting their bodies on the line so fair play to the lads for showing that commitment to the Gort shirt.”

Some had questioned the Gorts for dropping into the junior championship but as McHugh told us, the Turf Lodge side have been struggling: “We’ve had a lot of guys that have left through immigration with work and stuff.  We’re a small dual club and we’re battling against the tide in west Belfast.  We’ve got St John’s and Rossa around us and there’s some players that we’ve brought up that have ended up at St John’s or Rossa which is a bit hard to take for a small club with those two right beside us but that’s us back where we belong.

“We definitely needed this.  Hurling was struggling, down in numbers and hopefully this gives the young lads the belief that they can be part of something special at Gort na Móna.”

The conditions played a major role in the outcome of the final and the Gorts Captain told us that they are capable of more but they have their eyes fixed on a run in the Ulster championship: “We never really got out of second gear to be honest.  We’re a lot better than that but not making excuses, the conditions were terrible but we’re over the line and it’s all about Ulster now.

“It’s nine years since we had an Ulster campaign, we won the Ulster Intermediate nine years ago and that’s a long time for a lot of those lads out there.  We’ve been battling against the tide with the clubs around us and being a small club, alternating between the codes on a Wednesday and Sunday.  If you pick up injuries you’re in trouble so it’s good to have some reward for all the years of work that these lads have put in.”

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Gort na Móna captain Padriag McHugh (right) and his Glenarm counterpart Benny McDermott with match referee Colm McDonald before Saturday’s Junior Hurling Championship final in Armoy. Pic by John McIlwaine

McDermott hopeful for the future

By Brendan McTaggart

Team Captain Brendan McDermott was the picture of devastation as he left the Armoy pitch on Saturday afternoon.  No-one likes doing the interview after a defeat and after a final loss it’s more sickening but the Glenarm man gave us his thoughts before leading his team back to the changing rooms.

The Glenarm half forward bemoaned his sides slow start to the match: “It seems to be our way.  We don’t get out of the blocks in the first half.  We didn’t even get out of the blocks until the last ten minutes of the match and everyone seemed to want it that wee bit more.”

His side almost completely a remarkable comeback in the closing stages, getting to within two points of the Gorts after trailing by ten points but McDermott paid tribute to the Turf Lodge men when he added: “We just ran out of time and fair play to Gort na Mona for holding out in the end.”

Despite playing second fiddle to the Gorts for large periods of the first half, only three points separated the sides at the interval with the elements in Glenarm’s favour in the second half.  McDermott told us that the occasion may have gotten to his side in the second half: “We weren’t even thinking on the breeze at half time.  To be honest, it’s a really young side we have there and nerves played a major part for a lot of these lads.  It seemed to be that it took over some of the young boys but look, it is what it is and I wish Gort na Móna all the best in Ulster but I wish it was us.”

Glenarm’s search and wait for junior honours continues but McDermott told us that Saturday will hopefully be used as a stepping stone for this young side: “It’s all about stepping blocks for us.  This is a very young side and even next year there should be a crop coming up from the minors into the seniors next year and that’s something to look forward to.”

Sarsfields v Carey – The captain’s view

Belief the key for Paddies captain

By Brendan McTaggart

Caillin Caldwell wrote his name in Sarsfields folklore on Saturday afternoon by captaining the Paddies to the Intermediate championship and breaching a 43 year gap for the club from their last piece of hurling championship silverware.  After receiving the trophy, the Sarsfields Captain told us that his sides confidence coming into the match was built upon their brilliant league campaign: “It was terrible conditions and we had to dig deep.  We were very confident coming into the game and obviously the conditions were poor but we knew from the word go that we were the better team with having the unbeaten run throughout the year.  We were confident that we could continue our unbeaten run.”

The Paddies were put onto the backfoot in the opening moments of Saturday’s final after Cathal McAuley’s goal.  Caldwell gave us an interesting view on the start to the match when he told us: “We just plugged on.  We knew it was a fluke but that’s hurling.  It was very unlucky on our behalf and lucky on theirs but we knew that if we backed ourselves we could get the scored to get over the line.”

The conditions certainly didn’t help either side when it came to their styles and Caldwell told us that he was pleased how his side reacted to the changing circumstances: “It was tougher for the younger, lighter guys but the older and bigger guys stood up when they were needed today but I thought it was a real team performance today and all 15 players that started and subs used contributed to a great victory.”

Just three points separated the sides at the interval and Caldwell added that the message was clear at half time: “There was no panicking at half time.  Some guys were getting worked, me included, up with the adrenaline but once we knew that if we got our heads in the right place and remained cool, calm and collected that we would be get over the line.  We’ve known nothing but winning this year and we wanted to keep it that way.”

It could be the first step in a historic duo for the Paddies and Caldwell told us that they are confident of delivering: “Football next weekend and hopefully we can make it a double.  This one’s for the fans as much as it is for the players, they’ve been brilliant all year and if we win next week then history will be made.

“We have a lot of dual players but we’re young, fit and very confident.”

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Sarsfields captain Cailin Caldwell and Carey captain Nathanial Hunter with match referee Colm Cunning before the Intermediate Hurling final in Armoy. Pic by John McIlwaine

Hunter has no complaints

Carey Captain Nat Hunter was a broken man leaving the Armoy ground.  He stood by his team as Sarsfields Captain Caillin Caldwell gave his speech and lead them off the pitch when he was finished.  Leading from the front as he has done all year for the Faughs.  He told us of his obvious disappointment and where he felt the match got away from them: “It’s very disappointing.  We thought we were coming into this game today as the hungrier team and better prepared but obviously Sarsfields were the better team on the day.  They showed more hunger and they were more disciplined than us.  I think that’s what got them over the line.”

After scoring a goal with just two minutes played and presented with another major chance when Cathal McAuley was fouled for a penalty, the Faughs Captain told us that he felt McAuley electing for a point from the penalty was the correct decision: “We got the dream start and I think that with it being so early on that the point was the right option from the penalty with the conditions.  It was the right decision at the time.  The better team won on the day, we thought we were better prepared than we were but we’ve got a young panel coming up through and we’ll be back again.”

Just three points separated the sides at the interval and Hunter told us that his side needed to be more clinical in the opening exchanges after the restart: “We came out at half time thinking that if we could get the first couple of scores then we could put them under pressure but we missed a couple of frees and a couple of chances came and gone.  Maybe if we got them then it would have been a different story but they were more clinical in the end under the conditions and we can have no complaints.”




McKernans to the fore as Sarsfields bridge 43 year gap

Intermediate Hurling Championship Final

Patrick Sarsfields 0-16 Carey Faughs 1-7

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Kevin McKernan punches air after sending over a Sarsfields point. Pic by John McIlwaine

By Brendan McTaggart

43 years.  A long time in any man’s books and more than a lifetime for many of those in attendance at Armoy on Saturday afternoon but by 4:20pm they were made to wait no more.  Sarsfields, county champions.  1973 was the last time the Paddies tasted success at the Intermediate level before going on and taking senior honours the following year and on Saturday evening they broke their duck.  Six points separated the Paddies and Carey after a tense battle played in horrible conditions in Armoy. To be honest the score line flattered the Faughs as Sarsfields were dominant, in the second half in particular, but a series of wides and missed opportunities meant that the Faughs were always in with a shout.

Just one point separated the sides with 15 minutes to go, largely down to the profligacy of the Sarsfileds attack but the McKernan brothers, Kevin and Daniel stepped up the tempo when it was most needed.  The duo had been a thorn in the side of Carey for the majority of the match but they, along with Niall McKenna and Darragh McGuinness were immense in the closing stages as the Paddies turned the screw.  Carey fought hard throughout the hour and once again, James ‘Rocket’ Black was a shining light for the men from Ballyvoy.  Rocket was played in a number of positions throughout the hour and played a main roll in a lot that was good in the Carey men.  James McCouaig was superb in defence while Cathal ‘Doog’ McAuley was always dangerous on the edge of the Paddies square.

The Faugh’s were reduced to 14 men with nine minutes remaining, their excellent full-back Sean McBride getting the line for a second yellow card but the writing was already on the wall at that stage for Carey.

With Donal McKernan unable to start the final with a leg injury, Sarsfields gave a Eoghan Rodgers a place in the starting 15.  Rodgers lined out in the corner forward berth but was Rockets shadow throughout the game, anywhere the influential Carey man went, Rodgers wasn’t too far behind.

With the weather worsening at the throw in, it looked like the heavy underfoot conditions would suit the Faughs and in the early exchanges that appeared to be the case as the boys from Ballyvoy got off to the dream start.  The match was only 90 seconds old when the Faughs scored the only goal of the game.  Sarsfields ‘keeper David Ward failing to clear a ’65 from Black that hung in the wind, McAuley pulling the lose sliotar to the back of the net.  The start they would have hoped for and the start that many neutrals would have been keen to see.  Despite Carey playing in a league above the Paddies in 2017, Sarsfields started the match as strong favourites.  Game on.

Daniel McKernan showed his pedigree when he opened the Paddies account with the next attack of the game but Carey’s dream start almost changed to a fairy-tale for the men from Ballyvoy when they were awarded a penalty in the 4th minute.  Again, it was McAuley who was causing the Sarsfileds defence problems.  The Carey full forward collected the sliotar before being bundled to the floor inside the square.  Match referee Colum Cunning awarded the Faughs a penalty which McAuley took himself, electing to drive the sliotar over the bar, much to the relief of the Sarsfields faithful, a decision that baffled most of the Faughs followers.

It was a reprieve for Sarsfields, in hindsight maybe going for goal with less pressure and in the circumstances was better option for Carey and the Paddies took full advantage.  They scored four unanswered points thanks to efforts from McKenna, Darragh McGuinness and two Kevin McKernan frees to take the lead and while Black replied for the Faugh’s, Sarsfields were well on top, scoring another trio of scores to lead by three in the 22nd minute and banish any memory of their nightmare start.  McKenna, Kevin McKernan and Niall McAlea raising the white flags for their side.  McAuley and Kevin McKernan traded frees in the closing stages but the Sarsfields midfielder should have put daylight between the sides in first half injury time.  Through on goal, Steven McGinn produced a superb save to deny the Paddies and while McKernan was also first to the rebound, his grounds stroke somehow managed to spin wide with the goal at his mercy.

The Faugh’s made a bright start to the second half with McAuley landing two more frees to take his tally to 1-4 for the match to leave the minimum between the sides and while Sarsfields always looked dangerous in attack, they were struggling to find their range.

The Paddies had goal chances, twice they were denied with referee Cunning calling a square ball on Gary Lennon on both occasions while the Sarsfields full forward brought the best out of McGinn in the 40th minute but a superb score from McKenna after a strong run was all they had to show for their efforts in the opening exchanges of the second half.


A long range point from half back Jack McBride brought Carey to within touching distance once more but Sarsfields found another gear when it mattered most.  Five unanswered points in as many minutes from the 46th minute put them firmly in control, Kevin McKernan with his fifth and sixth points of the final with Daniel McKernan (twice) and substitute Donal McKernan helping to open a six point gap with ten minutes remaining.

The Carey challenge hit a major road block when full back Sean McBride received his second yellow card soon after and while the Faughs never slackened in their pursuit of glory, Sarsfields proved to be a step too far.  McAuley and McKenna exchanging frees in the closing stages to leave six points between the sides at the full time whistle.

It’s another final defeat for the Faughs who have been knocking hard on the door for the last few years, it seems it’s only a matter of time before they make the breakthrough while the Paddies go on to represent Antrim in the Ulster championship and will be hoping that Saturday’s silverware will be added to when their football counterparts take on St Pat’s of Lisburn in the Junior football decider next Saturday.

Sarsfields: David Ward; Peter Corr; James Cunningham; Jack Daniels; Michael Callaghan; Caolan Mervyn; Caillin Caldwell; Kevin McKernan; Darragh McGuinness; Daniel McKernan; Niall McKenna; Niall McAlea; James McKernan; Gary Lennon; Eoghan Rodgers

Subs: Donal McKernan for M Callaghan (35 mins)

Scorers: Kevin McKernan 0-6 (2 frees); Niall McKenna 0-4 (1 free); Danial McKernan 0-3; Darragh McGuinness 0-1; Niall McAlea 0-1; Donal McKernan 0-1

Carey: Steven McGinn; Eoin Hill; Sean McBride; Daniel Hill; Michael McVeigh; James McCouaig; John McBride; Kevin Murphy; James Black; Shea Hunter; Nat Hunter; Martin Hunter; Peadar McVeigh; Cathal McAuley; Sean McLoughlin

Subs: Fiachra McVeigh for K Murphy (HT); Gerard McBride for S McLoughlin (50 mins); Daniel McBride for J McBride (inj)

Scorers: Cathal McAuley 1-5 (0-1 pen, 4 frees); James Black 0-1 (1 free); John McBride 0-1

Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)

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Goals make the difference as Dunloy keep 3-in-a-row hopes alive

Minor Hurling Championship semi-final

Dunloy 3-9 Ballycastle 0-12

By Marraine McNeill 0R6A2537

Dunloy made it to their 3rd minor hurling final in a row with an excellent display against a Ballycastle who fancied their chances against the Cuchullains and for much of this game they gave them plenty to think about at wet and windy Glenariffe.

However goals win game and two in as many minutes just after the midway point of the first half the second of which saw Decky Smyth run through before hitting the top corner put Dunloy ahead and Ballycastle just couldn’t catch them.

The Castle couldn’t have asked for a better start sending over a brace of points against the breeze from Ryan Hill and Eamon Elliott before being pegged back by two Ryan McGarry 65s in the ninth minute.

Dunloy then edged ahead with a pointed free from Liam McCann but direct from the poc-out great work from Ballycastle saw they pass the ball out and work it to corner forward Seamus McAuley who fired over.

Dunloy had yet to score from play but in the absence of Seaan Elliott Decky Smyth got the Cuchullains their first from play.

Ballycastle were living dangerously at the back as Ronan Molloy had twice got in behind their defence and when a goalmouth scramble ensued Ronan Molloy got the vital touch to kick it over the line.

If Dunloy’s first goal was fortunate their second was a work of art as Callum Scullion picked out Declan Smyth who still had plenty to do. Racing through the Castle defence he unleashed a powerful drive to the roof of the net to open up a six point lead with 19 minutes played.

With half time fast approaching it was left for the two freetakers to trade points as Liam McCann and Ryan Hill for Ballycastle left the half time score Dunloy 2-5 Ballycastle 0-4 at the short whistle.

The second half saw Ballycastle start brightly hitting 0-3 without reply with Colm Butler and Seamus McAuley and two from ace free taker Ryan Hill cut the Dunloy lead to 0-4 but again Dunloy were able to weather the storm and in the 9th minute Ronan Molloy slammed home Dunloys third goal of the game.

Again Ballycastle got to within 0-4 with back to back points from Ryan Hill and indeed it took Dunloy until the 21st to record their first point of the half. Ballycastle now went in search of goal but Seamus McAuley was brilliantly denied by Adam Mooney in the Dunloy net.

Dunloy now with seven minutes remaining worked hard and points from Ronan Molloy and Sean O’Neill cancelled out earlier efforts from McAuley and HIll but in the closing stages a point from Anton McGrath ended the game on a 3-9 to 0-12.

How They Played

This was a game in which Ballycastle gave their all but this Dunloy side have been very impressive all season and despite the loss of Seaan Elliott to injury didn’t deter this Dunloy side who are now firm favourites to complete a treble of minor wins.

Ballycastle best were corner back Oran and Conal Colgan in defence. Conor Boyd was excellent at midfield while up front Ryan Hill and Seamus McAuley were best

For Dunloy their best came from man of the match Ryan McGarry who gave a display any senior hurler would have been proud off. He was simply outstanding and showed tremendous leadership.  Adam Mooney, Aaron Crawford, Paddy Graffin in defence while at midfield Callum Scullion and Eoghan McGrath worked hard while up front Ronan Molloy Liam McCann and Decky Smyth were the difference.


Adam Mooney, Eoin McMullan, Aaron Crawford, Patrick Kinsella, Johnny Duffin, Ryan McGarry 0-2, Paddy Graffin, Eoghan McGrath,  Callum Scullion, Ryan McFarlane, Liam McCann 0-3, Declan Symth 1-1, Nathan Richmond, Ronan Molloy 2-1, Anton McGrath 0-1. Subs used Sean O’Neill 0-1, Tiernan O’Boyle, Oisin McErlean


Tiernan Smyth, Oran Colgan, Oisin McAuley, Oran Kearney, Conal Colagan, Cormac Donnelly, Ben McQuillan, Conor Boyd, Colm Butler, Dylan Hill, Ryan Hill, Eamon Elliott, Lorcan Donnelly, Oscar Egan, Seamus McAuley.

Referee Donal McKeown

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