Pat Battler Mullaney RIP

By Dennis O’Hara

PAT ‘Battler’ Mullaney, one of Antrim and Ulster’s most accomplished hurlers, died last weekend.

The stylish forward also campaigned with distinction with the Belfast Rossa GAC.

He belonged to a ‘Golden Age’ of hurling – during the 1950’s and early 1960’s – and was a key performer for a rampant Rossa side that was the first team to clinch four successive Antrim Senior Hurling Championships, the opener in 1956. The fabulous formation also paraded the uniquely gifted dual county and provincial star, Seamus ‘Stout’ McDonald.

The legendary Mullaney was involved in some notable county conflicts, an era that included players such as Kevin Armstrong, Seamus Gallagher, Billy Feeney, Robbie and Brendan Elliott, Brendan ‘The Bear’ Donnelly, Bobby McMullan, Dessie Cormican, Paddy Morgan and Johnny Coyle.

One of the outstanding victories during which Mullaney produced inspired stick work was the NHL 7-4 to 5-5 win against mighty Kilkenny at Corrigan Park in 1953. ‘Battler’ was also heavily involved in Antrim’s win of the All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship of 1959.

The death of Pat Mullaney, once a competent and competitive amateur golfer at the Balmoral and Ballycastle Clubs, followed the recent passing of another ex-Antrim hurler of the 1950’s – Pat Flynn of Belfast Patrick Sarsfields.

Antrim sail to Kehoe Cup semi’s

Antrim Captain, Conor McCann goes to the turf but scores his second major of the day in Antrim's comprehensive win over Wicklow
Antrim Captain, Conor McCann goes to the turf but scores his second major of the day in Antrim’s comprehensive win over Wicklow

Kehoe Cup – Round 2

Saturday December 7

Antrim 5-27 Wicklow 2-10

Brendan McTaggart reports from GAA Centre of Excellence, Abbotstown

Antrim continued their rich pre-season form with another comprehensive victory over Wicklow in the Kehoe Cup on Saturday afternoon.  A victory that, while it was expected, the standard of hurling and performance from all 21 players will have pleased Darren Gleeson and his management team.

Four goals in a first half that saw Antrim build a commanding lead, 11 of their 17 first half points coming from play and tearing apart a side who they face in the first round of the league in January.  A return to action in a Saffron shirt for Neil McManus, the Ruairi Og man helping himself to 10 points during his 45 minutes of action, two goals apiece for Conor McCann and James McNaughton.  The Loughgiel star clearly enjoys playing on the pristine surface at the Abbotstown venue, continuing on from this time last year, McNaughton was sensational before having to come off injured after an incident that saw Wicklow centre half Warren Kavanagh red carded.

A bright performance from debutant Aodhan O’Brien in midfield who dovetailed well with Eoghan Campbell while Alex Delargy came off the bench to score 1-1 in a 12 minute cameo, taking his tally to four goals in three games in an Antrim shirt this season.

Showing nine changes from their win over Armagh on Tuesday night, the first goal of the game came after just 30 seconds.  Dan McCloskey turning over possession before releasing the sliotar into the path of his Shamrock clubmate, McNaughton.  Playing a one-two with McManus, McNaughton got clear and drive the sliotar to the back of the net.

James McNaughton breaks through the Wicklow defence to score a goal in the opening minute of the game

The second goal came in the sixth minute and it was McNaughton once again.  Picking the sliotar with a delightful touch, McNaughton raced towards the Wicklow goal from 50 yards out.  Three defenders on his heals, McNaughton found a yard and made no mistake.  A blistering start for the Saffrons as they dominated their opponents from the first whistle.

Antrim held a 14 point lead after 10 minutes by the time the Garden County finally registered a score, full forward Andy O’Brien holding off the challenge of Stephen Rooney but it was a brief respite from the Saffron charge for his side. 

Their third goal was the Antrim response and McNaughton turned provider this time.  Sending the sliotar into the path of McCann and the Saffrons captain sent the ball to the back of the net at the second time of asking in the 15th minute.

McCann doubled his goals tally two minutes later with the Saffrons leading by 17 points.  Rooney delivering the sliotar high to the heart of the Wicklow defence and the Creggan man used his body to fend off the Wicklow challenge and turn his marker.  He pulled on the sliotar first time and the match was effectively over as a contest after just 17 minutes as Antrim built a 20 point lead.

Points followed as Antrim continued with their relentless pressure.  James O’Connell’s 18th minute point meant all six of the Antrim starting forwards had recorded their name on the scoresheet.  Michael Bradley’s distribution from the middle of the park into the full forward line pivotal to the Saffrons performance.  They led by 23 points when McNaughton’s game was cut short with injury and Moorhouse saw red.  McManus pointed the resulting free and while Wicklow rallied with a flurry of frees from Andy O’Brien (two) and Jack Doyle (one), McManus (two frees) and Campbell ensured Antrim held a 23 point lead at the interval.

Phelim Duffin races clear of Enda Donohue…

Wicklow had the elements in their favour but with a commanding lead and a man extra, Antrim were able to dictate the contest after the restart.  Wicklow full forward would prove to be a massive handful for the Saffrons defence during the second half, scoring the first of his two goals in the 51st minute from a penalty. 

Antrim made changes with McCambridge, Nugent, Conor Johnston, Molloy, Delargy and Sean Duffin all introduced at different times during the second half and while the game lacked the same flow and cohesion of the first half, it never looked like Wicklow would get close to causing Antrim any serious concerns.

Wicklow did continue to push hard however and O’Brien got his second goal in the 57th minute.  Catching a long delivery and instinctively firing the sliotar beyond Conor McAllister but Antrim responded by finding the back of the Wicklow net for the fifth time with nine minutes remaining.  Substitutes Ronan Molloy and Alex Delargy combining before the Ruairi Og man made no mistake with a smart finish.

A comfortable afternoons work for the Saffrons who set their sights back on the McGurk Cup and a meeting with Longford in seven days time.

TEAMS

Antrim: C McAllister; P Duffin, S Rooney, C Boyd; G Walsh, R McGarry, C McHugh; A O’Brien, E Campbell (0-4); J McNaughton (2-1), N McManus (0-10 8 f, 1 ’65), M Bradley (0-2); C McCann (2-2), J O’Connell (0-1), D McCloskey (0-2)

Subs: R McCambridge (0-1) for J McNaughton (28); D Nugent for M Bradley (n/t); Conor Johnston (0-2 1f) for N McManus (46); R Molly (0-1) for A O’Brien (46); A Delargy (1-1) for J O’Connell (53); S Duffin for G Walsh (53); G Walsh for D McCloskey (65)

Wicklow: C Staunton; D Quinn, M O’Brien, B Kearney; P Keane, W Kavanagh, C Moorhouse; J Doyle (0-2 1f), C Breen; L Evans, D Staunton, G Weir; G O’Brien, A O’Brien (2-8 1-00 pen, 3 f’s, 1 ’65), G Hughes

Subs: G Byrne for C Breen (20); P O’Brien for C Moorhouse (20); S Germaine for G Byrne (24 blood sub, reversed 26)

La Salle visit Kilkenny

La Salle under 15 hurlers recently experienced and enjoyed an action packed trip in Kilkenny as part of the strong exchange links built up over 20 years between the college and St Kieran’s College .

On the trip the Edenmore boys enjoyed a tour of Nowlan Park and met young Hurler of the year Adrian Mullen and had an inspirational and motivational talk from legendary TJ Reid

They played in an  Indoor Batta beag Hurling tournament.

A Challenge game v St Kieran’s

Toured the famous Star Hurley Workshop and bought Star Hurls

Participated in leisure and recreational activities such as swimming, ten pin bowling and visited cinema

During the trip strong friendships were built and many boys experienced living in a rural environment

The College would also like to acknowledge  Casement Social Club, Gaelfast and South Antrim Executive for their generous support of the trip.

Ardoyne Mindskills event a big success

Penalty shoot-outs have been a hot topic amongst GAA followers this championship season and North Belfast club Ardoyne Kickhams GAC hosted a shoot-out with a difference last week to raise awareness of mental health issues.

It was an Antrim versus Down affair at Fennell Park as Lamh Dhearg’s John Finucane and Chris Hazzard of St Colman’s, Drumaness took turns between the posts to try and stop spot kicks from club members as well as sporting stars such as Saffron football captain Declan Lynch, Olympic boxing medallist Paddy Barnes and Cliftonville’s FC’s Joe Gormley.

The event was organised in conjunction with Mindskills Training, an organisation that works to prevent suicide and raise awareness of mental health issues.

“GAA players are known for being physically fit but the message from the day is that being healthy doesn’t just mean physical health, we must look after our mental health too. Both elements play a part in our wellbeing,” said Ardoyne Kickhams Chairman Philip McTaggart, who is also a trainer with Mindskills.

“Mental health issues can affect anyone but services receive just 0.2 per cent of the health budget. It is everyone’s interest to talk about it and I would encourage all GAA clubs to start the conversation, particularly with their young members about who they can talk to if they are having any issues.”

Antrim Gaels pick up a series of awards

Antrim Gaels figured strongly in last weekend’s awards ceremonies with a host of players and officials picking up prestigious accolades.

At the Ulster President’s Awards inner in the Canal Court in Newry there was a double for the Cunning cousins from Dunloy with Conal receiving the Ulster Hurler of the Year award with his cousin Colum receiving his award for refereeing the Joe McDonagh Hurling final between Laois and Westmeath.

Conal Cunning from Dunloy received the Ulster Hurler of the Year award

The Antrim team who won the All Ireland Under 21 Football title back in 1969 received a Special Recognition award for what was Antrim GAA’s greatest ever achievement while Sean McManus of Rossa received a Club Coaching award.

On Saturday afternoon Ulster Camogie held their awards ceremony in the Armagh City Hotel. Noreen Graham of Ahoghill picked up the Bridie McMemamin Shield Player of the Year award for her part in the St Mary’s side’s great Ulster success. Brona McIntyre of Loughgiel received the award for Best County Final Match Programme for her brilliant design and publication. Seamus McAleenan, a regular contributor to the Saffron Gael, was awarded the PRO of the Year trophy while Kathryn Bradley of St John;s Carnlough received the Chairperson’s Award for her great work with the Ulster council.

Well done to each and every one of you!