St Gall’s made to work to earn semi-final spot

AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship quarter-final

St Gall’s (Antrim) 2-19  Lisbellaw (Fermanagh) 1-16

ST Gall’s were forced to work hard for Sunday’s Ulster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship win againt Fermanagh champions Lisbellaw at Brewster Park before getting over the line with six points to spare. Level at the break the Antrim champions certainly knew they had a fight on their hands at it took two second half goals from Sean McAreavey and Mark Napier to seal the deal and book a semi-final spot against Derry champions Swatragh.

However the Milltown men will be forced to face the Derry men without their star man CJ McGourty who received a straight red card, a decision which St Gall’s are likely to appeal.

St Gall’s started well and had two points on the board through CJ and Kieran CJ McGourty before Lisbellaw hit back through Shea Curran and Conor O’Shea to square the game. CJ gave his team back the lead before and error by St Gall’s netminder McGreevy gifted the Fermanagh men a goal, a score that really put some impetus into their challenge

The Fermanagh champions began to pull clear as Ryan Bogue and Caolan Duffy hit two apiece to pull five points clear before Karl Stewart stepped in with an excellent score to halt the Lisbellaw charge. Two points from CJ  and one each from Tomás Ó Ciaráin and Jackson McGreevy brought them back into contention and when CJ added two more they were two clear with first half time almost up. However the Fermanagh men hit back to level in added time with two Curran points which sent them in at the break on level terms at 1-9 to 0-12.

St Gall’s edged ahead again early in the second half through Karl Stewart but  Lisbellaw hit back with three on the trot from John Parl McGarry, Barry McPhillips and Ryan Bogue. CJ and Kieran McGourty hit points apiece to bring the Antrim champions level and it remained that way after Niall O’Neill and Bogue exchanged scores. The introduction of substitute Sean Burke was to have an instant impact for St Gall’s as he broke through soon after coming on to set up corner forward Sean McAreavey for hit team’s first goal.

CJ’s red card soon afterwards could well have derailed the St Gall’s challenge and when Lisbellaw fought back to within a point with just five minutes of normal time remaining, the nerves were jangling yet again for the St Gall’s followers. However Burke stepped up to the mark again and after winning a long ball from Aodhan Galalgher he found corner Mark Napier with a hand-pass and the corner-forward fired home from close range to put his team back in charge. Lisbellaw battled away but 14 man St Gall’s were now in control and late points from Karl Stewart and Andy McClean had them six clear at the final whistle.

ST GALL’S: K McGreevy; S Morrison, J McDaniel, A Hannaway; N O’Neill (0-3), S Burke, J McGreevy (0-1); J Hopkins, K Stewart (0-3, 0-1f); CJ McGourty (0-8, 0-4s), K McGourty (0-2), Ó Ciaráin (0-1); S McAreavey (1-0), A Gallagher, M Napier (1-0).

Subs: C Burke for S Burke (43mins), A Healy (0-1) for McAreavey (47mins), M Donnelly for K McGourty (60mins).

LISBELLAW: C McPhillips; C Rafferty; B McPhillips (0-1), D Bannon; T Cleary, D Teague, B Duffy; R Bogue (0-4, 0-2fs), C McShea (0-1); S Curran (1-6, 0-5fs), M Slevin, JP McGarry (0-1); C Corrigan, J Duffy, Caolan Duffy (0-3).

Subs: R Porteous for B McPhillips (48mins), A Breslin for D Teague (50mins), A McShea for Slevin (60mins), Ciaran Duffy for B Duffy (61mins).

REFEREE: J Clarke (Cavan)

McMullan’s late equaliser earns Shamrocks a replay

Village InnDunloy 0-14 Loughgiel 1-11

Sunday October 14th

Brendan McTaggart reports from Paírc MacUílín, Ballycastle

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After seven minutes of the second half, it looked like it was going to be a formality.  Dunloy had just taken a five point lead for the first time in the match when Seaan Elliott showcased all his silky skills to land his fifth point of the final.  The four in a row chasing Cuchullains came into the decider as favourites and although the Shamrocks were more than a match for their near neighbours in the opening half, Dunloy looked to have the edge and Elliott’s point gave them breathing space.  If there’s one thing you learn though the years of watching hurling in Antrim, you can never write off The Shamrocks.

Loughgiel scored the only goal of the game in the 42nd minute when Michael McGarry danced his way through the Dunloy defence before firing to the bottom corner with an outstanding piece of skill and stick work to reignite his sides flagging championship hopes.

The final quarter of the final was a ding-dong battle with the Shamrocks pegging Dunloy back on three occasions and looking the more likely to get a decisive score to derail the Cuchullains hopes of a four-in-a-row.  In the end, Odhran McMullan’s mammoth point in the third minute of injury time proved to be the last of the game and these two great rivals have to do it all over again.

The Cuchullains will look at their profligacy in front of the target when they analyse the final.  They hit double the wides Loughgiel managed throughout the hour.  Missed frees, chances dropped short or wrong decisions blighted their hour but the Shamrocks desire and hunger at the breakdown meant they didn’t let Dunloy settle, especially in the second half.

Print5Creagh copy-bannerFollowing his semi-final exploits, Rian McMullan (0-5, 4 f’s) top scored for the Shamrocks with Michael McGarry (1-2) while Seaan Elliott was tormentor-in-chief for the Cuchullains.  Having missed last years championship decider with a cruciate injury, Elliott went some way to easing the pain of missing out 12 months ago by landing 0-9 (4 f’s, 1 ’65) for his hours endeavours withEoin McMullan, Ryan McGarry and Aaron Crawford also impressing for the Cuchullains.

The Shamrocks introduced Cormac McFadden at half time to play on the three quarter line and his impact was game changing.  If he didn’t win clean ball, he was foraging and being a constant thorn in the Cuchullains defence after the restart.  Declan McCloskey and Enda Og McGarry also shone for Loughgiel with Odhran McMullan landing an impressive 0-3 from centre half through the hour.

Dunloy started the final brightly but had to wait until the fifth minute before Elliott opened the scoring, using his trademark burst of speed to gain the necessary yards to get his shot away.  Loughgiel soon found their form though and through Michael McGarry, Odhran McFadden and Shane O’Boyle, they opened a two point lead by the 15th minute.  All of the Shamrocks scores coming from distances as they made light of playing into whatever wind there was at Paírc MacUílín.  Dunloy hadn’t settles into the final, racking up six wides in the same time but they were almost back on terms when they created the first goal scoring opportunity of the decider.  Padraig McGilligan surprising everyone with a 30 yard drilled effort only for Kevin McAuley to be equal to his shot.  The sliotar was parried free and although Elliott was first to the ball, his pulled effort went wide of the post.

Dunloy finally awoke from their early slumber and points from Rory Mullan (two), Elliott (two, one free) and McGilligan opened a three point lead for the Cuchullains for the first time in the final.  Rian McMullan’s first free of the match stopped the rot for the Shamrocks in the 25th minute but a further brace of points from the impressive Elliott, taking his tally to five for the half, gave the Cuchullains a four point lead at the interval, 0-8 to 0-4.

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Although they only played close to their potential for the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Cuchullains could have been out of sight by the short whistle having reached double figures for wides in the opening 30 minutes.

The second half started with Elliott and Rian McMullan exchanging frees before a classy score from Elliott in the 37th minute gave Dunloy a five point lead.  Loughgiel response typified the resilience within this young Shamrock side though.  Against Ballycastle they proved their battling qualities, and on Sunday they did it again with Michael McGarry leading the charge.  First landing his second point of the match from distance before dancing his way through the Dunloy defence and smashing the sliotar to the bottom corner of Adam Mooney’s net.  A piece of individual brilliance at a time when his side were flagging and gave them the shot in the arm they needed at the perfect time.

Dunloy responded with Oisin McErlean landing a point from the half way line but the Shamrocks smelt blood and went for the jugular.  Odhran McMullan and Elliott swapped frees to leave two points between the sides with ten minutes remaining but the Shamrocks had all the momentum and were winning every breaking ball in midfield.  A brace of frees from Rian McMullan brought the sides level for the second time of the final and with Loughgiel looking more likely to push on, the Cuchullains were facing a huge test of their character this time.  Big occasions need big players and the Cuchullains have a rising star in Seaan Elliott.  He split the posts with a ’65 in the last minute of normal time, only for Rian McMullan to return the favour moments later with his first white flag from open play.

With the game in injury time, Dunloy worked a quick free to substitute Eoghan McGrath and he showed nerves of steel to send the sliotar over the bar with what felt like a match winning score but Loughgiel and Odhran McMullan had the final say with the Shamrocks centre half splitting the posts for his third of the match with the last poc of the game.

An exhilarating ending to an entertaining contest.  Both sides will feel they let this one slip from their grasp in a tense closing 10 minutes.  When and where the final will be remains to be seen.  Both sides have players involved in the Mageean Cup schools competition – maybe extra time should have been played?  That’s a story for another day.  For now, we get the chance to watch these two sides do battle once again with nothing decided yet.Premier-Electrics21Bridge BarCiaran Laverty advert copy2


Dunloy: Adam Mooney; Ciaran McQuillan, Aaron Crawford, Eoin McMullan; Callum Scullion, Ryan McGarry, Barry Scott; Anton McGrath, Oisin McErlean; Anthony Smyth, Ryan McFarlane, Padraig McGilligan; Sean O’Neill, Eoghan McGrath, Seaan Elliott.

Subs: Eoghan McGrath for S O’Neill (43); Patrick Kinsella for R McFarlane (50)

Scorers for Dunloy: Seaan Elliott 0-9 (3 f’s, 1 ’65); Rory Mullan 0-2; Oisin McErlean 0-1; Padraig McGilligan 0-1; Eoghan McGrath 0-1

Loughgiel: Kevin McAuley; Conor Henry, Declan McCloskey, Enda Og McGarry; Ciaran McKay, Odhran McMullan, Tiernan McAlonan; Shane O’Boyle, Paul Boyle; Conor Deery, Cathal Hargan, Michael McGarry; Rian McMullan, John-Francis Connolly, Odhran McGrath

Subs: Cormac McFadden for Conor Deery (35); Christy McGarry for O McGrath (52)

Scorers for Loughgiel: Rian McMullan 0-5 (4 f’s); Michael McGarry 1-2; Odhran McMullan 0-3 (2 f’s); Shane O’Boyle 0-1.

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

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Pics by John McIlwaine

Slick moving Emmet’s advance to semi-finals

列印Ulster Junior hurling quarter-final

Cushendun Emmett’s (Antrim) 2-16 Na Magha (Derry) 0-10

Na Magha have been beaten Ulster Junior club finalists on three occasions recently and were expected to provide a stiff test for an Emmet’s side who were appearing in their first Ulster encounter at this level when the sides met at Quinn Park, Ballymena today.

In truth the Steelstown side never looked like troubling a slick moving Cushendun side who took control from early in the game and had put the result to bed by half time when they led 2-9 to 0-3 at the short whistle.

The Emmet’s were superior all over the field and any chance of a Na Maha comeback in the second half were soon dispelled with the Derry side’s first score from play coming five minutes from time, an excellent long range effort from Brendan Quigley.

Cushendun started brightly with  Conor McHugh excellent from frees and the North Antrim side went on to dominate the first half with Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbett and Mark Scally giving nothing away in defence and Na Maha having to work overtime for scores.

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Donal O’Hara did a good job in his man-marking job on their danger man, Alan Grant who lacked support until the Derry side dispensed with the sweeper shortly before half-time, but by that time Cushendun were in control in most areas of the pitch and there was no chance they would lose the initiative even though Na Magha had a better second half.

Cushendun, particularly during the opening half, worked hard in half-back, midfield and half-forward and the pace of David Kilgore and James Morgan opened up the Na Maha defence time and again. During the second half the Emmet’s eased up a little but by this time they had one foot in the next round as they continued to have too many options for their opponents.

McHugh set matters in motion as he pointed the first of nine frees from the polished mid-fielder, in the opening minute and he had added three more as Cushendun shot the first six points, the pick of them from David Kilgore from a sideline cut.

Deaglan Foley finally got his side on their way from two pointed frees but a long ball out of defence from Donal O’Hara deceived Na Maha keeper Barry Robinson who appeared unsighted in the bright sunshine and went all the way to the Derry net in the 16th minute with Eugene Duffin shepherding it over the line.

Five minutes later Aidan Corbett’s long diagonal ball set up James Morgan who turned his marker and fired low past Na Maha keeper, Robinson for a 2-7 to 0-2 lead. McHugh from a free and Morgan from play added points before the break and even at this stage it looked as good as over.

The excellent Conor McHugh and Conleth McNeill opened the Emmet’s second half account with two frees as the men in their change strip of Saffron continued to call the shots but although Na Magha replied from three Deaglan Foley frees, points from Dominic McQuillan (2), Eugene Duffin and McHugh had Cushendun coasting at 2-15 to 0-6.

Na Magha scored four of the last five points of the game, but these were merely consolation scores as Cushendun had already secured their place in the semi-final where they will face either Mullahoran of Cavan or Lurgan’s Sean Treacy’s on October 28th.Glendun Nursing Home ad copy

2.JPGMary McBrides

Cushendun: E Magee; S Hamilton, A Corbett, T Scally; M Scally capt., D O’Hara (1-0), P Bannon; M McCartin, C McHugh (0-9 frees); C McNeill (0-1 free), E McQuillan (0-1), D McQuillan (0-2); J Morgan (1-1), E Duffin (0-1), D Kilgore (0-1).

Subs: N McAuley for M Scally (HT), R McQuillan for E Duffin (45), M Dunne for D McQuillan (50), A McMullan for D Kilgore (53), R Millar for J Morgan (57).


Na Magha: B Robinson; C McGoran, J McQuillan, M Temple; M McShane, B Quigley (0-1), F McAnaney (0-1); T Rankin (0-1 free), B Glass; C Shiels, N McCallion, B Douban; A grant, D Foley (0-7 frees), D Shiels.

Subs : T Gallagher for M McShane (34), M McCloskey for N McCallion (38).

Referee : Barry Winters (Tyrone)

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Johnnies championship dreams ‘Dall over

LURIG MURAL copy 3Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship – Semi-Final Replay

Cushendall 2-16 St Johns 3-11

Brendan McTaggart reports from Paírc MacUílín, Ballycastle

When the vast crowd packed into Paírc MacUílín on Sunday afternoon, there was an air of anticipation before throw in.  There always is before any championship semi-final but this felt different.  After the first match two weeks ago and the dramatic ending, we were left waiting excruciatingly for two weeks to find who would be joining Loughgiel in the 2018 Final but my word wasn’t it worth the wait.

Cushendall edged St Johns with two points to spare after another hugely entertaining and no less dramatic hour and more of hurling.  Their place in the decider was only settled with a free in the sixth minute of injury time by substitute Emmett Laverty but just like 14 days previous, the Ruairi’s were pushed to the pin of their collar by a gallant and luckless Johnnies side.

After seven minutes, it looked like the consensus around the county had got it right.  Cushendall started like a house on fire and had opened up a six point lead while St Johns were metaphorically still in the changing rooms.  They couldn’t get to grips with the Ruairi’s juggernaut and the prospects of another tight championship encounter was somewhere between bleak and non-existent. People1stA

7St John’s Michial Dudley runs at the Cushendall defence

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However the Johnnies have shown in 2018 that they are the real deal.  They are a team to be reckoned with and on Sunday they showed the determination and character that goes hand in hand with championship winning teams.  They reeled the Ruairi’s in to leave just two points between the sides at the short whistle, thanks largely to the talents of Conor Johnston and after eight minutes of the second half they had taken the lead.  Barry McFall’s goal upping the stakes and sending the atmosphere at Paírc MacUílín to fever pitch and thoughts turned to the possibility of a first City side in the championship Final since St Galls in 2014 and Rossa in 2004.

The Ruairi’s showed their championship pedigree by steadying their ship with Neil McManus, Natty McNaughton and Conor Carson to the fore but they were rocked with five minutes remaining with Peter McCallin’s major giving the Johnnies the lead once again.

The Cushendall response this time was emphatic.  Two goals from Man of the Match Conor Carson opened a five point lead going into injury time for 13 time county champions only for St Johns to roll the dice one more time.  Micheal Bradley splitting the posts from distance before Conor Johnston landed their third major deep in injury time.

With the game in the melting pot the Ruairi’s were awarded a free from close to the ’65 and substitute Emmett Laverty eased the nerves within the Cushendall support.

Dani's Designs logo-textA24Arron Graffin blocks down a shot by St John’s full forward Michael BradleyConnolly's Logo copy 2

Both teams were forced into changes to their starting 15.  Cushendall were without the services of Eoghan Campbell but started the replay with a team that was close to the 15 that finished the first match.  Natty McNaughton, Alex Delargy and Martin Burke earning their shirt for their efforts the last day out.  St John’s were without Donal Carson but also elected to draft in Gerard Cunningham with Simon McCrory starting as well as a raft of positional changes from the first encounter.

All the changes seemed to be counter-productive for the Johnnies though as Cushendall steam rolled the Corrigan Park side in the opening exchanges.  McManus, putting thoughts of his misadventures with placed ball the last day to one side and was back to his imperious best, landing two huge frees in the opening minutes while scoring his first from play after Fergus McCambridge also opened his account.  A brace of points from Ryan McCambridge and Cormac McClafferty followed to leave six between the sides in the seventh minute, all while Cushendall ‘keeper Eoin Gillan still hadn’t touched the sliotar.

The first St Johns point came in the 11th minute, Barry McFall splitting the posts as the Johnnies continued to look for a way of settling into the semi-final.  Conor Johnston landed a brace of frees either side of a long range point from Francis McCurry and when Ryan McCambridge and Michail Dudley swapped points in the 15th minute, four points separated the sides with Cushendall doing all the early running.

St Johns finished the half well though and managed to bring the Cushendall lead down to two points by the short whistle.  Conor Johnston landing two points (one free) with his brother Ciaran also getting in on the act with another trademark free from distance while the Ruairi’s only had a point from Fergus McCambridge to show for their efforts in the second quarter.

It was another half of hurling that had big hits, big tackles and loads of intensity.  Both teams played on the edge and while space and time was at a premium, goal chances were created throughout the first half.  McFall was denied by Paddy Burke in the 11th minute while Alex Delargy’s effort was cleared off the line by Ryan McNulty.

10The match was still in the melting pot despite the Cushendall dominance of the first half.  The Ruairi’s hit double the wides of St Johns in the opening 30 minutes with a few frees going astray from McManus but they started the second half in the same fashion as the first, this time Natty McNaughton and McManus (free) landing the scores in the opening three minutes to open a four point lead once again.

The Ruairi’s wouldn’t score for another five minutes which in the grand scheme of the match wasn’t long but the Johnnies manages to take the lead in that time.  A brace of frees from Conor Johnston preceded the first goal of the semi-final.  Barry McFall finishing a slick move in the 38thminute to give St Johns the lead for the first time in the match.

The Ruairi’s response was resembled everything they have become through the years.  They remained calm while becoming more clinical with the passing and execution.  A trio of scores from Paddy McGill and McManus (two frees) came on either side of  a point from Conor Johnston to leave the Cushendall men ahead by the minimum mid-way through the second half.

With the game becoming less structured and more frenetic, space and time was becoming more readily available.  McManus took his tally to 0-7 for the match before St John’s dealt another hammer blow in the 55th minute with Peter McCallin scoring their second goal.  The St Johns man turning two Ruairi defenders before rifling his shot low past the advancing Gillan in the Cushendall goals.

44026454_516188375514358_4348316725461123072_nConor Carson receives the Saffron Gael Man of the Match award, a new hurl kindly sponsored by Martin Hurls, Randalstown.

The Cushendall response was epic.  They were awarded a free from close to their own ’65, still within McManus’ range but his effort dropped short with the sliotar falling into the waiting crowd.  Carson got a touch to the dropping ball and suddenly it was in the back of Simon Doherty’s net.  A huge goal for his side and just reward for the Cushendall man who had been going through a mountain of work during the match in a magnificent tussle with St Johns defender Ryan McNulty.

With the match entering injury time Cushendall thought they had finally extinguished the flickering flame of the St Johns championship when substitute Eunan McKillop found Carson in space with the ‘Dall forward landing his second goal in five minutes at the business end of the semi-final.

The Johnnies found a second wind though with Micheal Bradley splitting the posts from distance before Conor Johnston collected a lose ball in the Cushendall defence and fired their third major of the match to leave one between the sides.  Cushendall’s nerves were eased moments later however when Emmet Laverty split the posts with a 60 yard free with the last poc of the game to seal the Ruairi’s sixth championship final in succession and the small matter of a meeting with Loughgiel in two weeks time.

23Neil McManus seems certain to score here but Simon Doherty somehow got his body in the way to deflect the ball out for a 65


Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Arron Graffin, Paddy Burke, Martin Burke; Sean Delargy, David Kearney, Francis McCurry; Paddy McGill, Neil McManus; Conor Carson, Donal McNaughton, Ryan McCambridge; Fergus McCambridge, Cormac McClafferty, Alex Delargy.

Scorers: Neil McManus 0-7 5 f’s); Conor Carson 2-00; Fergus McCambridge 0-2; Ryan McCambridge 0-2; Francis McCurry 0-1; Cormac McClafferty 0-1; Paddy McGill 0-1; Donal McNaughton 0-1; Emmett Laverty 0-1 (1 f).

St Johns:  Simon Doherty; Conall Morgan, Ryan McNulty, Aidan McMahon; Stephen Tierney, Ciaran Johnston, Gerard Cunningham; Simon McCrory, Jim Peoples; Barry McFall, Peter McCallin, Shea Shannon; Michail Dudley, Michael Bradley, Conor Johnston.

Scorers: Conor Johnston 1-7 (4 f’s); Barry McFall 1-1; Peter McCallin 1-00; Michail Dudley 0-1; Micheal Bradley 0-1; Ciaran Johnston 0-1 (1 f).

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

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Pics by John McIlwaine

Saints young hurlers celebrate

All Saints GAC, Ballymena celebrated the success of their U14 hurlers on Saturday at their Slemish Park clubrooms. The young Saints were this year’s North Antrim division 2 champions and earlier in the season won the North Antrim Feile division 2 title.


Former All Saints chairman, Joe Casey presents the North Antrim U14 division 2 championship shield to All Saints captain Niall Devine