Doherty Woodshavings Hurling League Division One
Cushendall 5-21 Portaferry 1-23
Wednesday July 14
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pairc Mhuire, Cushendall
Cushendall booked their place in the League Final after a comfortable victory over Portaferry on Wednesday evening at Pairc Mhuir. After a slow start, the home side took control of the contest after the water-break where despite trailing by an early Tom McGrattan goal, they would score 3-5 in the space of 10 minutes with Portaferry raising just two white flags in the same period of the game.
It was another impressive performance from the Ruairi’s with eight different scorers and just seven points of their 5-21 coming from placed ball. Their strong running from deep and ability to carve open the visiting defence almost at will with some neat interplay at times had those in attendance under the shadow of Lurig Mountain purring. Scott Walsh, Niall McCormick and Fergus McCambridge all influential. The returning Neil McManus top scored for the Ruairi’s with 1-7 while Eoghan Campbell, Andrew Delargy and Niall McCormick (two) also chipped in with goals.
The Ardsmen impressed in attack during that opening quarter with Daithi Sands and Tom McGrattan causing the Cushendall full back line plenty of problems. Caolan Taggart had an intriguing tussle with Neil McManus, especially in the first half while Conor and Aaron O’Prey were always busy in midfield.
The turning point came after the first half water break though when the Ruairi’s went through the gears, opening a gap that Portaferry couldn’t close by the final whistle.
The opening goal of the game came in the third minute when Daithi Sands weaved his way through the Cushendall defence before laying the sliotar unselfishly into the path of Tom McGrattan. The Portaferry corner forward making no mistake from close range.
Cushendall’s first score came in the sixth minute, McManus registering a white flag but the visitors had hit the ground running and had opened a five point lead by the 12th minute with Eoghan Sands and Conor Mageean doing the damage on the scoreboard.
Cushendall began to settle however and had the deficit cut with Tom McGrattan’s goal the difference at the water break.
A scoring burst of three goals in six minutes helped the Ruairi’s to take a stranglehold of the game with McManus and McCormick heavily involved in both majors. Both men combining before Andrew Delargy’s first timed effort hit the back of the net. McCormick and Fergus McCambridge combined to create the second Cushendall goal as the home side took the lead for the first time in the 23rd minute.
The third Cushendall goal came two minutes later with McManus involved again. This time Eoghan Campbell was involved before McCormick applied the finish. Four further points form the home side gave them an eight point lead at the interval after outscoring Portaferry 3-5 to 0-2 in the second quarter. Half time score 3-11 to 1-9.
The fourth Cushendall goal came six minutes into the second half with Cushendall pressurising the Portaferry defence into an error. The Ruairi’s capitalised on indecision with Eoghan Campbell getting the last touch on the sliotar before it crossed the line.
Both sides made changes with the fluency of the game deteriorating but the home side showed moments of class that punctuated the second half. Alec Delargy with four of his five points coming in the second half while substitute Christy McNaughton’s stickwork and free taking exemplary.
Cushendall’s fifth major came in the last minute of normal time with Emmet Laverty providing the assist for McCormick. ‘Mucker’ with a strong run through the middle before playing the sliotar into the path of McCormick who added his second major of the game and further gloss to the Ruairi’s scoreline.
Cushendall will now face Rossa in the League Final.
Cushendall: Eoin Campbell; Ryan McCambridge, Paddy Burke, Liam Gillan; Scott Walsh, Aaron Graffin, Ruari McCollum; Eoghan Campbell, Alec Delargy; Emmet Laverty, Neil McManus, Andrew Delargy; Francis McCurry, Niall McCormick, Fergus McCambridge
Scorers: Neil McManus 1-7 (3f 1’65); Niall McCormick 2-00; Alec Delargy 0-5; Christy McNaughton 0-4 (3f); Andrew Delargy 1-1; Eoghan Campbell 1-1; Francis McCurry 0-2; Scott Walsh 0-1
Portaferry: Paddy McNally; Emmet O’Neill, Tom Murray, Ronan Smyth; Darragh Mullan, Caolan Taggart, Conor O’Neill; Aaron O’Prey, Conor O’Prey; Padraig Doran, Eoghan Sands, Conor Mageean; Tom McGrattan, Niall Milligan, Daithi Sands
Scorers: Tom McGrattan 1-4; Ronan Blair 0-4 (4f); Padraig Doran 0-3 (3f); Eoghan Sands 0-3; Conor Mageean 0-3; Ryan Convery 0-2; Caolan Taggart 0-1; Niall Milligan 0-1; Daithi Sands 0-1
Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)