Two off as Cuchullains take derby spoils

O’Neill’s All County Hurling League Division One

Dunloy 2-15 Loughgiel 0-18

Wednesday June 20

Brendan McTaggart reports from Pearse Park, Dunloy

Thrills, spills, mistakes, red cards and goals.  There is nothing quite like a local derby and when these two take to the pitch, more often than not they deliver a classic.  With both sides agreeing to ‘double up’ and use the match as the semi-final of the Liam McGarry Cup, it brought more significance for the sides with the winner playing the victors of Thurles Sarsfields and Ballyboden St Enda’s on Saturday afternoon.  It may not have been the spectacle they delivered at the end of last season’s league campaign but the drama was every bit as intense.  Dunloy and Loughgiel have a rivalry that’s as old as time itself and the Cuchullains held onto the bragging rights after overcoming a two point half time deficit to see off the Shamrocks.

Both sides finished the match with 14 men, Liam Watson seeing red for the visitors to Pearse Park at the end of the first half before Conal Cunning’s match was shortened shortly after the restart.  In the end it was goals that made the difference and it was Eoin O’Neill who delivered for the Cuchullains.  ‘Sammy’ bagged one in either half at crucial times to lift the home side, especially in the second half when Loughgiel looked in control.  The Cuchullains finished the match strongly and while Loughgiel’s challenge never faltered, the three point margin at the end of the hour was a fair reflection of the contest.

In a dogged first half where both sides weren’t at their fluent best, Loughgiel were deserving of their half time lead.  They started brightly and had never gave the home side time to settle into their game.  Watson was proving to be handful on the edge of the square while James McNaughton and Mark McFadden were winning the midfield exchanges.  Dunloy’s first point came through a familiar source for the Cuchullains this season, Nicky McKeague landing a free after six minutes.  The Shamrocks had already scored three points of their own by that stage however with Eddie McCloskey, Watson (free) and Mark McFadden all finding their range.  A strong start from the visitors was almost underlined in the opening period by a Watson major but his effort was well saved by Ryan Elliott.

6Loughgiel’s Liam Watson. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

The opening 10  minutes belonged to the Shamrocks and their three point lead was restored when Watson scored his second free of the match but that was their last score for almost 15 minutes as Dunloy began to find momentum.  A brace of frees from McKeague revived the Cuchullains before Eoin O’Neill struck Dunloy’s first point from play in the 14th minute.  Another McKeague free, his fourth of the half tied the sides before O’Neill scored the first goal of the game.  Conal Cunning laying the sliotar off to Chrissy Brogan and while Loughgiel ‘keeper DD Quinn managed to save the Dunloy forward’s shot, O’Neill was first to the rebound and managed to scoop the ball into the back of the empty net after 17 minutes.

The Shamrocks responded to Dunloy’s goal as you would expect.  Finding another gear and wrestling back the momentum.  These two sides can inevitably bring the best out of each other and the Shamrocks outplayed Dunloy in the second quarter.  The home side wouldn’t bother the score board operative at Pearse Park for the remainder of the half while Loughgiel tagged on another six points to retake the lead.  Odhran McFadden, Watson (two), Eddie McCloskey, Mark McFadden and Barney McAuley (free) raising the white flag.  They had Dunloy on the ropes but they lost the momentum in first half injury time when referee Colin Murray was called to the side by his own umpire.  The end result was a straight red card for Watson.  A disappointing end to the half for the Shamrocks and while they held a two point lead, the Cuchullains would have been relieved to have got into the break and reorganise.

8Dunloy’s Deáglán Smith – Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

It wasn’t a game for hurling purists in the first half.  There was plenty of bite and needle between the sides and while it still lingered after the restart, both sides upped their game.  Nicky McKeague (’65) and Ciarán Elliott raised white flags either side of a McAuley free before the first major incident of the second half saw the Cuchullains down to 14 men, referee Murray issuing a straight red card to Conal Cunning after six second half minutes.

Loughgiel managed to keep that one point advantage with Mark McFadden and McAuley (free) landing scores in response to McKeague (free) and O’Neill.  The momentum swung in the Cuchullains favour once again though when O’Neill bagged their second major in the 48th minute.  Nigel Elliott this time evading the clutches of the Loughgiel defence before getting his shot away.  Once again DD Quinn denied the home side with a superb save but like his first, O’Neill pulled first time to the back of the net to restore the Cuchullains lead.

McAuley and Nigel Elliott swapped scores before a mammoth point from Eamon Smyth and Keelan Molloy’s first of the match opened a four point lead for the home side with five minutes remaining.  Substitute Maol Connolly raised white flags either side of a Chrissy Brogan point and as the game went to the death, the home side had their ‘keeper to thank for keeping their lead intact.  Joey Scullion, not long on the pitch, danced his way past three Dunloy challenges but his shot was saved by the Antrim netminder and cleared to safety.

Points from Scullion and Ryan McKee reduced the deficit to the minimum in injury time but scores from O’Neill and Nigel Elliott ensured the Cuchullains were celebrating at the final whistle.


Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, James McKeague, Conor McKinley; Eamon Smyth, Kevin Molloy, Paul Shiels; Nicky McKeague, Ciarán Elliott; Keelan Molloy, Nigel Elliott, Deáglán Smith; Eoin O’Neill, Chrissy Brogan, Conal Cunning.

Loughgiel: DD Quinn, Paul Gillan, Tony McCloskey, Tiernan Coyle; Declan Gillan, Damon McMullan, Odhran McFadden; Mark McFadden, James McNaughton; Barney McAuley, Eddie McCloskey, Donal McKinley; Dan McCloskey, Liam Watson, Shan McGrath.

Scorers for Dunloy: Eoin O’Neill 2-3; Nicky McKeague 0-6 (5f’s, 1 ’65); Nigel Elliott 0-2; Eamon Smith 0-1; Ciarán Elliott 0-1; Keelan Molloy 0-1; Chrissy Brogan 0-1

Scorers for Loughgiel: Liam Watson 0-4 (3 f’s); Barney McAuley 0-4 (3f’s); Mark McFadden 0-3; Eddie McCloskey 0-2; Maol Connolly 0-2; Ryan McKee 0-1; Joey Scullion 0-1; Odhran McFadden 0-1

Referee: Colin Murray (Carryduff)

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Pics by Dylan McIlwaine


Ballygalget see red as Shamrocks prosper on the peninsula

O’Neill’s Antrim Hurling League Division 1

Ballygalget 1-9 Loughgiel 0-21

Loughgiel left the Ards with a valuable brace of points as they seek to close the gap on early league leaders Dunloy. In a game which will probably be remembered more for its off the ball action and less for the actual hurling, Loughgiel were never really tested after the first quarter. Darren McKeown was the man in the middle and he was kept busy during a match which saw him brandish two red cards to the hosts in an ill-tempered second half. In truth though, neither sending off had any real impact on the result, as the visitors looked comfortable throughout. Ballygalget had the questionable advantage of a brisk Strangford breeze at their back in the first half but struggled to create opportunities against a very hard-working Shamrock defence. Indeed, the visitors went in 2 points up at the short whistle, illustrating their dominance over their hosts.

Recently returned County men, James McNaughton combined well with Dan McCloskey to get the scoring underway after just 3 minutes after a fine support run. Marc Fisher replied with a long range solo effort from inside his own 65 metre line just in front of the new gym which overlooks Mitchel Park. Facing into the breeze, the visitors employed the short poc effectively and the short direct passing began to have an effect. Dan McCloskey scored his first from 40yards after fine set-up play from county team-mate Donal McKinley. Shan McGrath opened his own account from a very tight angle after a good delivery from Mark McFadden. Barney McAuley scored the first of his six pointed frees in the 8th minute after Shay Casey was offered a somewhat robust welcome by his opposite number Peter McManus. With all poc outs being delivered in the direction of Gareth Johnson, Ballygalget began to create some sporadic chances. Having just missed a scorable free from 45yards, Magic won his own poc out at left-half forward and began to rumble towards goal. Despite the close attention of Declan Gillan, Johnson managed to off-load the ball to the unmarked Cormac Coulter who was able to level the score with a well taken goal from 14yards. McAuley replied with a free for the Shamrocs earned by Donal McKinley a minute later before Cormac Coulter saw his shot saved well by DD Quinn. Magic would score the resulting 65 but any hopes of a ‘Galget resurgence would be in vain as they wouldn’t raise another white flag for another 10 minutes. By this time Loughgiel had defied the breeze to shoot five unanswered points in a row, four from play and one from a free. Shan McGrath’s second point from play left the scores 0-11 to 1-3 in the 23rd minute after Magic converted a free from the Shamrocks’ 45. A brief period of dominance by the hosts saw them score 3 points before the interval with Caolan Bailie scoring from play and Magic pointing two dead balls.

The second half was delayed slightly as the referee had to return to the changing rooms to retrieve his pencil. The hosts would probably wish he hadn’t found it, as he would be kept busy taking names as both sides exchanged pleasantries in the second half. With the wind at their backs, the Shamrocks hit three early wides before Dan McCloskey scored his second point after excellent work from wing back Odhrán McFadden. Despite two further wides, the Shamrocks were looking increasingly dangerous in attack. Eddie McCloskey dispossessed James McGrath and handpassed to his namesake Shan McGrath on the Shamrocks sidewho was brought down by corner-back McManus. McAuley’s penalty was well saved by Jamie Crowe in the Ballygalget goal, although McAuley would score the resulting 65 to increase his team’s lead. Tempers were starting to fray and a few cards were issued as things began to get heated.  Loughgiel were unlucky not to score their first major of the day when Shan McGrath was played in after good work by Dan McCloskey, but the scoreboard kept ticking as Eddie McCloskey scored his 3rd point of thegame from long range. Liam Watson replaced Casey and would have an instant impact when he was fouled 50yards out, McAuley converting the free. The two McCloskey brothers despatched points in the 47th minute to move the visitors ahead by 9 points and their task became a little easier when the home side were reduced to fourteen men soon afterwards . Ballygalget only managed their first shot in the 50th minute after a narrow wide from a motivated Caolan Bailie and by the time they would score their first point of the half, the match was over as a contest as Declan McManus found space to score from 45yards out on the left wing. The hosts suffered a further setback in the 59th minute when they lost a second man after an exchange with the referee.

By this point, Loughgiel had added scores through Joey Scullion (2), Declan Gillan (1) and Barney McAuley to secure the victory.

The final score of Ballygalget 1-9 v Loughgiel 0-21 moves the Shamrocks into third in the league table with a visit to near neighbours Dunloy this Wednesday night likely to interest the neutrals. This match will double up as a semi-final in the Liam McGarry cup with the final taking place this Saturday in Loughgiel. Ballyboden St. Enda’s meet Thurles Sarsfields in the other semi-final this Friday night at St Mary’s CBGS on the Glen Road, Belfast. The two losing teams will play off on Saturday in Loughgiel as a curtain raiser to the final at Father Healy Park.


DD Quinn, Tony McCloskey, Tiernan Coyle, Declan Gillan, Damon McMullan, Odhran McFadden, Mark McFadden, James McNaughton, Barney McAuley, Eddie McCloskey, Donal McKinley, Dan McCloskey, Shay Casey, Shan McGrath.


Liam Watson for Shay Casey (45), Joey Scullion for James McNaughton (51), Ronan McCloskey for Paul Gillan (55).



Jamie Crowe, Brook Byers, Eoin Clarke, Peter McManus, Cathal Coulter, Eoin Coulter, James McGrath, Paul McManus, Marc Fisher, Declan McManus, Conor Coulter, Gareth Johnson, Cormac Coulter, Caolan Bailie, Tim Prenter



B McAuley 0-6 (all frees), E McCloskey 0-4, D McCloskey 0-3, S McGrath 0-2, J McNaughton 0-2, J Scullion 0-2, M McFadden 0-1, D Gillan 0-1


G Johnston 0-4 (all frees), C Coulter 1-0, M Fisher 0-2 (1 free), D McManus 0-2, C Bailie 0-1


Goals kill off Ballycran challenge

O’Neill’s Antrim Hurling League Division 1

Ballycran 0-15 Cushendall 3-15

John McIlwaine reports from Ballycran

Two goals in quick succession early in the second half were the scores which gave Cushendall victory over Ballycran in Wednesday evening’s Antrim Hurling League game at McKenna Park, Ballycran. In a game played in a gale force wind and rain, the home side had made good use of the elements in the first half and turned around five to the good on a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-8. Not a massive lead considering the strength of the wind, but a good cushion nonetheless, provided they didn’t conceded any goals. However the Down side’s worst fears came to pass within four minutes of the restart when a long ball by Cushendall’s Cormac McClafferty came back off the upright and dropped perfectly for Paddy McGill to drill home from close range. That brought the gap back to just two and while they were rocking from the concession of the first goal the visitors struck again when a sideline cut by Conrad McDonnell found Ed McQuillan close to goal and the young forward did brilliantly to fire the ball high into the Ballycran net.

Things got worse for the home side when two quick points from Neil McManus and one from distance from Eoghan Campbell put the Ruairis four clear. However they found their feet and two points from Scott Nicholson frees had them back in contention, only for disaster to strike once again when a long clearance out of defence by Cushendall deceived the Ballycran goalkeeper Stephen Keith and ended up in the back of the net.

That proved to be the final nail in the Ballycran coffin and from here on Cushendall were dominant as they pulled clear to win by three clear goals.


Ballycran had started so promisingly in the first half with two points inside the opening minute through full forward Christopher Eagan and midfielder James Coyle. Conor Carson got Cushendall’s first score in the fourth minute, but three of the next four came on the home side through Brett Nicholson, Scott Nicholson and Niall Breen in reply to just one from a Neil McManus free for Cushendall.  However Cushendall were getting to grips with the difficult conditions and points from Paddy McGill, Neil McManus (free) and an excellent solo effort from Conor Carson had them right back in the game. The home team kept their composure however and a strong finish to the half which yielded points through Scott Nicholson, Cushendall native Cormac McAlister, Liam Savage and Conor Woods helped them to a 0-13 to 0-8 interval lead.

The strong start to the second half really turned things in Cushendall favour, especially the two goals within a minute. But Ballycran kept battling and though Cushendall ended up convincing winners the scoreline may have flattered them a little.


Stephen Keith, Aaron Dorrian, Patrick Hughes, Michael Hughes, Cormac McAlister, Connor Woods, Michael Taylor, Sean Ennis, James Coyle, Liam Savage, Brett Nicholson, Gerard Hughes, Niall Breen, Christopher Egan, Scott Nicholson.


Eoin Gillan, Eoin McManus, Arron Graffin, Sean Delargy, Francis McCurry, Paddy Burke, Ryan McCambridge, Eoghan Campbell, Emmet Laverty, Conor Carson, Neil McManus, Conrad McDonnell, Paddy McGill, Cormac McClafferty, Ed McQuillan

Subs – Liam Gillan for Eoin McManus; Alex Delargy for Conrad McDonnell; Ryan Delargy for Ed McQuillan.

Referee – Colin Murray

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Pics by John McIlwaine





League champions Loughgiel run up a big score

O’Neill’s All County Hurling League – Division 1

Loughgiel 2-25 Rossa 0-14

Loughgiel Shamrocks were in fine scoring form when they hosted Rossa at Fr Healey Park on Sunday evening, running out winners by 2-25 to 0-14. The home side were 0-16 to 0-2 ahead at half time against a Rossa side missing a few of their regulars and it was clear at the this stage just where the points were going to end up, but to their credit Rossa showed muck better in the second half, scoring a dozen good points themselves.

Matthew Devlin gave Rossa an early lead with a pointed free but Loughgiel hit back strongly with points from Eddie McCloskey (2), Tiernan Coyle, Dan McCloskey, James McNaughton and Barney McAuley to go 0-6 to 0-2 in front. Rossa replied with a well taken point from play by Thomas Morgan on sixteen minutes, but that was to be the Belfast men’s last score of the half as the Shamrocks hit ten on the trot, seven of them from Barney McAuley, two from Dan McCloskey and one from Shan McGrath.

The second half saw a big improvement in Rossa’s play at they hit six points during the third quarter, in reply to just two from the home side. Two of the Rossa scores came from full forward Dominic McEnhill, two from Thomas Morgan and one from substitute Padraig McGreevy. The home side upped the pace again and a fine long range effort from Barney McAuley, one from substitute Liam Watson, plus a goal from Dan McCloskey all but sealed the win. Aodhan O’Brien, Gerard Walsh and Manus Smyth all pointed to get Rossa going again in reply to scores by Watson, Dan McCloskey and Odhran McFadden and they kept up their improved second half form as Domo McEnhill Padraig McGreevy and Gerard Walsh landed good scores.

However Loughgiel were always in control and the Shamrocks wound it all up with another Watson point, plus a second goal from Dan McCloskey, following good work on the right by James McNaughton.

LOUGHGIEL – DD Quinn, Paul Gillan, Tony McCloskey, Tiernan  Coyle, Damon McMullan, Seamus Dobbin, Odhran McFadden, Mark McFadden, Declan Gillan, Eddie McCloskey, James McNaughton, Barney McAuley, Daniel McCloskey, Shan McGrath, Donal McKinley

Subs used – Liam Watson, Declan Laverty, Joey Scullion, Shay Casey, Nicholas McNaughton.

ROSSA – Conall Breatchnach, Niall Crossan, Eoin O’Neill, Kevin McDonnell, Gerard Walsh, Cricky McGuinness, Aodhan O’Brien, Ciaran Orchin, Manus Smyth, Matthew Devlin, Callum McVeigh, Oisin McVicker, Thomas Morgan, Dominic McEnhill, Padraig McGreevy.

Referee – Colum Cunning (Dunloy)

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Ballycastle had to work for their victory

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O’Neill’s All County Hurling League – Division 1

Ballycastle 2-21 St Gall’s 1-15

Ballycastle kept their unbeaten record intact in Division 2 of the Antrim Hurling Leagues when they beat St Gall’s in Wednesday evening’s round 5 game at Pairc MacUilin, but they were made to work all the way before shaking of a dogged challenge by the visitors. Looking at the respective league position of these team any neutral observer would have expected a one sided affair, but it was far from that with St Gall’s showing the talent they have in their ranks, an on this display they should soon be making their way up the table.

The opening quarter was fairly even with the free taking of Dairmuid McShane, who hit four from various distances and one from TT Butler just keeping them ahead as Tomas O’Ciaran (2), Paddy Friel and Mark Napier sent over for St Gall’s. A goal from TT Butler on nineteen minutes gave Ballycastle set the home side up well in the final quarter and points from McShane and Rambo McCarry in reply to three O’Ciaran points gave the home team a 1-9 to 0-6 half time lead.

St Gall’s hit back at the start of the second half and after James McLister had extended the Town’s lead with two points inside forty seconds, three unanswered points from the excellent Tomas O’Ciaran and a goal from Ciaran McCaffrey brought the visitors back to within a goal. Ballycastle brought in Ciaran Clarke from the subs bench which steadied the ship, but it was nip and tuck until TT Butler drilled a left sided shot low to the corner of the St Gall’s net. This score eased the pressure on the home team and in the last ten minutes they pulled clear with two more sweetly struck points from TT, two from Clarke and a real beauty from young half back Oisin McAuley to keep their 100% record intact.

BALLYCASTLE – Ryan McGarry, Oran Kearney, Matthew Donnelly, John McLister, Shane McCarry, Neal McAuley, Oisin McAuley, Ronan McCarry, Conor Boyd, Ciaran Butler, James McLister, KB McShane, Shane Staunton, Tiernan Butler, Dairmuid McShane.

Subs – Ciaran Clarke, Eamon Elliott

ST GALL’S – Kurtis McGreevy, Stephen Morrison, Niall O’Neill, Adam O’Hare, Ryan Irvine, Kieran McGourty, Aodhan Gallagher, Jackson McGreevy, Jack Hopkins, Tomas O’Ciaran, Ciaran McCaffrey, Gregory McGreevy, Mark Napier, Patrick Friel, Eoghan McCurdy.

Referee – Francis Traynor (Shamrocks)