Ballygalget power home in final quarter

ACHL Division 1-2 Promotion / Relegation play-off first leg

Ballygalget 3-22-1-13 Sarsfields

By Kevin Herron at Milltown

Ballygalget took a huge step towards survival in the top tier of Antrim hurling as they outscored Sarsfields 3-07-0-02 in the final quarter of this afternoon’s promotion / relegation first-leg at Milltown.

With just a point separating the sides a Jordan Doran goal tilted the game back into the County Down sides balance after Sarsfields had chased a five-point deficit at the start of the second-half.

Tim Prenter added further goals to give his side a 15-point advantage ahead of the second-leg in a few weeks time and only a mammoth overturn would see Sarsfields clinch promotion to Division One.

The Stewartstown men started the brighter of the sides at Milltown Row and hit the opening two scores through Darragh McGuinness and Niall McKenna (free).

Although Adam Doran angled over Ballygalget’s opening point; Kevin McKernan restored his sides two-point advantage.

Doran doubled his account and Owen Clarke floated the ball over the bar to level after ten minutes with a converted Caolan Coulter free edging the County Down side ahead for the first time (0-04-0-03).

Niall McKenna drew the sides level for the second time just after the midway point in the half – converting a free after a foul on Caolan McKernan.

But back to back points from Cathal Coulter and John McManus had Ballygalget two points to the good.

McKenna twice reduced the deficit to the minimum – converting a free and landing a point from play, though points from Jordan Doran and Marc Fisher (long range free) restored their sides advantage.

Gerard Roddy plucked the ball from the air and conjured a magnificent score and a second placed ball of the half from Marc Fisher had Ballygalget in control with a 0-10-0-06 lead.

Sarsfields were thrown a lifeline with four minutes to the break as Jack Daniels launched a high ball forward that wasn’t dealt with by Ballygalget goalkeeper Gareth ‘Magic’ Johnson as Kevin McKernan profited – scooping the ball to the net to make it a one-point game (0-10-1-06).

Successive points from Daniel Toner and Tim Prenter stretched their sides lead – but Gary Lennon squeezed the ball over from a tight angle to ensure that just two-points separated the sides at the end of an enthralling opening half (0-12-1-07).

Ballygalget began the second period on the front foot and quickly opened up a five-point gap with three unanswered points.

Daniel Toner added to his two-points from the opening half with two converted frees, whilst Tim Prenter conjured up his third point of the game in-between.

Niall McKenna landed his fourth placed ball in response and then played a quick free to Caolan McKernan as the midfielder split the posts.

The Stewartstown side had the bit between their teeth and points from Darragh McGuinness and Ryan Carson reduced the deficit to the bare minimum with twenty minutes remaining (0-15-1-11).

Crucially Sarsfields failed to land the leveller that may have saw them kick on with the momentum and on 43 minutes they were dealt a setback they failed to recover from.

Daniel Toner emerged from a ruck with the sliother and fed Jordan Doran who rifled past Brendan McGibbon to give the Down men a 1-15-1-11 advantage.

Sarsfields may have replied instantly as Caolan McKernan released Gary Lennon – but credit to Gareth Johnson who made himself big and denied the wing-half forward a certain goal.

Toner (free) and Tim Prenter increased Galget’s lead with James McKernan floating the ball over at the other end.

With seven minutes remaining the game was up for the Paddies as Adam Doran’s pass across the face of goal was tucked away by Prenter to make it 2-17-1-12.

Niall McKenna (free) conjured up his sides final score in response – though Ballygalaget ended the game strongly, scoring 1-05 unanswered.

Three of the Down sides last five points came courtesy of Daniel Toner- who brought his personal tally to 0-08 (0-05) arriving from the placed ball and 0-02 of those came late-on.

Adam Doran and John McManus both pointed between times to finish their sides point scoring for the afternoon, though they weren’t finished on the score front altogether.

Sarsfields goalkeeper Brendan McGibbon parried excellently from a stinging Caolan Coulter shot, however a scramble ensued and Tim Prenter prodded the ball home to ensure his side ran out comfortable 3-22-1-13 winners at full-time.

It would take a comeback of epic proportions to see Sarsfields claim promotion to Division One as a strong final quarter looks to secured survival for Ballygalget ahead of the second-leg on September 4th.

Ballygalget: G Johnson, P McManus, M Fisher (0-02, 0-01f; 0-01 65’), J Smyth, P McManus, J McManus (0-02), B Toner, Cathal Coulter (0-01), J Doran (1-01), G Roddy (0-01), O Clarke (0-01), Caolan Coulter, T Prenter (2-04), D Toner (0-08, 0-05f), A Doran (0-02). Subs: C Watson for Cathal Coulter (46 mins); J Hughes for J Doran (58 mins).

Sarsfields: B McGibbon, J Daniels, J Cunningham, K Ward, N McAlea, C Caldwell, J McKernan (0-01), C McKernan (0-01), D McGuinness (0-02), G Lennon (0-01), N McKenna (0-06, 0-05f), R Carson (0-01), T Doherty, M Rea, K McKernan (1-01). Subs: A Stewart for T Doherty (40 mins); M Campbell for J Cunningham (48 mins); J Cunningham for M Rea (55 mins); D McKernan for K McKernan (57 mins); N McDonald for R Carson (60 mins).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Murphy magic secures status for another year

ACHL Division 1

Ballygalget 0-12

O’Donovan Rossa 1-15

Rossa retained their division 1 status for another year when they travelled to Ballygalget last night and recorded an impressive win over the Ards’ men and in doing so condemned them to a play-off place for their own survival against Sarsfields.

Deaglan Murphy was the man who led the way for the Shaw’s Road side hitting 1-12 over the hour and his accuracy from the placed ball went a long way in securing the points in a keenly contested game.

Ballygalget now face a two-legged play-off with Sarsfield’s to decide who plays in the top flight next season but they will look back at this one with some regret  as two shots for goal came back off the uprights over the hour.

However, it was Rossa who led all the way and while the home side enjoyed periods of dominance they couldn’t get the necessary scores as Rossa dug deep when necessary with Cricky McGuinness, Stephen Shannon and Míchéal McGreevy in the closing stages standing firm in defence to deny them the goal that might have ignited their challenge.

That goal never arrived and indeed Rossa could have been much further than three ahead at the break as Gareth Johnson in the home goal pulled of a couple of superb saves, while a number of shots tailed wide due to a tricky cross field breeze.

The visitors got off to the perfect start with Murphy tapping over the first of his frees before he got in for what was to prove the only goal of the game to open a 1-1 to 0-0 lead after five minutes.

Danny Toner replied with the first of his nine points overall from a free on the night but Michael Armstrong responded with a fine score after racing clear from midfield.

Toner replied from another free before Murphy converted two from placed balls while Thomas Morgan added a fine score after collecting from Stephen Beatty.

Ballygalget’s might have had a goal at the end of the opening quarter as Tim Prenter found himself in on goal, but his rasping shot came back off the crossbar and into the grateful hand of Stephen Shannon and from the resulting clearance Rossa broke up field themselves but Johnson got his hurl to Morgan’s shot.

Ballygalget began to enjoy a bit of success at this stage with Toner scoring an excellent point from an acute angle and Jordan Doran and Toner again adding two frees to cut the Rossa lead to two points.

Rossa responded as Matt Devlin found McGreevy from a poc-out and he passed to the unmarked Aidan Orchin and the corner back steadied before driving over from his own half.

Free takers,Murphy for Rossa and Toner for the home side exchanged two apiece to leave Rossa 1-8 to 0-8 ahead at the break and they might have had another goal but Johnston got his foot to Stephen Beatty’s shot to deny the Rossa man.

Ballygalget made the better start to the second half with Doran pointing within the opening minute and Prenter adding another from out on the left to bring his side to within a point and a come-back looked on the cards at this stage.

Deaglan Murphy replied from a couple of frees to edge the visitors three in front once more as the second-half settled into another battle of the free-takers.

Toner added two to Murphy’s one as Ballygalget began to look more dangerous in attack but they cursed their luck in the 52nd minute when Toner fielded superbly and his shot beat Devlin in the Rossa goal but ricocheted back of a post and was cleared to safety.

Murphy replied from another  free to extend the Rossa lead to three once more leaving the Ard’s men in need of a goal but as they pushed forward, the Rossa sharp shooter punished  them with three further points to make the game safe.

Ballygalget had one final chance for goal when they were awarded  a 20 meter free in stoppage time and Johnson came forward from goal but he didn’t make a good connection with his shot and it was cleared to safety as the Rossa defence stood tall.  

Rossa have ensured themselves division 1 hurling for another year while Ballygalget face a tricky two leg play-off against a Sarsfield’s side who were pipped to the divison 2 title by St. Enda’s who secured the title with a win over Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh last night.

BALLYGALGET: G Johnson; Paul McManus, M Fisher, J Smith; Peter McManus, J McManus, B Toner; M Toner, J Doran (0-2); G Roddy, Caolan Coulter, A Doran; D Toner (0-9, 7 frees), O Clarke, T Prenter (0-1). Sub: Cathal Coulter for M Toner (43)

ROSSA: M Devlin; N Crossan, C McGuinness, A Orchin (0-1); C Orchin, Stephen Shannon, M McGreevy; C Shannon, M Armstrong (0-1); Seaghan Shannon, C McVeigh, S Beatty; D Murphy (1-12, 0-11 frees), T Morgan (0-1), T Murphy. Subs: M Smith for N Crossan (34), J Connolly for A Orchin (40), N Devlin for T Morgan (60), C O’Neill for T Murphy (60+5).

REFEREE: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

Shamrocks end league campaign on a high

ACHL Division One

Loughgiel 1-22 Cushendall 0-11

Wednesday July 31

Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr Healy Park, Loughgiel

Loughgiel ended their league campaign with another win on Wednesday night.  They had 14 points to spare over Cushendall by the final whistle but neither side will really be taking anything out of this game with the championship just 11 days away.  Loughgiel looked good and were sharp all over the pitch, Shan McGrath and Callum McKendry catching the eye in attack for the Shamrocks with Mark McFadden pulling the strings in midfield.  Tiarnan Coyle rarely put a foot wrong at centre half while Tony McCloskey was as reliable as ever on the edge of his own square.  James McNaughton grabbed the limelight once again, top scoring with 1-6 over the hour – his goal lighting up what was essentially a phoney war between these two great rivals.

Cushendall struggled to win any form of ball from poc outs and such was the nature of the Loughgiel defence, they couldn’t get any attacking impetus going.  No momentum and a defence under pressure, the Ruairi’s were second best all over the pitch.  Scott Walsh left the pitch with pass marks for his display, the Cushendall midfielder put in a big performance – especially in the first half but he had little support elsewhere.  Paddy McGill had an almighty tussle with Tony McCloskey but the Shamrock’s full back had the upperhand over the hour.  Martin and Paddy Burke were overworked in defence and while they were a match for the Shamrocks, the home side were relentless.  They matched Cushendall’s work rate and pushed on, they had ball winners and of their 22 points score, just eight came from placed ball. 

The Ruairi’s finished the match with 14 men, Francis McCurry seeing red in the 48th minute but the match was over as a contest by that stage.  This one lacked any sort of intensity, slightly surprising with the championship just around the corner but effectively the Shamrocks will keep that winning feeling within the camp when they look ahead to their opener against St John’s.

Despite the Ruairi’s making a bright start, Loughgiel dominated the first half.  The visitors to Fr Healy Park were three points to the good before Duck McFadden opened the Shamrocks account in the fourth minute.  Campbell, Alex Delargy and Scott Walsh with the scores for the Ruairi’s but they wouldn’t trouble the scoreboard for 15 minutes as Loughgiel opened a three point advantage.  Barney McAuley (two), Dan McCloskey and Shan McGrath making it seven points unanswered before Ed McQuillan split the posts for Cushendall.

Dan McCloskey landed his second of three points before Seamus Dobbin score the point of the game.  Chrissy O’Connell picking his half back on the run with a 70 yard poc out that was inch perfect.  Dobbin didn’t have to break stride before catching the sliotar and sending it between the uprights.  One for the Loughgiel management team to enjoy – hours of work on the training ground coming good during a match.  McNaughton’s first free of the night left six between the sides before Walsh landed his second white flag in the 23rd minute.  That was their last score of the half however with a brace of frees from McNaughton in the time that remained giving Loughgiel a seven point half time lead.

Half time: Loughgiel 0-12 Cushendall 0-5

The Ruairi’s had the help of the elements in the second half and went score for score with Loughgiel in the opening exchanges.  Free’s from McAuley and McNaughton were responded by white flags from Eoin ‘Freen’ Laverty but Loughgiel all but made sure of the win in the 39th minute thanks to a piece of brilliance from McNaughton.  Duck McFadden playing a diagonal ball for McNaughton to collect and the Loughgiel man danced around a couple of Cushendall defenders before heading for goal.  Still with a bit of work to do, McNaughton managed to get his shot away to the back of Eoin Gillan’s net to take the Loughgiel lead into double figures.

Loughgiel continued to press home their superiority on the night and had a nine point lead when McCurry saw red for a dangerous tackle on Barney McAuley.  Cushendall rejigged but they only managed points from Paddy McGill and Ed McQuillan in the time that remained while Loughgiel found spaces in the Ruairi’s defence.  McGrath, Eddie McCloskey, McAuley and Dobbin all finding the target while Callum McKendry was unlucky not to add another major.  His drilled effort somehow blocked by Eoghan Campbell in the 52nd minute.

14 points the difference and as Loughgiel now spend the next week and a half finalising their preparations for the championship, last years winners look like they have plenty of work ahead of them.  They round off their league campaign when they welcome St John’s to the Glen’s on Tuesday evening.


Loughgiel: Chrissy O’Connell; Declan Gillan, Tony McCloskey, Ronan McCloskey; Seamus Dobbin, Tiarnan Coyle, Odhran McFadden; Mark McFadden, James McNaughton; Barney McAuley, Declan Laverty, Callum McKendry; Dan McCloskey, Eddie McCloskey, Shan McGrath.


Scorers: James McNaughton 1-6 (5 f’s); Barney McAuley 0-4 (2 f’s, 1 ’65); Shan McGrath 0-3; Dan McCloskey 0-3; Seamus Dobbin 0-2; Mark McFadden 0-1; Declan Laverty 0-1; Callum McKendry 0-1; Eddie McCloskey 0-1.

Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Liam Gillan, Martin Burke, David Kearney; Francis McCurry, Paddy Burke, Niall McCormick; Eoghan Campbell, Scott Walsh; Fergus McCambridge, Eoin Laverty, Ryan McCambridge; Ed McQuillan, Paddy McGill, Alex Delargy.

Subs: Cormac McClafferty for E Laverty (40); Emmett Laverty for R McCambriduge (56); Joseph McCurry for N McCormick (56).

Scorers: Eoin Laverty 0-2 (2 f’s); Scott Walsh 0-2; Eoghan Campbell 0-1; Fergus McCambridge 0-1; Ryan McCambridge 0-1; Ed McQuillan 0-1; Paddy McGill 0-1; Alex Delargy 0-1.

Referee: Colin Murray

Late Murphy free rescues a point for Rossa

ACHL Division One

Rossa 1-17-2-14 Ballycran

By Kevin Herron at Rossa Park

Tiarnan Murphy landed the decisive equaliser with almost the last puck of the game as 14-man Rossa had to battle back to earn a vital point in the relegation section at Rossa Park, Shaws Road on Wednesday evening.

Leading from the outset a Calum McVeigh goal had helped the hosts to a 1-10-0-06 lead at the break – but Gerard Walsh’s early second-half dismissal handed Ballycran a lifeline with the sharpshooting of Conor Woods and a Scott Nicholson goal bringing the visitors back into contention.

Although Rossa would regain their composure a Christopher Egan goal edged Ballycran in front with five minutes remaining – the sides traded scores and it looked as though the Down side would

leave West Belfast with the full compliment, only for the Murphy brothers Deaglan and Tiarnan to combine deep into injury-time.

Rossa came into the game off the back of three straight victories – the last an impressive first leg win over Ballycastle in the preliminary round of the hurling championship on Friday evening, but this evening attention turned to matters at the bottom of the hurling league with a win almost certain to secure survival ahead of a trip to Ballygalget next mid-week.

The hosts made a blistering start on a fine evening for hurling as Gerard Walsh popped the ball over the bar from range; Deaglan Murphy doubled his sides lead from a free after Thomas Morgan was impeded and further points from Calum McVeigh and Stephen Beatty gave Rossa a four point lead.

It was a lead that would quickly diminish in the blink of an eye however as Ballycran opened their account through a fine Christopher Egan score.

Conor Woods converted a free in the aftermath and then produced a splendid point from range to close the gap to a point after ten minutes (0-04-0-03).

Deaglan Murphy had a mixed opening ten minutes – but atoned for a couple of missed opportunities with his sides next score; keeping the ball in at the byline before the tricky corner-forward made space for a shot that was expertly floated over the bar.

Just before the midway point an excellent Gerard Walsh point from close to the sideline gave his side a 0-06-0-03 advantage – but two quick scores from Ballycran again closed the gap; midfielder Liam Savage shot over the bar and then turned provider for Egan who doubled his evenings tally.

Deaglan Murphy and Conor Woods both traded frees in the aftermath as a single point separated the sides going into the final ten minutes of the opening half.

The games opening goal arrived on 21 minutes and it fell to the hosts – Gerard Walsh’s excellent sideline puck dropped to Calum McVeigh and the half-forward took a touch and rifled past Stephen Keith to make it 1-07-0-06.

Buoyed, the home side hit the last three scores before the break . A terrific burst forward from Michael Armstrong finished with a point from the midfielder, Deaglan Murphy converted his third free of the half and Thomas Morgan claimed his first of the evening after fine link-up between Tiarnan Murphy and Calum McVeigh as the hosts held a 1-10-0-06 advantage at the interval.

Conor Woods closed the gap upon the second-half resumption with his third converted free of the evening.

A fourth was forthcoming shortly afterwards but prior to Woods converting referee Fionntan McCotter dismissed Gerard Walsh and Ballycran had a numerical advantage for the remainder of the contest.

Deaglan Murphy popped over his fourth free of the evening – though Colum McManus and Woods (free) closed the gap to four midway through the second-half (1-11-0-10).

With little over ten minutes remaining the game was on a knife-edge with a point separating the sides for a third time – Woods turned provider as his free was doubled upon by Scott Nicholson and fired past Matthew Devlin in the Rossa goal.

Woods sixth converted free levelled the sides at 1-11 apiece with eight minutes left – but Rossa regained their composure with Deaglan Murphy converting his fifth free of the evening and ending a scoreless spell of over 15-minutes.

Younger sibling Tiarnan doubled their sides advantage shortly afterwards – but Ballycran hit back and edged in front for the first time in the game.

Conor Woods turned provider for his sides second goal – another free that dropped perfectly for Christopher Egan who stabbed the ball to the corner of the net to give the visitors a 2-11-1-13 lead.

Rossa had the chance to immediately restore their two-point lead as Thomas Morgan laid the ball off for Tiarnan Murphy who was chopped down with referee McCotter signalling for a penalty.

Michael Armstrong seized responsibility but his driven effort crashed off the bar and out to safety as the topsy-turvy encounter took another twist.

The sides were level for the second time with two minutes remaining as Deaglan Murphy converted from 65’ yards – though Scott Nicholson popped the ball over to restore Ballycran’s slender lead.

Niall Breen’s point opened up a two-point gap that was instantly halved thanks to Deaglan Murphy (free).

The hosts desperately pushed for a share of the spoils and looked to have earned it three minutes into injury-time as Murphy landed a second 65’ – only for Conor Wood to land his second point from play in response.

Again Rossa pressed and deep, deep into added time the Murphy brothers combined as Deaglan picked out Tiarnan who conjured up a magnificent score under extreme pressure to level for the fourth and final time at 1-17-2-14.

In the end the point was enough to move Rossa a step closer to survival with a share of the spoils away at Ballygalget next week; enough to prevent the possibility of an end of season play-off.

Rossa: M Devlin, N Crossan, C McGuiness, A Orchin, G Walsh (0-02), S Shannon, A O’Brien, M Armstrong (0-01), C Shannon, S Beatty (0-01), C McVeigh (1-01), S Shannon, T Murphy (0-02), T Morgan (0-01), D Murphy (0-09, 0-02 65’; 0-06f). Subs: C Orchin for C McVeigh (40 mins); M McGreevy for A Orchin (40 mins); N Devlin for N Crossan (50 mins), C McVeigh for S Shannon (54 mins).

Ballycran: S Keith, M Hughes, P Hughes, C Gilmore, M Taylor, P Flynn, B Nicholson, J Coyle, L Savage (0-01), S Nicholson (1-01), C Woods (0-08, 0-06f), M Ennis, C Egan (1-02), C McManus (0-01), N Breen (0-01).

Referee: Fionntan McCotter (Sarsfields)

St Gall’s battle back but it may not be enough

Antrim Senior Hurling League Division 1 round-up

St Gall’s staged a late comeback to earn a share of the spoils against Ballycran at Milltown on Sunday but alas it probably won’t be enough to keep their survival hopes alive, for even if they were to win their remaining two games it would not be enough to see them survive. Things looked bleak for them on Sunday when they trailed by seven points with just ten minutes to play but a Sean McAreavey goal threw them a lifeline and points from Nial O’Neill, Kieran McGourty, Karl Stewart and Jackson McGreevy earned them a share of the spoils.

Ballygalget kept their hopes of survival alive when they travelled to Ballycastle and beat the ‘Town’ by 1-19 to 2-14 to complete a bad weekend for the McQuillan’s men. Ballygalget host St Gall’s on Wednesday evening and the Ards men need to win that game, and their final game against Rossa, and hope that results elsewhere go their way to avoid the drop. Ballycastle are not out of the woods yet either and it may well come down to their last game of the season on Tuesday week against St Gall’s to determine their fate.

In the top half of the table Dunloy put up another big score when beating Portaferry on Sunday, rattling in 5-23 to 0-18 from the home side to keep their 100% record intact.

Second place Loughgiel had a 0-20 to 0-10 win over a skeleton St John’s team at wet and windy Corrigan Park. The two will meet again in a few weeks’ time in the championship round robin so there was little given away in this game. Despite their weakened team St John’s had started well and were 0-3 to 0-2 ahead after seven minutes but the Shamrocks, who were also short a few regulars, rattled off ten points without reply to lead by 0-12 to 0-3 by half time. The second half was much more even with wind assisted St John’s adding seven points to Loughgiel’s eight but the damage was all done in the opening half.