Watson steers the Shamrocks to victory

Antrim Hurling League Division 1

Loughgiel 3-12 Portaferry 0-14

Loughgiel took the points in Tuesday evening’s re-arranged league game against Portaferry at Fr Healy Park, winning in the end by seven points to maintain second place in the league table. With Liam Watson pulling the strings for the Shamrocks they led by double scores at half time 1-9 to 0-6. Portaferry made a promising start to the second half and closed to within two points but when substitute Watson grabbed his second goal in the 44th minute the Shamrocks were back in control and won in the end with a bit to spare.

Loughgiels Ronan McCloskey in action against Portaferrys Robert Magee

The Down men led twice in the early minutes as corner forward Robert Magee pointed two early frees in reply to one by Liam Watson for Loughgiel but a run of scores from Shan McGrath (2) , Liam Watson (2) and Odhran McFadden put the home team four clear by the ninth minute. Portaferry got two of the next three scores through Ronan Blair (2) and Ronan Smyth in reply to one from Loughgiel’s ‘Duck’ McFadden to close the gap to a three but Loughgiel finished the half strongly and after adding two points from frees Watson got the first of his two goals to give his team a 1-9 to 0-6 interval lead.

Portaferry’s Conor Fay in action against Loughgiel’s Eddie McCloskey. Pic by Sean Paul McKillop

Backed by the breeze Portaferry made an impressive start to the second half and points from Blair, Conor Fay, Shane Conlan and Kevin McGarry brought them back to within two. It was eleven minutes before Loughgiel got their first score through Shay Casey and when Watson grabbed his second goal they were six clear but Ronan Blair brought the gap back to five again with a  pointed free on 47 minutes. Substitutes Nicholas McNaughton and Callum McKendry showed their worth as McNaughton added a point from play to open the gap to four before McKendry grabbed his team’s third goal to put nine between the sides and though Blair got a couple of late consolation points for Portaferry the destiny of the points had already been decided.

LOUGHGIEL: Chrissy O’Connell, Declan McCloskey, Ronan Gillan, Ronan McCloskey, Seamus Dobbin, Tiernan Coyle, Odhran McFadden, Daniel McCloskey, Mark McFadden, Shay Casey, Eddie McCloskey, Shan McGrath, Michael McGarry, Liam Watson, Paul Boyle.

Subs – Nicholas McNaughton; Callum McKendry

PORTAFERRY: Patrick McNally, Darragh Mallon, Conor O’Neill, Emmet O’Neill, Tom Murray, Conor Mageean, Kevin McGarry, Matthew Conlan, Shane Conlan, Aaron O’Prey, Ronan Smyth, Robert Magee, Ronan Blair, Nial Fitzsimons, Conor Fay.

Referee – Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

Rossa take another step towards survival

Antrim Hurling League Division One

St Gall’s 2-10 O’Donovan Rossa 4-9

Rossa took a step nearer 1st Division survival when they travelled to Belfast neighbours St Gall’s on Sunday and came away with a five point win, a result that leaves their neighbours in deep trouble.

Fresh from their win against Ballycastle two days previous Rossa started brightly and after briefly falling behind to a Jackson McGreevy free Thomas Morgan got the first of their four goals when he pulled on a breaking ball around the St Gall’s ‘square’ and drilled it home. Goal number two came on ten minutes when Deaglan Murphy picked out Callum McVeigh who finished neatly from close range and with Murphy in fine form from placed balls the Shaw’s Road men moved well clear, but a dogged St Gall’s side kept battling and they were rewarded on 25 minutes when Jackson McGreevey fired a penalty to the Rossa net to bring his team right back into contention, but Rossa responded well and were 2-7 to 1-5 clear by the time referee Hugh Torney sounded the half time whistle.

Pics by Mark Marlow

With weather conditions going from bad to worse St Gall’s showed great character as they battled back early in the second half and when Antoin McCaffrey Kieran McGourty and McAreavey added points they were back in contention. Things looked promising when they drew level with further points from McCaffrey and Eoghan Farrelly, but they were dealt a bad blow when a Michael Armstrong shot for a point dipped below the crossbar and ended up in the net.

That was the boost Rossa needed and when Tiernan Murphy added a point they had a bit of breathing space. Armstrong grabbed his second goal five minutes from time to seal the win and though St Gall’s pulled a late goal back when a McAreavey free ended up in the back of the net Rossa sealed it with another pointed free by Deaglan Murphy.  

ST GALL’S: K McGreevy; L O Ciarain, S Burke, L McCluskey; R Irvine, N O’Neill (0-1), C McCaffery; K Stewart, J Hopkins; J McGreevy (1-2, 1-0 penalty, 0-2 frees), K McGourty; S McAreavey (1-3, 1-0 free); E Mullan (0-1), A McCaffery, E Farrelly (0-1).

ROSSA: C Breathnach; N Crossan, C McGuinness, M McGreevy; G Walsh, Stephen Shannon, A O’Brien; M Armstrong (2-1), C Shannon; T Murphy (0-2), C McVeigh (1-0), Seaghan Shannon; Deaglan Murphy (0-6, all frees), T Morgan (1-0), A Orchin. Subs: P McGreevy for T Morgan (HT), Daire Murphy for C McVeigh (50).

REFEREE: Hugh Torney (Ballycran) 

Clarke’s class steers Ballycastle through the storm

Antrim Hurling League Division 1

Ballycastle 1-17 Ballycran 2-11

By John McIlwaine

Ballycastle players stand for a minutes silence in memory of former club legend Paddy McShane who was buried during the week.

A man of the match display by centre half forward Ciaran Clarke which yielded a goal and fourteen points steered Ballycastle to victory over Ballycran in Sunday’s Antrim Hurling League Division 1 at Pairc MacUilin. In a game played in atrocious conditions, heavy rain and driving wind, Clarke gave a display of accuracy from frees and play that proved the difference in the end. Ballycastle won the toss and decided to face the elements in the first half and when they turned around with a one point advantage they were favourites to push on to win with a bit to spare. However the Down men fared much better in the third quarter and when Niall Breen got a goal and a point in the opening three minutes of the second half they were a goal clear. Clarke then had a massive slice of luck when he dropped a 65 into the Ballycran ‘square’ and the ball skidded off the hand of the visitors goalkeeper and ended up in the net. Clarke took advantage to add a series of good points and though Ballycran drew level again with a Christoher Egan goal three more Clarke points saw the Town home for a victory that all but guarantees them Division 1 hurling next season.

Ballycrans Scott Nicholson in action against Ballycastle’s James McLister.

Clarke had two points on the board in the first three minutes, both from frees but Christopher Egan had Ballycran level by the fifth, one from play and the other from a free. It was score for score during the next fifteen minutes as Clarke and Scott Nicholson had a bit of a shootout but the men from the Ards appeared to be getting on top when Nicholson (2) and Michael Ennis added points to go a point ahead on 26 minutes. The lead was short lived however as Clarke added two more before the break to give his team a 0-9 to 0-8 lead.

Man of the match Ciaran Clarke in action against Ballycran

Niall Breen’s two early second half scores pulled Ballycran a goal clear within three minutes of the restart before Clarke’s slice of luck brought him a goal from a 65 and bring his team level.  A point from Cormac McAlister edged Ballycran back ahead but one from Dairmuid McShane and three from Clarke gave the home team a three point lead by the three quarter stage. A Christopher Egan goal got Ballycran back into the game but Ballycastle finished strong and Clarke picked off the points to give his team a three point cushion going into injury time. Ballycran had a chance to draw level with the last puck of the game when they were awarded a twenty metre free but ‘Charlie’ McGarry in the Castle goals was equal to Conor Dorrian’s shot and Francis Traynor sounded the final whistle as McGarry cleared.

The timber flies and Ballycran’s Scott Nicholson and Ballycastle’s Shane McCarry pull on a dropping ball.

BALLYCASTLE: Ryan McGarry, Sean Kelly, Matthew Donnelly, Oran Kearney, James McLister, TT Butler, Conor Boyd, Shane McCarry, KB McShane, Ciaran Butler, Ciaran Clarke, Dairmuid McShane, Oisin McAuley, Owen Kinney, Saul McCaughan.

BALLYCRAN: Declan Ennis, Michael Hughes, Padraig Flynn, Padraig Gilmore, Patrick Hughes, Thomas McManus, Brett Nicholson, Scott Nicholson, Brendan Ennis, James Coyle, Michael Ennis, Niall Breen, Rory Brown, Cormac McAlister, Colum McManus.

Referee – Francis Traynor (Loughgiel)  

Cuchullains retain league crown

ACHL Division One

Cushendall 0-13 Dunloy 1-18

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Naomh Mhuire, Cushendall

Dunloy retained their Division One crown by easing past Cushendall on Sunday afternoon.  Eight points separated the sides with Dunloy’s Deaglan Smith putting in a superb display with 1-5 to his name, all coming from open play.

The Ruairi’s were missing a few names from their starting 15 but still managed to cause the Cuchullains problems in the first half.  Deaglan Smith’s early major the difference between the sides at the interval with Dunloy ahead by the minimum.  Aidan McNaughton and Scott Walsh showing huge work rate in the first half with Ryan McCambridge leading the charge in attack.  The heavens opened after the restart and the conditions deteriorated dramatically but Dunloy tightened their grip on the game.  Chances and scores were hard to come by but the Cuchullains did enough with Paul Shiels, Shane Dooey and Conor McKinley impressing.

Cushendalls Scott Walsh was in great form during the opening half

Eoin Laverty top scored for the home side, Frein finishing the match with six points – five of those from placed ball.  McCambridge with three points from play with Martin and Paddy Burke along with Niall McCormick hurling well in defence.

The Cuchullains had too much experience all over the pitch however with their better use of the sliotar telling.  Set up to make use of the pace in their forwards, Dunloy utilised the space to open up the Ruairi’s with just three points of the 1-18 accumulated coming from placed ball.

In a slow start, the first score of the match was registered in the fourth minute.  Aidan McNaughton firing over from distance.  Coby Cunning replied for the Cuchullains but the home side were doing all the early running.  Further scores from Walsh, Eunan McKillop and Laverty had the Ruairi’s three clear after the opening 10 minutes.

Dunloy weren’t firing in those opening exchanges but the move to create the only goal of the game was a glimpse of what they’re capable of.  Ronan Molloy collecting the sliotar before playing an inch perfect pass through the heart of the Cushendall defence to Deaglan Smith who was making a cross-field run.  Smith’s momentum allowed him to round Eoin Gillan and he despatched the sliotar to the back of the Cushendall net.  A quality goal to kick the Cuchullains into life.  A further brace of white flags from Smith and Chrissy Brogan gave the visitors a two point lead midway through the first half.

Cushendall responded with McCambridge and Laverty (free) to get back on terms but Paul Shiels split the uprights from distance to edge the Cuchullains in front once again.  Walsh and Smith swapped white flags before Cushendall created their first goal chance of the match.  Eunan McKillop collecting a long poc out from Eoin Gillan but his effort was well save by Gabriel McTaggart between the sticks for the Cuchullains.  Laverty converted the resulting ’65 to bring the sides level with seven minutes of the half remaining.  Neither side really took a stranglehold of the time that remained but Dunloy edged the scoring with Cunning (free), Shiels and Kevin Molloy firing over in response to a brace from McCambridge, taking his tally to three points for the half.

Dunloys Conal Cunning in action against Cushendalls Stephen Walsh

Half time: Cushendall 0-10 Dunloy 1-8

Cushendall’s work rate in rucks and ability to win dirty ball helped them to win the midfield exchanges for long periods of the first half.  It was a different ball game in the second half however as Dunloy took charge after the restart. 

With the rain pouring bordering something biblical, the conditions didn’t allow pretty hurling but the Cuchullains upped their work rate and began to open a gap between the sides on the scoreboard.  Smith and Cunning (’65) fired over in the opening two minutes before Cunning and Keelan Molloy pointed in quick succession in the 38th minute to open a five point lead.

Cushendall introduced Paddy McGill in an attempt to breathe fresh life and legs into their attack but they had to wait to the 14th minute of the second half for their opening score.  Laverty with his fourth of the game but Dunloy continued to dominate.  Molloy and Smith finding the target before Shane Dooey split the posts from distance to leave seven points between the sides going into the last ten minutes.

The Ruairi’s responded with two frees from Laverty to reduce the deficit to five once again but Dunloy finished strongly and with further scores from Cunning (free), Brogan and Molloy they added further gloss to the score line by the final whistle.

With these two sides playing in the opening round of the championship round robin in just three weeks time at Pearse Park, it was always going to be interesting to see how they lined out.  It’s fair to say there will be changes with neither showing a full hand and there’s no doubting it will be a contest with a bit more spice but it’s the Cuchullains who take the honours for now.  An 11th win in succession ensures they retain the league crown they won last year as they continue their good form in 2019.

TEAMS

Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Liam Gillan, Martin Burke, Stephen Walsh; Francis McCurry, Paddy Burke, Niall McCormick; Aidan McNaughton, Scott Walsh; Dominic Delargy, Eunan McKillop, Ryan McCambridge; Eoin Laverty, Alex Delargy, Ed McQuillan.

Subs: Paddy McGill for A McNaughton (36); Ronan McAteer for D Delargy (39).

Scorers: Eoin Laverty 0-6 (4 f’s, 1 ’65); Ryan McCambridge 0-3; Scott Walsh 0-2; Aidan McNaughton 0-1; Eunan McKillop 0-1.

Dunloy: Gabriel McTaggart; Phelim Duffin, Conor McKinley, Conor Kinsella; Kevin McKeague, Eamon Smyth, Kevin Molloy; Paul Shiels, Shane Dooey; Chrissy Brogan, Keelan Molloy, Ronan Molloy; Nicky McKeague, Conal Cunning, Deaglan Smith.

Subs: Chrissy McMahon for R Molloy (HT); Aaron Crawford for D Smith (49); James McKeague for S Dooey (inj).

Scorers: Deaglan Smith 1-5; Conal Cunning 0-4 (2 f’s, 1 ’65); Keelan Molloy 0-3; Chrissy Brogan 0-2; Paul Shiels 0-2; Kevin Molloy 0-1; Shane Dooey 0-1.

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)

Rossa cruise past Town in championship dress rehearsal

ACHL Division One

Ballycastle 0-8 Rossa 1-15

Friday July 19th

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páírc Mac Úilin

Rossa recorded a ten point victory over Ballycastle on Friday evening in what was a dress rehearsal for their championship encounter in seven days time.  The Shaws Road men held a five point lead at the short whistle but cruised through the second half thanks to a 36th minute major from Tiarnan Murphy. 

Both side’s were missing plenty of regulars and they won’t read too much into the outcome of this one looking ahead to their first leg of the championship play off.  Rossa looked to have more cohesion and had more players prepared to win the dirty ball when it mattered.  They dominated the midfield exchanges with Cónall Shannon and Michael Armstrong doing the donkey work in the engine room.  Thomas Morgan top scored with all of his five points coming from play while Deaglan Murphy was heavily involved throughout.  A chief tormentor in attack during the first half while dropping deeper to help his defence after the restart, Murphy put in another big shift for the Jeremiah’s.  Of the 1-15 they registered, just two points came from placed ball and eight different players added their names to the list of scorers.  A fact that won’t have gone unnoticed to the Rossa management team despite their struggles in front of the target.

The ten point margin of victory probably flattered the home side by the end of the hour.  Rossa had almost reached double figures with wides in the first half with another seven after the break and while the McQuillan’s weren’t firing on all cylinders in front of the target themselves, they couldn’t argue with the margin of victory by the full time whistle.

Tiernan Butler put in another solid display at centre half with Matthew Donnelly and Conor Boyd also catching the eye in defence but they lacked any cutting edge an attack that was second best to the Rossa defence over the hour.  Five points from play over 60 minutes won’t win many matches with a couple of placed ball frees going astray as well.  It leaves the Ballycastle management with much to ponder ahead of their next meeting but they are expected to be back to full strength and have more options available.

The home side made a bright start and the sides were tied on three points apiece after the opening 10 minutes.  Rossa began to make better use of the sliotar and the quality of ball into the forwards improved immeasurably.  This along with speed of thought and smart play from quick frees allowed the Shaws Road side to open a three point lead by the 20th minute.  Seaghan and Cónall Shannon, Morgan, Armstrong and Deaglan Murphy with a brace (one free) in answer to the home sides white flags from Owen Kinney and Kevin Barry McShane frees along with Ronan McCarry’s 10th minute effort.

Kevin Barry McShane’s second free of the match reduced the deficit to just two points with 10 minutes of the half remaining but Rossa were well on top.  Morgan (two), Tiarnan and Deaglan Murphy (free) opening a five point lead that should have been doubled with the number of wides the visitors recorded. 

Lorcan Donnelly and Armstrong swapped scores in injury time to leave Rossa ahead 0-10 to 0-5 at the short whistle.

Rossa dominated the opening exchanges of the second half with Michael McGreavey and Morgan splitting the uprights either side of Saul McCaughan’s 33rd minute point for Ballycastle.  Rossa were finding spaces in the Ballycastle defence and when they scored their major it came as little surprise.  Armstrong causing mayhem before passing to Tiarnan Murphy who fired the sliotar to the back of the net despite the best efforts of Shane Staunton between the sticks for the home side.

The McQuillan’s responded well with a brace of points from Butler, the second of which in the 41st minute but that would be the Town’s last score of the game.  With Deaglan Murphy dropping deeper, Rossa were leaving room for Aidan Orchin and Thomas Morgan to keep the Ballycastle defence on their toes.  Further white flags from Orchin and Morgan (two) ensured a comfortable victory for the visitors to Páirc MacÚilin. 

This was one of those matches that neither really wanted to have played.  Both were missing plenty with players away on holidays and with their crucial championship encounter just around the corner, neither would have been keen to show their full hand.  Rossa were worthy of their victory however and will hope to keep their momentum going when they welcome Ballycastle to Rossa Park on Friday night for the first leg of their championship play off.

TEAMS

Ballycastle: Shane Staunton; Ciaran McKeague, Matthew Donnelly, Ben McQuillan; Oisin McAuley, Tiernan Butler, Conor Boyd; Shane McCarry, Ronan McCarry; Eamon Elliott, Kevin Barry McShane, Lorcan Donnelly; Conor McCurdy, Owen Kinney, Saul McCaughan.

Scorers: Tiernan Butler 0-2; Kevin Barry McShane 0-2 (2 f’s); Owen Kinney 0-1 (1f) Saul McCaughan 0-1; Ronan McCarry 0-1; Lorcan Donnelly 0-1.

Rossa: Matthew Devlin; Niall Crossan, Chris McGuinness, Padraig McGreavy; Michael McGreavey, Gerard Walsh, Aodhan O’Brien; Cónall Shannon, Michael Armstrong; Tiarnan Murphy, Callum McVeigh, Seaghan Shannon; Aidan Orchin, Thomas Morgan, Deaglan Murphy.

Scorers: Thomas Morgan 0-5; Tiarnan Murphy 1-1; Deaglan Murphy 0-3 (2 f’s); Michael Armstrong 0-2; Michael McGreavey 0-1; Cónall Shannon 0-1; Seaghan Shannon 0-1; Aidan Orchin 0-1.

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)