Loughgiel win with a bit to spare

All County Hurling League Division 1

Loughgiel 2-19 Ballygalget 1-12

Loughgiel had ten points to spare over visitors Ballygalget when they met in Division 1 of the Antrim Hurling League at wet and windy Fr Healy Park on Sunday. The Down men competed well in the opening half and after leading in the early stages were just four behind at the break, but after the change of ends Loughgiel took control and pulled away to win with ease.

James McNaughton who grabbed the bulk of the Shamrocks scores in their win over Ballygalget at Fr Healy Park

Shan McGrath gave Loughgiel and early lead but Ballygalget came back with three on the trot through frees from Marc Fisher and Daniel Toner plus one from play by midfielder John McManus. A James McNaughton point closed the gap to just one and the corner-forward put his team ahead on 13 minutes when he fired a penalty to the net. The visitors responded with point from McManus and Fisher but the home side took a firm grip on the game when full forward Daniel McCloskey grabbed his team’s second goal and when James McNaughton and Odhran McMullan added points they were seven clear. Ballygalget finished the half strongly however scoring four of the next six points through Marc Fisher (2), John Hughes and substitute Magic Johnston to trail by just four at the interval. (2-7 to 0-9)

Ballygalget’s Caolan Coulter in action during Sunday’s league game in Loughgiel

Marc Fisher closed the gap to three when he converted another long range free early in the second half but six unanswered points from the Shamrocks through James McNaughton (2), Shan McGrath (2) Duck McFadden and Donal McKinley all but decided the game. Ballygalget briefly raised hopes of a comeback when corner forward Daniel Toner grabbed a goal on 39 minutes but it was to prove the visitors last score of the game and another scoring barrage from Loughgiel saw James McNaughton add another four to his impressive individual total, while Duck McFadden and Donal McKinley also chipped in to see them safely home.

LOUGHGIEL: Chrissy O’Connell, Declan McCloskey, Tony McCloskey, Ronan McCloskey, Seamus Dobbin, Tiernan Coyle, Odhran McFadden, Eddie McCloskey, Mark McFadden, Barney McAuley, Declan Laverty, Odhran McMullan, Shan McGrath, Daniel McCloskey, James McNaughton.

BALLYGALGET: Jamie Crowe, Joseph Smyth, Owen Clarke, Paul McManus, Marc Fisher, Gerard Roddy, Ben Toner, Peter McManus, Michael Toner, John McManus, Caolan Coulter, Tim Prenter, John Hughes, Ryan Watson, Daniel Toner.

Subs – Gareth Johnston for Peter McManus.

Nugent’s goal settles West Belfast derby

All County Hurling League Division 1

St John’s 1-13 Rossa 0-13

John McIlwaine reports from Corrigan Park

Rossa players stand for a minutes silence in memory of club stalwart Liam Hamill who passed away during the week.

A goal direct from a sideline cut by Domnhall Nugent, which went all the way to the Rossa net, two minutes from the end of normal time gave St John’s victory in Sunday’s West Belfast derby at Corrigan Park. Rossa had trailed by just two points at this stage after being six behind at half time and having restricted their hosts to just two second half points at this stage, looked capable of getting a result. However when top scorer Nugent sent the ball in around the Rossa ‘square’ it beat everybody, including goalkeeper Conal Breathnach, and ended up in the back of the net. Rossa came back in the final minutes and hit two points of their own but it was too little, too late and the league points were safe in the Johnnies hands.

On a bender! Domnhall Nugent’s hurl breaks over the arm of Rossa’s Stephen Shannon during Sunday’s league game at Corrigan Park

In a game that threatened to take off at times, it somehow never really caught fire and both team’s inability to take scores from play was to hamper their chances. Donal Nugent got St John’s going with two early points from frees but Rossa came back with a point from Ciaran Orchin following a short sideline cut by Gerard Walsh. Another pointed free by Nugent and one from play by Ciaran Johnston put the home side 0-4 to 0-1 ahead and though Rossa replied with a point from a Stephen Shannon free, two more from placed balls by Nugent had the Johnnies 0-6 to 0-2 in front by the end of the opening quarter.

The final ten minutes of the opening half proved the most productive for both teams and after Aidan Orchin closed the gap to three with a Rossa point St John’s came back with two top class points from Shea Shannon and Michael Bradley to move 0-8 to 0-3 ahead. Shannon, from a free, and Gerard Walsh from play had the gap back to three on the cusp of half time but St John’s finished strongly and points from Bradley, Shannon and Nugent in reply to one by Rossa’s Thomas Morgan sent the home side in with an 0-11 to 0-5 cushion at the break.

Rossa’s Geard Walsh in action during Sunday’s league game in Corrigan Park.

With the diagonal breeze in their favour you felt St John’s would push on after the interval but it was Rossa who started the brighter of the two sides and two points from Deaglan Murphy and one from Michael Armstrong cut the gap back to three within six minute of the restart. However they did not score again for another sixteen minutes and while St John’s were far from prolific themselves the Johnston brothers Conor and Ciaran grabbed two excellent scores to stretch their lead out to five. The Johnnies had chances and one ground shot from Peter McCallin was somehow kept out by a brilliant diving save by Breathnach in the Rossa goals, and when Deaglan Murphy cut the Rossa deficit back to three with two pointed frees the visiting fans must have felt they could get something out the game. Nugent’s goal from the sideline dashed those hopes, and the late points by Murphy and Armstrong were mere consolation.  

ST JOHN’S: S Doherty; J Bohill, C Morgan, A McMahon; O Donnelly, S Tierney, B McFall; S Shannon (0-1), D Moran; Ciaran Johnston (0-1), D Nugent (1-7, 1-6 frees), M Bradley (0-1); C Bohill, C McFall, D McKernan (0-1). Subs: Conor Johnston (0-2) for D Moran (HT), P McCallin for C McFall (HT).

ROSSA: C Breathnach; A Orchin (0-1), C McGuinness, C Shannon; Stephen Shannon, C McVeigh, C Orchin (0-1); G Walsh (0-1), D Murphy (0-5, 4 frees); M McGreevy, M Armstrong (0-2), D Rocks; D McEnhill, Seaghan Shannon (0-2 frees), T Morgan (0-1).  Subs: N Devlin for C McVeigh (43), M Smith for AA Orchin (50).

REFEREE: Colm McDonald (St Gall’s)

St Gall’s push Rossa all the way

Antrim Senior Hurling League Division One

Rossa 2-17 St Gall’s 3-12

After St Gall’s poor start to the hurling season most fans attending Saturday evening’s league game at Rossa Park were expecting to see an win for the home side but as things turned out it was far from the case as St Gall’s made their west Belfast neighbours work to the very end to secure the victory. Just two points separated the sides at the end and indeed it could have been even closer. Rossa appeared to be comfortable as they held a four point lead with just minutes remaining, but a goal from St Gall’s star performer Sean McAreavey cut the gap to a single point and they had the chance to draw level second later but missed a very scorable free before Rossa eased the pressure and Aidan Orchin sealed it with a point for the home side.

There was nothing between the sides in the opening quarter and after Gerard Walsh pointed Rossa ahead McAreavey levelled for the visitors. It was score for score during the next period of play before Rossa eventually got their noses in front as  a Stephen Beatty point put them 0-7 to 0-6 ahead

A stunning long range free from Gerard Walsh got the hosts off the mark before McAveavey replied for St Gall’s.

This early back-and-forth scenario set the tone for the game with neither team able to steal a march on the other during the opening 20 minutes.

A well-taken ’65’ from McGourty cancelled out Ciaran Orchin’s strike before Anto Healy put St Gall’s into the lead.

Aidan Orchin made it 0-3 each while the next six points were evenly split with Jackson McGreevy, Healy and Ronan Crossen on target for St Gall’s while Dominic McEnhill and James Connolly (two frees) raised white flags for Rossa.

St Gall’s lost corner-forward Oran McIlhatton to injury before a Stephen Beatty point then put Rossa back in the lead at 0-7 to 0-6 after 23 minutes.

A Connolly ’65’ moved Rossa two ahead while St Gall’s goalkeeper Kurtis McGreevey made a fine save to deny Beatty moments later.

In a thrilling finish to the half St Gall’s appeared to have taken a grip on the game when Antoin McCaffrey placed Sean McAreavey for a brilliantly taken goal. It looked like the visitors would go in at the break with the lead but Rossa battled back in the minutes that remained and after Callum McVeigh had pulled a point back Aidan Orchin reacted well to stab the ball home after Domo McEnhill’s well struck goal effort was parried on the line to give his team a 1-9 to 1-7 interval lead.

St Gall’s got back in front early in the second half when Antoin McCaffrey grabbed his team’s second goal but Rossa responded well with points from Gerard Walsh, substitute Cricky McGuinness (2), Domo McEnhill and Seaghan Shannon to move five clear. CJ McGourty pulled one back for St Gall’s with a great long range point from a free but when McGuinness (on for the injured Jamesie Connolly) got in for a goal at the other end Rossa appeared to be in complete control.

When McAreavey grabbed his second goal five minute from time St Gall’s were suddenly back in contention and when Jackson McGreevey and McAreavey added points in the dying minutes it looked like the game could go either way.

CJ McGourty had the chance to bring the Milltown men level but his late free from distance was just off target and Rossa eased the pressure as Aidan Orchin hit the insurance point to send some very relieved home fans home happy.

ROSSA: C Breathnach; M Smith, E O’Neill, C Shannon; P McGreevy, G Walsh 0-2 (0-2fs), A O’Brien; C Orchin 0-1, M McGreevy; J Connolly 0-3 (0-2fs, 0-1 ’65), S Beatty 0-2, D McEnhill 0-2; A Orchin 1-2, C McVeigh 0-1, S Shannon 0-2 (0-2fs).

Subs: C McGuinness 1-2 for Connolly (30mins), C Mac Parthalain for S Shannon (58mins)

ST GALL’S: K McGreevy; S Morrison, J McDaniel, A Gribbon; N O’Neill, CJ McGourty 0-3 (0-2 65s, 0-1f), C McCaffery; J Hopkins, A Healy 0-2; J McGreevy 0-3 (0-1f), S McAreavey 2-3, C Stinton; O McIlhatton, A McCafferty 1-0, R Crossen 0-1.

Subs: E Walsh for McIlhatton (15mins), P Friel for Crossen (52mins).

REFEREE: B Toland (Lámh Dhearg).

Loughgiel hit back in second half to take the points

All County Hurling League – Division 1

Ballycastle 3-14 Loughgiel 1-28

Loughgiel came from seven points down at half time to beat Ballycastle by eight in Sunday’s All County Hurling League Division 1 game at Pairc MacUílin, Ballycastle. With a strong breeze blowing into the Rathlin end of the ground Ballycastle made hay while the sun shone as they went eight clear at one stage. However the strength of the wind meant that Ballycastle supporters were not getting carried away and they were right to be a bit cautious as after the change of ends the Shamrocks soon reeled them in before pulling well clear to record their second win in three.

Ballycastle’s Dairmuid McShane in action against Loughgiel’s Cathal McMullan.

After Ciaran Clarke had put Ballycastle ahead Loughgiel came back with a point from Liam Watson but the home side were soon in front again as a goal from a 20 meter free by Clarke, and one from play by James McLister saw them open a 3-3 to 0-2 lead. A goal from corner forward Shan McGrath, which he kicked to the net, lifted Loughgiel and with James McNaughton hitting some good frees they got back in touch. Ballycastle came back with their third goal of the game, this time from corner forward Dairmid McShane who won possession close to goal after a massive puc-out by goalkeeper Ryan McGarry, a score which helped them to a 3-11 to 1-10 interval lead.

Loughgiel’s Donal McKinley in action duirng his team’s win over Ballycastle.

After the change of ends Ballycastle did well as two James McNaughton points from frees were answered by Ciaran Clarke for Ballycastle to keep the gap at seven and the home followers must have felt they were in a strong position. However they would only score one more point during the remaining 25 minutes as Loughgiel took control. James McNaughton led the charge with some great points from play but the man who caught the eye most was corner forward Shan McGrath who hit a series of excellent scores from play. The Shamrocks drew level by the 40th minute and from then on it was a case of how many they would win by as the points came thick and fast.

BALLYCASTLE: Ryan McGarry, Oran Kearney, Matty Donnelly, Eamon Elliott, Shane McCarry, Conor Boyd, Colm Butler, Oisin McAuley, Ronan McCarry, KB McShane, Ciaran Clarke, James McLister, Dairmuid McShane, Owen Kinney, TT Butler.

LOUGHGIEL: Chrissy O’Connell, Declan McCloskey, Tony McCloskey, Ronan McCloskey, Cathal McMullan, Barney McAuley, Declan Gillan, Eddie McCloskey, Mark McFadden, Liam Watson, Declan Laverty, Donal McKinley, Shan McGrath, Dan McCloskey, James McNaughton.

Referee – Fiontann McCotter

Late Johnnies goals break Ballycran hearts

Late Johnnies Goals Break Ballycran Hearts

By Liam Tunney @ Unit Updates

St John’s snatched victory from defeat’s snarling jaws in a pulsating game of hurling against Ballycran at McKenna Park this afternoon, with injury time goals from Domhnall Moran and Dannan McKeogh overturning a two-point deficit to take home the points.

Played in blistering sunshine on the Ards Peninsula, a tetchy first half ended with a Conor Woods goal putting five between the sides at the break, but with the hosts registering only 1-04 in the second half, the Belfast side chipped away at the lead, eventually reaping the benefits in added time.

Despite opening the scoring after a matter of seconds from midfielder Shea Shannon, the hosts assumed control of the early stages and points from Conor Woods and Cormac McAllister had the Down side in front with the next two attacks.

St John’s then had their first sight of the ‘Cran goal, Conor Johnston attempting an audacious reverse shot after a goalmouth scramble, but goalkeeper Stephen Keith was alert to the danger, springing low to his right to turn the sliotar around the post.

Ciarán Johnston converted the 65 to level matters, but a brace from Christopher Egan and a neat Michael Ennis point once again pegged back the Johnnies, only Conor Johnston’s reply attempting to stem the flow.

Ballycran corner forward Brendan Ennis pulls on the ball to send it past Simon Doherty in the St John’s goal. Pic by John McIlwaine

On nine minutes the Naomh Eoin defence looked on helplessly as the ball fell kindly for Brendan Ennis, who swept the ball home on the ground past the advancing Simon Doherty for the game’s opening goal.

The early stages had been fraught with off-the-ball exchanges and there was a lengthy stoppage as the home side lost corner-back Sean Ennis to injury and referee Darren McKeown appealed for calm among warring backs and forwards, but with play restored, Stuart Martin helped himself to a score to extend the Ballycran lead to six.

A further brace followed from the clinical hurl of Conor Woods but as it looked like the hosts were gaining momentum, St John’s corner forward Conal Bohill plucked a high ball from the Peninsula air and tapped over the bar to reduce the arrears to five.

Bohill’s intervention inspired a revival for the Whiterock men and points followed from Ciarán Johnston, Mícheál Bradley and Conor Johnston, the latter a beauty from under the stand, before Shea Shannon notched his second with another long-distance effort.

Conor Woods then pounced on a loose sideline ball to put four between the sides, but St John’s hit back immediately with a brace of Ciarán Johnston frees, before Woods caught the Johnnies with a sucker punch right on the bell.

Fielding a high ball in the full-forward line, the lively Woods wriggled free of his marker and buried the ball into the bottom corner of Doherty’s net to leave St John’s reeling and trailing by five at the break.

Christopher Egan’s hurl breaks over Conal Morgan’s as the timber flies in Saturday’s league game in Ballycran. Pic by John McIlwaine

Woods and Ciarán Johnston began the second half by trading frees, before Ciarán and Conor channelled their inner Paul and Barry Chuckle with a short free routine that ultimately ended up wide of the mark.

Domhnall Moran restored order with a long-range point before Ciarán Johnston won another free. No training ground set play on this occasion and he landed it from 45 yards to leave three points between the sides.

A further Johnston free and another huge effort from Moran saw the deficit cut to the minimum, but as the danger grew for Ballycran, they found a cushion, scores from Woods and Niall Breen edging them back into a three-point lead.

Another Moran-Johnston double followed before centre-back Barry McFall drove forward to level the score on 53 minutes after some neat stick work from Shannon and Aidan McMahon.

Just as the Johnnies manoeuvred into a promising position to mount a winning challenge, St Joseph’s hit them again. Doherty’s acrobatic save from a Christopher Egan shot fell into the path of Stuart Martin, who made no mistake with the rebound, pulling the ball into the empty net to leave them three ahead once again.

The action continued to be intense as Shannon swapped points with Woods, before another massive Barry McFall effort left two separating the sides in the 59th minute, when the visitors lost Ciarán Johnston to a second yellow card.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, St John’s were thrown a lifeline minutes later. With the ball ricocheting towards an empty net, Gerard Hughes got his hand to it and brought it clear, only for referee McKeown to rule he had touched it on the ground.

Domnhall Moran’s 20 m free rebounds off the bottom of Stephen Keith’s hurl, down off the ground and up into the net as St John’s grab an injury time winner. Pic by John McIlwaine

Up stepped Moran and with the goal line packed, somehow managed to squeeze the ball to the net in the 64th minute. Substitute Dannan McKeogh then added the proverbial insult to injury, wriggling through a minute later to poke the ball past Keith.

A cruel ending for Ballycran, who had done more than enough to warrant something from the game, but ecstasy for the Belfast men who refused to panic, continuing to pick off scores and clinical when the match-winning opportunity arose.

St Joseph’s Ballycran: Stephen Keith, Michael Hughes, Patrick Hughes, Sean Ennis, Gerard Hughes, Pádraig Flynn, Aaron Dorrian, Scott Nicholson, James Coyle, Michael Ennis (0-01), Conor Woods (1-07, 0-03f, 0-02 – 65), Christopher Egan (0-02), Brendan Ennis (1-00), Cormac McAllister (0-01), Niall Breen (0-01).

Subs: Stuart Martin (1-01) for Sean Ennis 12’, Huw Flynn for Aaron Dorrian 45’

St John’s: Simon Doherty, Jack Bohill, Ryan McNulty, Aidan McMahon, Conal Morgan, Barry McFall (0-02), Pádraig Nugent, Shea Shannon (0-03), Sean Wilson, Ciarán Johnston (0-08, 0-07f, 0-01 – 65), Mícheál Bradley (0-01), Oisín Donnelly, Conal Bohill (0-01), Conor Johnston (0-02), Donal McKernan.

Subs: Dean Madden for Pádraig Nugent 12’, Domhnall Moran (1-03) for Donal McKernan 12’, Dannan McKeogh (1-00) for Conor Johnston 51’

Referee: Darren McKeown (Naomh Gall)