Armoy retain Division Two status

ACHL Division 2/3 Playoff

Wednesday September 4

Glenrovers, Armoy 1-14 (36) St Pauls 3-8 (29)

Brendan McTaggart reports from Pairc Uí Cheallaigh, Portglenone

Armoy retained their Division Two status on Wednesday night but they were made to fight for the full hour under the floodlights at Páirc Uí Cheallaigh.  St Pauls came to Portglenone facing a seven point deficit from the first leg and when Patrick Doyle fired their third goal just three minutes into the second half, it looked like the Shaws Road men were on their way to reeling in Armoy lead.

Playing with a numerical advantage after an Armoy player saw red early in the game, St Pauls turned around at the interval and played with more intensity and fight.  They had Amory on the ropes early in the second half but the north Antrim men steadied the ship with a fine defensive performance and the attacking prowess of Conor Christie.  The Glen Rovers forward top scored with 1-4 over the hour but it was at the back where Armoy won this game. 

After a strong start when they shot into a six point lead, Armoy looked to be cruising to victory.  St Pauls forward James Farrell scored goals either side of Armoys red card to give St Pauls a lifeline.  Armoy reshuffled their pack and as the sides went into the interval tied on the night, promotion was still within the Shaws Road men’s sight.

Armoy stuttered after the restart and St Pauls were taking advantage with Doyle’s major but Armoy tightened up in defence and with Johnny McErlain also in fine form from placed ball, they didn’t panic and weathered the early St Pauls storm.  Second half substitute twice went close for goals along with Declan Chapman but Armoy ‘keeper Conor Devlin rose to the challenge as the game progressed, denying the Shaws Road men with a string of top saves to ensure his side would play in Division Two for the 2020 season.

With the wind swirling on a cold night, it was the Glenshesk men who made the brighter start to this second leg.  Conor Christie firing the opening goal of the match after good work by John Dillon in the build up and when PJ McBride, Johnny McErlain (free) and Emmet O’Hara followed suit, Armoy had a six point lead after just six minutes.

St Pauls weren’t at the races in the early stages but a piece of superb ingenuity from Farrell brought them their first goal and score of the night.  Using his speed to evade the Armoy challengers, Farrell hit the sliotar in front of him to stop getting hooked and found the back of the net.  A Stephen Rooney ’65 followed suit and as St Pauls finally settled into the game, the Shaws Road men were thrown a life line.  McPeake took exception to a challenge from Daire Stevenson and kicked the St Pauls man off the ball.  After consultation with his linesman, referee Brendan Toland had no option but to cut short the Armoy man’s game.

St Pauls had the bit between their teeth and could have had another goal moments later but Doyle’s smart effort bounced off the crossbar and over to cut the Armoy lead to two points.  The Shaws Road side weren’t quite finished as Farrell bagged his second major of the night in the 17th minute.  The sliotar was sent long to the heart of the Armoy defence and Farrell read the bounce perfectly and got between the defenders before finding the back of the net.

Armoy had seen their six point lead turn into a one point deficit and now had a man less but the Glenrovers men steadied the ship in the time that remained of the first half.  Points from John Dillon, O’Hara, Cairan McErlain and two for Johnny McErlain (one free) were in response to scores from Gerard Carberry, Doyle and two from Rooney (one free) to leave the sides tied on 1-9 to 2-6 at the short whistle.

St Pauls were hampered by a number of wides in the first half but they had their tails up again just three minutes after the restart when Doyle found the back of the Armoy net.  Collecting a cross field ball from Colm McLarnon, Doyle made the break and fired low to give Conor Devlin no chance.  The city side sensed the opportunity was there but again their accuracy in front of the target let them down.  Conor Christie fired over his first of four second half points but Armoy had rejigged their shape to nullify the threat of the St Pauls attack and used Tommy Burns and Christie in attack to exploit the spaces left behind.

Colm McLarnon gave St Pauls a three point lead once again in the 42nd minute but that was as close as the Shaws Road side got to overturning the Armoy aggregate lead.  With Cha McCormick, Shane and Arthur Devlin all putting in a monumental shift as well as John Dillon who dropped deeper into a sweeping roll, Armoy frustrated St Pauls for long periods of the second half.

Two huge frees from McErlain either side of another Conor Christie point came in response to Rooney’s fourth white flag of the match but time was running out for St Pauls.  Their hopes all but faded when Christopher Murray was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Conor Christie in the 55th minute and while the threw everything they had at the Armoy goals in the closing stages, the Glenrovers men kept them out with a solid defensive display.  The last score of the game fittingly came from the hurl of Conor Christie and while there were no winners on the night, it’s Armoy who celebrate retaining their Division Two status for next season.

TEAMS

Armoy: Conor Devlin; Shane Devlin, Cha McCormick, Joe McFetridge; Liam Dillon, Arthur Devlin, Joe McBride; Ciaran McErlain, PJ McBride; Johnny McErlain, John Dillon, Emmett O’Hara; Tommy Burns, Daniel McPeake, Conor Christie.

Scorers: Conor Christie 1-4 (2 f’s); Johnny McErlain 0-5 (4 f’s); Emmet O’Hara 0-2; Ciaran McErlain 0-1; PJ McBride 0-1; John Dillon 0-1.

St Paul’s: Joe Gillen; Christopher Murray, Ciaran Hetherington, Sean Bradley; Andrew McMorrow, Daire Stevenson, Sean Lawell; Fiontann Gamble, Declan Chapman; Colm McLarnon, Sean O’Carroll, Stephen Rooney; Patrick Doyle, Gerard Carberry, James Farrell.

Scorers: James Farrell 2-00; Patrick Doyle 1-2; Stephen Rooney 0-4 (1 ’65, 1 f); Gerard Carberry 0-1; Colm McLarnon 0-1.

Referee: Brendan Toland (Lámh Dhearg)

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)

Saints seal Division 2 title

Antrim Hurling League Division 2

Naomh Eanna 3-23 Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon 1-17

John McIlwaine reports from Hightown

Naomh Eanna centre back Mark Donaghy solos clear of Eoghan Ruadhs Ben Gormley

Naomh Eanna clinched the Division 2 Hurling League title on Tuesday evening at Hightown when they beat visitors Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh in the final game of the campaign. Twelve points separated the side in the end, which would suggest an easy victory, and though it was convincing in the end for long periods the Tyrone men matched their hosts and certainly made them work for their win. Three early goals were the scores that really won it in the end for the Glengormley men, all three of them coming in the first ten minutes, two from Killian Jennings and one from Dermot Maguire after Eoghan Ruadh had got off to a flyer. That gave them a bit of breathing space but when Lorcan Devlin came back with a goal for the visitors in the twelfth minute they were very much back in the game, trading score for score with the home team and it took a late scoring flurry from Naomh Eanna to give themselves a six point cushion at half time.

Damian Casey once again led the line for Eoghan Ruadh with a series of great scores

The third quarter of the game saw the Tyrone men remain competitive but there was no let-up with Naomh Eanna and they really got on top in the final quarter when they hit eight points without reply to seal the win and seal the league title.

After the game team manager Terence Sambo McNaughton, who just took over at the start of the season, spoke of his satisfaction on achieving what he feels is the first goal for the team. The Ruairi Og and Antrim legend felt the team had gradually improved as the season went on and that he felt it took a bit of time to get his way of thinking through to some of the players. “Look there was good players here before I came and this club has done great work for hurling over the years. I just tried to get them to approach it in a more professional way and show a bit more commitment.” When I put it to him about how much they had improved since their heavy defeat to fellow contenders Sarsfields at the Bear Pit early in the season he replied “You would need to have been here every evening in the past few months just to see how much that improvement has been. If I was to describe it in my terms I felt they treated hurling in the same way I treat playing golf, a bit of fun without taking it too serious. I tried to get it through to them that it had to be treated a lot more seriously and to be fair they took that on board. I told them that if they were really serious about this they would have to commit to the team, to the club and to the man beside you on the pitch and they have done that to be fair”

Naomh Eanna manager Terence McNaughton

Looking forward to Saturday Intermediate Championship opener McNaughton was at pains to point out that winning the league will have no bearing on what is ahead. “I just stressed to the player there that we have to park tonight’s win here and that Saturday will be a different game altogether. Cloney Gaels part nobody soft and it will be a major task to get past them on Saturday.”

VISITORS START WELL

Dungannon got away to a flying start on Wednesday evening and had three points on the board inside three minutes, two from sharpshooter Damian Casey and one from Lorcan Devlin. Edward O’Connor opened the Naomh Eanna account with a sweetly struck point from sixty meters in the fourth minute and they took the lead seconds later when centre forward Manus Mullan put corner forward Killian Jennings in for the opening goal. Casey replied with a point for Eoghan Ruadh but goal number two came soon afterwards, Jennings again hitting the target, and the third soon followed when the other corner man Dermot Maguire broke through to finish in style.

At this stage you felt that the home team were going to pull away but that was far from the case as points from Casey and Mulgrew were followed by a Lorcan Devlin goal on twelve minutes which brought the deficit down to a single point. The next fifteen minutes saw the teams trade score for score as Casey hit a few beauties for Dungannon and Ruairi Donaghy, John McGoldrick, Manus Mullan and Killian Jennings replied for the home side. Naomh Eanna had edged four in front by the 25th minute when Casey sent over a free from inside his own half to cut the gap to three, but Naomh Eanna finished strongly and points from Cormac Ross, Killian Jennings and Ryan Bogue gave them a six point cushion at the break.

During the third quarter the gap remained around the six point mark with Dungannon getting it back to five occasionally and the home team stretching it out to seven at times, but you felt if the Tyrone men could get a goal they were still very much in the game. When Casey hit a superb point on the run in the 45th minute the gap was back to five again, but that was to be the visitors last score as Naomh Eanna hit their stride in the final quarter, hitting eight on the trot, some of them right out of the top drawer, to seal the league title in style.

NAOMH EANNA: Philly Curran, Niall O’Connor, Rian Gillan, Ruairi Diamond, Cormac Ross, Mark Donaghy, Joe Maskey, Ryan Bogue, Ruairi Donaghy, Jason Higgins, Manus Mullan, Edward O’Connor, Dermot Magurie, John McGoldrick, Killian Jennings

Subs – Brendan Cormican, Patrick Ross

EOGHAN RUADH: Ciaran McCrudden, Shaun Donaghy, Stephen Donnelly, Padraig Mallon, Padraig McHugh Mark Winters, Jos Ferguson, Mark Devlin, Lorcan Devlin, Damian Casey, Ben Gormley, Cathal McErlean, Matthew Mulgrew, Piaras McErlean, Duibhir Marshall.

Referee – Darren McKeown (Naomh Gall).   

McKenna stars as Sarsfield’s seal the deal at Creggan

ACHL Division 2

 Creggan 3.13 v Sarsfields 3.19.

Niall McKenna was the star of the show as Sarsfield’s came out tops in a thrilling contest against Creggan at their Staffordstown Road ground on Wednesday evening. In the battle of second against third it was Sarsfield’s who outscored the home side in the second half with McKenna contributing  1-11 of his sides total to lead his side to a win that keeps their outside chances of winning the division alive.

 Sarsfields remain in second place with this six point win but they didn’t get things handy as Creggan led 1-03 to 0-01 with 10 minutes gone as they made a bright start to this encounter.  As the half progressed the Stewartstown Road side played their way into contention and by half time the sides were level at 1.08 apiece. 

Jack Daniels raised the 1st flag from throw in, sprinting down the wing to deliver a fine point off the hurl just seconds into the game.  It took the home side a further 2 minutes to respond – a point delivered off the hurl of Conor Small while Kevin Rice bagged a goal running through the opposition from mid-field to deliver the ball at point blank range, giving the keeper David Ward no chance to respond.

The home side increased their tally with further points by Aidan McKeown and Rice again to go 4 points clear but their lead didn’t last long as the City side increased their tally with 3 unanswered points from Niall McKenna and a goal from Ryan Carson.

Creggan hit back to take the lead once more with 4 points from Oran McCann (all frees) and with 25 minutes gone, the home side led by 4 points.  Sarsfield’s rallied and it was again left to Niall McKenna to narrow the gap with 3 points from play to leave them just one behind.  Oran McCann added another point from play while Carson got the final score of the half to level things.

Creggan’s dead ball specialist, McCann, got the home side up and running in the 2nd half with a pointed free just seconds in to give his side back the lead but the visitor’s response was immediate with Niall Carson bearing down on goal to pull the trigger from 10 yards out. Creggan’s keeper, Emmett Long made a point blank save but the rebound was doubled into the net by Ryan Carson to put the City side 2 points ahead. 

Following Carson’s goal Sarsfields began to dominate, scoring the next 4 points with Mark Rea, Ryan Carson and Niall McAlea all on target from play.  Creggan were now struggling for scores with a few wayward shots when there were better options available and it took another 10 minutes to get their next score,  a point from Oran McCann but this did little to deter the visitors as they continued to increase their tally. Mark Rea added a point before the excellent McKenna followed with a goal to leave the Kickham’s a mountain to climb.

 Creggan were now 7 points in arrears but they produced a strong finish to push the opposition right to the wire. Points from Conor Small (0.02), Ciaran Rice (0.01}, Mark McCann (0.01) and a consolation goal from James Dougan closed the gap but it just wasn’t enough as the visitors had plenty left in the tank with further points from Niall McKenna (0.04), Caolan McKernan (0.01), Ryan Carson (0.01) and Aaron Stewart (0.01).

Sarsfields are level with St. Enda’s on 20 points but the Glengormley side have a game in hand and with only a couple of games remaining look favourites to take the division 2 title which would leave Sarsfields in a play-off against the team that finishes second bottom in division 1.

Glenariffe keep good run going with win over Tir na nOg

ACHL Division 2B

Glenariffe Oisin 1-16 Tir na nOg 1-8

Oisin, Glenariffe kept their recent good run going when they proved too good for visitors Tir na nOg in an at times niggly contest in Waterfoot tonight. The opening exchanges were fairly even but It was the Whitehill side who made the better start with Ciaran Logan pointing them ahead after 20 seconds.

A goal from the same player in the 21st minute briefly put the visitors two in front but Oisins struck with a goal of their own from Alex O’Boyle just on half time to take a four point lead into the dressing room.  Glenariffe extended their lead on the restart with a point from the excellent Alex O’Boyle and they went on to dominate the third quarter and led by ten going into the closing stages.

The visitors were first off the mark with Logan on target after 20 seconds and Kevin Sheerin pointed a third minute free to put them two ahead. The home side took a time to find their range, shooting a number of wides before Alex O’Boyle got them off the mark and two further scores from O’Boyle in reply to another from Ciaran Logan saw the sides level with 17 minutes on the clock.

Conor Patterson gave Glenariffe the lead as Alex O’Boyle began to open up the visitors defence with his strong running and he added another point after being fouled himself but Tir na nOg responded with a good goal from the dangerous Ciaran Logan to hit the front again with nine minutes remaining to the break.

Things were beginning to heat up as the free count mounted with referee Francis Traynor doing his best to keep a lid on it as he issued a couple of yellow cards but it was the home side who finished the half strongly with Paddy Burns getting on the end of a long clearance from Randal McDonnell to fire over in the 28th minute.

Caolan O’Connor, who had a great game at mid-field, extended the Oisins lead and Alex O’Boyle put them in a strong position when he fired to the net in the 30th minute. Tir na nOg attempted to respond but had a late score ruled out for a square ball decision and at half time the home side led by four.

On the restart the mercurial O’Boyle extended that lead to five and then six with Kevin Sheerin replying from a free in the third minute following a foul on the hard working Ciaran Logan. The home side were gaining in control as the half progressed and it took a smart save from Kevin Kerr to deny the Oisins as they began to turn the screw.

Glenariffe continued to press however as Alex O’Boyle added a couple more points from frees before Tir na nOg substitute, Eamon Og McAllister replied with a good point from play. Kevin Sheerin added another in the 38th minute to briefly lift the visitors hopes but Glenariffe were in no mood to let their lead slip further.

And it was that man O’Boyle who led the way with points in the 40th and 41st minutes, the second a superb effort from near the side line and Conor McAllister followed with two more as the Oisins began to turn the screw.

The Tir na nOg defence was coming under increasing pressure with Ryan O’Neill, Brendan Kerr and Ciaran O’Neill doing everything in their power to stem the tide but Oisins struck with another point from Aaron Cosgrove in the 49th minute to move 10 in front and it was as good as over.

It was to be the home sides last score and Tir na nOg finally got some reward for their efforts as they finished strongly with the game’s final two points and it was fitting that they came from their best player on the night, Ciaran Logan but it only served to put a better look on the scoreline.

This win edges Glenariffe ahead of Cloney Gaels on score difference in division 2Bbut the Waterfoot side have a game in hand and appear to be hitting a rich vein of form going into the championship. Tir na nOg have a number of players to come back into the side and will be hoping to get them all on board come championship time.

Oisin: Sean McToal, Daniel Haughey, Randal McDonnell, Michael Haughey, Niall Murray, Michael Gettens, Shane O’Connor, Caolan O’Connor, Aaron Cosgrove, Conor Patterson, Conor McAllister, Tom Quinn, Paddy Burns, Paul McDonnell, Alex O’Boyle. Subs: Seamus McDonnell for Paddy Burns, Alex McDonnell for Paul McDonnell, Oliver McLarnon for Tom Quinn

Tir na nOg: Kevin Kerr, Brendan Kerr, Ryan O’Neill, Neil Shannon, Conor Fitzgerald, Ciaran O’Neill, Tony Martin, Caoimhinn Duffin, Emmet Martin, Pearse Sherrin, Kevin Sherrin, Malachy Duffin, Niall Devlin, Ciaran Logan, Michael Higgins. Subs: Eamon Og McAllister, Stephen Carey, Sean McKinnley

Referee: Francis Traynor (Loughgiel)