Division 2 promotion race to go down to the wire

 

ACHL Division 2 Round Up

The battle for promotion to division 1 of the ACHL looks like going right down to the wire and following last night’s round of fixtures Ballycastle look well on their way to securing promotion and indeed top spot.

McQuillan’s proved just too strong for bottom placed Armoy last night but were never the less pushed most of the way by the Glen Rovers but eventually secured a five point win thanks in no small way to the excellent free taking of Diarmuid McShane who finished with a personal tally of 1-12.

St. Brigid’s Cloughmills had put a good run together as they travelled into the city to face St. Gall’s at the bog meadow but the Milltown Row side handed out quite a hammering to the North Antrim side to avenge an early season defeat and climb above them into second place.

St. Gall’s now look slight favourites for second place but they face two tricky away games, starting with a visit to Oisins Glenariffe on Sunday, the home side desperately in need of points. They then travel to St. Enda’s and finish with home games against Ballycastle and Sarsfields.

Tir na nOg are handily placed should St. Gall’s slip up and last night they turned in another fine performance to beat the visiting Glenariffe, pushing the sea siders back into the bottom two with Kevin Sheerin, Ryan O’Neill , Pearse Sheerin and Sean Duffin leading the charge.

Despite last night’s defeat St. Brigid’s are still well in the hunt and can keep themselves in the hunt if they can secure the points at home to Sarsfields on Sunday followed by trips to Glenariffe next Wednesday night and a visit to Glen Rovers. St. Brigid’s campaign finished with a visit to McQuillan’s and to date they are the only side who have taken a point of the Ballycastle men.

St. Enda’s win at the Bear Pit last night keeps them in the hunt for second place but they are not entirely safe yet, only two points above Sarsfields and another two above Glenariffe with Glen Rovers requiring something of a miracle to avoid the drop.

Oisins travelled to Whitehill last night hoping to improve on a recent good run of form but came up against a Tir na nOg side firing on all cylinders and continuing the improvement they have shown all year with the Randalstown side running out convincing winners by 3-16 to 2-8

Tír na nÓg 3.16 (25)

Glenariffe 2.8 (14)

Tír na nÓg team and scorers v Glenariffe.

  1. R. Graham 2. M. Higgins 3. K. Kerr 4. B. Kerr 5. T. Martin 6. C. Duffin 7. D. Martin 8. C. Fitzgerald 9. C. Duffin 10. R. O’Neill 11. P. Sheerin 12. C. Logan 13. S. Duffin 14. K. Sheerin 15. R. O’Neill 17. S. Carey 19. C. McKeown 20. K. McCann 21. C. Loughran 22. D. O’Kane

 

Subs used: K. McCann for D. Martin, C. McKeown for K. Kerr, S. Carey for C. Duffin

 

Scorers: K. Sheerin (0.7- 5 Frees), R. O’Neill (2.0), P. Sheerin (0.3), S. Duffin (0.3), K. McCann (1.0), C. Logan (0.1), C. Duffin (0.1),

  1. Fitzgerald (0.1)

 

Naomh Eanna back on the winning trail

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O’Neill’s ACHL Division 2

Sarsfields 0-12 Naomh Eanna 2-13

Naomh Eanna got back on the winning trail when they travelled to the Bear Pit last night and finally got the better of a Sarsfield’s side who have held the upper hand over them in recent years.

With the second phase of the league well on the way the compressed run of matches sees each team having four games in two weeks after no game since June, but putting  that aside the rivalry between these two teams is in no way tempered and is as fierce as ever.

in recent years na Sáirséal have had the upper hand, the statistics showing wins in the league this year and championship and league wins last year, so the West Belfast team seem to have clear dominance.

The league match (round two) at the beginning of the year saw the visitors gain a one point advantage in the end, however their form has dipped since then and one of the early season favourites could now be looking over their shoulder with relegation a possible issue.

It’s Wednesday evening and the game beckons, the list of headaches for the management teams grow, no captain Cormac Jennings at mid-field and no Cúl báire Marty Curran added to the woes, holidays and work commitments also changed the team selection.

With the man in the middle Mark McDonald taking control in a wet and drizzly Páirc na Bear, the game was going to be hard fought, full of individual battles, as both teams needed points to avoid the drop.

As the game began Naomh Éanna clearly wanted to prove a point and thundered into the game. The game was halted due to a head injury to Conor McSteen but when the action resumed the direct running of Jack Arthurs was proving a problem for the Sarsfield’s full back line. Arthurs won an early free and from 20metres and Philly Curran opened the scoring for the Hightown side.

Ruairí Donaghy was on fine form and opened his account with a fine catch from the Sarsfield puck out and his shot from 50 meters deceived the Sarsfield’s defence and dropped to the  net to give his side an early four point lead.

Jack Arthurs added a fine point from play with only six minutes played and the jinking and weaving Killian Jennings looked in for a second goal but shot wide in the wet conditions as Sarsfields breathed a sigh of relief. Both sides missed opportunities before the home side finally opened their account and another from a  Dónall McKernan  free left it 1-02, to 0-02 with sixteen minutes played.

Sarsfield’s were enjoying a period of ascendancy and McKernan added another free on twenty two minutes to close the gap to the minimum and it looked like we had a game on our hands. Philly Curran responded for Naomh Éanna to put two between the teams as both sides struggled to deal with the slippery conditions.

As the break approached and with two minutes plus injury time to be added, Dónall McKernan from play brought Sarsfield’s back to the bear minimum with a point from play however the visitors were to have the final say and Ruairí Diamond pointed from play to leave the score at half time 1-04 to 0-05).

Naomh Éanna opted to stay on the pitch for the break as the home side headed to their newly opened changing rooms and changes in personnel to the visitors side saw Daniel Lowry replace Jack Arthurs and it was to prove an inspired substitution.

From the throw in Naomh Éanna went on the attack and a long range free from Cormac Ross sailed over to extend their lead to three. McKernan replied for the ‘Paddies’ with a couple of good points to keep his side in touch but substitute,  Daniel Lowry continued to cause problems for the home side as he pointed a  45 metre free to edge his side two in front again.

Sarsfield’s again closed the gap to the minimum but the introduction of Joe Maskey proved a huge boost for the visitors and an excellent Cormac Ross free from distance kept the scoreboard ticking over.

The tit for tat, nature of the contest showed no sign of abating  and McKernan continued to show unerring accuracy from the placed ball and on forty five minutes he sent over to leave just one between these evenly matched sides once more.

Then came the turning point in the game and eventually the Naomh Eanna pressure on the Sarsfield’s full back line paid dividends and a simple mistake allowed Daniel Lowry to bat the sliotar to the net to open up a five point gap.

Further points from Ruairí Donaghy put six between the sides, and the visitors finished with a flurry to run out winners by seven and finally get the upper hand over a side that has been their nemesis in recent years.

St. Enda’s:

Darrach Cooper

Micheál McGivern

Matthew O’Hare

Michael McNicholl

Ruairí Diamond

Manus Mullan

Eddie O’Connor

Aidan McGowan

Cormac Ross

Ruairí Donaghy

Killian Jennings

Conor McSteen

Jack Arthurs

Philly Curran

Diarmuid Maguire

Subs: –

Daniel Lowry for Jack Arthurs

Joe Maskey for Diarmuid Maguire

Eoin Maguire for Conor McSteen

Matthew Muldoon for Aidan McGowan

Tiernan Curran for Killian Jennings

 

 

Magic McShane points Ballycastle to victory in Armoy

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Ballycastle’s Diarmuid McShane (Right) who top scored with 1-12 in his side’s win over Armoy on Wednesday night, challenges Shane Devlin.

O’Neill’s ACHL Division 2

Armoy 1-12 Ballycastle 1-17

McQuillan’s Ballycastle maintained their position at the top of division 2 of the ACHL but they were made to fight all the way by bottom club Glen Rovers, Armoy in a wet and windy Armoy tonight. The free taking of Diarmuid McShane proved pivotal in his side’s victory, the diminutive number 13 scoring the majority of the Ballycastle scores, one a superb sideline cut and another from deep in his own half and brought his first half total to eight to send his side in at half time holding a rather flattering 0-11 to 0-5 lead.

After the break Armoy battled hard to get back into contention and a Conor Christie goal after four minutes put them right back into contention. However a somewhat fortunate goal from Diarmuid McShane in the 16th minute put a bit of daylight between the sides and the league leaders went on to win by five points.

Referee John Carson got the action under way at a wet and windy Armoy and it was the Glen Rovers who got off to the better start with Conor Christie pointing them ahead in the opening minute. Ciaran Butler levelled matters with four minutes gone but Eamon McCaughan restored the home side’s lead almost immediately.

Diarmuid McShane levelled matters as he fired over the first of a dozen frees he was to convert on the night with Owern Kinney again edging the Armoy side in front and McShane replying direct from a ‘70’ as play swung from end to end.

The home side were moving the sliotar well and building from deep as Johnny McErlain edged them in front once more but the same player shot wide from a free and then Owen Kinney was off target as they tried to increase their lead.

Diarmuid McShane made no such mistake when the opportunity fell his way as he pointed a trio of frees, one a superb sideline cut to edge the ‘Castle’ two in front after 22 minutes but a Ciaran McErlain point with five minutes remaining to the break left just one between the sides.

Significantly Ballycastle finished the half with a scoring flurry as Tiernan Butler responded immediately to McErlain’s score and McShane added four more, one from 40 meters and near the left hand sideline and the best a massive effort from within his own half.

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John ‘Rocky’ Dillon who was superb at the heart of the Armoy defence clears his lines

The six point lead was harsh on an Armoy side who had battled well but who had conceded too many poor frees and it left them facing a mountain in the second half if they were to get back into contention.

Whatever was said at half time certainly seemed to have worked and after Ciaran McErlain and Kevin Barry McShane exchanged early points a long delivery from Johnny McErlain was fielded by Conor Christie and he beat Ryan McGarry in the visitor’s goal from close range.

Once again Diarmuid McShane added to his ever increasing total from another free but Ciaran McErlain replied for Glen Rovers to keep the gap at three with 9 minutes of the half gone. McShane again and Johnny McErlain with an excellent long range point exchanged further scores and then Eamon McCaughan got on the end of a good delivery but shot over when a goal looked on.

Still it was now down to two and the home side dared to dream as Diarmuid McShane with his 11th point in the 16th minute and Rocky Dillon with an excellent long range effort from play kept the gap at two before disaster struck the home side.

Their defence had several chances to clear a ball that dropped into the danger area and in the scramble that ensued corner forward Cathal Connor batted the sliotar to the net from close range and suddenly there was seven points between the sides with ten minutes remaining.

Glen Rovers battled to the final whistle with John Dillon, Conor Christie and Ciaran McErlain all hitting late points but perhaps fittingly, the final point of the game was to fall to man of the match, McShane as he sent over his 12th and the game’s last point in the 31st minute.

This win leaves Armoy firmly fixed to the bottom of the lead but on this display and when I saw them two weeks ago, they look more than capable of holding their own against most sides in the division. Unfortunately results have not gone their way but on the night, Timothy Burns, Charles McCormick, Rocky Dillon, Ciaran McErlain and Conor Christie were excellent.

Ballycastle now look certainties for the title and with Cloughmills falling heavily to St. Gall’s they now move seven clear of the Milltown side who have climbed to second place by virtue of tonight’s win over St. Brigid’s.

Armoy: Timothy Burns, Shane Devlin, Charles McCormick, Arthur Devlin, Emmet O’Hara, John Dillon, Liam Dillon, Ciaran McErlain, PJ McBride, Johnny McErlain, Thomas Burns, Eamon McCaughan, Trevor Linton, Owen Kinney, Conor Christie. Subs: Martin McErlain for Eamon McCaughan.

Ballycastle: Ryan McGarry, Oran Kearney, Matthew Donnelly, Oisin McAuley, Shane McCarry, Neal McAuley, Ben McQuillan, Conor Boyd, Ronan McCarry, Eamon Elliott, Ciaran Butler, Kevin Barry McShane, Diarmuid McShane, Tiernan Butler, Cathal Connor.

Referee: John Carson (Ruairi Og)

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O’Boyle excels in Oisin’s victory

All County Hurling League Division 2

Glenariffe Oisins 2-17 Armoy Glen Rovers 1-11

Glenariffe recorded their second win in three days on Wednesday evening when they had nine points to spare over Armoy in Waterfoot. The Oisins did most of the damage in the first half when aided by a strong breeze as they opened up a 2-7 to 0-4 advantage by the short whistle. Armoy raised hopes of a victory when Owen Kinney pulled a goal back seven minutes into the second half, but and extraordinary display of free taking by the home side’s Alex O’Boyle kept the visitors at arms’ length as they sealed the win.

Glenariffe scored inside ten seconds of the throw-in when the won the ball from the throw-in and dispatched it to the edge of the Armoy ‘square’ where Alex O’Boyle hammered it home. It took Armoy a while to settle, but when PJ McBride and Johnny McErlain pointed to cut the gap to the minimum they looked a bit more settled. However when Conor Patterson soloed through to take an inch perfect pass by Dan McKillop in his stride and fire it home without breaking stride the home team were back in charge. They went on to dominate as the hit six points in the next ten minutes, four of them from O’Boyle, and one each from Tom Quinn and Daniel Haughey, in reply to just one from Armoy’s Owen Kinney. Conor Christie added another for Armoy but O’Boyle had the last say of the half with another score from a placed ball in first half injury time.

17Owen Kinney gave Armoy hope with a first half goal. Pic by John McIlwaine

O’Boyle and Armoy’s PJ McBride exchanged points early in the new half and while O’Boyle nailed another beauty from inside his own half points from Eamon McCaughan and PJ McBride, on either side of an Owen Kinney goal gave the visitors a bit of hope. Kinney came close with another goal effort soon afterwards and there was a brief nervousness in the Oisins camp. However Alex O’Boyle soon settled the nerves with three on the trot and though Ciarn and Johnny McErain came back with points for the Glen Rovers men, ace marksmen O’Boyle always had an answer and he hit four more in the final minutes to take his personal tally to an impressive 1-14.

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Pics by John McIlwaine

 

 

 

Castle continue their unbeaten run

All County Hurling League – Division 2

Ballycastle 5-18 Sarsfields 1-8

Donal Cunningham reports from Pairc MacUilin

 

Ballycastle McQuillan’s continued their unbeaten run at the top of ACHL Div 2 with a convincing home victory over Sarsfields. Coming after a high scoring away win v St Enda’s at the weekend and fielding eight of the victorious U-21 side from Monday night’s semi-final win over St John’s, weary legs were likely to be a factor for the home side. A clever short free from Diarmuid McShane found an unmarked Ciaran Butler who opened the scoring in the third minute with a straight forward point. Two Eamon Elliott points and one from Diarmuid McShane would add further points before Sarsfields opened their account with two pointed frees. Diarmuid McShane and Tiarnan Butler points further extended the Ballycastle lead before full forward Ciaran Butler goaled midway through the half, a score which started a mini scoring spree with points from Eamon Elliott, Diarmuid McShane, Ciaran Butler and Conor Boyd. Two converted Sarsfields frees rounded off the first half scoring leaving the home side with 1-11 to 0-6 advantage.

Operating now in the forward line, minor star Colum ‘Donkey’ Butler opened the second half scoring with a fine point before Tiarnan Butler forged through the Sarsfields defence before offloading to Dermot McShane who fired to the net. ‘Donkey’ added the Town’s third goal, which was followed by a Tiarnan Butler point. Ten minutes into the half Ryan Carson was on the end of a good Sarsfields move to fire to the Ballycastle net, but this score acted as a catalyst for the two prominent Ballycastle scoring forwards Diarmuid McShane adding 0-3 and Tiarnan Butler 2-2 to help clench two very valuable league points for the Town. Ballycastle: Ryan McGarry, Oran Kearney, Matthew Donnelly, Oisin McAuley, John McLister, Neal McAuley, Shane McCarry, Conor Boyd (0-1), Colum Butler (1-1), Eamon Elliott (0-3), Tiarnan Butler (2-4), Kevin Barry McShane, Diarmuid McShane (1-7), Ciaran Butler (1-2), Shane Staunton SUBS – Aaron Mooney for S Staunton, Sean Kelly for O Kearney, Connor Donnelly for C Boyd ,Cathal Connor for E Elliott, Conal Colgan for D McShane.CRLL7152TT Butler who scored 2-4 in Ballycastle’s win over Sarsfields.