Antrim SHL Division Two at The Riggs
CUSHENDUN EMMET’S 2-20 CARRYDUFF 2-12
CONRAD McDonnell’s dynamic dropshot goal in injury time was the insurance hit to help the Emmet’s over the line and into top spot in the Division Two table. The Emmet’s had to conjure a late fighting finish from this evening sunshine shoot-out at the seaside.
The outcome to a fascinating battle of wits against a highly competent Carryduff. followed a recent one-point victory at the County Down venue.
McDonnell proved to be the super sub as he made sure the hard pressed Cushendun kept collective resolve to shake off a very impressive opponent.
What was truly eye-catching was the manner of McDonnell’s goal, from a swivel, turn and drop shot to give Carryduff goalkeeper Conor McLornan no mission.
The excellent late action reminded hurling followers of a past time when county stars such as the late Seamus ‘Stout’ McDonnell of Rossa, Antrim and Ireland preferred the dropshot on the hoof, when in shooting range. It is a special art.
Conrad McDonnell probably drew on some family hurling background when he drifted in behind Carryduff backs to first time a long lob from Thomas Scally and bury the ball to the ‘onion basket’.
Carryduff players were undine, visibly deflated just when it seemed their outstanding player, Gareth Lynch might lead them to victory from their second trip to the Antrim coast venue.
Nine minutes from time in tense tussle Carryduff led by the minimum margin of 2-11 to 1-13.
The turnaround was basically down to will o’ the wisp lightweight Lynch.
He started in the midfield and his accuracy from dead ball kept his team in the game.
In the second half Lynch drifted to a more forward role while the midfield area control was snaffled by the tackling and hooking of Sean O’ Callaghan, Donal Teague and Donal Rooney.
Cushendun, looking confused for a spell midway through the second session needed inspiration from somewhere.
It came in the form of power player Aidan Corbett.
The 24 year old started in his customary fullback berth, suddenly popped up at full forward to score a first half point and then the vital contribution when it was backs to the wall.
Corbett, a player capable of running through a brick wall, turned the tide on the hard-rock beach ground to take over midfield and donate two dramatic points from forty yards, including one over the shoulder shot when under severe pressure.
Now all was well for Rory McQuillan’s team.absent ace sharp shooter Conlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill.
Still, even in the dying seconds, the visitor’s ‘Pimpernel’ playmaker Lynch tried desperately to nick his second goal, but his ground shot from15 yards flew inches over the crossbar/
It was the class of Lynch that carried Carryduff into the tempo of the game, after both teams missed a number chances during a slow burner start.
Emmet’s tearaway corner back Sean Hamilton helped to urge his colleagues. Home halfbacks Sean McKay, Thomas Scally and the majestic Donal O’Hara, an early point scorer, eased the host team into a 5-0 lead. Points there included the fine finishing of Conor ‘Smiley’ McHugh, David Kilgore and Dominic McQuillan.
Carryduff’s halfback blocking kept them in touch until Lynch broke their duck in the 18th minute with a sublime side line cut that sailed over the black spot.
Right on cue, Lynch cleverly set up Eoin Rooney to net from close range and square the tie in the 30th minute. Seconds later David Kilgore regained the home lead for the halftime tally of 0-9 to 1-5.
This intriguing encounter had a series of twists and turns, and many players of individual excellence during the absorbing combat..
It seemed the well organised and tight marking Carryduff team, inspired by outstanding will o’ the wisp Lynch. was on course for victory ten minutes from time.
One minute earlier Emmet’s young winger Coim McKeegan importantly plundered the score that halted Carryfduff spell of dominance.
Home goalie Gareth McGhee lumped a huge free into the Carryduff square.
The ball was kept in play and McKeegan pounced to cut inside two defenders and drill the ball low and home.
This gave Cushendun a three-points lead (1-13 to 1-10) – the advantage lasting merely sixty seconds.
Before home fans stopped cheering the brilliant Lynch lashed the ball past McGhee. – and one minute later sturdy substitude.Conal Earley hammered over to take Carryduff into the lead for a first time.
An unlikely source settled the Emmet’s nerves.
Regular fullback Aidan Corbett displayed his versatility when roving all over the show – including a period at full forward,
won some vital ball in the midfield to bring the home side level at 1-14 to 2-11.
Six minutes from time the 24 year old Corbett fired a classy over-the-shoulder point from fifty yards
Conor’ Smiley’ McHugh wisely did not go for goal from a 21 yards free, took his point – and the lead inched out to three points.
McKeegan and McDonnell tanged on points and it seemed the Emmet’s were home and dry.
However, in a heart-stopping finale, before McDonnell’s delightful strike, the Immensely talented Lynch tried his best to raise another green flag and toss another spanner in the works, but his ground first time shot from close range zipped over McGhee’s crossbar.
Harry Kilgore settled home nerves with a fine angled point and McDonnell delivered the coup-de-grace with his stunning goal.
Donal O’Hara, Cushendun’s majestic centre half, back from injury the previous week away to Sarsfields, was mightily relieved to get the result, five days before his weekend wedding.
The 28-year old quantity surveyor and Glendun farmer, who bagged an exceptional score in the first half, said: “It was hard work against a very good team. We knew it would not be easy, after managing a one-point win at their ground. Carryduff is a very well set up team and their top scorer Lynch a very difficult man to mark. Again it took a strong finish to get the win.”
EMMET’S: G McGhee; J McKay, A Corbett, S Hamilton; Sean McKay, Donal O’Hara, T Scally; D McQuillan and C Kilgore; J Morgan, M McSparran, H Kilgore; C McKeegan, C McHugh, D Kilgore. Subs used- C McDonnell, D Sharkey
Scorers-C McKeegan 1-2. C McDonnell 1-1, H Kilgore 0-4, C McHugh 0-4, D Kilgore 0-3, A Corbett 0-3, C Kilgore, D O’Hara, D McQuillan 0-1 each.
CARRYDUFF:C McLornan; F Casey, J Leneghan, L Cooney; D Teague, C Beatie, A Downey; S O’Callaghan and G Lynch; C O’Neill, J Wood, E Rooney; P Loughran, L McCaughey, O Teague. Subs used-C Cassidy, D Rooney. C Earley.
Scorers:- G Lynch 1- 8, E Rooney 1-0, C Earley , D Rooney,S O’Callaghan J Woods 0-1 each.
Ref- D McGarry (Loughguile).