St Paul’s late push for promotion continues with win over Emmets

All County Hurling League Division 3

Cushendun 0-16 St Paul’s 1-20

St Paul’s amazing comeback in Division 3 of the Antrim Hurling League continued at Cushendun on Wednesday evening when they beat the Emmet’s by seven points to continue a great run of victories. When the Shaw’s Road side lost their first two games of the season their hopes of promotion appeared to be very slim but once Mickey Rooney’s side got going they have lost just one more game and if they beat Gort na Mona in their last game of the season next Tuesday evening then they are champions.

Stephen Rooney was the star of the show in Cushendun on Wednesday evening and after Conor McHugh had given the home team an early lead Rooney started a charge that brought St Paul’s five points on the bounce, two from Rooney, and one each from James Farrell, Colm McLarnon and Gerard Carberry. Pearse Bannon pulled one back for the Emmett’s but four in a row from Rooney pulled his team 0-10 to 0-2 ahead after seventeen minutes.

Conor McHugh replied with a point from a free for Cushendun but a Gerard Carberry goal and a Fintan Gamle point helped St Paul’s to a 1-11 to 0-6 half time lead.

Points from the McHugh brothers Michael and Conor at the start of the second half left six between the teams but Stephen Rooney came back with two for the visitors to restore that eight point cushion. Harry Kilgore and Conor McHugh added points for the Emmet’s to close it to six again but Rooney, Carberry and Doyle replied for the Belfast men to give them a nine point cushion.

In their best spell of the game Cushendun then hit five points without reply through Michael McHugh, James Morgan, Conor McHugh (2) and Harry Kilgore and with St Paul’s now down to 14 men there was just four points between the sides with still five minutes left to play. For a time it was a bit anxious for the visitors but points from Colum McLarnon and Gerard Carberry settled the nerves and Stephen Rooney sealed it with a late point.

Four-midable Gort return to winning ways

ACHL Division Three

Gort na Mona 4-17-0-10 Cushendun

By Kevin Herron from Enright Park

Gort na Mona recovered from their midweek blip at the hands of Bredagh with a comprehensive 4-17-0-10 defeat of county Junior Champions Cushendun at Enright Park on Sunday afternoon.

Three goals inside the opening twenty minutes had the Turf Lodge men firmly in the driving seat as Dessie McClean, Darren Boyd and Mark Rea all found majors to give their side a 3-08-0-05 lead at the break.

Boyd and McClean combined for their sides fourth shortly after the restart and like the opening half and it was very much one way traffic for the majority of the second period.

It took a few minutes for the sides to adapt to the conditions early on in Enright Park as the pounding rain and sandy surface made things extremely difficult.

Cushendun opened the scoring courtesy of Conor McHugh’s third minute free – but Dessie McClean responded from a similar scenario.

The opening goal arrived after five minutes – Dessie McClean let fly with a high shot that Cushendun goalkeeper Eoin Magee thought was going to drop over the bar, only for the ball to drop to the net and embarrass the unfortunate net minder.

Thomas Scally responded with a point from range – but the visitors were spared the concession of a second goal by referee Ciaran McCloskey.

Patrick McCaffrey switched the play with Dessie McClean and the goalscorer fed Christopher McErlean – McErlean turned the ball home, however McCloskey adjudged the full forward to have strayed into the square.

Harry Kilgore shook off heavy pressure and made it a one point game in the aftermath (1-01-0-03) and the sides traded further scores through Patrick McCaffey and Conor McHugh (free).

Gort na Mona opened up a two-point advantage approaching the midday point in the half through points from McErlean and Mark Rea.

The hosts were then gifted the opportunity of a second goal on 17 minutes; Gary Doyle was set to pull the trigger, only to be chopped down and referee McCloskey to signal for a penalty.

Darren Boyd seized responsibility and rifled low past Magee into the bottom right corner to make it 2-04-0-04.

With little over ten minutes to the break the Gort’s had effectively  secured victory with their third goal of the half – under extremely fortunate circumstances.  

Wing-half back Mark Rea advanced forward and let fly with a shot that dropped into the hand of Cushendun goalkeeper Eoin Magee and under pressure from Christopher McErlean; Magee spilled the ball into his own net to ensure Gort na Mona led 3-04-0-04.

The sides traded scores in the aftermath through Dessie McClean and Dominic Sharkey but it was the dominant hosts that ended the half with three successive points.

Chris McErlean popped the ball over the bar, followed by a third McClean point – the last score before the break was one that appeared to be manufactured on the training ground as Gavin McKenna was the recipient of a quick sideline ball and shot over the bar to give his side a 3-08-0-05 advantage at the interval.

Gort na Mona increased their lead upon the resumption with McClean (free) and substitute Brendan Quinn on target.

On 34 minutes the hosts hit their final goal of the afternoon – first half goal scorers Boyd and McClean combined to great effect and McClean lashed the ball to the corner of the net past substitute keeper Michael McHugh to claim his second of the afternoon and in the process make it 4-10-0-05.

Conor McHugh replied with his third converted free of the afternoon – but Niall Healy and Dessie McClean (free) forged further scores.

Darren Boyd could have added a fifth goal in between – a fine move between McClean and Healy saw the ball played into the path of the full-forward whose shot crashed off the post.

The sides traded the next four scores, Cushendun were playing for pride by this stage and twice narrowed the margin through Pierce Bannon and substitute Michael Dunne, though Connor McCann and Brendan Quinn responded in turn.

Cushendun had the chance of a consolation goal with little over ten minutes remaining as Conor McHugh was chopped down after a long foray forward. Referee McCloskey awarded a 21-yard free which McHugh took responsibility for, but his effort was scrambled to safety.

Declan Hughes and Dessie McClean added their sides final scores of the afternoon and at the other end Gort’s keeper Padraig Fryers made himself big to deny Pierce Bannon.

Cushendun would reach double figures thanks to late converted frees from Conor McHugh and Aidan Corbett – it had little bearing on the final outcome as Gort na Mona move a step nearer to the league title and promotion to Division Two Hurling. 

Gort na Mona: P Fryers, J Connolly, G McKenna (0-01), C Devlin, M Rea (1-01), P McHugh, N Henry, P McCaffrey (0-01), D Hughes (0-01), C McCann (0-01), N Doyle, N Healy (0-01), D McClean (2-07, 0-05f), C McErlean (0-02), D Boyd (1-00f). Subs: B Quinn (0-02) for N Doyle (28 mins); P Cournane for C Devlin (48 mins): T McCaffrey for D Hughes (48 mins); C Healy for C McErlean (50 mins); R Coleman for N Healy (53 mins).

Cushendun: E Magee, S Hamilton, A Corbett (0-01f), J McKay, C McKay, T Scally (0-01), N McAuley, C McHugh (0-04f), J Morgan, D Sharkey (0-01), H Kilgore (0-02), P Bannon, A McMullan, E McQuillan, C Bannon. Subs: M McHugh for E Magee (30 mins), R Millar for C Bannon (30 mins), M Dunne for D Sharkey (47 mins).

Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)

Bredagh hold their nerve to defeat Gorts

ACHL Division Three

Bredagh 2-22-4-12 Gort Na Mona

By Kevin Herron from Cherryvale

Gort Na Mona suffered their first league defeat this evening after Bredagh edged a breathtaking contest 2-22-4-12 at Cherryvale.

Despite the County Down side starting the better; the opening goal of the game gave league leaders Gort Na Mona the lead through Dessie McClean.

McClean would claim a second goal before the break – but the Turf Lodge men’s free count was to prove their undoing as Niall McFarland converted 0-05 from the placed ball to ensure Bredagh held a 0-13-2-06 lead at the interval.

A point separated the sides with a quarter of an hour remaining but Bredagh were dealt a blow – losing defender Danny Robinson to a straight red card after a high challenge.

With the game level the 14-men struck a hammer blow to the Gorts as Colin Lordon rifled to the corner of the net.

It started a rut of late goals as Patrick McCaffrey found space and buried it to the net to make it a two-point game with three minutes left.

Only for Malachy Scullion to instantly reply – Bredagh held a healthy seven point and despite Dessie McClean securing his hat-trick in injury-time it was little more than scant consolation for the league leaders – who despite their blip still sit top of the pile.

It was Bredagh who made the fast start on a wet and windy evening – Sean McGourty popped the ball between the posts within the first two minutes with Niall McFarland adding a second.

The first goal opportunity fell to Gort Na Mona as Sean Doyle picked out the run of Darren Boyd whose low shot was parried by Eoghan Donnelly in the Bredagh goal.

Patrick McCaffrey’s angled point got the visitors off the mark – but three successive points courtesy of Ryan Curran, Sean McGourty and Mark Patterson had the hosts 0-05-0-01 ahead with ten minutes on the clock.

Points from Declan Hughes and Darren Boyd gave Gort Na Mona a lift – though Niall McFarland hit back at the other end to make it 0-06-0-03.

Darren Boyd’s link-up play was beginning to pay dividends as Brendan Quinn shot over from a tight angle and Dessie McClean confidently struck over the bar.

By the midway point in proceedings Bredagh held a two-point advantage thanks to Niall McFarland’s confidently converted free from range.

However the opening goal of the game saw the lead switch hands for the first time; Niall Healy laid the ball off to Declan Hughes whose forward pass fell to Dessie McClean and the corner-forward powerfully rifled to the net to give the Turf Lodge men a 1-05-0-07 lead.

Niall McFarland’s second free of the half levelled proceedings and despite the corner-forward missing the opportunity to edge his side back in front from a 65’ – he atoned for his miss, converting a free to make it 0-09-1-05.

Gort Na Mona missed the opportunity to regain the lead as Darren Boyd was somehow denied by Eoghan Donnelly – but on 23 minutes the visitors did hit the front for the second time.

Dessie McClean found a yard of space and confidently picked his spot – giving Donnelly no chance to make it 2-05-0-09.

Bredagh showed their powers of recovery and pegged Gort back for a second time in the aftermath. Niall McFarland converting his fourth free of the half and midfielder Joe Hanrahan squeezing the ball over after a nice combination with Colin Lordon.

Gort Na Mona immediately edged ahead once more through Neil Henry – but two late frees from the clinical free-taking of Niall McFarland ensured the County Down men held a 0-13-2-06 lead at the interval.

McFarland increased his sides lead upon the resumption from the placed ball – but the Gort’s replied as Declan Hughes popped the ball to Brendan Quinn whose shot from range dropped over the bar.

The sides traded the next four scores – Bredagh twice took a two-point lead through Niall McFarland (free) and Malachy Scullion, though on both occasions Darren Boyd replied to leave the score 0-16-2-09 with a quarter of an hour remaining.

The hosts chances of victory were dealt a set-back on 46 minutes as Danny Robinson caught Brendan Quinn with a challenge and referee Brendan Toland had little choice but to give issue a straight red-card to the Bredagh number four.

Darren Boyd converted the resulting free to level the score at 0-16-2-10 and with the numerical advantage Boyd and his team mates would hope to press on for victory.

However it was the 14-men of Bredagh who hit the front with little over ten minutes remaining – Sean McGourty’s shot dropped short of the target and Colin Lordon angled the ball past Connor McCann to make it 1-16-2-10.

Niall McFarland converted two further frees with Lordon pointing in between as the hosts were back on the front foot.

Darren Boyd fizzed a free over the bar in response and a grandstand finish appeared to be on the cards of a breathtaking encounter as Dessie McClean popped the ball to Patrick McCaffrey – McCaffrey made space for a shot and rifled to the net to reduce the deficit to two-points (1-19-3-11).

Though any chance of a Gort fight back was ended almost instantly as Malachy Scullion poked the ball home from Joe Hanrahan’s high ball forward.

McFarland added his final two scores of the evening; courtesy of a converted 65’ and free – with Sean McGourty conjuring up his sides final score in the aftermath.

There was still enough time for Dessie McClean to complete his hat-trick of goals two minutes into injury-time; it proved to be a mere consolation though as Bredagh claimed a massive scalp and inflicted a first defeat on table toppers Gort.

Bredagh: E Donnelly, O McFlynn, C Ferry, D Robinson, K Power, C Hughes, D McCartney, J Hanrahan (0-01), M Patterson (0-01), M Scullion (1-00), E Trainor, C Lordon (1-01), R Curran (0-01), S McGourty (0-03), N McFarland (0-15, 0-01 65’; 0-10f). Subs: J McKee for R Curran (40 mins).

Gort Na Mona: C McCann, J Connolly, M Rea, C Devlin, G McKenna, P McHugh, N Henry (0-01), D Hughes (0-01), T McCaffrey (1-01), N Healy, G Doyle, S Doyle, D Boyd (0-06, 0-03f), B Quinn (0-02), D McClean (3-01). Subs: C McErlean for G Doyle (42 mins), B Cousins for S Doyle (52 mins), P Fryers for N Healy (52 mins).

Referee: Brendan Toland (Lamh Dhearg).

Carryduff claim South Belfast bragging rights.

Carryduff 2-12 Bredagh 0-14

Carryduff and Bredagh met in their final game before the Div 3 league split.  Both teams had already secured a spot in the top five, so the prize was for the bragging rights in this South Belfast derby.

With both clubs having players on the Down county panel, the match was rearranged from the week before the Christy Ring final.  The teams were well matched throughout, but the two Carryduff goals in the second half proved to be decisive in separating the teams. 

Carryduff settled in the early stages and took a three point lead before the Bredagh boys found their bearings.  After a few opening wides, Bredagh found their point scoring range and took the lead, which they held until half-time.  When the Carryduff team eventually emerged from their changing room for the second half, they showed much more resolve and took more control over the game.  Their first goal from Ronan Beatty put Carryduff back into the lead, and the second goal from Eoin Rooney gave the cushion that would ensure Carryduff held onto the lead.  The final score was – Carryduff 2-12 Bredagh 0-14.

St Paul’s secure top half finish

Antrim Hurling League Division 3

St Paul’s 2-24 Na Magha 0-10

St Paul’s secured their place in the top half of Division 3 with a convincing win over Na Magha at Shaw’s Road on Sunday. The home team played with the breeze in the first half and totally dominated the play as they raced to a 1-15 to 0-3 interval lead. The Derry city team fared better in the second half when backed by the breeze but St Paul’s still outscored them during this period and by the end were twenty points to the good.

Stephen Rooney opened the scoring with a point in the first minute, Paddy Doyle and Colm McLarnon also added points before top scorer Caolan Crossan fired in his team’s opening goal, a great strike from a narrow angle on the left. Alan Grant got Na Magha off the mark with a point from a free on eleven minutes but by the time the centre forward got their next score the home side had added ten more points without reply, Paddy Doyle, Stephen Rooney and Caolan Crossan getting the bulk of them. Grant pulled a couple more back before the break but Crossan and Doyle answered them to leave their team 1-15 to 0-3 ahead by the time referee Damian Mullan sounded the half time whistle.

With the wind in their favour Na Magha had a lot more of the play in the second half and they added a further eight points to their tally, most of them coming off the stick of Grant. However St Paul’s were always in control and a Declan Chapman goal plus some fines scores by Doyle and Crossan secured two valuable league points for the men in red and white.

ST PAULS; Joe Gillan, Christopher Murray, Ciaran Hetherington, Sean Bradley, Ciaran O’Carroll, Frankie Sewell, Sean Lawell, Fionntan Gamble, Declan Chapman Colm McLarnon, Stephen Rooney, Sean O’Carroll, Caolan Crossan, Gerard Carbery, Paddy Doyle.

St Paul’s chairman Paul Stevenson (right) and treasurer Mark Carey presents a sponsorship cheque to the Saffron Gael at Sunday’s Division 3 Hurling League game with Na Magha at Shaw’s Road. Pic by Dr Paul Donnelly