Antrim Hurling League – Division 4
Ardoyne 6-15 Belfast Saints 1-15
Early summer sunshine, two unbeaten records to maintain and an increasingly tight finish to Div 4 of the ACHL saw a large crowd gather at Fennell Park to witness this top of the table encounter between previously unbeaten Ardoyne Kickhams and Belfast Saints.
Ardoyne got off to a quick start with 2 early points coming from Dan Moore and a further point from Pearse Hull. Kevin Grieve then took advantage of a mix up in the Ardoyne defence and rifled over Saints opening score. Further attempts at goal by Saints were met with a solid back line led by Baker and Clarke. A pointed free from Maguire left a point between the sides. A further exchange of two points from both sides included a beautiful individual point from Maguire for Belfast Saints.
At this stage the game was nip and tuck, but this dramatically changed with two quick goals from Ardoyne. Baker sent a long free towards the Saints posts and to the surprise of everyone the sliothar went straight into the net. The second goal came from a precision point ball from Hull in the middle of the field to Moore who rifled it to the net.
While Ardoyne were largely in control of the opening half, they were unable to shake off a dogged response from Saints for whom Maguire was inspirational with his energy and accuracy from frees. Three points from frees in succession clearly unsettled Ardoyne as the second quarter unfolded and although they responded with two points of their own from play before the half-time whistle through Keown and McVicker, it was clear that they were feeling the pressure.
Half-Time: Ardoyne 2-11 Belfast Saints 0-8
As the second half began it was Saints turn to assert their authority on the game. A disjointed display from Ardoyne saw Saints narrow the gap between the sides with a goal and three points to a two point reply from Ardoyne. A tussle in the midfield area saw the sliothar land inside the shorts of Keating of Belfast Saints. He was greatly relieved when the Ardoyne players decided not to play the ball where it landed.
Ardoyne supporters were rightly concerned as their team was starting to lose shape and this was exploited to the full by a Saints side now growing in confidence. Something was needed to stop the decline for Ardoyne. On to the pitch comes McKillen, and he instantly responded by two goals in quick succession. His first was one for the collection. A long range free from Baker from the Ardoyne full back line was superbly fielded by McKillen on the 21 yard line, who then turned his man before firing it to the back of the net. A further goal from Pat McGreevy turned the screws further on Saints and the Ardoyne lead was starting to look insurmountable.
As the game moved to its conclusion, Slattery provided an inch perfect pass for McGreevy, who added a further goal to his tally on the night to leave a five goal deficit between the sides. Ardoyne will be particularly pleased that 10 players contributed to their total score against 4 for Belfast Saints.
While Belfast Saints and Loch Mór will not give up at this stage, this league is increasingly looking like a straight shoot-out between Ardoyne Kickhams and Davitts. This Sunday’s encounter between the two sides at Davitt Park should be very interesting!
Ardoyne: 1 JP Agnew, 2 Pascal Clarke, 3 Paul Baker (1-1) 1f, 4 Paul O’Halloran, 5 Sean Searle, 6 Cathal Clarke, 7 Christopher McShane (0-1), 8 Dean Goodall (0-1), 9 Paul McGuigan (0-1), 10 Dan Moore (1-5), 11 Cahal Keown (0-2), 12 Pearse Hull (0-1), 13 Patrick McGreevy (2-2), 14 Oisin Mac An Bhiocaire (0-2) 1f, 15 Kealan McCallan, Matt McKillen(2-0)), Diarmuid Martin, Cormac Barnes, Joe McDowell, Piarais O’Neill, Conor Flannery, Stephen Hill, Eoghain Mac An tSearraig, Eamon Mac Lochlainn, Matthew Crommie, Padraig O Deorain Cormac Curran, Caolan Wallace, Enda Slattery, Aran Stewart
Belfast Saints: 1 Stephen O’Hara, 2 Jason Kennedy, 3 Stephen Carey, 4 Philip Glennon, 5 Matt Carlin, 6 Aodhan Dugan, 7 Brian Keatings, 8 Paul McClenaghan, 9 Ronan Carroll, 10 Nial McGettigan (0-1), 11 Mark Caldwell, 12 Conor O’Rawe (0-1), 13 Ryan Brammeld, 14 Phil Maguire (0-12) 8f, 1 ‘65, 15 16 Michael Kewley 17 Kevin Grieve (1-1) 19 Sean Quirk, Caolan McCool
Referee: Chris Brown