All Saints are Division 4 champions, despite defeat

Antrim Hurling League Division 4

Ardoyne 3-14 All Saints 2-15

All Saints hurlers were presented with the Division 4 League trophy at the Cricky on Tuesday night but their hosts Ardoyne spoiled the party by coming from eight points down ten minutes into the second half to beat the Ballymena men by two in the end. Apparently the All Saints management had been made aware earlier in the day that the title was already secured, but decided not to tell the team until after the game. The match itself was a good contest, and although All Saints were short six regulars, they competed well against an Ardoyne side who were playing their last game of the season. After falling behind to two Ardoyne points from Sean Searle, wearing 14 but playing more around the middle of the field, but Damian Gillan had them level by the sixth minutue. Gillan and Cassley put them three clear by the midway stage of the first half but Ardoyne hit back with a goal to retake the lead.

Match referee Chris Brown presents a trophy to All Saints captain Damian Gillan.

A strong last ten minutes by the visitors to the opening half saw them pull clear with four points in a row, three of them from Damian Gillan and one from Cassley, and when Gillan got in for a goal on 30 minutes they were six clear. It could have been nine had Ardoyne goalkeeper JP Agnew not made a brilliant save from Liam Cassley deep in injury time, and when Oisin McVicker came back with a point for the home side there was just five in it at the break.

When Damian Gillan got his team’s second goal early in the second half the signs were good for the Ballymena men, but they only scored four more points for the remainder of the game as Ollie Bellew’s side took over.  A goal from long distance got the north Belfast men going, and after adding two more points Sean Searle drew them level when he blasted a penalty to the All Saints net.

Liam Cassley celebrates after scoring All Saints opening goal

Gillan briefly got All Saints back ahead, but Ardoyne finished strong hitting three in a row from Sean Searle frees, and though Conor O’Rawe pulled one back in injury time it was a case of too little too late.

The reaction after the game was a little strange as the Ballymena players showed their disappointment, but when the management broke the news that they were already champions the mood was greatly lifted and the celebrations soon began.

Match referee Chris Brown from St Paul’s, who did a very good job during the game, had the honour of presenting a trophy to the All Saints captain Damian Gillan and it was a nice touch to see the Ardoyne team sportingly applaud the presentation.

All Saints retain top spot

ACHL Division 4

Latharna Og 2-11 All Saints 3-17

All Saints produced another high scoring performance when they defeated Latharna Og at Brustin Braes today to maintain their place at the top of division 4. Games between these two have been keenly contested affairs in the past and today’s was no different.

Thye visitors put themselves in a strong position when they led by 2-10 to 0-8 at the halfway stage thanks to goals from Ciaran Neeson and Cormac Magill but the home side battled hard in the second half but the visitors were always able to find a response.

Once again Ciaran Neeson top scored for the league leaders, finish with a personal tally of 1-11 but this was by no means a one man All Saints performance with all of the starting 15 and those introduced from the bench playing their part.

Neeson converted six frees over the hour, one from a ‘65’ and added a further 1-5 from play while Damian Gillan also provided a scoring threat every time he gained possession with Neeson and Cormac Magill getting in for first half goals to leave the host club with a lot to do in the second half.

The Larne men certainly never shied from the task in hand and gave it everything during the second 30 minutes and managed two goals for their efforts during this period but were never able to match the clinical finishing of the Slemish Park side.

Liam Cassley has returned to the All Saints team recently after a lengthy absence and got his sides third goal and could prove a useful addition in the run in to the end of the league.

All Saints: Ciaran Cassley, Dwane McKee, Colum Neeson, Terence Diamond, Daniel Gray, Gary Miskella, Padraig Magill, Vincent Esler 0-1, Cormac Lemon, Eoin Magee 0-1, Damian Gillan 0-4, Cormac Magill 1-0, Ciaran Neeson 1-11, Liam Cassley 1-0, Jack Magill.

Subs: Conrad Duffin for Jack Magill, Diarmuid Casey for Vinny Esler, Daire Hasson for Cormac Lemon. PJ O’Kane, Sean O’Rawe, Daniel McCoy.

Latharna Og climb to fourth place

ACHL Division 4

Latharna Og  2-17 Loch Mor dal gCais 0-10

The second half of the Division 4 ACHL games following the Top 5 split got off to a flying start with a hotly anticipated matchup between Latharna Óg and Loch Mór Dál gCais at the blustery Brustin Braes, Larne.

The Braesiders got off to favourable start but couldn’t settle themselves in time and Loch Mór drew first blood with a well worked point from play. The sides traded wides before Daniel Hegarty slotted over Latharna Óg’s first point following a tidy supply from Mark Petticrew. Loch Mór’s discipline cost them early in the game, gifting two quick concession frees – the first, Ryan O’Donnell played a short ball in to Cathal McKillop who pointed, the second a foul on Michael Lismore who duly converted his free.

Loch Mór continued to snap at the homesides heels, abetted by Latharna’s numerous wides taking the score after 10 minutes to 0-03 to 0-02. The Braesiders managed to retain the ball after a melee on the visitors back line and Caolan Shields was perfectly poised to pick up a point, and unfortunate not to convert another from play moments later.

The Shoresiders would take another swipe between the uprights but a tight angle block down provided Darragh Turley with a 65’ which sailed over aided by a strong tail wind.

Both teams continued to get the measure of each other, and succeeding fouls meant both were level at 5 points apiece with minutes to play inthe first half. The teams retired to the changing rooms on the half time whistle but not before Daniel Hegarty, assisted by Jack McAlister chalked up a point as did Darragh Turley with another free.

Half time Latharna Óg 0-06 (0-03f) vs Loch Mór 0-06 (0-02f)

That was as close as the two teams would get, and emboldened by a solid first half performance, straight from the half time throw in Latharna Óg’s Conor O’Boyle charged forward supplying Hegarty with a low ball, with a fizzling ground stroke getting the better of Keeper Bailey Graham.

Loch Mór responded with another 65’ but a textbook passage of play from the half backline, to Keelan McAuley to Ciaran Martin was duly converted to another major by Captain McKillop.

Michael Lismore continued to pull the Braesiders forward with another 2 points from play taking the score to 2-08 to 0-07. Turley’s free on the 40th minute was soon neutralised with Ciaran Martin and Ryan O’Donnell adding to their tally.

As the clock ticked away, Latharna Óg’s backline would use all 9 lives to shepherd an advancing threat on goal, in particular Ronan McKillop and Keeper Phil Craig, the latter utilising hand, hurl and boot to clear the sliothar from danger. In their haste to turn the momentum the Loch Mór forward was penalised by Referee Ryan O’Reilly for a dangerous challenge on Keelan McAuley with the former coming off worse, causing himself a stoppage injury and gifting the homeside a free for his troubles. O’Donnell raised the white flag soon after.
Corner Forward Jack McAlister saved his only score of the day with a quick reaction overhead double on the 50th minute.

The visitors, visibly rattled, attempted some long range points from play but struggled to convert and between a chop down on Lismore and a throw ball, found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-13 to 0-08 scoreline.

With another 4 points for Michael Lismore the game was well and truly settled but all credit to Loch Mór who battled valiantly to the end. An uncharacteristically inconsistent Darragh Turley will surely be disappointed with the first half performance; whilst 4 of the 6 point came from him – he contributed to 7 out of 11 wides for the Lough Shore men, and the deficit seemed all too great to overcome. Ruairí Moran performed well for the visitors and proved to be a real nuisance in the middle of the park.

Latharna Óg’s man of the match was Michael Lismore who provided the lions share of the scores and used the strong wind to lethal effect but was no stranger to a selfless off-load to advancing attacks and worked tirelessly within his own half.

Latharna Og: Craig, McAuley B Petticrew R McKillop D Martin Matthews M Petticrew
O’Donnell Shields Lismore C McKillop C Martin McAlister O’Boyle Hegarty

Bergin (subbed for C McKillop 54’)
McNeill (subbed for Matthews 56’)

Ardoyne move above Loch Mor with MacRory Park victory

ACHL Division 4

Loch Mór 0-16

Ciceam Ard Eoin 0-22

Loch Mór suffered a tough defeat at the hands of Ardoyne on Sunday afternoon with victory seeing gthe Kickham’s climb above them into third place and the league for the title looks wide open following All Saints first defeat of the season to Cushendall on Sunday. 

The match, which was played at Cardinal O’Donnell’s pitch on the Whiterock Road, was a feisty affair with both teams aware of the importance of every match now we are into the second half of the season. 

An injury hit Loch Mór side started the match sheepishly and found it difficult to get a foothold in the game as Ardoyne raced into an early lead. This continued for much of the first quarter until Loch Mór started to put things together in a bid to stem the flow. Some great points from play from Darragh Turley, Declan Phillips and Ruairi Bannon got Loch Mór off the mark and into the game. Trading scores for the remainder of the first half it just didn’t seem to be enough and Loch Mór could not eat into the lead Ardoyne had built up, the sides going in at the break with 9 points between them.

Loch Mór started the second half much brighter and with intent. Pressing Ardoyne better and getting more turn overs they put a string of scores together from Mathew Jones, Conor Jones and Darragh Turley once again. This passage of play inspired a real comeback and a delightful point by Marty Braniff and a long range free from ‘keeper Bailey Graham reduced the deficit to 4 points with 15 minutes remaining. Ardoyne fought back and nullified any ball going into the Loch Mór full forward line, which seemed to be the theme of the second half, and that push for a decisive goal was now Loch Mór’s focus as time was running out.

Loch Mor made a change in full forward as Aodhan Morgan came on with 10 minutes to go but it wasn’t enough as Ardoyne pulled away and finished the match with 6 to spare. 

This defeat was a setback for Loch Mór, who failed to produce the performance of recent games, while Ardoyne were on top of their game and will feel they can push hard for promotion as the season progresses.

With a congested fixture list ahead and championship starting this Saturday both sides will turn their attention in that direction for now and both will have ambitions of championship success.

Loch Mor Scorers

Darragh Turley 0-9

Declan Phillips 0-1

Mathew Jones 0-1

Ruairi Bannon 0-2 

Bailey Graham 0-1

Marty Braniff 0-1 

Ruairi Og withstand second half comeback to close the gap on All Saints

ACHL Division 4

All Saints 2-16 Cushendall 4-12

League leaders, All Saints Ballymena suffered their first defeat in this year’s division 4 ACHL when they lost in an exciting encounter to Ruairi Og, Cushendall at Quinn Park today. The Ballymena side looked on their way to a hammering when they trailed by 4-7 to 0-8 at half time but staged a remarkable second half rally and will be disappointed that they didn’t take something from the game.

First Half goals from Donal ‘Natty’ McNaughton, Mark Emerson, McNaughton again and Chris McGrath left the home side with a mountain to climb and their defending during the opening 30 minutes was abysmal as they gave the opposition far too much time and space.

Their only threat in the opening half came from Ciaran Neeson who seemed to score every time the sliothar came his way and the excellent number 10 accounted for 0-7 of his side’s first half total with the other point coming from Cormac Magill.

Whatever was said at the interval certainly worked and All Saints tightened up considerably at the back for the second half but faced a mountain which their first half performance didn’t suggest they were capable of climbing.

When Colm McKeegan pointed a second minute free to extend the visitors lead to 12 it certainly wasn’t looking good for the home side but slowly but surely they began to get on top all over the field with their defence getting in important tackles and forcing turn over’s.

Damian Gillan got his name on the score sheet and Ciaran Cassley in the home goal brought off a superb save to deny Colm McKeegan before Ciaran Neeson began to impose his considerable talent on the game.

Neeson fired over five points in the opening 15 minutes of the second half and brought a superb reflex save from Ruiri Sharpe but a Conall McAteer point at the other end kept the visitors eight ahead and seemingly in control.

The gaps were starting to open however and Neeson added another point and then brought off another great save from Ruairi Sharpe but substitute Conrad Duffin forced the sliothar over the line in the scramble that followed.

Neeson then hammered a close range free to the Cushendall net in the 20th minute and when he fired over the equaliser with nine minutes remaining the come-back of all come-backs looked on the cards.

Colm McKeegan restored Cushendall’s lead from a pointed free, their first score for 15 minutes with Ciaran Neeson levelling the contest once more with time almost up.

Conall McAteer looked to have sealed it for the Ruairi Og as the game edged into time added on but the Ballymena men had one last chance to level matters again when they were awarded a free 20 meters from goal and straight in front of the posts.

You would have put your house on Ciaran Neeson sending it over but the All Saints talisman misread the score and mishit his shot as he went for goal and from the resulting break away Colm McKeegan made the points secure for the Ruairi Og as he converted a free at the other end to close the gap at the top of the table to two points on today’s opponents.

All Saints: 1 Ciaran Cassley, 2 Dwayne McKee, 3 Colm Neeson, 4 Kevin Brady, 5 Daniel Gray, 6 Luke O’Rawe, 7 Padraig Magill, 8 Vinny Esler, 9 Cormac Lemon, 10 Ciaran Neeson, 11 Damian Gillan, 12 Cormac Magill, 13 Eoin Magee, 14 Gary Miskella, 15 James O’Boyle.

Subs 18 Cathaoir Cunning for Dwane McKee, 20 Conrad Duffin for James O’Boyle, Darra Hasson for Cormac Magill

Ruairi Og: 1 Ruairi Sharpe, 2 Ruairi McAuley, 3 Damian Bergin, 4 Kevin McKillop, 5 Mark Emerson, 6 Eoin McAllister, 7 Pierce McKeegan, 8 Conan Brown, 9 Paddy Sharpe, 10 Eunan McKillop, 11 Colm McKeegan, 12 Finlay Walker, 13 Conall McAteer, 14 Donal McNaughton, 15 Christopher McGrath. Subs: Darren McLaughlin, James Mooney, Patrick Mooney, James McAuley

Referee: Paul McSparren (Cushendun)