Harps debut ends in defeat but had plenty of positives for the future

ACHL Division 4

Loughbeg Harps 2-8 Belfast Saints 2-13

Following on from a previous attempt in 2021 that didn’t quite get off the ground, back in October 2022 Colm Scullin, Peter Timoney & David Slevin reached out to a few lads about a potential hurling senior team based in Moneyglass.

Tuesday night social hurling was set up, numbers started off not so bad and word got around which encouraged a lot more men to join. The thesis was anyone who wanted to play hurling no matter their background or skill level.

Over the winter months numbers were rising to about 20 or so a session and the watsapp group that was created had around 50 names in it. So the question was asked, if we enter a team in division 4 Antrim next year will everyone want to play. The answer was a resounding yes which put the gears in motion. The 3 men got cracking on the paper work under the name Loughbeg Harps.

They knew they wanted the club to be a Moneyglass club but also knew that they couldn’t do it on their own and would need a large pull of fellas from other clubs in and around the area. This is why a separate entity was formed and the name Loughbeg Harps was chosen.

Roll forward several months and a lot of 9-10 o clock at night sessions the numbers at training were still great and there was a hunger. So the team were officially entered in Division 4 and finally got to play their first game on Sunday. It didn’t go the way they wanted but for only our 2nd ever match, (1st on a grass pitch there were a lot of positives to take away.

So today began which will hopefully be a long and successful period for Loughbeg Harps. The club would like to thank everyone for attending their debut game and look forward to hopefully seeing the same as well as new people come out and watch a bit of hurling.

New boys, Loughbeg Harps made their division 4 debut against Belfast Saints and Magherafelt Leisure Centre on Sunday and while they lost by five points they will be fairly satisfied with the performance against a very experienced Belfast Saints.

Indeed the Duneane side got off to a good start and were full value for their 2-6 to 1-6 half time lead with Brian McManus and Conall Prenter getting the goals and Prenter weighing in with five of his side’s six first half points (4 frees) and the other point coming from Ronan Carey.

Belfast Saints kept within touching distance however with their own number 11, Phil Maguire getting their goal and weighing in with three pointed frees and James Halleron, Declan McLarnon and Niall McGettigan completed their first half scoring to leave a goal between the sides at the break.

The greater experience of the Belfast side began to tell in the second half with centre-half Mark Caldwell firing home his side’s second goal on the restart to bring matters all square and slowly the ‘Saints’ started to get on top.

And once again it was veteran centre-half-forward, Phillip Maguire who led the way with a fine exhibition of point taking, adding five to his first half total to bring his scoring for the day to 1-8 but a couple of points from Brian McManus and the lively Prenter had it back to one with six minutes remaining.

Belfast Saints finished strongly however with Caldwell’s goal in the 59th minute and Declan McLarnon’s late point ensuring there would be no fairy tale ending for the Loughbeg men to their league opener but they certainly look to have plenty to build on.

Loughbeg Harps: 1 Brendan Prenter, 2 Gary Maybin, 3 Sean Carey, 4 Hugh Mulholland, 5 Diarmuid Scullin, 6 Gary Murray, 7 Francis Berry, 8 Callum McStocker, 9 Ronan Carey, 10 Paul McChrystal, 11 Brian McManus, 12 Aidan McErlain, 13 Mark Walsh, 14 Conall Prenter, 15 Kevin McCann, 16 Rory Taggart, 23 Paul Quinn

Belfast Saints: 1 Ciaran Mooney, 2 Matt Carlin, 3 Stephen Carey, 4 Philip Glennon, 5 Daniel McGuigan, 6 Mark Caldwell, 7 Brian Keatings, 8 Conor O‘Rawe, 9 James Halleron, 10 Niall McGettigan, 11 Phil Maguire, 12 Jason Kennedy, 13 Paul McClenaghan, 14 Declan McLarnon, 15 Ryan Brammold

Loch Mor run riot to record their third win from four starts

ACHL Div. 4

Loch or Dal gCais 6-12 St. Brigid’s 0-7

Pics by Bert Trowlen

Loch Mor Dal gCais recorded their third win in four starts when they over ran St. Brigid’s with a blistering second half performance at Mallusk on Sunday.

The Musgrave Park side looked to be still in contention when they turned around 1-8 to 0-5 in arrears at the interval but Loch Mor found another gear after the break that their opponents quite simply couldn’t live with.

Cormac Dwyer pointed the Lough Shore side ahead but Fintan Cleary replied from a free to level matters before Paul Molloy struck with Loch Mor’s opening goal to move his side into a lead they would not relinquish.

The excellent striking of Fintan Cleary from the placed ball kept St. Brigid’s in touch and the mid-fielder would go on to record all of his sides total as they struggled to break down a resolute Loch Mor Dal gCais defence.

And it was Loch Mor’s own danger man, Darragh Turley who would edge his side six in front at the halfway stage with points from a free, a ‘65’ and two from play and further points from Connor Jones and Cormac Dwyer had them 1-8 to 0-5 ahead at the half way stage.

St. Brigid’s were in need of a bit of inspiration if they were to claw back the Loch Mor lead but they continued to rely entirely on Fintal Clear who brought his and his sides tally to seven early in the half and amazingly the Musgrave Park side would not raise a flag from play over the hour.

Paul Molloy opened with a point for the winners and Bailey Graham and Darragh Turley struck with early goals to put the contest out of site. Turley added a couple of pointed frees in the second half (1 ‘65’) with Cormac Dwyer adding to his first half total.

As the flood gates opened Ferdia Carson got in for two goals in quick succession, the second a scrambled effort and the excellent Bailey Graham complete the route with goal number six late in the game.

Loch Mor Dal gCais’ only defeat came against Davitt’s in the opening game of the season where they were beaten by the minimum, 2-13 to 2-12 and these two with Belfast Saints and Ardoyne have made the early running and should be the major challengers for honours in the division this year.

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’)