McCann steadies the Creggan ship to set up a final meeting with Sarsfields

Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-final

Creggan Kickhams 3-11 Cushendun Emmet’s 0-14

Former county captain Conor McCann guided his team to the final of the Intermediate Hurling Championship with a man of the match display in Saturday’s semi-final against Cushendun at Fr Maginn Park, Glenravel. McCann, who missed all of last season through injury only returned to action a few weeks ago, but he showed just how vital he is to his team as he scored 1-10 of their 3-11 total, four of those points coming in the last eight minutes to pull his team clear of danger.

Conlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill who top scored for Cushendun

Cushendun, for whom Conlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill was top scorer, battled to the end but it just wasn’t their day and the concession of two goals in the 25th and 27th minutes was a blow they never recovered from.

Playing with the wind and rain at their backs Cushundun came close in the opening seconds when David Kilgore’s low shot was just inches wide of the post, but they struggled to get to the pace of the game, despite the elements being in their favour.

Kevin Rice got Creggan off to a great start when he fired in a low angled shot, and though the Emmet’s goalkeeper Gareth McGhee got a hurl to the ball he couldn’t prevent it crossing the line. Corner forward Diarmuid Mulholland added a point from a free on five minutes before McCann got his first two points from frees in the 7th and 8th minutes to pull his team six clear.

David Kilgore got his team on the scoreboard with a point in the 10th minute, but that was cancelled out by McCann, who added his third pointed free a minute later, but there was some relief for the Emmet’s fans as Loaf McNeill added two quick points, one from a free and the other from play to cut the deficit to four by the end of the opening quarter.

McCann got a great point from an awkward angle on 18 minutes, but the Emmet’s were starting to get back into the game and a sideline ‘cut’ by McNeill saw corer forward Oisin McMahon win possession before turning and firing over the Creggan crossbar. Loaf added one from a free on 21 minutes, Fiontan McQuillan followed that with a well taken score from play and when David Kilgore sent over a real beauty from distance the tide appeared to be turning.

Creggan’s Kevin Rice and Cushendun’s Jack McKay battle under a high ball

However that is when disaster really struck the Emmet’s as Creggan hit back with two goals in as many minutes. Conor McCann got the first from a penalty after match referee Darren McKeown adjudged that Cushendun goalkeeper Gareth McGhee had taken the Creggan man down in the large square, but things got even worse two minutes later when a harmless looking ball by Thomas McCann slipped from McGhee’s grasp and ended up in the back of the net. McGhee has been one of the top goalkeepers in this county for many years now, but as we all know his position is a lonely place to perform. Probably every player on the field yesterday let a ball slip from their grasp in those desperate conditions but the mistakes by the poor old goalkeeper are always highlighted.

That goal put the gap out to six again, but McNeill gave his team a boost with two late points to send them in at half time, just four behind.

Cushendun’s David Kilgore in action during the IHC semi-final against Creggan in Glenravel

McNeill brought the gap back to three when he sent over a great score in the opening minute of the second half, but McCann responded with the first of his six second half points. McCann and McNeill exchanged points in the 33rd and 40th minutes to keep the gap at four, but Creggan went through a spell when a number of chances went astray as McCann’s radar appeared to malfunction, and when McNeill came back with two points at the other end the gap was suddenly back to just two.

Hopes were high for a really exciting finish, but Cushendun failed to raise another flag in the final eight minutes, plus injury time, while McCann steadied the Creggan ship as he hit over four unanswered frees to see his team through to a final meeting with Sarsfields in two weeks’ time.

Man of the match Conor McCann battles with Cushendun’s Donal O’Hara, Conor McHugh and Thomas Scally during the IHC semi-final at Fr Maginn Park.


Cormac Rice, Aiden Maguire, Aidan McKeown, Jake McAteer, Sam Maguire, Kealan McCann, Liam McCann, Sean Duffin, Ruairi McCann, Morgan Nelson, Oran McCann, Kevin Rice, Thomas McCann, Conor McCann, Diarmuid Mulholland.

Ethan Carey Small for Liam McCann. Lee Johnston for Diarmuid Mulholland


Gareth McGhee, Jack McKay, Sean McKay, Sean Hamilton, Calum Kilgore, Donal O’Hara, Thomas Scally, Conor Bannon, Dominic McQuillan, Harry Kilgore, Fiontan McQuillan, Fiontan McQuillan, Connlaoth McNeill, Colm McKeegan, Conor McHugh, David Kilgore.

Subs – James Morgan for Colm Mc Keegan: Conrad Mc Donnell for Fiontan Mc Quillan.

Referee – Darren McKeown

McKenna magic turns it Sarsfield’s way


Sarsfields 2-26 Tir na nOg 1-24 a.e.t.

Niall McKenna was the star of the show as Sarsfield’s came from behind to defeat Tir na nOg in a titanic struggle at Dunsilly on Friday night and earn themselves a place in the Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling final against the winners of Cushendun and Creggan who meet on Saturday afternoon.

McKenna held his nerve with Tir na nOg leading by a point to send a superbly struck free from 55 meters and near the touchline directly between the uprights deep in injury time to send the game into extra time.

Sarsfields started extra time as they had finished the first and a goal from Anthony McGarrigle and a point from Gary Lennon with just a minute gone put them in a strong position and they would push on to win by five in the end.

It was the Stewartstown Road side who made the better start to this Intermediate semi-final on a perfect Dunsilly sod as Donal McKernan from a free and Caolan McKernan with an excellent point from play moved them into an early 0-02 to 0-0 lead.

Tir na nOg slowly settled however and Sean Duffin pointed a couple of frees but another Donal McKernan pointed free had Sarsfields one in front after five minutes.

Kevin Sheerin in the Tir na nOg goals then got back to scramble the ball off his line as the city side threatened before McKenna made his first mark on proceedings when he sent over a great point and followed with another in the 9th minute.

It was the men from the Bear Pit who were controlling matters at this stage as Enda McCartan struck an excellent point to put them four ahead but it brought a strong response from the Whitehill side with EamonOg McAllister, Sean Duffin and Ciaran McKeown hitting three on the bounce to close the gap to one at the end of the opening quarter.

Donal McKernan responded from a free but Tir na nOg were beginning to get on top and Sean Duffin with a good point from play and another from a converted free had it all square by the 17th minute.

Kevin McKernan edged the ‘Paddies’ ahead again but a great point from Eamon Og McAllister and another from a Sean Duffin, long range free had the Randalstown side ahead for the first time by the 22nd minute.

Back came Sarsfields with Niall McKenna hitting a fine effort after being set up by Kevin McKernan but it was Tir na nOg who were starting to get on top and Kevin McCann, and a couple from the impressive Sean Duffin had them three in front with two minutes remaining to the break.

Sarsfields resaponded with points from ‘Kevo’ McKernan and Daniel Smith to close the gap to one but another well struck long range free from ace marksman, Duffin had the Whitehill side two in front at the break.

Both sides were guilty of early misses before Aaron McNeilly got his name on the score card to increase the Tir na nOg lead to three and then Eamon Og McAllister looked to be in for a goal after a strong run through the centre of the Sarsfields defence but was closed down and the danger cleared.

Sarsfields responded and Anthony McGarrigle pointed and a Kevin McKernan effort came back of an upright before Niall McKenna intercepted a poor clearance to beat Kevin Sheerin with a shot into the left hand corner and bring the sides level by the 7th minute.

The hits were going in hard and fast in a thrill a minute championship encounter and Eamon Og looked to be through for a goal for the Whitehill side but was penalised for over carrying as both sides wasted chances.

Kevin McKernan edged the city men ahead once more but Daniel Martin replied at the other end to leave it all square at 0-15 to 1-12 before Niall McKenna edged Sarsfield’s ahead once more at the end of the third quarter and it was clear that this one was going to go right down to the wire.

Substitute James Cunningham then robbed Sean Duffin as he raced clear on goal before Kevin McKernan edged Sarsfields two in front from a free in the 18th minute as the intensity stepped up another notch.

Tir na nOg looked in a spot of bother but they regrouped once more as substitute, Oliver McAtamney, Kevin McCann and Sean Duffin hit three unanswered point to put them one in front after 21 minutes but McKenna levelled matters once more with a good point at the other end.

A Sean Duffin long range free and another from Kevin McKernan in response from near the touchline left it all square yet again but an Eamon Og McAllister point for the Whitehill side looked like sending his side through as the game entered time added on.

There would be one more play however and Caolan McKernan was taken out as he broke forward near the touchline and 55 meters from goal.

Up stepped Niall McKenna as Dunsilly held its collective breath and he struck a stunning effort directly between the uprights, much to the approval of the Sarsfield’s supporters to send the game into extra time.

McKenna’s injury time equaliser looked to have stunned the opposition as extra time commenced and Anthony McGarrigle netted in the opening minute before Gary Lennon moved Sarsfield four ahead with a point in the second minute.

Eamon Og McAllister pulled one back for the Randalstown side but the momentum was very much with the ‘Paddies’ as Kevo pointed at the other end to restore their four point advantage.

Sarsfields were now winning a lot of dirty ball and were more measured in their attacks and Niall McKenna pointed a free and added another one from play to move them six ahead.

Sean Duffin, who had struck some excellent frees on the night, was guilty of a bad miss as the pressure began to tell and a late point from the influential McKenna had Sarsfields seven in front at the short whistle.

It was going to take something special to get Tir na nOg back into contention and when Daniel Smith added another for Sarsfields on the restart their task became even more daunting.

Ciaran McKeown gave the South West side a glimmer of hope when he got in for a good goal in the third minute but McKernan relied with a Sarsfields point before Ciaran O’Neill struck a good point at the other end.

The Whitehill side kept going right to the end but there would be no way back as the Sarsfields defence stood strong and a couple of pointed Sean Duffin frees in response to points from substitute Nicholas O’ Mullane and man of the match, Niall McKenna brought matters to a close.

Tir na nOg will look back on this one with some regret and they certainly had chances to win it in normal time but the never say die attitude of their opponents and McKenna’s injury time equaliser proved the turning point.

McKenna with Caolan and Kevin McKernan were superb in a strong and committed Sarsfields side who will feel that they can go all the way this year while Sean Duffin, Caoimhin Duffin, Aaron McNeilly Eamon Og McAllisterand Ciaran McKeown fought hard for the losers.

Sarsfields: 1 Gerard McKernan, 2 Niall McAlea, 3 Jack Daniels, 4 Mark McCavanagh, 5 Eoghan Rogers, 6 Caolan McKernan, 7 Enda McCartan, 8 Kevin McKernan, 9 Daniel McKernan, 10 Daniel Smyth, 11 Niall McKenna, 12 Ruairi McAreavey, 13 Ryan O’Neill, 30 Donal McKernan, 14 Gary Lennon, 15 Mark Rea, 16 Anthony McGarrigle, 27 James Cunningham, 22 Joe McGurk, 28 Nicholas O’Mullane

Tir na nOg: 1 Kevin Sheerin, 2 Brandon McLarnon, 3 Christy Sheerin, 4 Manus Smith, 5 Ciaran O’Neill, 6 Caoimhin Duffin, 7 Daniel Martin, 8 Aaron McNeilly, 9 Ciaran mcKeown, 10 Darragh Fagan, 11 Sean Duffin, 12 Eamon Og McAllister, 13 Joe McCormick, 14 Ciaran Logan, 15 Kevin McCann, 22 Oliver McAtamney, 23 Sean McKinley, 18 Darra Martin,

Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)

Creggan repel Glenravel comeback to set up semi-final meeting with neighbours Tir na nÓg

Creggan 1-23  Glenravel 1-17

Creggan secured victory in this Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling Championship with six points to spare over rivals Glenravel but they will look back on this match with some concerns having led by fourteen points at half time albeit with the aid of strong breeze blowing straight down the pitch which was to their advantage in the first half. Creggan opened very strongly and were 1-06 to 0-00  ahead in the opening eight minutes. They would go on to dominate the first half but Glenravel really came at them in the second period and in the end the loughsiders would have welcomed referee Patrick Tumelty’s final whistle. Over the hour Creggan had more strength in depth and that was the real difference between the teams. This was epitomised by the fact that the home side had ten different scorers over the hour whilst the visitors could only manage half that number. 

As previously mentioned Creggan dominated the opening exchanges with 1-06 on the scoreboard with just eight minutes played. The goal coming from Conor McCann at full forward whilst Sean Duffin at midfield and Morgan Nelson on the half forward line contributing their other scores. Sean McKy (0-02) and Cormac McKeown got Glenravel off the mark but back came Creggan with scores from Ruari McCann, Morgan Nelson, Kevin Rice and Conor McCann once more to really stretch the home team’s advantage. McKay and McKeown did get two more points before half time but Liam McCann, berthed at half back got the first period’s final score and Creggan retired to the changing rooms in what looked like an unassailable lead of 1-16 to 0-05. Remarkably, of the twenty two scores of that first half, only one came from a placed ball, a sixty five from Conor McCann. 

With only two minutes of the second period on the clock Creggan’s Morgan Nelson stretched Creggan further ahead and things looked ominous for Glenravel. Points from Odhran Faloona and Sean McKay sought to get Glenravel back into the game but these were cancelled by a brace of local scores from Liam and Conor McCann so with ten minutes of the half gone Creggan led 1-19 to 0-07. However the following twenty minutes belonged totally to the visitors who were beginning to make good use of wind advantage. Over that period they would record 1-09; the goal coming from Sean McKay with points from Conleth O’Loan (0-04) and Cormac McKeown (0-05) during which time the home side could only manage three points. With only a couple of minutes of normal time remaining Creggan’s lead had been reduced to 1-21 to 1-16 and the crowd were wondering what if we get a Glenravel goal? It wasn’t to be though and in the end Creggan ran out victors on a 1-23 to 1-17 scoreline and fully deserved that victory based mostly on their first half performance.

Cushendun hold out against Carey’s second half onslaught

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship

Cushendun Emmet’s 2-14 Carey Faughs 0-19

Cushendun booked a semi-final meeting with Sarsfields when they held off a second half rally from Carey in Saturday’s final round robin game in the Intermediate Hurling Championship at CushLig an Airgid on Saturday afternoon.

Ahead by 1-11 to 0-6 at half time the Emmet’s stretched that advantage to eleven points when David Kilgore scored a brilliant goal eight minutes into the second period. The only thing in question appeared to be just how many they would win by, but slowly but surely they lost their grip on the game and in the 22 minutes of normal time that remained, plus the 6 minutes of injury time, they scored just a single point, and it came from a free. The swagger and style of the first half, and early second, was gone as the Faughs took control throughout the field.  In the end they were very relieved to hear match referee Mark O’Neill sound the final whistle.

The game was entertaining during the first half but it really caught fire as the Carey comeback gained momentum in the second. Cushendun will be very relieved to see off the challenge of their neighbours from the other side of the Vanishing Lake, but they will know that hurling for just forty minutes will not be enough to see of the challenge of Creggan when they meet in the semi-final in two weeks’ time.  

The Carey men will be pleased at their great effort in the second half but they will look back in anguish at what might have been and the chances they squandered during the first half display.

Cushendun started the first half playing some eye catching hurling and points from David Kilgore (2) and Thomas Scally had them three clear after seven minute. Conor McBride got Carey off the mark and had hard luck when a shot for a second point came back off the post, but he missed a few scoring chances he would normally convert, as indeed did James Rocket Black. Rocket did close the gap to just one but the Emmet’s were gaining the upper hand and three lovely points from Conlaoith ‘Loaf’ McNeill, plus one from Harry Kilgore saw them move 0-7 to 0-3 ahead.

With ten minutes of the opening half remaining Caolan McCaughan hit a great point over, off the inside of the upright, but a massive poc-out from goalkeeper Gareth McGhee caused confusion when it landed in on the Carey ‘square’ and  Dominic McQuillan guided it to the net. McBride was starting to find his range from frees and in the last five minutes he knocked over two more, one from a 65 but Loaf McNeill and Conor Bannon came back with scores for the home team to give them 1-11 to 0-6 half time lead.

The early stages of the second half saw Cushendun carry on where they left off as McKeegan and Kilgore pointed to stretch their advantage to ten. Carey came back with a couple of points of their own, but when Dominic McQuillan soloed through the middle and set up David Kilgore for a brilliantly taken goal, they were eleven clear and cruising.

Carey had other ideas however and slowly they began to gain a foothold in the game. Substitute Conlith McKinley was beginning to make his presence felt, and with McBride and Black beginning to hit their stride they clawed their way back. ‘Rocket’, McKinley and McBride began to reel off the points and with Paddy Gillan chipping in with one as well they hit ten in a row, to leave just a point between the sides.

Conor McHugh broke the run when he fired over a Cushendun free five minutes into injury time, his team’s first score in 27 minutes, but Conor McKinley came back with another for the visitors to leave just one in it again. The Emmet’s goalkeeper Gareth McGhee was called on to keep the enemy at bay with a couple of brave stops and Conrad McDonnell hit a well struck sideline ‘cut’ in around the Carey goals to ease the pressure. In the excitement of it all a lot of fans I spoke to afterwards felt that Carey needed another point to bring the game to extra time, but in fact that was never a possibility as this was the last of the round robin games, and the Faughs would have needed two more to see them through.


Gareth McGhee, Jack McKay, Sean McKay, Sean Hamilton, Calum Kilgore, Donal O’Hara, Thomas Scally, Conor Bannon, Dominic McQuillan, Harry Kilgore, Fintan McQuillan, Conlaoith McNeill, Colum McKeegan, Conor McHugh, David Kilgore


Daniel McBride, Eoin Hill, Sean McBride, Daniel Hill, Michael McVeigh, James McCouaig, Shea Hunter, James Black, Zach McCaughan, Fiachra McVeigh, John McBride, Sean McLoughlin, Conor McBride, Caoalan McCaughan, Patrick Gillan.

Sarsfield’s advance as Oisins pay the penalty

Andersonstown SC IHC

Sarsfields 2-15 Glenariffe 1-16

A Kevin McKernan goal from the penalty spot in the 59th minute turned this bruising Intermediate Hurling Championship Group 2 encounter at the Bear Pit very much in favour of Sarsfield’s as they overcame the challenge of Oisin, Glenariffe to qualify for a semi-final meeting with Cushendun.

Five minutes previous an Aaron Cosgrove point had moved the visitors three ahead and it looked like the Waterfoot side were on their way to to the semis, but it was Sarsfield’s who would finish the stronger.

It was Glenariffe who edged the opening exchanges as Seanie McIntosh pointed after 20 seconds with Donal McKernan replying for the ‘Paddies’ with two minutes gone.

The Oisins came back strongly and Caolan O’Connor pointed a ‘65’ and Kieran McKendry struck another from play to move them 0-3 to 0-1 ahead with only five minutes on the clock.

The hits were going in thick and fast and were certainly not for the faint hearted as Sarsfield’s replied through Daniel Smyth and a Niall McKenna free to draw level for the second time by the 9th minute.

Both sides were enjoying periods of ascendancy and it was Oisins who came back again with points from Caolan O’Connor and Kieran McKendry to lead by two but this brought another response from a determined home side.

A foul on Gary Lennon saw McKenna close the gap to one and further points from Daniel and Kevin McKernan had the home side ahead for the first time but Glenariffe replied immediately and Brogan O’Connor levelled with a point in the 17th minute.

Neither side were given time to settle on the ball as the intensity of the game stepped up another notch as McKenna and Oliver Kearney exchanged two excellent points before Conor Patterson edged he North Antrim side one ahead again in the 21st minute.

Caolan McKernan then took a heavy challenge from his namesake, Caolan O’Connor but was able to continue after treatment before the visitors struck a vital blow when Conor Patterson raced clear before setting up Daniel Kearney for the game’s opening goal with five minutes remaining to the break.

The home side looked in a bit of trouble but responded strongly and the superb Niall McKenna soloed through for a goal in the 28th minute to close the gap to one.

McKenna would send over an equaliser but the final score of the half fell to Caolan O’Connor who pointed a free from out near the touchline to leave the visitors one ahead as Lorenzo McMullan sounded his half time whistle.

The lead continued to change hands on the restart as Daniel McKernan and Niall McKenna struck two fine early points to restore the ‘Paddies’ lead but it was short lived as the excellent Caolan O’Connor brought it all square again with only seven minutes of the second half gone.

As the ferocity of the exchanges continued it was Niall McKenna who hit two on the bounce to move the home side two in front and they appeared to be gaining a bit of momentum but once again the visitors would find a decisive response.

Caolan O’Connor came back with two pointed frees and Conor Patterson added another from close range and might have had a goal and two more from Brogan O’Coonor and substitute, Aaron Cosgrove had the Waterfoot side three in front with six minute of normal time remaining and they looked to have taken control.

It was Sarsfield’s who would finish on the front foot however, inspired by two long range frees from Niall McKenna before Gary Lennon rounded his marker and was hauled down as he fired the ball to the net.

Despite protests from the home side, Lorenzo McMullan called play back for a penalty and Kevin McKernan fired past Seanan McToal for the second time from the spot.

Glenariffe were rocked but they tried desperately to respond in the closing minute with Brogan O’Connor pointing to close the gap to one but the final score of the game would fall to Niall McKenna who’s late pointed free brought his personal contribution for the evening to 1-10 and see his side victorious by two points.

Sarsfield’s: 1 Gerard McKernan, 2 Niall McAlea, 3 Jack Daniels, 4 Mark McCavanagh, 5 Michael Johnston, 6 Caolan McKernan, 7 Enda McCartan, 8 Kevin McKernan, 9 Daniel McKernan, 27 Hames Cunningham, 11 Niall McKenna, 12 Daniel Smyth, 13 Donal McKernan, 14 Garry Lennon, 15 Anthony McGarrigle. Subs: 28 Nicola O’Mullane, 21 Oisin Coleman, 29

Oisins: 1 Seanan McToal, 2 Michael Haughey, 3 Niall Murray, 4 Ronan Leech, 5 D Haughey, 6 Daniel Kearney, 7 Cathan Graham, 8 Kieran McKendry, 9 Oliver Kearney, 10 Seanie McIntosh, 11 Caolan O’Connor, 12 Brogan O’Connor, 13 Daniel Kearney,   14 Conor Patterson, 15 Patrick McIlwaine, 17 Aaron Cosgrove, 20 M McAllister

Referee: Lorenzo McMullan