“It’s nice to get over the line again” Kieran McGourty

By Kevin Herron

St Galls ace Kieran McGourty insists that it was nice to get over the line and clinch a second Ulster Intermediate Hurling title after yesterday’s 2-12-0-11 victory over Keady, Lamh Dhearg.

Yesterday’s win at Pairc Esler increased McGourty’s ever growing medal haul with the Milltown men. The former dual county star believes that yesterday’s win was the first time throughout the course of the campaign that they stood up to the test and hopes it will stand up in good stead going into the All-Ireland series.

“It’s nice to get over the line again” reflected McGourty.

“It’s like anything – you enter any competition and it’s not easily won. We’ve been made to work hard and as you go up the levels and up the games it gets harder and harder. It’s probably the first time we’ve stood up to the test and we were convincing today in the end. It was nice and hopefully it will stand us in good stead going forward”.

With the game finely in the balance approaching the interval it was a goal from younger brother CJ that would prove the difference and despite Jackson McGreevy departing with a second yellow-card early in the second-half; Sean McAreavey rifled home a second to secure a second Intermediate success at Ulster level and a first since 2009.

McGourty believes that CJ’s goal came at a ‘lucky’ time and was glad his side got the lucky breaks in the game.

“CJ got the goal at a lucky time” McGourty insisted.

“Sometimes when a man gets sent-off – as you see in every sport really, you rally round and put that wee bit more extra hard work in. It paid off but on another day it could have went against us – we’ll take any break going because you need them to win big matches and finals”.

Reflecting back upon their campaign to date – McGourty admits they’ve been pushed the whole way and felt they showed what they were about against Keady.

“It’s not easy to win any competition” believes McGourty.

“Looking back on Antrim – Gort Na Mona gave us a hell of a run for a long, long period. It took us a long time to pull away against St Enda’s and against Creggan in the final; I would argue they were probably the better team on the day and we just got a few lucky breaks”.

“All matches are going to be tight at that level and we got our lucky breaks – in saying that today we kicked on ourselves and showed more of what we were about. Maybe the games will stand us in good stead and our reaction today in going down to 14-men will stand us in good stead”.

The Galls will have a short break before switching their attention to the all-Ireland series and a clash with the Connaught champions in January.

In 2010 the Milltown club were defeated in the Intermediate decider by Kilkenny side St. Lachtain’s at Croke Park before tasting senior Football success at the same venue the following month.

McGourty joked he may need a longer break than the rest – but feels that preparations will start for the semi-final within the next week or two.

“I asked Micky Culbert for a break because I’m slightly older than most of them” McGourty joked.

“I’d say we’ll take a wee break – but unlike winning the senior championship, the All-Ireland semi-finals are played off in mid February and you can take a wee bit longer for a break. I think we’re back out in the third week of January for the semi-final so we’ll have to be back out in the next week or two anyway”.

 

 

 

 

 

McGourty goal sends St. Gall’s on their way to Ulster title

AIB Ulster Intermediate Hurling Final

St Galls 2-12-0-11 Keady, Lamh Dhearg

By Kevin Herron at Pairc Esler

St Galls claimed their first Ulster Intermediate Hurling title since 2009 with a 2-12-0-11 win over Keady, Lamh Dhearg at Pairc Esler this afternoon.

CJ McGourty hit the opening goal five minutes before the half-time break and despite losing Jackson McGreevy to a second yellow card inside the first ten minutes of the second-half, the Milltown side remained on the front foot and a second goal from substitute Sean McAreavey ensured the title would be heading for Milltown Row this evening.

St Galls made the brighter start at Pairc Esler – taking the lead inside of three minutes through corner forward Mark Napier.

Although Paul Green levelled the game up two minutes later the Milltown side were 0-03-0-01 ahead by the 10th minute through scores from Carl Stewart and Jackson McGreevy.

Keady levelled for a second time with back to back points from centre-half forward Conor Corvan and the sides traded further scores through CJ McGourty (free) and Paul Breen – both sides then missed from the placed ball as Corvan (65′) and CJ McGourty (free) were off target.

Corvan atoned for his miss on 22 minutes as he gave the Armagh champions the lead for the first time in the game – converting a free to edge his side 0-05-0-04 ahead.

Six minutes before the break St Galls hit the front for the fourth time and crucially the opening goal of the game.

CJ McGourty burst through towards the post and was hooked – but the corner-forward was able to untidily convert at the second time of asking, beating Joby Burke to give St Galls a 1-04-0-05 lead.

Conor Corvan watched in frustration as his free hit an upright and drifted wide in the aftermath and just before the break CJ McGourty converted from a similar scenario to send St Galls in 1-05-0-05 ahead at the interval.

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St Galls increased their lead four minutes after the restart through a converted Tomas  O’Ciarain free, though Conor Corvan held off pressure and responded at the other end.

On 38 minutes St Galls were awarded a free after a foul on Jackson McGreevy – already on a yellow-card McGreevy took his protests too far and replacement referee Colin Murray gave the number seven his marching orders.

CJ McGourty converted the resulting free with Paul Green quickly responding at the other end to leave it 1-07-0-07 after 40 minutes.

McGourty (free) and James King traded further points and just after the midway point in the second-half St Galls were denied a second goal.

Substitute Sean McAreavey saw his low drive parried to safety by Joby Burke and the Keady goalkeeper needed to react quickly and avert the danger with CJ McGourty lurking in close proximity.

Ciaran McGourty edged St Galls four points to the good with twelve minutes remaining and four minutes later the Milltown men sealed their win with the second goal.

Six minutes after being denied by Joby Burke it was Sean McAreavey who rifled home the second to move St Galls 2-09-0-08 ahead and surely on their way to their first Intermediate crown since 2009.

Conor Corvan responded for Keady once again but the Armagh champions were in urgent need of a goal.

They found it difficult to negotiate a way through a strong St Gall rear-guard and it was the Milltown men who found the next two scores – CJ McGourty conjured up an outstanding point off the back foot and Tomas O’Ciarain converted his second free of the half.

Stephen Renaghan and Corvan (free) responded in turn although it was O’Ciarain who finished the scoring with a late free to ensure that St Galls ran out 2-12-0-11 winners.

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St Galls: C McGreevy, S Morrison, J McDaniel, A Hannaway, N O’Neill, S Burke, J McGreevy (0-01)J Hopkins, C Stewart (0-01), C Burke, K McGourty (0-01), T O’Ciarain (0-03f), C McGourty (1-05,0-04f), A Gallagher, M Napier (0-01). Subs: S McAreavey (1-00) for M Napier (31 mins), P McCaffrey for C McGreevy (31 mins), A Healy for J Hopkins (46 mins), M Donnelly for S Burke (62 mins).

Keady, Lamh Dhearg: J Burke, L McKee, N Green, B Breen, O Keenan, J King (0-01), E McDonnell, D McKenna, S Reenaghan (0-01), P McCormack, C Corvan (0-06, 0-01f; 0-01 65′), J Havery, P Breen (0-01), P Green (0-02), J Corvan. Subs: J Shortt for D McKenna (33 mins), M McDermott for E McDonnell (39 mins), O Fullerton for J Harvey (50 mins).

Referee: Barry Winters (Tir Eoghain) replaced by Colin Murray (An Dun)

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Mickey Culbert guides another team in an Ulster final

In the build up to Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate Hurling Championship final against Keady Lamh Dhearg, St. Gall’s manager Mickey Culbert shares his thoughts with the Saffron Gael. Mickey took over the management duties with St. Gall’s at the start of last season but is no stranger to management at the club having won championships with their Senior footballers in 2001-2002-2003.

Mickey also trained Cushendall hurlers for a couple of seasons and had a spell as Antrim football manager. He is one of the most knowledgeable and respected managers in the game.

The Saffron Gael spoke to Mickey Culbert this week:

Saffron Gael: Mickey this is your first Ulster final with St. Gall’s hurlers, did you win Ulster honours with the footballers and if so what year and who against

Mickey Culbert: I won Antrim senior football championships with St. Gall’s in  2001/2/3. The club also won minor and U21 Antrim football championships those same years. We got a treble-treble.   So we had a great production line with plenty of young lads coming through. Got to the Ulster final my last year but were defeated.

Saffron Gael: How many Antrim football titles did you win with St. Gall’s.

Mickey Culbert:  3

Saffron Gael: You were involved with Cushendall hurlers for a number of years. What years was it and what did they win.

Mickey Culbert: I trained them for  a couple of their all Ireland campaigns but didn’t manage them. A great bunch of fellas. Nothing was too much for them.

Saffron Gael: What do you know about Keady Lamh Dhearg and just how much threat do they pose on Sunday

Mickey Culbert: They are a big threat. A big strong and fit outfit. Not unlike the opponents we had to struggle against in earlier rounds. They will be treated with utmost respect.

Saffron Gael: Tell us about your first season in charge of the hurlers and how you feel they have improved as the season has progressed

Mickey Culbert: This is actually the second year that I have managed the squad. Last year we struggled to avoid relegation from division 2 . This year we have won promotion and the championship. Very pleased with the efforts the squad has put in this year.

Saffron Gael: Mickey anything else you would like to add on your thoughts about Sunday’s final

Mickey Culbert: hope it’s a good hard clean game – a battle, but a bloodless one.

CJ McGourty-Ulster finals are massive for our club in any code!

In the lead up to Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate hurling final the Saffron Gael speaks to St. Gall’s player, CJ McGourty. CJ has always been a colourful character. He has played for St. Gall’s and Antrim all his playing career and has represented the county in both football and hurling.

CJ’s scoring has played an important part in St. Gall’s run to this Sunday’s final and a big performance from their leading scorer could be vital if they are to overcome the challenge of the Armagh champions.

Rated one of the best forwards in Antrim in both football and hurling, CJ McGourty has the trophy collection to prove it including an All Ireland club football medal won with St. Galls and we spoke to him prior to this Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate hurling final against Keady Lamh Dhearg at Pairc Esler

Saffron Gael: CJ, your team play Keady Lamh Dhearg in the Ulster Intermediate final on Sunday. What do you know about the Armagh champions?

CJ: Keady are a very good hurling team they’re also able to mix it physically with a lot of key players that can hurt any team. they beat Middletown in the Armagh final, a side who won this competition last year and since then have beat everyone handy. So they’re a very good team.

S.G. St. Gall’s had a bad start to this year’s ACHL division 2 campaign and I know that you and a number of players missed the early stages of the league through injuries and other reasons. Who were the other players who missed those games and how did their return affect the good run that saw St. Gall’s gain promotion.

C.J. We had a very poor start to the year indeed but we had little work done. early summer time we had boys coming back from injury and a few boys coming back from time off and a break!! We started to get a win or two and since then we started to hurl a little better.

S.G. You had a tuff Antrim championship campaign, beating Gort na Mona, Glenariffe, St. Enda’s and then Creggan in a tight final. What are your recollections of those games?

C.J. Antrim championships are never easy won. We set out as we always do to try to win it. But Gort na Mona gave us some test in the first round and we just about managed the game through in the end. St Enda’s we hurled very well and won handy enough and the final against Creggan we were lucky to be honest. We had a bad start then but started to get going late in the game and probably stole it in the end.

S.G. In periods during most of these games St. Gall’s have dominated but at other stages they appear to have switched off, allowing their opponents to take control. That happened during the Ulster semi-final against Swatragh and you were perhaps fortunate to take the game into extra time. Has this been a concern for the team and the management?

C.J. Like any game of hurling and any sport you have your periods of dominance and periods of struggling. But we have looked to address that and for sure we can’t win on Sunday without scoring for 16 minutes. I thought we deserved to win over the 80 minutes against Swatragh though.

S.G. You received a Red card in the quarter-final against Lisbellaw which was subsequently rescinded on appeal. Tell me what happened there?

C.J. Sending off was a bit of a joke I pulled a man by the jersey and the ref said I pulled him by face guard. Video evidence at the appeal was very clear.

S.G. You have been in good form for St. Gall’s this year and have top scored in some of their championship outings. How do you feel you have performed yourself?

C.J. Look it’s a team game and everyone has to play their part. Again like said above you have your good moments in a game and poor moments. But lucky enough when one person’s having an off day someone else has stepped up.

S.G.  You have played in quite a few finals for St. Gall’s over the years. How will this one compare with the others you have played in and how do you think St. Gall’s will do?

C.J. An Ulster final is massive for our club in any code!! We are delighted to be there but no, we go in as slight underdogs but Ulster championship games are always tight and we hope on Sunday to get a bit of luck and get over the line.

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CJ McGourty, the Saffron Gael man of the match against Creggan in the Antrim final. Can he help St. Gall’s to an Ulster title when they face Keady Lamh Dhearg in the final in Newry on Sunday ?

 

 

Stiff test ahead for St. Gall’s against experienced Keady side

Ulster Intermediate championship hurling final preview

St. Gall’s v Keady Lamh Dhearg

St. Gall’s are likely to face a stiff challenge when they take oh Keady Lamh Dhearg in this Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate hurling championship final at Pairc Esler Newry. The Milltown Row side looked to be heading out of the competition at the semi-final stage when they trailed,Davitt’s, Swatragh by a point as the game headed into injury time, a fortnight ago at Owen Beg.

Tomas O’Ciarain held his nerve when pointing an injury time free to send that game into extra time and the Belfast lads pushed on to win by five points thanks to a goal in the second half by CJ McGourty

During that extra time period the greater experience and craft of the Milltown Row side saw them gain control and McGourty’s goal finally killed off the challenge of a brave Swatragh side.

St. Gall’s looked in control at half-time as Conor Burke’s goal helped them to a deserved 1-11 to 0-7 lead at the interval.

However, Swatragh took the game to their opponents with five unanswered points with the brilliant Eoghan O’Kane proving a handful while Ruairi Convery was deadly accurate from the placed ball as they reeled in the Antrim champions.

O’Kane and Karl Stewart exchanged goals for their sides and a late major from Fintan McGurk looked to have sealed a dramatic one-point win for the Derry side, but Tomás Ó Ciarain late pointed free sent the game into time added on.

St. Gall’s have put a poor start in the ACHL division 2 behind to hit an unbeaten run and finish runners up to Ballycastle to gain a place in division 1 for next season but they were pushed to the wire in the Antrim Intermediate championship final against division 3 side Creggan.

Creggan led 0-10 to 0-4 after 25 minutes and had controlled much of the opening half but a late Jackson McGreevey goal kept them in touch at the break. The Milltown side were still three in arrears after 42 minutes.

They finished strongly however to win by two points in the end before going on to beat Lisbellaw of Fermanagh in the Ulster quarter-final. The sides were level at the break but second half goals from Sean McAreavy and Mark Napier saw them win by six points in the end.

St. Gall’s have mixed the good with the bad this year, dominating for periods in all their championship games but switching off at other times and allowing the opposition to gain control.

Manager Mickey Culbert will certainly not be happy with this aspect of their game as they go forward to meet an experienced Lamh Dhearg side at Pairc Esler on Sunday and it is something I’m sure he will have addressed and work on in the last fortnight.

WHAT OF LAMH DHEARG?

The Keady side were impressive in their semi-final win over Liatroim of Down and are sure to pose questions for the Antrim champions on a Pairc Esler pitch that could be heavy following this week’s rain.

The Armagh champions had 11 points to spare over the Down men at Corrigan Park. Paul Breen (2-1) and John Corvan were the goal scorers as they went on to win 3-14 to 0-12 with Paul McCormack (0-3) and Conor Corvan (0-7) their other major scorers.

Like St. Gall’s the Keady men went 16 minutes at the start of the second half without scoring and the team that can address  their respective ‘switch off’ period best can push on to take the title. Both sides are laced with talented players with Paul McCormack, Conor Corvan Paul Breen and John Corvan all capable of pushing St. Gall’s all the way.

Indeed in what could be another tight contest, the free taking of CJ McGourty for St. Gall’s and Conor Corovan for Lamh Dhearg could well prove to be the difference, McGourty often the difference for the Milltown Row men in a tight game.

St. Gall’s though have come through stiffer tests this year on the way to Sunday’s final and have proved when the chips are down they can dig out a win and with Joe McDaniel, Niall O’Neill, Justin McGreevey, Karl Stewart, Tomas O’Ciarain and the mercurial CJ McGourty on board they should have enough to see them through.

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