Gaels blow St. Gall’s away

Andersonstown SC IHC Semi-Final

Cloney Gaels 4-16 St. Gall’s 0-9

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

Cloney Gaels produced a performance of skill and intensity to blow away the challenge of St. Gall’s in this Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-final in the wind and rain at Dunsilly on Friday night.

The heavy rain which began just prior to throw in and increased throughout the opening half made conditions difficult but the Ahoghill men made light of those conditions to produce another high powered performance that the Milltown side just couldn’t live with.

The Milltown Row side led briefly when Mark Napier pointed them ahead in the 2nd minute but Cloney Gaels came back with points from Neil ‘Boris’ O’Connell, Patrick Graham and Eamonn Brady to lead 0-3 to 0-1 with only 8 minutes gone.

Jackson McGreevey closed the gap to one from a ‘65’ but Cloney Gaels were beginning to find their feet in the difficult conditions and Donal Graham with a fine point and James O’Connell moved hem three in front before McGreevy from a long range free scored his second and his sides third to leave it 0-6 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter.

At this stage the Belfast side were still hanging in there but the Ahoghill men suddenly found another gear and an astute pass from Ronan Graham placed PJ O’Connell who fired to the net from an acute angle.

Naomh Gall were still fighting hard for every ball and Marcus Donnelly and Jackson McGreevey replied with points but the Milltown men were having to work extremely hard for their scores so great was the intensity and closing down of the opposition.

And that intensity began to pay dividends as Fionnbar O’Neill sent a 60 meter free between the uprights before James O’Connell got in for their second goal with a simple tap in after Kurtis McGreevy in the St. Gall’s goal failed to deal with a speculative delivery.

Mark Napier briefly lifted the siege when he pointed a 30 meter free in the 25th minute but Boris O’Connell and James O’Connell replied with late point to see the South West side lead 2-8 to 0-6

If St. Gall’s were going to get back into this game then they needed a score and they finished the half on the offensive and looked in for a goal but Antoin McCaffery’s effort was blocked for a ‘65’ which came to nothing as Ciaran McCloskey sounded his half time whistle.

Patrick Graham extended the ‘Gaels’ lead at the start of the second half as Stephen O’Connell briefly replaced Bernard Graham who took a heavy knock as a few heavy challenges went in but the Ahoghill centre half back was able to resume after treatment.

The Ahoghill side continued to play with a great intensity as they moved the ball around accurately and were quick to close down the opposition when they gained possession and James O’Connell extended their lead from a 9th minute free.

St. Gall’s were living on scraps as Sean McAreavey replaced Gregory McGreevy and Mark Napier raised their first white flag of the half in the 10th minute but once again the Cloney side responded emphatically as Eamonn Brady and Patrick Graham combined in a sharp passing move to place Donal Graham for their third goal.

PJ O’Connell from play and James O’Connell from a free moved the Ahoghill side 12 ahead by the 14th minute as St. Gall’s range the changes but it had little or no affect and when an 80 meter free from Fionnbar O’Neill deceived Kurtis McGreevy in the St. Gall’s goals with Donal Graham possibly getting a touch, it was over.

It was the turn of Cloney Gaels to ring the changes as they gave game time to Stephen O’Connell, Eoin Graham, Owen Neeson, Colla McDonnell and Gerard Graham but it failed to disrupt their rhythm and PJ O’Connell added two points in the 25th minute.

Paddy Friel pulled one back for St. Gall’s but the game was long gone at this stage but Cloney Gaels kept the intensity going right to the end with Colla McDonnell seeing his first time ground shot come back of an upright before James O’Connell and Neill O’Connell concluded the scoring with late points.

I predicted in my preview during that Cloney Gaels would win this one but suggested that they would find it difficult to reproduce the high scoring totals that have been their trademark all season but despite the difficult conditions they proved me wrong.

The Ahoghill side took a time to get into their stride but when they did there was only going to be one winner. Their pace and movement coupled with some excellent scores was breath taking under difficult playing conditions and after a few celebration pints tonight I’d expect quite a few of them to be in Cushendall tomorrow to run the eye over Cushendun and Glenariffe who play in the second semi-final.

Cloney Gaels: 1 Francis Neeson, 2 Harry O’Donnell, 3 James Magee, 4 Diarmaid Graham, 5 Fionnbar O’Neill, 6 Bernard Graham, 7 Dan O’Neill, 8 Eamonn Brady, 9 Neil O’Connell, 10 Ronan Graham, 11 Thomas McGlone, 12 Patrick Graham, 13 PJ O’Connell, 14 Donal Graham, 15 James O’Connell. Subs: Stephen O’Connell, Eoin Graham, Owen Neeson and Colla McDonnell

St. Gall’s: 1 Kurtis McGreevey, 2 Ewan Rush, 3 Ruairi Wilson, 4 Niall O’Neill, 5 Lorcan O’Ciarain, 6 Ryan Irvine, 7 Ciaran McCaffery, 8 Jack Hopkins, 9 Jackson McGreevy, 10 Tomas O’Ciaran, 11 Gregory McGreevy, 12 Aodhan Gallagher, 13 Marcus Donnelly, 14 Antoin McCaffery, 15 Mark Napier. Subs: Sean McAreavey, Paddy Friel, Connla McCarthy, Owen McIlhatton, Cormac Sheehan.

Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)

Top 2 in Group 2 could meet again in the final

Andersonstown IHC Semi-Finals

The first of the Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-finals takes place on Friday night in Dunsilly where Group 2 winners, Cloney Gaels take on St. Gall’s while North Antrim rivals, Emmet’s Cushendun and Oisin Glenariffe meet in the second semi-final in Cushendall on Saturday.

On paper group 2 of the qualifiers looked the slightly stronger group and it was the Ahoghill men who set the pace in this group with a win over division 1 side Emmet’s on day one. Cloney Gaels won that one 3-18 to 1-17 in Cloney and went through the group unbeaten with big wins over Tir na nOg, Gort na Mona and St. Paul’s.

Emmet’s recovered from that opening day defeat with wins over St. Paul’s and Gort na Mona but a draw against Tir na nOg at Whitehill meant they had to rely on a big win on the final day at Enright Park to qualify ahead of the Randalstown side on score difference.

Oisins topped group 1 with an away win at St. Gall’s on day 3 and a resounding victory over Creggan on day four seeing them finish ahead of St. Gall’s but the Milltown side qualified in second place with three wins from four starts, the Glenariffe defeat their only loss.

Cloney Gaels v St. Gall’s  (Dunsilly 7.00pm Friday)

Cloney Gaels look the form team of the two going into this eagerly awaited semi-final and a strong league campaign saw them finish second to Cathaoir an Ri with 12 wins from 16 starts to finish just a point behind the Ballyvoy side.

The Ahoghill men have scored freely this season with their twin attacking threat of James and P.J. O’Connell proving a real handful for most defences and the Gaels finished the highest scorers in division 2.

They carried that high scoring into the championship, hitting 3-18 against Cushendun, 4-15 against Tir na nOg, 7-19 against Gort na Mona and 4-22 against St. Paul’s.

Their opponents on Friday night, St. Gall’s had an indifferent league campaign with only six wins from 16 starts but not too much should be read into that league form as they were competitive in most of their defeats and Chris Dornan’s side always reserve their best for the championship.

They started their group 1 campaign with a 0-14 to 0-7 win away to Glenravel and followed it up with a 2-17 to 2-14 win at home to Creggan. St. Gall’s looked favourites to win the group when they defeated Sarsfield’s 0-22 to 0-19 at the Bear Pit but lost out on the final day to eventual group winners, Oisin’s at Milltown.

Cloney Gaels will start Friday night’s game as favourites but this won’t unduly worry Chris Dornan or his side. St. Gall’s have been renowned championship challengers at this level over the years and in Joe McDaniel, Niall O’Neill, Jackson and Gregory McGreevey, Tomas O’Ciarnan and Mark Napier they have excellent performers.

Cloney Gaels are likely to line out along familiar lines and even a hat-trick from Colla McDonnell against St. Paul’s on the final day of the group games does not guarantee the youngster a start on Friday night so stiff is the competition for places.

James ‘Bobby’ Magee and Bernard Graham should anchor a solid defence where Diarmaid Graham and Fionnbar O’Neill are likely to get the nod for a starting place. Niall O’Connell and Eamonn Brady have formed a strong mid-field partnership this year while Thomas McGlone, Donal Graham and Dan O’Neill should accompany the O’Connell’s in a potent attack.

Others will be waiting anxiously for the nod for a starting place in a side finely tuned by Hugh Dobbin and Shea O’Hagan but I don’t expect the Gaels to find scoring as easy as in recent championship outings but they should have enough to get them through with a bit to spare.

Oisin Glenariffe v Emmet’s Cushendun (Cushendall Saturday 3.00pm)

Saturday’s second semi-final brings together two sides who will need no introduction with a number of the Emmet’s panel, including the McSparran twins and John B Morgan having played at U17 level for the Oisin’s.

Emmet’s played their hurling in division 1 this year after moving up from division 2 last year but found the going extremely tuff in the higher grade. They opted to play Intermediate Championship and on reflection it has proved a wise decision though the readjustment hasn’t been easy.

The Cushendun side lost on day one of the group stages at Ahoghill and drew away to Tir na nOg but a superior score difference say them qualify in second place in the group to earn them a semi-final place against the Waterfoot side.

They hit 6-21 against Gort na Mona in their final game however which suggests they have plenty of fire-power with David Kilgore getting a hat-trick and Harry Kilgore 2-0 and Conor O’Hara all rippling the Gort na Mona net.

Gareth Magee in goals brings a wealth of experience to the side and Aidan Corbett, Donal O’Hara, Tom Scally and Conlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill are likely to carry the Emmet’s challenge on Saturday.

Oisin’s Glenariffe have been knocking at the Intermediate door for a while now and have always been tipped as potential winners and this could be the year to turn that potential into success but it won’t be easy.

Their win over St. Gall’s at Milltown and a great comeback to earn a draw against Sarsfield’s suggests that they certainly have the bottle for the big occasion and while nothing can be read into that final day mauling of a weakened Creggan, they certainly carry a scoring threat.

Paul McMullan, the Kearney’s, Daniel and Donal, Conor Patterson, Seanie McIntosh, David Kearney, Alex and Michael O’Boyle, Caolan O’Connor and Seamus McDonnell will carry the Oisins’ challenge in a game that could be very close with the possibility of extra time not to be ruled out but Emmet’s might just shade it in the end.

Cloney Gaels cruise into semi-final

Andersonstown SC IHC Group 2

St. Paul’s 1-14 Cloney Gaels 4-22

Cloney Gael’s overcame the challenge of St. Paul’s in what was essentially a ‘dead rubber’ to finish top of Group 2 of the Andersonstown SC IHC and secure their place in the semi-final in two weeks-time against St. Gall’s.

Indeed that top spot had been already secured after their last game away to Gort na Mona on the 2nd September and Cloney Gaels would have been forgiven for taking their foot off the pedal for this one but the management team of Hugh Dobbin and Shea O’Hagan were determined to keep the momentum going.

Places are still up for grabs going into the semi-final and one man who did his chances of getting on the team sheet against St. Gall’s is youngster, Colla McDonnell who finished this game with a hat-trick as the Cloney attack ran riot.

James O’Connell once again gave a fine exhibition of free taking, converting five, (2 ‘65’) and one from play while Donal Graham struck some excellent scores from play and recorded 0-6 on the day.

Ahoghill now meet St. Gall’s in two weeks-time while Emmet’s Cushendun and Oisin Glenariffe meet in the other semi-final and both games look hard to call.

Ahoghill scorers: Colla McDonnell 3-1, Donal Graham 0-6, James O’Connell 0-6, Eoin Neeson 1-2, Gerard Graham 0-3, Thomas McGlone, Fionnbar O’Neill, Ronan Graham, Paddy Graham (01 each)

Cushendun win well to secure semi-final place

ANDERSONSTOWN SOCIAL CLUB IHC

Cushendun Emmet’s 6-21 Gort na Móna 1-7

Cushendun Emmet’s breezed through to the semi-final of the Intermediate Hurling Championship when they beat Gort na Móna in their final group game on Saturday in Cushendun.

The team controlled the game from start to finish and it was clear from an early stage that they were going to go through. Early points from Donal O’Hara, Conor McHugh and Pearse Bannon were followed by two quick goals from the Kilgore brothers Harry and David. Conlaoth McNeill added a point from a 65 on eight minutes and Harry Kilgore sent one over from play before Dessie McClean got the Gorts on the board in the 13th minute.

Cushendun’s Harry Kilgore in action during his team’s IHC win over Gortnamona in Cushendun. Pic by Micky Morgan

Harry Kilgore got his second goal a minute later, David Kilgore and Tom Scally added points from play and ‘Loaf’ McNeill got another from a 65 before a depleted f Gorts got their second from play through Patrick McCaffrey. Points from Harry Kilgore and Loaf from a penalty were answered by twopointed frees from the evergreen Dessie McClean, but another David Kilgore goal just before the interval put Cushendun 4-10 to 0-4 clear by half time.

David Kilgore completed his hat-trick four minutes into the second half and though Cushendun emptied their bench to give as many players as possible a run out, the scores kept coming, with one of those subs, Conor O’Hara, getting the sixth goal four minutes from the end.

This win sets up an intriguing semi-final with Glenariffe in two weeks’ time. There have been a lot of links between the clubs over  the years, with a good few of the Emmet’s team having played their minor hurling with the Oisins in recent years and this promises to be cracking contest.

CUSHENDUN

Gareth McGhee, Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbett, Jack McKay, Archie McSparran, Donal O’Hara, Tom Scally, Oisin McMahon, Calum Kilgore, Conor McHugh, Harry Kilgore, Conlaoth McNeill, Conor Bannon, David Kilgore, Pearse Bannon.

Subs – Michael McHugh, Conor O’Hara, Gavan McCormick, Aidan McSparran, Leo Morgan

GORTNAMONA

Mark Rea, Conor Healy, Gavin McKenna, Noah McGivern, Patrick Cournane, Padraig McHugh, David Dixon, James Connolly, Declan Hughes, Patrick McCaffrey, Tiernan Morton, Tiernan O’Cadhlaigh, Manus MacMaolain, Joseph Caddell, Dessy McClean.

Referee – Ray Matthews.

Oisins win with ease to set up semi-final clash with Emmet’s

Intermediate Hurling Championship

Glenariffe Oisins 2-29 Creggan 0-3

Glenariffe scored a facile win over an understrength Creggan in their final group game in the Intermediate Championship on Saturday to secure a semi-final place against their North Antrim neighbours Cushendun in two weeks’ time. Going into the game the Glenariffe boys knew they were in pole position, with a win or even a draw guaranteeing them a semi-final spot, and with Creggan short half of the team that lost to Carey in last year’s final the odds were heavily stacked against the visitors.

Right from the off the Oisin were on top and they had three points on the board inside two minutes through Alex O’Boyle, Seanie McIntosh and Seamus McDonnell, and when midfielder Odhran Gillan’s shot was spilled to the net by the Creggan keeper it was clear what way this game was going.

The scores kept coming, but all at the one end as Alex O’Boyle, Dan McKillop, Caolan O’Connor, Seanie McIntosh and even corner back Michael Haughey kept adding to the scoreboard. Diarmuid Mulholland broke the Creggan duck on 21 minutes with a point from play, but Dan McKillop came back with a goal and Alex O’Boyle added three late points to put the Oisins ahead by 2-17 to 0-1 at half time.

With the breeze behind them in the second half Creggan were expected to do better but it was more of the same as their weakened team struggled to stay in touch with Glenariffe. The O’Boyle brothers Alex and Michael scored heavily, while Dan McKillop got a couple, Caolan O’Connor and substitute Randal McDonnell all contributed. Creggan kept plugging away but it was not to be their day and they added just two more points to their tally in the second half.