Good season for Cloughmills ends in Ulster final defeat

October 29, 2012

Ulster Intermediate Hurling Club Championship Final 2012

St. Brigid’s Cloughmills enjoyed a great season in 2012 but their bid for Ulster glory was dashed at Pairc Esler in Newry in October of that year when the ‘Biddies’ were beaten by a good Lisbellaw St. Patrick’s, the Fermanagh champions. Four years later St. Brigid’s achieved their Ulster dream but the 2012 decider proved a bridge too far for the Cloughmills side.

Lisbellaw St. Patrick’s 3-14 St. Brigid’s Cloughmills 2-10

Barely had the referees whistle blown when after being awarded a free Lisbellaw’s mid-fielder John Duffy fired over from deep mid-field for his side’s first point. Almost immediately their opponents replied with an equalising point from Micky Devlin and Cloughmills took the lead for the first and only time in the game with a point from James Doherty.

That was as good as it was to get for the Antrim side as Lisbellaw grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck and full forward Declan McGarry latched onto an incoming slithor and then flicked home Lisbellaw’s first goal. Cloughmills replied with a third point from a free by Liam Kearns however the St Patrick’s scoring machine quickly resumed, when firstly John Duffy pointed from a free and then their right half back Andrew Breslin registered his sides third point from play to move Lisbellaw 1-3 to 0-3 ahead.

St Brigid’s replied and added their fourth point from play, courtesy of Michael Devlin however Lisbellaw’s centre half back Mark Slevin powered over a tremendous point from deep mid-field to keep they St Patrick’s scoring machine ticking over. With this fast and feisty game picking up scoring speed, John Duffy fired over a brace of points and St. Patrick’s struck a decisive blow when left corner forward Ciaran Corrigan grabbed an incoming slithor and sped through the heart of the Cloughmills defence to blast home their second goal.

The Fermanagh side continued to call the tune and added further points from Declan and J.P. McGarry however with half time looming large St Brigid’s mounted a series of attacks and finally gained some reward for their efforts when Stephen Smith fired home their opening goal. That score temporally restored they St Brigid’s fast ebbing morale but they were unable to add further scores as the whistle sounded to leave the half time scores, Lisbellaw St Patrick’s, 2-10 Cloughmills 1-5

On the restart it was the formerly under the cosh Cloughmills who fired over a treble of points from frees and play by Michael Devlin (1 pt.), Liam Kearns (2 pts) but Lisbellaw weathered that early onslaught and, once more seized this game by the scruff of the neck. Declan McGarry fed corner forward Sean Corrigan who lashed it into the back of the net for Lisbellaw’s third and final goal. Moments later the same player registered his side’s eleventh point from play and even at this stage it looked a long way back for the Antrim champions. Going into the final quarter and Lisbellaw now leading 3 goals 11 points to 1 goal 8 the dye had been cast and the outcome was unmistakable.

 Lisbellaw were firmly on their way to an historic victory but St Brigid’s were still battling to get something from the game but were finding the posts an elusive target. They finally got some reward for their efforts when Micky Devlin fired home their second and last goal.

Their pressure almost produced a third but St Patrick’s left corner forward Ciaran Corrigan raced back to grab and clear from his own goal line. Cloughmills added a further two points in the last ten minutes from frees by Micky Devlin and Liam Kearns but the goal they needed just wouldn’t come and it was Lisbellaw who finished on the ascendancy with points from Sean Corrigan, Declan McGarry and John Duffy to claim the Ulster Intermediate title

Lisbellaw St Patrick’s, Dwayne Mc Phillip’s, Nial Carson, Fergus Bannon, Daniel Teague, Mathew Teague, Andrew Breslin ( 1 pt.), (Mark Slevin (1 pt.), Karl Kehoe John Duffy ( 7 pts.6 pts. frees),Ryan Bogue, J.P. McGarry ( 1 pt.) , Declan McGarry ( 1 gl. 2 pts..), Peter Timoney, Sean Corrigan ( 1 gl. 2 pts), Ciaran Corrigan ( 1 gl. 0 pts.).

Subs. Colum McPhillip’s, Cathal McGarry, Shane Mulholland, Ciaran McTeague, Brendan McGarry on for Peter Timoney Connor McElroy, Brian Jones, &. Rory Porteous,

Managers, Kevin Corrigan & Peter McEvoy. Coach Gerry Murphy.

Cloughmills St Brigid’s (Antrim), Aaron McNeill, Martin Dobbin, John McGuckian, Stephen Martin, Daniel McLaughlin*, Aaron Smiley ( 1pt.), Ruari Laverty ( 1 pt.), Leon Connolly, Michael Devlin ( 1 gl. 3 pts.), James Doherty ( 1 pt.-free), , Christopher McKernan, Stephen Smith ( 1 gl.0, Connor Laverty & Liam Kearns ( 4 pts. 2 pts-frees ).

Manager, Geoffrey Laverty.

‘Biddies’ celebrate 20th Anniversary with IHC Win

St. Brigid’s Cloughmills celebrated their 20th Anniversary by collecting their first Intermediate Hurling title with a win over a good St. Paul’s side in and excellent final at Casement Park in 2012. It was a great year for the Cloughmills club who went on to reach the Ulster final that year before losing to St. Patrick’s Lisbellaw.

Antrim IHC Final 2012

St. Brigid’s 1-12 St. Paul’s 1-11

St. Brigid’s Cloughmills celebrated their 20th Anniversary in style when they defeated a good St. Paul’s side to collect their first Intermediate Hurling Championship title. It was a delighted captain, John McGuckian and vice – captain Darren Morrison who held the trophy aloft at the end of the game before taking it on its maiden journey to Fr. Leonard Park.

The Cloughmills side had been impressive on their journey to Sunday’s final with win over Kickham’s Creggan in the quarter-final and Gort na Mona in the semi-final

St. Brigid’s had been beaten finalists the previous year and they were determined from the off to go one step further but they were pushed all the way by a determined Shaw’s Road side.

The North Antrim side had impressed on their journey to Sunday’s final with wins over Kickham’s Creggan in the quarter-final and Gort na Mona in the semi-final and were determined to put the previous year’s defeat behind them.

They took the lead through a Michael Devlin point but it was St. Paul’s who made nearly all the early running as they hit seven points without reply to move into a commanding position.

Stephen Smyth led the St. Brigid’s comeback when he fired to the net in the 12th minute and they went on to add three further points before the interval.

Naoise O’Cairealeain put St. Paul’s back in the driving seat when he ended a 15 minute scoreless spell to fire to the net and leave the Shaw’s Road side three in front.

Michael Devlin replied from a free but the Belfast side finished the half strongly and Niall Peoples and Ciaran Magee slotted over points to leave their side leading 1-9 to 1-4 at the short whistle.

The exchanges were even at the start of the second half with Liam Kearns for Cloughmills and Ciaran Magee for St. Paul’s sending over a couple of sublime efforts to keep the good crowd in attendance on their toes.

Cloughmills began to exert their influence on the game mid-way through the second half however as they hit six unanswered points to swing the game decisively in their favour and take the lead for the first time since the 5th minute.

Both sides exchanged points in the dying minutes with Liam Kearns striking the decisive score for the ‘Biddies’ before Brendan McSparran’s full-time whistle brought matters to a halt amidst wild scenes of celebration from the St. Brigid’s side and their supporters.

A great achievement for St. Brigid’s who under the astute management of Geoffery Laverty lifted the junior title in 2010 and it was fitting that Geoffery was again at the helm as they collected this first Intermediate title.

Speaking after the game a very emotional Laverty said “I’m absolutely delighted with the result, this is what it is all about. Every club in Ireland should experience this feeling it’s just unbelievable”

A century’s heartache forgotten as Tir na nOg lift Intermediate title

Andersonstown SC IFC Final

Tir na nOg 1-19 Cloney Gaels 0-17

The long wait is over for Tir na nOg, Randalstown. In the first year of the second century since their formation the Whitehill side finally got their hands on the Intermediate hurling title when they overcame the challenge of Cloney Gaels in a great final at Dunsilly today.

The Ahoghill side went into this game as slight favourites but it was their opponents who showed the greater level of desire and fighting spirit, coupled with the ability to take their scores that deservedly won the day to lift their first Intermediate title.

The Randalstown side won key battles all over the field with their defence affording the much vaunted Cloney attack little time or space and in Sean Duffin in attack they had a player who hardly missed a chance all day and finished with 0-11 for the winners.

It was Cloney Gaels who made the brighter opening at Dunsilly today as they took the game to the opposition but James O’Connell, Dan O’Neill and Fionbarr O’Neill all shot wide in the opening four minutes and when Niall Devlin stepped inside his marker in Tir na nOg’s first serious attack and fired to the net the scene was set for what was to follow.

Aaron McNeilly followed with a point before Patrick Graham finally opened the Cloney Gaels account with a point in the 8th minute but Eamon Og McAllister replied from the puck out at the other end to restore his sides four point advantage.

The Ahoghill side were busting a gut to shake off the shackles of a tight marking Tir na nOg defence and Tomas McGlone split the posts in the 9th minute but Sean Duffin responded immediately at the other end with his first of the afternoon and his brother Colm added another to open up a five point gap by the 12th minute.

Eamon Og and Sean Duffin added points as the Whitehill side took advantage of the space they were being afforded by the Ahoghill defence to send their side into the first water break with a fairly healthy looking 1-6 to 0-2 lead.

Niall O’Connell replaced the injured Eoin Graham as the second quarter commenced and It was going to take something better if Cloney Gaels were to get back into contention and James O’Connell looked like the man to deliver as he pointed four frees in quick succession before setting up Tomas McGlone for another from play and suddenly the Tir na nOg lead had been reduced to two points.

Sean Duffin stopped the rut with a point for the Randalstown men in the 26th minute and at the other end Cloney Gaels looked to be in for a goal but James O’Connell’s ground shot sailed wide of an upright following a goalmouth scramble.

The final score of the half fell to the excellent Sean Duffin  who sent over a fine point to extend his side’s lead to four at the short whistle and they were good value for that lead though the Cloney side would surely rue the amount of opportunities they had squandered during a lively opening 30 minutes.

On the resumption Sean Duffin added a point in the first minute before Kevin Sheerin pulled off a good save at the other end to deny James O’Connell who raced clear but was forced to shoot from a bad angle before Owen Neeson got his side off the mark with a Cloney point.

Patrick Graham added an excellent score and once again it looked like a Cloney Gaels revival might be on the cards but Tir na nOg were having none of it as they responded with a point from Ciaran Logan to edge four in front with five minutes of the new half gone.

Sean Duffin added another from distance before Shane Donnelly replaced Sean McKinley in the Tir na nOg attack.

The Ahoghill side were doing all in their power to get going again but a Tir na nOg defence superbly marshalled by Christy Sheerin and Caoimhinn Duffin were denying them time and space and always ready to launch counter attacks with Sean Duffin making use of every opportunity.

The youngster of the Duffin clan added points in the 9th and 11th minutes as Tir na nOg moved seven points clear before James O’Connell replied from a pointed free and another from play but the Cloney attack were having to work their socks off for their scores.

Sean Duffin for Tir na nOg and James O’Connell for the Ahoghill side exchanged further points but it was the Whitehill side who were continuing to find the space as Sean Duffin, Ciaran Logan and Duffin again added to their tally with another O’Connell free leaving five in it again as the game moved into the final ten minutes.

The Ahoghill men were badly in need of a goal to ignite their challenge as Owen Neeson added a point and then James O’Connel kicked over another when a half chance presented itself but it was as close as they were to get with the superb Sean Duffin securing matters with two late points.

Scenes of wild celebration followed. The Whitehill men have been knocking at the Intermediate championship door for more than a decade but the men of 2020 finally delivered to herald a bright start to the second century for the club and no one would deny them their celebration.

They were superb all over the field with Kevin Sheerin in goals never putting a foot wrong and Christy Sheerin, Caoimhinn Duffin and Ciaran O’Neill commanding in a defence who gave nothing away.

Aaron McNeilly and Ciaran McKeown worked tirelessly at mid-field while Sean Duffin was the outstanding player on view in an attack where Eamon Og McAllister and Ciaran Logan were always dangerous.

Cloney Gaels gave it everything but never really got going or were allowed to get going but in Bernard Graham, Eamon Brady, Tomas McGlone, Patrick Graham, Owen Neeson and James O’Connell they had player worthy of special mention.

Tir na Nog: Kevin Sheerin, Tony Martin, Christy Sheerin, Daniel Martin, Ryan O’Neill, Caoimhinn Duffin, Ciaran O’Neill, Aaron McNeilly, Ciaran McKeown, Eamon Og McAllister, Ciaran Logan, Sean Duffin, Niall Devlin, Colm Duffin, Sean McKinley. Subs: Shane Donnelly for Sean McKinley, Conor Fitzgerald for Ciaran McKeown

Cloney Gaels: Martin Graham, Stephen O’Connell, Bernard Graham, James Magee, Fionnbar O’Neill, Diarmaid Graham, Eamon Brady, Francis Neeson, Tomas McGlone, Owen Neeson, Eoin Graham, Patrick Graham, Dan O’Neill, PJ O’Connell, James O’Connell

Referee: Colm McDonald (St. Gall’s)

Cloney to edge shoot-out of free takers

Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling final

Cloney Gaels v Tir na nOg (Dunsilly 1-00)

GAA fixtures at present are a bit like a bus! You wait for one for ages and then a number come along and so it is in Antrim tomorrow. I’m not complaining, nearly six months of writing reviews and features under the cosh of Covid 19 makes one appreciate what we at the Saffron Gael have been missing as we endeavour to cover all championship games in the county.

Tomorrow’s meeting of Cloney Gaels and Tir na nOg at Dunsilly tops the bill in another day of championship drama and it’s certainly one that supporters from both sides will be eagerly awaiting and one that is likely to be keenly contested.

Cloney Gaels won their last Intermediate title back in 2013 before going on to claim an Ulster title and quite a number of that side are still playing for the Ahoghill side. Carey Faughs were their opponents in that Antrim final back in 2013 and Carey were again their opponents in this year’s championship semi-final.

Indeed Cathaoir an Ri started that semi-final as slight favourites but Ghaeil Cluanaidh turned in an excellent performance to beat the Ballyvoy side by three points and were good value for that win. James O’Connell was their star man and finished with 1-9 as his side ran out 2-18 to 1-18 winners and the youngest of the O’Connell clan will take some watching tomorrow.

He will be joined in a sharp Cloney attack by his brother PJ, who can be another match winner on his day while another youngster, Eoin Graham and Dan O’Neill and the returning Patrick Graham add pace and scoring potential to a potent attack.

Martin Graham has been a revelation since taking over the goalkeeper’s jersey this year while Bernard Graham, Stephen O’Connell and Eamon Brady have been in good form in a resolute Cloney defence.

Tomas McGlone and Francis ‘Slim’ Neeson form a formidable mid-field partnership who have been the catalyst of most of the Gaels attacks and this mix of experience and youth will take some beating if they are firing on all cylinders.

Standing in their way are Tir na nOg from Randalstown and the Whitehill side will go into tomorrow’s decider in search of a first Intermediate title but certainly with no inferiority complex and with good reason.

They have their own star man in attack in Sean Duffin. Big Sean, like James O’Connell, the youngest of the Duffin clan scored 0-14 in his side’s semi-final win over Oisin Glenariffe and the Antrim panellist will be hoping to carry that form into the Dunsilly decider.

The similarities in the sides don’t stop there however as Kevin Sheerin has swapped his outfield jersey for the number 1 shirt and has been impressive as the Og’s last line of defence. Against Glenariffe his brother, Christy Sheerin lined out at full-back while Caomhin Duffin brings a wealth of experience to the Tir na nOg defence.

Aaron McNeilly and Ciaran McKeown form a strong mid-field partnership while Sean Duffin is likely to be joined in attack by Eamon Og McAllister, another youngster with an eye for a score and captain, Ryan O’Neill who’s introduction in the semi-final steadied his side.

Verdict: Both sides bring a good balance of youth and experience to Saturday’s final and this one could come down to a shoot-out between free takers, James O’Connell for Cloney Gaels and Sean Duffin for Tir na nOg but in a tight contest the Cloney side may just edge it.

O’Connell stars as Gaels beat Faughs in semi-final

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship

Cloney Gael 2-18 Carey Faughs 1-18

Cloney Gaels booked their place in the final of the Intermediate Hurling Championship when they beat Carey Faughs in a thrilling semi-final at Dunsilly on Saturday. In a game that would have graced any hurling field in the land the Ahoghill men had that little bit extra on their north Antrim opponents and in corner forward James O’Connell they had a player who was a level above anything else on show. The former county player scored 1-9 of his team’s total, and his ball striking from both play and from frees was exemplary.

Cloney’s Eoin Graham cuts between two Carey defenders

Carey on the other hand were wasteful in front of goal and used four different free takers over the hour, unusual for a team normally so strong in that department. They couldn’t be faulted for their effort, for they gave it 100% from start to finish, but each time they got a foothold in the game it was snatched away from them by the Cloney men, who were able to react any time danger threatened.

A heavy shower of rain just at the start of the game made the pitch slippery underfoot but the players coped well and the scores came thick and fast early on. James O’Connell got the first of the day in the opening minute but the Faughs hit back with two from Shea Hunter to edge in front by the third minute. PJ O’Connell brought Cloney level with a one handed strike from close range before younger brother James gave them back the lead with two pointed frees in the fourth and fifth minutes. Two minutes later the brothers were involved again in a flowing move which ended with centre forward Eoin Graham grabbing the game’s first goal and suddenly they were five clear.

Carey steadied the ship and stopped the flow before a great period of play just before the first half water break and they got themselves back into the game with points from Cathal ‘Doog’ McAuley and Conlith McKinley, and when Caolan McCaughan followed a high ball into the Ahoghill ‘square’ Conor McBride got in to scramble it over the line and leave the game evenly poised at the first break.  

Caolan McCaughan (left) and Conor McBride celebrate Carey’s goal during the first half

After play resumed Cloney Gaels hit the front again when James O’Connell got on the end of high ball which dropped in around the Carey ‘square’ to flick the ball home, but Shay Hunter replied with his third point of the half to cut the deficit back to three. As the game went into first half injury time Patrick Graham put the Gaels four clear when he took advantage of a poor clearance by the Faughs defence, but just before the break Conor McBride fired over from a free to leave just a goal in it at the interval.

Caolan McCaughan, who had played for Ballycastle in the Junior Football semi-final against Ardoyne on the same pitch a couple of hours earlier, got the first score of the second half,  but incredibly it would be his team’s last score for nineteen minutes as the Faughs faltered in front of goal, missing a range of scores from play and from frees. It took Cloney Gaels a while to get going themselves, but once PJ O’Connell got their first score of the second half, with a beautiful wristy strike, they started to flow again. James added one from a free and PJ added another from play, and when referee Kevin Parke blew for the second half water break they were five to the good.

Eoin Graham shows his delight at the final whistle

Conor McBride reduced the gap to four just after things got going again but the Gaels came back strongly with three points on the trot, two from James O’Connell and one from Eoin Graham. It was backs to the wall time for Carey but they got the lift they needed when substitute Conal McGlynn grabbed a point in the 55th minute and a minute later James ‘Rocket’ Black batted a crossed ball to the Cloney Gaels net.

Suddenly there was hope again for the Carey faithful but those hopes were soon dashed at the Ahoghill men struck back in style adding five points in a four minute spell to seal their final place against Tir na nÓg. Carey kept battling away against the odds and two injury time points left just a goal between them but the Gaels were already home and dry.

Carey’s Conlith McKinley in action against Cloney Gaels


Martin Graham, Stephen O’Connell, Bernard Graham, James Magee, Finbar O’Neill, Diarmuid Graham, Eamon Brady, Francis Neeson, Thomas McGlone, Patrick Graham, Eoin Graham, Gerard Graham, Danny O’Neill, PJ O’Connell, James O’Connell.


Stephen McGinn, Kevin Murphy, Sean McBride, Patrick Gillan, Michael Mcveigh, James McCouaig, Peadar McVeigh, Colm McBride, James Black, Conlith McKinley, Cathal McAuley, Shea Hunter, Conor McBride, Caolan McCaughan, Conaire Butler.

Subs – Conall McGlynn for Colm McBride

Referee – Kevin Parke  (Naomh Eanna)