Cross city derby for Naomh Éanna in provincial semi

AIB Ulster Intermediate Championship

Semi-Final

Naomh Éanna vs Bredagh (Down)

Saturday October 26

Venue:  Hanahstown

Throw In: 2:30pm

Ref: Aidan Ferguson (Erne Gaels, Fermanagh)

By Brendan McTaggart

One more step.  Naomh Éanna are one more step from another Ulster Final.  The Hightown Road side are on a roll and their journey is a short one on Saturday.  A short trip to Hannahstown for a provincial semi-final and a meeting with Down champions, Bredagh.

It’s a short journey for both sides, Bredagh residing from south Belfast and they too have had a good season.  Plying their trade in Division Three of the Antrim leagues, Bredagh showed signs of challenging for promotion.  Keeping tabs with the Gorts for the majority of the season but their form tailed off, losing four of their last five league games.  Their win coming against the men from Turf Lodge on a night when the Gorts could have taken the league crown.

Their route to Saturday’s match saw them safely negotiate the Down championship, despite needing another hour before seeing past the challenge of Carryduff in the final.  Bredagh had 10 points to spare over Clonduff and Carryduff in the group stages before seeing off their neighbours under the lights at The Dub 2-13 to 1-8.

In their last match, the Mourne men saw off the challenge of Monaghan champions and last years Ulster Junior champs, Castleblayney.  Four points to spare over the side who narrowly defeated Cushendun in the provincial junior championship last year.

For all the brilliance Naomh Éanna have shown in achieving promotion to Division One, they ground out a major result and performance in the Ulster quarter-final.  Naomh Éanna showed more grit, determination and heart than pure skill the last day out.  But when the chips were down, the Antrim champions had men who stood to be counted.  Leaders.  Ruairi Donaghy and Cormac Ross helped to turn the screw at the death while the introduction of Cormac Jennings off the bench into the attack gave them an edge. 

Naomh Eanna manager Terence McNaughton

Banagher looked to have their number until Philly Curran’s 52nd minute goal.  It gave the Hightown Road men the sniff of an opportunity they needed and like all good teams, they took it with both hands.  The Derry men fancied their chances of going the whole way and their performances in the championship to claim the Intermediate crown would have backed that claim.

It was more than just a win for Naomh Éanna.  They dug deep, deeper than they have ever had to in the past.  In a quagmire of a pitch and in horrendous conditions, Naomh Éanna kept the dream alive.  If they are going to make the final, they will have to negate the dangers Bredagh possess.  Donal Hughes is their playmaker from centre half while Niall McFarland will be their man from frees.  They’re captained by Ian Galway, a strong midfielder while Sean McGourty is another forward Naomh Éanna will have to keep tabs on, normally lining out around the three quarter line.  The Down champions will be without the services of Mark Patterson for the semi-final, they appealed his red card in the quarter-final win over Castleblayney but it was reduced to one game from the initial three.

The frost in recent nights will help to harden up the ground which you would imagine will play into the Naomh Éanna’s hands.  They like to play a fast and direct brand of hurling and the wide pitch in Hannahstown will be perfect for them.  Their defence were immense against Banagher but they went 25 minutes without scoring.  It’s not common any team would do that and come away with a win, that shows the magnitude of the performance from the Naomh Éanna defence.  ‘Sambo’ and his management team will be hoping for an improved attacking performance from their side.  It was a rare off day for John McGoldrick, he missed more frees in Owenbeg than he had in the rest of the year combined.  His accuracy is spellbinding and to see at all was such a shock to anyone who has watched him play in recent times.  He and the rest of Naomh Éanna will be hoping that it was a one-off.  Killian Jennings was well marshalled by Banagher but showed glimpses of what he can do.  Those moments of magic will be required in Hannahstown.

Naomh Éanna start as favourites but Bredagh will come with hopes of causing an upset.  A final place beckons, next stop – Hannahstown.

Philly Curran’s goal saved the day for Naomh Eanna last time out

Donaghy point in injury time sends Naomh Éanna to semi’s

AIB Ulster Intermediate Hurling Championship Quarter-Final

Naomh Éanna 1-10 Banagher 0-12

Brendan McTaggart reports from Owenbeg, Dungiven

They left it late, very late, but Naomh Éanna edged past Derry champions Banagher at Owenbeg on Sunday to make the semi-finals of Ulster Intermediate Hurling Championship.  Ruairi Donaghy was the man who hit the vital score in the third minute of injury time to seal the Hightown Road sides’ progression at the end of a titanic battle over the hour, as the Derry men pushed them all the way.

Naomh Éanna trailed by three points at half time and with the underfoot conditions already poor, the heavens opened in the second half.  The quarter-final went from a hurling match to a battle of wills.  Neither could take control and it was 18 minutes into the second half before the first score came.  Banagher had missed chances to increase their lead while Naomh Éanna were getting little joy out of a tenacious defence.

The weather and underfoot conditions weren’t conducive for free-flowing hurling at the Dungiven venue.  Both sides hit double figures in wides throughout the hour and while there was plenty of handling errors that you wouldn’t normally see from either side, Naomh Éanna were just keeping in touch of the Derry champions.

The game changed in the 51st minute with the only goal of the match.  John McGoldrick sent a side line cut to the heart of the Banagher defence 45 yards from goal.  Banagher ‘keeper Daryl McDermot couldn’t control and despite laying on the ground Philly Curran swept the sliotar over the line from the edge of the box to give his side a one point lead.

Philly Curran celebrates after scoring the goal that changed the game.

The intensity increased in the closing stages with both sides throwing everything at each other.  Banagher were reduced to 14 men in injury time, Oisin McCloskey seeing red for a reckless challenge on Cormac Jennings and Naomh Éanna took advantage.  From the resulting free the sliotar was moved out to the right and Ruairi Donaghy did the rest and set up a meeting with Down champions Bredagh in the last four.

Bright Start

In a nervy opening, four wides evenly split did little to settle any pre-match nerves.  A signature free from John McGoldrick opened the scoring in the sixth minute from half way before the Naomh Éanna repeated the trick moments later, this time from close to 80 yards out.

Banagher opened their account in the ninth minute, Jonathan Dwyer firing over after good work from Steafan McCloskey.  Naomh Éanna regained their two point lead when Philly Curran split the uprights two minutes later but the signs were already there of Banagher finally settling into the tie.

Mark Lynch dropped back in an attempt to starve the Naomh Éanna attack of time and space.  Killian Jennings was causing huge problems and was out in front and commanding the ball in that opening quarter.  It was his point in the 19th minute that opened a three point lead for the Glengormley side but Banagher were beginning to get on top.

Steafan McCloskey’s influence grew while Dara Cartin and Oisin McCloskey became more dangerous.  A brace of points from Tiarnan McCloskey (free) and Steafan McCloskey reduced the deficit to the minimum and while Matthew O’Hare instantly replied, Banagher dominated the closing stages.

Tiarnan McCloskey (free) and Sean McCullagh tied the scores and while John McGoldrick’s third point of the half re-established the Naomh Éanna lead, it would be their last score for 25 minutes.

Having scored five points in the opening 25 minutes, the Derry men scored four points in the time that remained of the first half to take an element of control.  Steafan McCloskey, Ciaran Lynch, Tiarnan McCloskey (free) and Dwyer all finding the target to leave Banagher ahead by three at half time.

Banagher full back Ruairi McCloskey solos out of defence with the ball.

Half time: Banagher 0-9 Naomh Éanna 0-6

Half time couldn’t come quick enough for Naomh Éanna.  Banagher were well on top in the closing stages and had the Hightown Road side on the ropes.  The start of the second half was more of the same however and but for some wayward frees from Tiarnan McCloskey, Banagher should have stretched their advantage.

Both sides struggled with conditions and lost their accuracy in that opening quarter of the second half.  Defences were well on top with time and space at a premium, adding to the frustration at the increasing wide count on both sides.

The first score of the second half came in the 48th minute, Eddie O’Connor finally getting Naomh Éanna firing again before the pivotal moment of the contest.  Curran’s goal was as unexpected as it was welcome for the Naomh Éanna men but it gave them a huge lift going into the final ten minutes.  John McGoldrick’s side line dropped short, a plethora of players were waiting on the dropping ball and while Banagher ‘keeper McDermot got to the sliotar first, he lost control and Curran was at the right place and right time for his side to sweep the ball home while vertical on the turf.

Philly Curran bundles the ball over the Banagher line for the only goal of the game

The goal stirred Banagher into a response and they were back in front again with two minutes remaining.  A brace of frees from Cartin ending a 24 minute scoreless spell for the Derry men as both sides looked to wrestle control.

McGoldrick’s fourth free of the match restored parity, another huge score from close to the half way line before Manus Mullan fed Ruari Crummey to split the uprights in the last minute of normal time.  Cartin’s third free of the half tied the sides for the fifth time during the hour. 

Naomh Éanna were thrown a huge lifeline when Banagher were reduced to 14 men, Oisin McCloskey’s tackle deemed worthy of a red card by referee James Connors and from the resulting free the Antrim champions fashioned the winning score.

Cormac Ross stood over the free close to his ’45 and a crowd of players went to gather the dropping ball.  The sliotar was passed out to Ruairi Donaghy 45 yards from goal and he split the posts with what was the winning score in the third minute of injury time.

A frenetic ending to a pulsating game and while it wasn’t their most fluent hour of hurling, Naomh Éanna won’t mind as they progress to the last four and a meeting with Bredagh in two weeks’ time.

Big Joe Maskey strikes a Naomh Eanna free

TEAMS

Naomh Éanna: M Curran; N O’Connor, R Gillen, R Diamond; C Ross, M Donaghy, J Maskey; R Bogue, R Donaghy (0-1); P Curran (1-1), M Mullan, E O’Connor (0-1); J McGoldrick (0-4, 4 frees), M O’Hare (0-1), K Jennings (0-1). Subs: Cormac Jennings for J McGoldrick (blood sub 34 reversed 40); C Jennings for R Bogue (45); R Crummey (0-1) for E O’Connor (59)

Yellow Cards: J McGoldrick (16); R Gillen (37); C Jennings (55)

Banagher: D McDermot; G Farren, R McCloskey, S Murphy; D McCloskey, M Lynch, N Farren; C Lynch (0-1), B Óg McGilligan; S McCullagh (0-1), S McCloskey (0-2), D Cartin (0-3, 3 f’s); T McCloskey (0-3, 3 f’s), O McCloskey, J Dwyer (0-2). Subs: P McCloskey for T McCloskey (48); C McGilligan for C Lynch (56)

Yellow Cards: O McCloskey (14); D Cartin (26); S McCullagh (49)

Red Cards: O McCloskey (inj); S McCullagh (after full time).

Referee: James Connors (Dún na nGall)

One Giant Leap for Naomh Éanna

The Antrim Champions take to the Ulster stage and a trip to Owenbeg on Sunday for their opener.  With last years run with the ‘big ball’ still fresh in their minds, the Hightown Road side are looking to take steps with the ash as Banagher awaits….

Ulster Intermediate Hurling Championship

Quarter-Final

Naomh Éanna vs Banagher (Derry)

Venue: Owenbeg, Dungiven

Thrown In: 2.30pm

Referee: James Connors (Donegal)

By Brendan McTaggart

Naomh Éanna make a maiden journey into the Ulster intermediate hurling championship on Sunday afternoon and a trip to the Derry Centre of Excellence.  Derry champions Banagher lay ahead for Terence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton’s side and the Hightown Road men couldn’t have wished for a more difficult start to the provincial championship.

The North Derry men lost out to a resurgent Lavey side in the Senior Hurling Qualifier round in the Oak Leaf county.  Despite going into the interval six points ahead, Banagher lost out to a resurgent Lavey side in extra time.  They regrouped to edge past City side Na Magha to reach the Intermediate Final where the Feeney side were rampant against the 2018 champions, Swatragh, a side who pushed St Galls to the pin of their collar in the semi-final of this competition last year.  A late CJ McGourty major in injury time accounting for the Swa. 

Banagher will fancy their chances of making waves in Ulster this year and come into the game full of confidence.  Not only from their resounding win over Swatragh in the county final but their footballers have been turned more than a few heads in their championship trail.  Defeating Bellaghy and Swatragh before bowing out to Magherafelt by the narrowest of margins last weekend.  A first senior semi-final for the club.  With plenty of dual players in their ranks, the confidence of playing in such matches and defying the odds is huge.

Their performance against Swatragh in the county final will have been pleasing for the Derry men.  Out of their 21 points scored, 15 came from play while they had nine different scorers over the hour while conceding just four points from play over the hour.

The return from injury of Oisin McCloskey will be a huge plus for the Feeny side and will bolster an attack that were on fire in their last outing.  Darragh Cartin and Sean McCullagh shared seven points between them in the Derry final while Brian Og McGilligan added a couple from play from midfield.  Tiarnán McCloskey will be Banagher’s free taker and he will be in familiar surroundings on Sunday, another massive bonus for the Derry men.

Darragh and Ruairi McCloskey will be key in their defence while Mark Lynch could be used as a sweeper to nullify the attacking threats of Naomh Éanna.  John McGoldrick will be key once again with his free taking abilities.  Owenbeg is notorious for a swirling wind and it could be a difficult hour for the Naomh Éanna man but you wouldn’t want any other man standing over a free inside 80 yards, such is his accuracy.  Philly Curran on the edge of the square was a handful for Carey in the county final and the Naomh Éanna management team will be hoping for more of the same and while Killian Jennings wasn’t as prolific as previous matches, he will carry a threat from open play as well.

The Naomh Éanna half back line is where their strength lays.  Captain Cormac Ross and county star Joe Maskey either side of Mark Donaghy make a strong trio who can help the Hightown Road side take a stranglehold of this match.

The midfield battle with Ryan Bogue and Ruairi Donaghy up against Ciaran Lynch and Brian Og McGilligan will be mouth-watering and whoever comes out on top of that battle could go a long way to deciding who progresses to the next round.

Looking at the scoring power, Naomh Éanna have racked up some impressive tallies on their way to the Antrim title and in four matches they’ve hit 6-65.  Averaging 1.5 goals and 16.25 points while conceding just 1.25 goals and 13.75 points.  Banagher have average 0-33 goals and 19 points while conceding an average of 1-13 in their three matches.

This will be a tight contest between two sides who have worthy aspirations of claiming the crown.  It’s just a shame they have to meet in the opening round.  Who wins could come down to whoever deals with the occasion better or the elements on Sunday.  Owenbeg has been like a second home for Banagher this year in all codes and the surroundings under the shadow of Benbradagh Mountain in north Derry will give them the edge.  Naomh Éanna may have to up their performance levels from what they’ve shown this year so far in the championship but with the season they’ve had so far, it would take a braver man than I to bet against the Hightown Road side from making the next round.

The two clubs share some recent history with another side who will be playing in the first match at Owenbeg on Sunday.  Mullahoran, the side Naomh Éanna defeated to win the provincial Intermediate football crown 11 months ago while the Cavan side edged past Banagher in the semi-finals.  A match that needed extra time and free kicks to separate the sides.  Let’s hope it’s settled within the hour on Sunday!

PATH TO ULSTER QUARTER-FINAL

Naomh Éanna                                                          Banagher

Antrim First Round:                                              Derry SHC Qualifier:

Naomh Éanna 1-28 Cloney Gaels 1-8                    vs Lavey 1-13 to 1-19 (aet)

Quarter-Final                                                           IHC Qualifier:

vs Creggan 0-13 to 0-11                                            vs Na Magha 0-23 to 1-12

Semi-Final                                                                 Intermediate Hurling Final

vs Glenariffe 3-19 to 2-10                                        vs Swatragh 0-21 to 0-8

Final

vs Carey 3-14 to 1-17

Banagher match images from Mark Doherty.

Sambo and AD look back at last weekend

Managers View – Terence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton, Naomh Éanna

Naomh Éanna added the Intermediate hurling crown to the football title they won in 2018.  The good times are settling in on the Hightown Road and Sambo’s at the wheel.  The Cushendall native guided the Glengormley side to the title on his home patch and he was a relieved man at the final whistle: “Very nervy.  We lost our shape and started to make mistakes and overcarry the ball.  Things we haven’t been doing but that’s just one of them things.  When the pressure goes on these things can happen but credit to Carey.  They’re a good honest team and always were.  They’re always going to put it up to us and we weren’t going to come here and get it easy.

“I think Naomh Éanna deserved the year they’ve had.  Overall, putting everything into context, they deserved to win Division Two and deserved to win the Championship and winning the championship will help with next year.  To have that behind you, that you got promoted with a championship win will definitely help.

“It’s great for Naomh Éanna, the history they have and everyone’s well aware of it, to be here now as league champions and county champions.

“It was hugely important to win here today.  To go up as county champions will help with confidence, doing the clean sweep.”

Seven points up with eight minutes remaining, it should have been plain sailing from there for Sambo’s side but Carey pushed them to the pin of their collar in those closing stage: “A wee bit of inexperience of not knowing how to close the game out and a wee bit of boys looking their name in lights was going on a bit but you learn from that.  Everyday you go out you learn from something and Naomh Éanna have a bit to go yet but they’re probably the one club who can become a force in Antrim hurling.  This is one step on that road, that’s all it is.

“They’ll enjoy it tonight but we’ll get back to it on Tuesday night and think on Ulster.”

Naomh Éanna had big performers on the day.  Philly Curran with two majors in the second half, Eddie O’Connor and Ruairi Donaghy but Sambo reserved special praise for two players.  Firstly John McGoldrick before speaking about Mark Donaghy: “He’s a good striker of a ball.  He’s probably the best striker of a ball that I’ve ever coached and that’s saying something.  He’s a lovely striker.

“Mark Donaghy to me, and I’m going to say this and people will think I’m biased, but he’s been some asset to Nomah Éanna this year.  Mark Donaghy just oozes leadership and to be fair he has that wee bit of experience.  He’s been in and around championship winning teams and knows how to behave and what to do. 

“Mark would have been more used to today than some of the other lads.”

Naomh Éanna’s thoughts now turn to Ulster as they look to emulate their achievements with the big ball 12 months ago and while Sambo will be keen for a tilt at the provincial title, he says Naomh Éanna have the tools for bigger and better things: “Antrim’s over and we’ll go into Ulster.  What happens there, it’s going to be tough.  I know Derry will be strong.  I’m not sure who we play but it’s a great step in Naomh Éanna’s growth and for Antrim hurling. 

“We talk about the Big Three, maybe this is the first step in Naomh Éanna making that challenge.  This club are capable of it.  They have the facilities, they have the numbers and if they get the right people in place, they can do it.

“Put it like this, if they can’t do it, there’s no hope for the rest of us.  Naomh Éanna have something a lot of other places don’t, numbers.  Look at Glenrgormley, a big suburban town.  They have and I’m not 100% sure on this but I think they’ve the biggest numbers of membership for any club in Ulster.  They have to grow for the good of Antrim hurling.  Antrim need more teams at the top table.”

Managers View – Aidan Delargy, Carey Faughs

Seven down with eight minutes remaining, it looked like Carey’s game was up.  The men from Ballyvoy thought different.  A stirring comeback but time wasn’t the friend of the Faughs.  A valiant effort where they threw everything at Naomh Éanna, including the kitchen sink but they came up short.

Saturday was the sixth final Carey have been beaten in and none probably harder to take.  Team manager Aidan Delargy cast a frustrated figure when we spoke with him: “Gutted in the result but hugely proud in how they fought to the bitter end.  I only ask they give 100%, that’s all I ask.  On another day it could have been different.”

Two of the three Naomh Éanna goals couldn’t have come at a better time for the Hightown Road side.  During the second half, the Faughs threatened to reel in their opponents and Philly Curran found the net.  Pivotal moments, especially the third which gave Naomh Éanna an unassailable lead: “They got the goals at the right times for them but I always said that if they concede to make sure and get the next score and we done that.  We fought back every time.”

The introduction of Martin Hunter and Daniel Martin gave Carey more threat in attack and it left Carey wondering what if.  What if they had made those changes earlier but it’s a conundrum for any manager at any grade, make the change or give those selected the chance to come good.  Delargy was happy with the impact his changes made but less so with the referee on Saturday in relation to a big penalty call in the second half: “They reacted well and the boys came on and done well.  They trained hard but everyone trained hard so I can’t complain about that.

“We’re a bit disappointed in the referee, I felt we should have had a penalty.  That was a big call and I thought they got their frees a bit easier than we did.  There was a couple of times our boys were being held he played on and didn’t bring it back and then he was blowing everything for them but that’s for another day.

It was a superb comeback full of desire and heart but ultimately the Faughs fell short.  Cushendall native Delargy was proud of his players when he concluded: “We wanted to just concentrate on ourselves no matter what they scored.  They’re a great bunch of lads and someday they’ll win this.

“It takes hard work, you’re not gave it.  You have to earn it.”

Naomh Éanna are champions as the Faughs run out of time

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship Final

Naomh Éanna 3-14 Carey Faughs 1-17

Saturday September 28

Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Mhuire, Cushendall

Naomh Éanna’s incredible 2019 continued on Saturday evening as they claimed the Intermediate Hurling Championship for the first time in their history.  But my word they were made to fight every step of the way for their victory.  Carey Faughs, the unlucky bridesmaid’s once again but they had Naomh Éanna begging for the final whistle with the mother of all comebacks.

The Glengormely men opened a seven point deficit when Philip Curran buried his second major of the final.  Eight minutes remaining and life was good for Terrence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton’s side.  Not so.  Carey weren’t for laying down and reduced that Naomh Éanna lead to two points going into injury time.  They looked for all the world to be reeling the Hightown Road side in but somehow, Naomh Éanna saw the three minutes of injury time out.  The final score of the match fittingly going to John McGoldrick, the Naomh Éanna man put on an exhibition from placed ball over the hour with 1-9 and a man of the match performance.

Mark Donaghy at centre half, returning to his home turf excelled as did Cormac Ross and Killian Jennings while Philip Curran’s two majors was a just reward for his tireless efforts on the day.  Connor McBride top scored for the Faughs with seven of his nine points coming from frees while Cathal McAuley’s early goal gave them the dream start.  The contribution off the bench was vital for the Ballyvoy men with Daniel Martin and Martin Hunter splitting four points evenly in what looked like match turning cameo’s off the bench while Patrick Gillen grew in stature as the match progressed.  Peadar McVeigh put in a truly incredible performance from half back and certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side along with Kevin Murphy in the corner but Naomh Éanna weren’t to be denied adding the championship crown to their league promotion gained earlier this season.

Both sides hit the ground running from the first whistle and while the scores weren’t exactly flowing, Naomh Éanna and Carey played with super intensity and tackled ferociously in the opening exchanges.  Philip Curran with the opening point and Cathal McAuley following suit soon after for the Faughs but they soon changed a solid start to the dream opening when they scored the opening goal of the match in the third minute.  James McCouig sending the sliotar the way of Peader McVeigh from a quick free but his effort from distance dropped short.  Martin Curran in goals for Naomh Éanna couldn’t control the dropping ball and McAuley took full advantage.  Hammering the loose sliotar to the back of the net. 

The Naomh Éanna response was emphatic.  Keeping the Faughs scoreless for eight minutes, they scored 1-4 themselves to retake the lead and take control of the final.  Incredibly, all the scores coming from the hurl of McGoldrick.  Three frees and one point from play before scoring the major in the 13th minute, McGoldrick finishing after a superb move involving Philip Curran and Manus Mullan.

Carey replied with a brace of frees from Connor McBride before McGoldrick did the same for his side.  Carey edged the closing stages of the half with James Black and Connor McBride firing over brilliant scores either side of Eddie O’Connor’s 29th minute point to leave the Glengormley side 1-8 to 1-5 ahead at the short whistle.

The half time score was a fair reflection of the action in the first half with Naomh Éanna’s scoring burst effectively the difference.  The Hightown Road side came out of the changing rooms on fire though with McGoldrick (’65) opening the scoring and Philip Curran landing his first of two second half goals.  Manus Mullan once again in the thick of the build-up as Naomh Éanna opened a seven point lead just three minutes into the second half.

Carey needed a response and they hit back immediately.  Connor McBride (free) and Sean McLoughlin splitting the uprights before McAuley took his tally to 1-2 with a superb side line in the 37th minute.

Edward O’Connor doubled his own tally to briefly halt the Carey charge before Ruairi Donaghy opened a six point lead moments later.  Connor McBride and McGoldrick swapped frees before Carey turned the screw once again.  Connor McBride (free) and two points from substitute Daniel Martin bringing the Faughs to within a green flag with ten minutes of the match remaining.

It was now Naomh Éanna who needed a response and they did so with match defining fashion.  Matthew O’Hare first splitting the posts before Philip Curran emphatically scored his second and Naomh Éanna’s third major of the final.  Killian Jennings this time turning provider, escaping the presence of Kevin Murphy for one of the few times during the final, Jennings passed to Curran unselfishly and he applied the finish to open a seven point lead with eight minutes remaining.

Just like their semi-final win over Sarsfields, the Faughs showed incredible spirit in the time that remained.  They were denied what looked like a penalty when Rocket was dragged down but in Connor McBride they had a man possessed with a sole purpose of dragging his side back into the final.  Another brace of points (one free) preceded two superb points from substitute Martin Hunter and Carey looked like they could possibly pull of an incredible comeback.  Connor McBride’s seventh free of the night brought them to within two points in the last minute of normal time but time wasn’t the friend of the men from Ballyvoy.  Naomh Éanna seemed to all but seal their maiden Intermediate crown with a free in the second minute of injury time and they saw out the little time that remained.

A breath-taking ending to a pulsating championship final and a fine advert for hurling within our county.  Naomh Éanna’s stock within the game continues to grow as they add the Intermediate hurling championship to the football crown they won 12 months ago.  They’ll be playing at the top table in both big ball and stick codes in 2020 but for now their thoughts will turn to an Ulster campaign where they will meet the winners of the Derry championship between Banagher and Swatragh (final 29th September) on Sunday October 13.

TEAMS

Naomh Éanna: Martin Curran; Niall O’Connor, Rian Gillen, Ruairi Diamond; Cormac Ross, Mark Donaghy, Joe Maskey; Ryan Bogue, Ruairi Donaghy; Philip Curran, Manus Mullan, Edward O’Connor; John McGoldrick, Matthew O’Hare, Killian Jennings.

Subs: Ruairi Crummey for E O’Connor (54); Cormac Jennings for K Jennings (inj); Michael McGivern for R Diamond (inj).

Scorers: John McGoldrick 1-9 (7 f’s, 1 ’65); Philip Curran 2-1; Edward O’Connor 0-2; Ruairi Donaghy 0-1; Matthew O’Hare 0-1.

Carey: Chris Butler; Kevin Murphy, Sean McBride, Patrick Gillen; Michael McVeigh, James McCouaig, Peader McVeigh; Colm McBride, Sean McLoughlin; Caolan McCaughan, John McBride, James Black; Fiachra McVeigh, Cathal McAuley, Connor McBride.

Subs: Daniel Martin for J McBride (41); Conaire Butler for F McVeigh (42); Nat Hunter for S McLoughlin (48); Martin Hunter for C McAuley (50).

Scorers: Connor McBride 0-9 (7 f’s); Cathal McAuley 1-2; Daniel Martin 0-2; Martin Hunter 0-2; James Black 0-1; Sean McLoughlin 0-1.

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)