Loaf’s late point throws Emmets a lifeline

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship

Tir na nÓg, Randalstown  2-14 Cushenun Emmet’s 1-17

An injury time point from a free by Cushendun full forward Conlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill threw his team a lifeline in this season’s Intermediate Hurling Championship and left their hosts Tir na nOg in a very precarious position after Saturday thrilling draw at Whitehill.

Trailing by a point going into added time the Emmet’s chances were hanging by a thread, when they were awarded a free sixty metres from the Tir na nOg goal, out near the sideline. The position was clear, miss it and the season was over for the seasiders, score it and they were still in with a chance. Loaf hadn’t missed a fee all day, but the pressure was on this time, but cometh the hour, cometh the man and the big full forward stepped up to send the ball between the posts, and if the can beat bottom of the table Gort na Móna in their final game in two weeks’ time then a semi-final spot is theirs.

This was a real championship battle with the lead switching back and forth during the hour. Early points from David Kilgore and Conrad McDonnell got Cushendun off to a good start, but the home side hit back with a point from Emmet Og McAllister and a Niall Devlin goal to go two ahead themselves. The gap remained the same as two Sean Duffin points from frees for Tir na nÓg were answered by points from McNeill and Jack McKay, but the Emmet’s were getting on top and four in a row from Loaf and one from Harry Kilgore swung the game in their favour and put them three clear.

Sean Duffin sent over two more frees for the Randalstown men, but a Conrad McDonnell point from play gave Cushendun a two point lead at the break. (1-5 to 0-10)

Tir na nÓg’s Conor McCamphill fired over early in the second half to leave just a point between the sides, and though McNeill pointed a 65 soon afterwards to restore the two point cushion, a Dairi Fagan goal for the Whitehill men put them ahead, and when Sean Duffin added a point from play the hosts were two clear. McNeill reduced the gap to a point on 36 minutes and two minutes later David Kilgore finished off a great move, involving his brother Harry and Conor McHugh, with a brilliant goal.

Another McNeill point from a free and the visitors were three clear and for a spell it looked like they were gaining a bit of control, but that all changed very quickly when Sean Duffin fired over two frees for the home team, but another David Kilgore point eased the pressure a little on the Emmet’s. A Sean Duffin point from a 65 and one from play by Aaron McNeilly brought the sides level going down the home stretch, and though Calum Kilgore got Cushendun back ahead, Duffin again found the target from a free to level it all up again.

When Pearse Bannon got the visitors back ahead on 57 minutes things were looking good for them, but two more points by Sean Duffin swung the game back in Tir na nOg’s favour in injury time. The Emmet’s hope were hanging by a thread, but when the last chance presented itself on 63 minutes Loaf showed his class to land the equaliser and give them a great chance of making the semi-finals.  


Kevin Sheerin, Manus Smyth, Christy Sheerin, Brandon McLarnon, Donal Martin, Caoimhin Duffin, Ciaran O’Neill, Conor McCamphill, Aaron McNeilly, Darragh Fagan, Sean Duffin, Eamon Og McAlister, Niall Devlin, Colum Duffin, Kevin McCann


Gareth McGhee, Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbitt, Cavan McCormick, Tom Scally, Donal O’Hara, Jack McKay, Oisin McMahon, Matthew McCartin, David Kilgore, Harry Kilgore, Conor McHugh, John V Morgan, Conlaoth McNeill, Conrad McDonnell.

Subs Pearse Bannon for John V Morgan (inj); Calum Kilgore for Oisin McMahon; Conor Burns for Cavan McCormick

Sarsfield’s too good for the Kickham’s

 Andersonstown SC IHC Group 1


Report: Joe Rice

Photographs: Brian McKee

Sarsfield’s moved into second place in the Andersonstown SC Group 1 following this comprehensive victory over Kickham’s Creggan at their Staffordstown Road ground on Friday night. In what looked like a hard one to call prior to the game turned into a route for the side from the Bear Pit. Creggan were in front for the first 3 minutes then it was downhill for the home side all the way.  Sarsfield came back strongly to lead by 8 points at half time and finished the match 19 points to the good.

 Conditions were not great for a game of hurling as the light faded and referee, Paddy Tumelty, was keen to get the game underway.  Morgan Nelson had the home side one point up within the first minute and his team mate, Keelan McCann, added a second point 3 minutes later and things were looking good for the home side

Paddies’ reply was immediate with Mark Rea raising a green flag from close range to rapturous applause from the visitors’ supporters but  Creggan’s sharp shooter McCann rteplied from a free to leave it all square with 6 minutes gone. 

Niall McKenna got his first of the evening for the visitors putting them one up and the big full-forward was to have a massive influence on proceedings and from this point Sarsfields never looked back. 

McKenna added 2 more points by the 11th minute while Enda McCartan got his name on the score board.   The visitors were starting to take control and Gary Lennon further increased their lead with 2 points without reply.

As the contest became more and more physical, Referee, Paddy Tumelty, had his work cut out and dismissed a Sarsfields player in the 15th minutes as Tiernan McLarnon pointed for the home side to reduce the deficit to one score. 

McCann then converted a free – Creggan’s last score of the half with 23 minutes gone as they struggled to get back into the game but although they had several goal opportunities they just couldn’t find the net. 

Sarsfield’s were now in the driving seat and added 3 further pointed frees from Niall McKenna and 2 points each from Daniel and Caolan McKernan to give the visitors a comfortable 8 point lead at half time.

HALF TIME SCORE:                         CREGGAN 1.05 v SARSFIELDS 1.13

With their heads down Creggan headed for the changing room as the management considered their options.  When they re-emerged they didn’t look comfortable or confident given the energy, hunger and speed of the visitors. 

With an 8 point lead Sarsfield’s could throw caution to the wind and attacked at will which they did.  As Creggan pushed forward looking for goals they were turned over or impeded as the visitors could afford to leak the odd point. 

Oran McCann converted the first free of the second half, although with hindsight, the best option might have been to put the ball in low because points were not going to decide this encounter. 

The visitors’ goalkeeper, Anoise O Faolain, long puck-outs, were making the distance playing havoc with Creggan’s backline and  Niall McKenna and Mark Rea added to their goal tally 3 minutes apart. 

With Creggan on the ropes and the visitors relaxed they continued to score at will – 2 further converted frees from Niall McKenna and the first point for Kevin McKernan.  At this stage the game should have been over, and most likely was, but Creggan threw everything they had at the visitors looking for goals but when they were reduced to 13 men the wheel had most definitely come off their wagon.   

Creggan brothers, Rory & Keelan McCann, attempted to break through a resolute visitor’s defence but it was near impossible as they were hitting a brick wall and being turned over or dispossessed. 

Mccann converted two further frees 2 at 45 minute mark but the  Paddies’ response was immediate – Gary Lennon raising the green flag and Mark Rea completing an impressive hat-trick.

As it reached the last quarter, Niall McKenna turned on the style, adding 4 further points to his tally, nearly all from distance, and some at almost impossible angles and  Kevin McKernan dropped his second point after the sliotar disappeared high into the clouds. 

Creggan’s Oran McCann scored the last of his 4 frees of the second half while Brendan Jackson’s point increased the visitors’ tally.  As the match entered into injury time, the penny seemed to have dropped with Creggan as one of their very few passes to the full forward line resulted in the last score of the game – a goal for Kevin Rice – too little too late.

Creggan: 1 Brendan Prenter, 2 Aidan Maguire, 3 Thomas McCann, 4 Jake McAteer, 5 Aidan McKeown, 6 Liam McCann, 7 Tiernan McLarnon (0.01), 8 Keelan McCann (0.01), 9 Rory McCann,10 Morgan Nelson (1.01), 11 Oran McCann (0.07- frees), 12. Cormacc Rice, 13 Dermot Mulholland, 14 Kevin Rice (1.00), 15 Declan McCann, 17 Donal Carey, 18 Dermot Carey, 19 Niall McAuley, 20 Michael Maguire, 22 Aaron Hughes, 23 Michael Carey Snall,  24 Owen Grant 25 Darren O’Hara, 26 Callum McCann, 27 Brendan Maguire, 28 James Joseph Smyth.

O’Cairealain goal swings it the way of St. Paul’s

Andersonstown SC Antrim IHC, Group Two

Gort Na Móna 0-15 St Paul’s 1-18

A Cairbre O’Cairealain goal late in the contest swung this game the way of the visitors as St. Paul’s recorded their first win in Group 2 of the Andersonstown SC IHC at the third attempt when they defeated Gort na Mona at Enright Park on Sunday but with only one game left-at home to Cloney Gaels-qualification for the quarter-finals looks a difficult ask.

Stephen Rooney got them on their way with a pointed free but Dessie McClean replied from another free for the home side to square the contest as the hits went in early in the game.

St Paul’s took the lead again with points from Caolan Duffin, and Anthony Gallagher before Cairbre O Caireallain pointed twice from frees to put the Shaw’s Road side into a four point lead. St. Paul’s extended that lead to five midway through the opening half and at this stage looked in total control.

Gort na Mona were finding the posts a difficult target as they struck a number of wides before Dessie McClean got their second point in the 23d minute and the same player pointed two frees in quick succession to cut the deficit to three points.

Back came the visitors with points from Conall Finnegan and a fine long range effort from Frankie Sewell to re-establish control and Anthony Gallagher added another as St. Paul’s continued to dominate the exchanges but Gort na Mona kept in touch with Darren Boyd and McClean to the fore and at half time only four points separated the protagonists.

Dessie McClean got the Turf Lodge side off to a good start when he pointed on the restart and substitute Patrick McCaffrey followed with two more to bring the sides level and suddenly we had a game on our hands.

McCaffrey thought he’d put his side into the lead for the first time but his effort from 30 yards was ruled wide after consultation with the umpires.

Things were really starting to heat up and referee Colm McDonald was a busy man trying to keep a lid on matters and Dessie McClean looked certain to give the home side the lead but was denied by an excellent hook by Marcas Munce as the game moved into the closing ten minutes.

It still looked anybody’s game at this stage but St. Paul’s struck a decisive blow from the resulting counter attack with Cairbre O’Caireallain getting on the end of a fluent movement before sending his shot to the net and put his side back into the lead.

Gort na Mona looked stunned and before they could recover St. Paul’s top scorer on the day, Cairbre O Cairealain added a point and Marcas Munce followed with another after a strong solo run out of defence to put the game out of reach of the Turf Lodge men.

James Connolly and Desmond McClean replied for Gort na Mona but two O Cairealain frees sealed the game for the away side who must beat Ahoghill in their last game and hope results elsewhere in the group go in their favour if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals.

GORT NA MÓNA: N Healy, L Dixon, C Devlin, J Connolly, P Courmane, P McHugh, T Morton, D Hughes 0-2, N Henry, A McDonagh, G McKenna, D Boyd 0-3, D McClean 0-8 (5 frees), C McCann, M MacMaolain,

Subs: C Healy, D Dixon, N McGivern, R Coleman, P McCaffrey 0-2,

ST PAUL’S: K Murray, M Munce 0-1, F Gamble, C Gallagher, F Sewell 0-2, S Rooney 0-3 (0-3 Free), T Auld, C Finnegan 0-1, C O’Carroll 0-1, C Duffin 0-1, A Gallagher 0-1, Cairbre O Caireallain 1-8 (0-5 Frees), S Munce, S Mac Corraidh, T Duff

Subs: N Martin, P Og Donnelly, C Gamble, A Grego

REFEREE: Mark McDonald (St Gall’s)

Twin threat seals victory for Cloney Gaels

Andersonstown SC IHC Group 2

Cloney Gaels 4-15 Tir na nOg 0-18

The twin threat of the O’Connell brothers, James and PJ and a helping hand from big brother Boris were vital factors in this 9 point win for Cloney Gaels over visitors Tir na nOg in the Andersonstown SC IHC Group 2 in Ahoghill today.

In a tough and physical game of championship hurling where no quarter was asked or given it was the two man full-forward line of the O’Connell’s who provided that extra bit of class and scoring power to see the Cloney side through with a bit to spare.

James O’Connell got the Gaels on their way when he pointed a 70 meter free in the opening minute and PJ O’Connell followed from another much closer to goal before Tir na nOg’s ace marksman, Sean Duffin replied with a point from play with only four minutes gone.

The home side were edging the opening exchanges and Patrick and Donal Graham extended their lead to three by the 11th minute but a Sean Duffin point from play and another from a free closed the gap to the minimum once more by the 13th minute.

It was typical championship hurling with space at a premium and the challenges coming in hard and fast as James O’Connell moved the home side two ahead again but once again Sean Duffin responded for the visitors and Eamon Og McAllister followed with another to leave it 0-5 apiece after 16 minutes.

Duffin edged the visitors ahead for the first time in the 21st minute and increased that lead to two from another free with four minutes remaining to the break and the Whitehill side looked to be gaining control but once again the Cloney side found a response.

James O’Connell pointed a couple of late frees and PJ O’Connell struck a great point from play to give them the lead once more but the home side had their keeper, Aiden Graham to thank as he pulled off a courageous blocking save to deny Sean Duffin what looked a certain goal with Duffin pointing the resulting ‘65’ in the last piece of action of the opening half to leave it all square.

The visitors wasted a couple of chances to move ahead as the second half action got underway before James O’Connell sent over a fine point from near the sideline to restore the Cloney Gaels’ lead in the 4th minute.

The home side had started on the front foot and a great move involving several players saw Donal Graham race clear for the game’s opening goal as the Tir na nOg defence was split open and it was to prove a turning point in the game.

Three minutes later PJ O’Connell looked in trouble but released an astute hand pass to Neill O’Connell who found himself in space and ‘Boris’  fired past Kevin Sheerin for his side’s second major and got himself booked in the over exuberant celebration that followed.

The balance of play had swung very much in favour of the Ahoghill men as Sean Duffin finally opened Tir na nOg’s second half account from a pointed free and he added another from play in the 10th minute to reduce the home side’s lead to five.

Ronan Graham replied for the Ahoghill men before Colum Duffin came back with a similar score at the other end and it was to provide a pattern for a time with Sean Duffin for the visitors and Ronan Graham for Cloney Gaels exchanging further points to keep the gap at six after 19 minutes.

Sean Duffin and James O’Connell exchanged further minors before Aaron McNeilly and Duffin again pointed for the Whitehill side to close the gap to four as they battled to get back into contention but an unbelievable piece of individual magic by PJ O’Connell put paid to that notion.

O’Connell robbed Manus Smith as he attempted to gather the sliotar before cutting along the bye line and firing past Kevin Sheerin from an almost impossible angle in the 28th minute.

A minute later PJ turned provider as he robbed keeper Sheerin and sent the ball across the square where Ronan Graham gratefully bundled the sliotar to the net and finished in the net himself.

There was still a couple of minute to play and Tir na nOg went looking for the goal that might resurrect their challenge but the Cloney defence stood firm as they repelled everything that came their way with that man Duffin having to settle for a late consolation point.

This win moves Cloney Gaels above today’s opponents on score difference but the Whitehill side have played a game more. The Gaels travel to Gort na Mona on the 2nd September and finish with an away game at St. Paul’s while Tir na nOg’s might need something from their final game at home to  Robert Emmet’s on the 3d September to secure a qualification place.

Cloney Gaels: 1 Aiden Graham, 19 Stephen O’Connell, 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’Connnell, 14 Donal Graham, 15 James O’Connell. Subs: Harry O’Donnell for Fionnbar O’Neill, Colla McDonnell

Tir na nOg: 1 Kevin Sheerin, 2 Tony Martin, 3 Daniel Martin, 4 Brandon McLarnon, 5 Ciaran O’Neill, 6 Caoimhin Duffin, 7 Manus Smith, 8 Aaron McNeilly, 9 Connor McCamphill, 10 Eamon Og McAllister, 11 Christy Sheerin, 12 Sean Duffin, 13 Kevin McCann, 14 Colum Duffin, 15 Josh Higgins. Subs: Niall Devlin for Josh Higgins.

Referee: Darren McKeown (St. Gall’s)

Biddies battle back to secure the win

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship – Group 2

Saturday 20th August

Report by Niall Kelly 

Naomh Bríd Cloughmills 2-20         Lámh Dhearg 3-09

A game of two halves. A cliché often cited in Championship season but this tussle between Cloughmills and Lámh Dhearg proved to be the perfect illustration of such a game. Cloughmills Bainisteoir Joe Baldwin must’ve imparted some words of wisdom on his charges at the interval. Trailing by five at half time, the hosts found their bearings in the second thirty and managed to transform their wayward shooting into scores as they were a much more potent and dynamic attacking unit in the business end of proceedings. Their Belfast counterparts were the epitome of efficiency in the first half and utilised the stiff breeze at their backs perfectly. Two emphatic finishes to the net from target man Conal McGuigan ensured that the Biddies would face an uphill battle in the second. A battle that they were more than up for. Michael Devlin and Stephen Smyth played integral roles in blazing the trail for the comeback with both men top scoring for their side with seven points a-piece.

The Hannahstown outfit got the scoring underway and punished the spurned chances their hosts were guilty of wasting. The Red Hands were 0-04 0-01 up in the first ten minutes thanks to some pinpoint striking from their talisman Odhran Waldron. Cloughmills in desperate need of scores managed to respond through points from Liam Kearns and Michael Devlin. Waldron was on hand yet again to increase the lead before midfielder Ciaran Boyd guided a threading ball to Conal McGuigan who unleashed an unstoppable drive into the helpless McKernan’s net.

Cloughmills responded admirably though and two excellently taken points from James Doherty and one from a placed ball from Liam Kearns reduced the lead to two once more before disaster struck yet again on the 29th minute. It was a familiar foe who inflicted the damage to the Cloughmills defence as yet again Conal McGuigan latched on to another high ball on with a superb fetch and drilled the ball home in an almost identical fashion to his first. Waldron and Stephen Smyth exchanged scores in injury time to leave the scores 0-07 to 2-06 in favour of the visitors at the short whistle.

The hosts were to come racing out of the traps in what set the tone for their tempo and determination for the remainder of the game. On the fortieth minute, they had successfully chipped away at the deficit and Stephen Smyth levelled proceedings after scores from Aaron Smiley (2) and Michael Devlin (2.) The men in red and white were somewhat shell-shocked at the ferocity and pace of the Cloughmills attack but responded well when that man Odhran Waldron pointed yet again before Ciaran Boyd split the posts from range with a well-deserved point on the 44th minute. 

Cloughmills though were unperturbed and sought about going about their business in front of goal again. Two monster scores from opposite flanks from ‘Micky D’ and Eoin Dobbin drew the sides level yet again before the former sent over a sixty-five to take the lead for the first time in the game to a raucous roar of appreciation from the home faithful. It was a lead that the hosts refused to relinquish as they turned on the style for the remaining ten minutes. Stephen Smyth was wreaking havoc in the visitor’s defence. His trickery and pace were too much to handle and after firing over a superb score from over his shoulder, he then essentially sounded the death knell for Lámh Dhearg as he rifled home from close range following a storming run from Liam Kearns.

The scores kept coming as Kearns, Devlin and Smyth increased their personal tallies before Corey Blair put the icing on the cake after finishing a flowing move and a nonchalant disguised pass from Rian Dobbin. With the gap ten points as the game approached added time, the visitors had no other option but to revert back to a tactic that served them so well in the first half, as they launched the high ball into the square again to see what would stick. It’s not often a man can score a hat-trick and end up on the losing side but that is exactly what Conal McGuigan experienced in this one as he was on hand yet again in the dying moments to prod home among a melee of bodies. It would prove only to be a consolation and perhaps rather fittingly, Michael Devlin finished the scoring on the stroke of full-time with another expertly despatched free from range.

Both camps will have positives to take from today. For Cloughmills, they displayed a super resiliency and fighting spirit in order to take the two points from a perilous position. Although Lámh Dhearg will no doubt be somewhat disheartened with their second-half performance, they proved what a threat they can be in the first and made life very difficult for their hosts with solid performances across the pitch. Group Two of the Junior Hurling Championship is now beginning to take shape with Cloughmills atop of the pile on four points, followed closely by Glenarm. The next round of fixtures will certainly be an intriguing prospect with the top two and bottom two facing off.


Naomh Bríd Cloughmills

C McKernan; M Dobbin, S McKendry, R Watt; J Duffin, C Laverty, A Smiley (0-02;) R Laverty, G Óg Laverty; J Doherty (0-03,) M Devlin (0-07,) E Dobbin (0-01;) C Blair (1-00,)  L Kearns (0-03,) S Smyth (1-04)

Lámh Dhearg

R McClennigan; M McGuigan, J Brady, T McKenna; S.P Gibson, P Mervyn, F Mervyn; A McGuigan, C Boyd (0-01;) D Murray, O Waldron (0-07,) N McGarry (0-01;) A Ferris, P Fitzsimmons, C McGuigan (3-00)