Tir na nÓg reach the promised land

Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-Final

Tír na nÓg: 2.16 (22) Glenariffe: 2.14 (20)

By Aimee McAtamney

Tír na nÓg hurlers reached the Intermediate Hurling Final, after a nail biting encounter with Oisin’s Glenariffe at Loughgiel on Saturday. A game that was drawn 7 times throughout sixty plus minutes served up everything for the couple of hundred spectators present. Despite being three points down at the second water break, Tír na nÓg found another gear to clinch a well deserved and long over due, two point win which sets them up for a clash with South West neighbours Cloney Gaels next weekend

 It took both teams a number of minutes to settle with Tír na nÓg striking two wides and Oisin’s hitting four but after three minutes, the blues were the first to settle their nerves when Daniel Martin set Eamon Óg McAllister off on a run. The talented forward only had one thing on his mind, and he cut through the Oisins defence to find the back of the net and get his side off to the best possible start.

With both teams evenly matched throughout the pitch much of the play was balanced, Seamus McDonnell finally broke the deadlock for Glenariffe and got their first score from play. Man of the match Caoimhin Duffin who controlled matters from the very beginning, inspired his team with a huge score from centre half back before younger brother and top scorer Seán was fouled and got his first of 14 scores of the evening.

Glenariffe were now about to hit their purple patch. With pin point accuracy Kieran McKendry, Conor Patterson and Shane O’Connor were playing delightful balls into their full forward line, and the Oisin’s took full advantage. Firstly, Paul McDonnell stole the ball of the Tír na nÓg defence, he rounded his defender and found the top corner of the net. Dancing around the defence it was the turn of Caolan O’Connor, two minutes later. He was unfortunate to be denied by Kevin Sheerin who was at full stretch to stop his effort. Before the first water break Alex O’Boyle (1) and Sean Duffin (2) traded frees and Kieran McKendry, who was influencing the game, also pointed to leave the margin at 1 after 15 minutes.

Before half time both teams would score a major, with the clock running onto 38 minutes still only one point separated two evenly matched sides. Sean Duffin showed composure all evening even when he was fouled himself, he was capable of resetting and splitting the posts. Inside danger man Caolan O’Connor had the Tír na nÓg defence in turmoil on occasions after 20 minutes he pointed. A foul on Ciaran McKeown who was contributing to attack after attack for Tír na nÓg, gave Seán Duffin another opportunity to point. The next 60 seconds brought a different intensity to the game. Alex O’Boyle won a ball on the sideline, he ran direct and burned off his man to beat the keeper on his near post. This put Oisin’s one point in front, but the lead was short lived, as from the immediate puck out Colm Duffin broke the ball into the path of Niall Devlin who pulled on the spilled ball to find the back of the Oisins net. Kevin Sheerin was called upon again when Paul McDonnell’s effort ricocheted off his shoulder over the bar. With the game in the balance again, Conor Kerr helped his side take the lead with a point from play before Seán Duffin hit his sixth score if the game. Before the short whistle Ciaran Logan got the score of the half from wide on the sideline, to give Tír na nÓg a one point advantage at half time in an exciting 38 minutes of hurling.

The Oisin’s started much stronger at the beginning of the second half with scores from Seamus McDonnell and Alex O’Boyle, but Tír na nÓg introduced their captain Ryan O’Neill to the fray and it was clear to see his immediate impact. With only 5 minutes played in the second half Sean Duffin opted to go low with a 20m free, but Oisin’s full back Randal McDonnell dealt easily with this shot. Duffin made amends moments later when he converted yet another free but Alex O’Boyle then swung the advantage back in Glenariffe’s favour with a free and a 65′ finding the target. Substitute Dan McKillop also had an immediate impact, with a point from play which helped his side take the largest margin in the game to three points.

Before the second water break Duffin and Seamus McDonnell exchanged  point and when play resumed sharp shooter Duffin pointed again after a free on brother Caoimhin. Substitute Kevin Kerr was involved in the next play for the blues when he won a high ball, and passed it out to Colm Duffin who handed the ball to brother Seán to cut the deficit to the minimum once again. Paul McMullan was having a great game between the sticks for the Oisins and when he was called upon on the 52nd minute he made no mistake and pulled off a great save from Sean Duffin’s shot

 With his team 2 points down Seán Duffin took the game by the scruff of the neck as he scored a point from play, one from a free and then produced the score of the game, a sideline cut from 35 metres out to put his side in the lead, a lead they held until the end. Glenariffe pressed hard to try and salvage the game, but Tír na nÓg defence stood firm through Tony Martin, Daniel Martin and Christy Sheerin who won two frees out in the dying minutes, one of which Duffin converted from within his own half. The Randalsown fans were calling for the final whistle as the game went over 70 minutes but to their relief the long awaited whistle came and Tír na nÓg were in their first Intermediate final.

Tír na nÓg now face local rivals Clooney Gaels Ahoghill in the Intermediate Championship next Saturday.

Tír na nÓg

1. K.Sheerin 2. T. Martin 3. C. Sheerin 4. D. Martin 5. C. Fitzgerald 6. C. Duffin 7. C. O’Neill 8. A. McNeilly 9. C. McKeown 10. E. Óg McAllister 11. C. Logan 12. S. Duffin 13. N. Devlin 14. C. Duffin 15. S. McKinley 17. R. O’Neill 18. O. McAtamney 19. D. Fagan 20. D. Mallon 21. S. Carey 22. P. Sheerin 23. E. Martin 24. S. Donnelly 25. K. Kerr Subs: R. O’Neill for C. Fitzgerald, S. Donnelly for S. McKinley Scorers: E. Óg McAllister (1.0), Caoimhin Duffin (0.1), S. Duffin (0.14- 11 frees), N. Devlin (1.0), C. Logan (0.1)

Glenariffe

1. P. McMullan 2. M. Haughey 3. R. McDonnell 4. C. McToal 5. N. Murray 6. C. R Patterson 7. D. O’ Boyle 8. S. O’ Connor 9. K. McKendry 10. S. McDonnell 11. C. Kerr 12. A. Cosgrove 13. C. O’Connor 14. P. McDonnell 15. A. O’Boyle 16. S. McToal 17. M. McAllister 18. A. McDonnell 19. D. McKillop 20. M. O’Boyle 21. P. Burns 22. D. Haughey 23. O. Kearney 24. K. McDonnell Subs: D. McKillop for C. Kerr, K. McDonnell for S. McDonnell, M. O’Boyle Scorers: S. McDonnell (0.4), P. McDonnell (1.1), A. O’Boyle (1.4- 2 frees/1 65′), K. McKendry (0.1), C. O’Connor (0.1), C. Kerr (0.1), D. McKillop (0.2)

Hard to call in the Intermediate semi-finals

Andersonstown Soical Club Intermediate Hurling Championship

Carey, Cloney Gaels, Tir na nÓg and Oisins bid for a place in the final of the Intermediate Hurling Championship tomorrow at Dunsilly and Loughgiel in what is traditionally the most competitive championship of all in Antrim. The Senior Champions can lay claim to that honour this year but the Intermediate one is always hard to call.

Oisins and Tir na nÓg get the action underway at Fr Healy Park at 4pm while fifteen minutes later.

The Faughs take on the Gaels at Dunsilly. Both these teams are unbeaten with two wins out of two in this weird and wonderful three-group set-up. Carey were drawn in the ‘group of death’ along with Creggan and Sarsfield and came through with flying colours, not surprisingly the only qualifier out of Group 1. They travelled to Creggan on the opening day and beat the Kickhans by 2-10 to 0-13 and followed that up with a home win over Sarsfields by 1-16 to 0-14.

Cloney Gaels had too much for the Oisins in their opening game back on August 9th, winning by 1-17 to 0-14 before travelling to Turf Lodge where they beat Gort na Mona two weeks later by just four points on a scoreline of 2-14 to 1-15.

Like all the games in this competition it is hard to call, and with so few games played in the league section it is hard to tell who starts favourites. The Faughs have struggled at times against the Ahoghill men so they will need to match their physicality if they are to book that coveted final place.

Tir na nOg sat out the first day and travelled to Armoy on Day 2 where they won a hard fought battle by 0-16 to 1-10 and they hit the same score in their second game against Cloughmills, beating the Biddies by 0-16 to 1-9.

The Oisins were beaten by six in their opening game away to Cloney Gaels and when their second round opponents Gort na Móna had to isolate because of Covid it appeared that their chance to qualify had gone. Thankfully common sense prevailed and the Gorts were given the time to complete their isolation period and they got back to the action against Cloney Gaels. The Turf lodge men were beaten that day but the irony of if all was that both teams, Gorts and the Oisins, were going into their final game against each other knowing exactly what they had to do to qualify. Gort na Móna needed to win by two points, and Glenariffe by six and when the Belfast men went five up in the first quarter it looked they were set fair to make it through. However the Oisins began to find their feet and they clawed their way back to level at half time. After the break they ran riot and won convincingly in the end to book that final semi-final spot.

They now have to take advantage of that second chance however and that is easier said than done. They face tough opposition in Tir na nÓg, a team they have traditionally struggled against in recent years. Again it is a hard one to call. If the Oisins reproduce the form they produced in that second half against the Gorts they can certainly do it, but the Randalstown men are a different kettle of fish.

Oisins storm their way to semi-finals

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship

Glenariffe claimed the fourth spot in the Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-finals when they came from five points down midway through the first half to beat Gort na Móna by seventeen at Waterfoot on Wednesday evening. Going into the game the permutations were clear. Glenariffe needed to win by six points to edge ahead of Cloughmills while the Gorts needed to win by two, and when the men from Turf Lodge started well and opened up a five point gap they appeared to be on course to claim a semi-final spot against Tir na nÓg next weekend. However the Oisins fought back with a series of good points before the break to end the half on level terms (0-12 to 1-9) and after the change of ends they really hit their stride and boosted by second half goals from Caolan O’Connor, Paul McDonnell and substitute Michael O’Boyle they coasted to victory.

Oisins full forward Paul McDonnell celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal in their IHC win over Gort na Móna

Dessie McLean put Gort na Móna ahead in the opening minute and though Alex O’Boyle levelled for the home side they were struggling to find any early rhythm in their play. The sides were level on two points apiece in five minutes when the Belfast side started to dominate the play and when points from Dessie McLean (2), Darren Boyd and Padraig McHugh were followed by a goal from Barry McFall they were in control. The first half water break brought a little respite for the home team and as is often the case since this extra break in play has been introduce there was a huge momentum swing on the resumption. Suddenly the Oisins were finding their touch and a series of excellent points from Aaron Cosgrove, Nial Murray, Keiran McKendry, Shane O’Connor and Conor Kerr saw them level matters by the time referee Vincent Boyle sounded his half time whistle (0-12 to 1-9)

When Dessie McLean restored the Gorts lead inside thirty seconds of the restart there was renewed hope for his team, but incredibly they would only score one more point from then until the end. The Oisins levelled with a pointed free from Alex O’Boyle before substitute Dan McKillop gave them back a lead they were never to lose. Kieran McKendry put two between the sides, and though Dessie McLean closed the gap to just one in the 36th minute, that was to be the last time the visitors would trouble the scoreboard operator.  A goal from Caolan O’Connor was followed by four points from Paul McDonnell, Niall Murray, Alex O’Boyle and Kieran McKendry to put them in command, and when full forward Paul McDonnell grabbed his team’s second goal the only thing in question was the size of the winning margin. In the run-in the Oisins added a bit of gloss to the scoreline with some excellent points, and when substitute Michael O’Boyle (on for his older brother Alex) capped his cameo appearance with a third goal the Oisins fans went home happy.

Victory for Creggan but no winners at the Bear Pit

Andersonstown SC IHC Group 1

Sarsfields 2-22 Creggan 4-17

Report and Pics: Joe Rice

Creggan secured victory at the Bear Pit but there were no winners as the Loughshore side went into this game needing to win by 2 points and the Paddies by a few more.  In the dying seconds Creggan seemed to have got over the line but a Niall McKenna 20-metre free that sailed low into Emmet Long’s net put paid to their chances.   The visitors, 1-point ahead, needed 2 points to secure progress in the Championship but they just couldn’t manage to break the Paddies’ defence.

Sarsfields dominated the first 5 minutes and hit a number of wides wide before Creggan opened the scoring with a fine point from play from Sam Maguire but  Kevin McKernan responded to level proceedings with 8 minutes gone.  Seconds later Kevin Rice broke through to get the first of Creggan’s goals hammering the ball low into the net.  It was all Creggan for the next 7 minutes with Liam McCann registering a point from play and Conor McCann scoring 3 frees in succession.  The Paddies’next score came in the 15th minute with a point from play but Creggan replied with a second goal  when Oran McCann broke through Sarsfield’s defence blasting the ball into the net.  Undeterred, the Paddies scored the next 3 points – 2 from Kevin McKernan and 1 from Niall Carson.   With 10 minutes to go to the short whistle, both teams exchanged scores with Conor McCann adding 3 points, 2 from frees, to his tally while Niall McKernan and Kevin McKernan added 3 points from play and Ryan Carson raised the green flag for the homeside. 

At Half Time, the visitors would have been disappointed to be only 1 point ahead while Sarsfields were only starting to find their form.  At the short whistle, Creggan’s confidence must have grew with Gary Lennon seeing a straight ‘red’ for an off-the-ball incident involving Liam McCann.  McCann did follow Lennon minutes later for a high tackle giving both teams 14 players each for the 2nd Half. 

Sarsfields started the 2nd Half converting a 65 to level things while Creggan took the next 2 scores from play from Conor McCann before Niall McKernan and Ryan Carson levelled proceedings with 38 minutes gone.  The Loughshore side then hit a purple patch with scores from Tiernan McLarnon, a 65 from Conor McCann & a 2nd goal from Rice which saw David Ward, the Paddies’s keeper end in the back of the net.    Sarsfields were beginning to turn the screw however and scored the next 3 points through Ryan Carson, Daniel McKernan and Mark Rea to put the City side in front for the 1st time. 

Conor McCann responded for Creggan converting 2 frees in the 59th and 61st minute to put Creggan 1 point ahead and two minutes later Rice got his 3rd goal and with 7 minutes left to play the visitors looked to be home and dry.  It was not to be however as Sarsfields responded with the next 3 points, 2 from Niall McKenna and 1 from Kevin McKernan to keep the homeside in the game.  Kevin Rice and Oran McCann responded with points for the visitors to leave them leading by 5 points and they appeared to have done enough to qualify but  Sarsfield’s replied with a late goal from a 20-metre free from Niall McKernan who found the right had corner of the Creggan net.  The last score of the game was a point from Kevin Rice to leave the minimum between the teams but not enough to send his side into the next stage of the Championship.

Both sides will look back on this game with regret as both had chances to win it and will reflect on those chances and what might have been. It’s a pity that the highest scoring and best game of the championship couldn’t provide a qualifier but in the strangest of times that’s how it turned out. Referee, Kevin Parks, had a tight grip on the game and apart from the 2 red cards he wasn’t troubled that much.

FINAL SCORE:  Creggan 4.17 – Sarsfields 2.22.

Creggan:  No.1 Emmet Long, No.2 Jake McAteer, No.3 Donal Carey, No.4 Aidan Maguire, No.5 Liam McCann (0.1), No.6 Ciaran Rice, No.7 Ethan Carey Small, No.8 Sam Maguire (0.1), No.9 Thomas McCann (0.1), No.10 Conor McCann (0.10), No.11 Kelan McCann, No.12 Kevin Small, No.13 Tiernan McLarnon (0.1), No.14 Kevin Rice (3.2), No.15 Oran McCann (1.2), No.16 Dermot Carey, No.17 James Carey, No.18 Sean Donnelly, No.19 Ollie Duffin, No.20 Lee Johnston, No.21 Michael Maguire, No.22 James Dougan, No.23 Aran Hughes, No.24 Enda Maguire, No.25 Mark McCann, No.26 Dermot Mulholland, No.27 Danan O’Hara, No.28 Niall McAuley.

Sarsfields: No.1 David Ward, No.2 Declan Laverty, No.3 Malachy Campbell, No.4 Kevin Ward, No.5 Jack Daniels, No.6 C. Caldwell, No.7 Jim McKernan (0.), No.8 Kevin McKernan (0.8), No.10 Daniel McKernan (0.1), No.11 Niall McKernan (1.6), No.12 Daniel McKernan Snr, No.13 Ryan Carson (1.4), No.14 Mark Rea (0.1), No.15 Caolan McKernan (0.1), No.16 Paul Carson, No.17 Gary Lennon, No.18 Aaron Stewart, No.19 David Johnston, No.20 Daragh McGuinness, No.22 Niall McAlea, No.23 Tomas Doherty, No.24 James Cunningham.

Duffin stars at Randalstown go through to semi-finals

Andersontown SC IHC Group 2

Tír na nÓg 0.16 (16) Cloughmills 1.9 (12)

Report by Aimee McAtamney

Pics by Dylan McIlwaine

On a miserable day at Whitehill Tír na nÓg emerged as winners to progress to the semi-final of the Intermediate Hurling Championship after a four point win over St. Brigid’s Cloughmills. On an afternoon dominated with heavy rain showers, Sean Duffin stood out as top scorer whilst his two brothers Caoimhin and early substitute Colm held firm in defence ably assisted by the Martin brothers Tony and Daniel and the Sheerin brothers Kevin and Christy. Michael Devlin did well to revive his side on the 40th minute after scoring a goal from a 21m free when they went one point in front.

Goalkeeper Chris McKiernan looked secure between the sticks and set up many attacks from strong puck outs but he was unlucky to have to leave the field of play after 50 minutes due to an injury. Match referee Darren McKeown had a great game in the middle of the field, playing fair for both teams. Apart from a small mellee prior to the second water break, the game was contested in a strong, honest and hard manner.

Steven Smyth got the first score of the game which came after his midfielders Laverty and Dobbin won the throw in but a Kevin Sheerin’s puck out found Sean Duffin who replied immediately for the home side. One minute later Sean Duffin drove out of full forward to collect a ball near the sideline and clipped it over the bar for his second score of the game before Ciaran Logan added the home sides third point with 10 minutes played.

Aaron Smiley and Michael Devlin hit back with points for the visitors to level the game with a free a piece but Aaron McNeilly edged the home side one point in front approaching the first water break.

Tír na nÓg continued to apply the pressure after the short break and Logan popped over his second score of the game. On a wet afternoon, the frees came frequently, Micky Devlin (1) and Sean Duffin (2) traded scores before Duffin got his fifth score of the game to give the Whitehill men a four point lead at the short whistle.

The same trend continued in the second half where scores from frees played a big part with Duffin getting one for the Blues while Duffin, Kearns and Smiley replied for the Biddies.  Ten minutes into the half, Steven Smyth took the game by the scruff of the neck and ran at the Tír na nÓg defence to spilt the posts and with momentum on their side Michael Devlin eyed up a 21 metre free, with only a point the difference he only had one notion on his mind. Despite five Tír na nÓg men on the line Devlin fired the ball to the back of the net to regain the lead for the Cloughmills men. With the game in the melting pot, Sean Duffin’s accuracy and confidence from play and the dead ball swung the advantage back into the home sides favour when he hit 4 points in a row.

After the water break Kearns converted his second free of the game which kept the visitors within touching distance but substitute Shane Donnelly got the next score after excellent play from Tír na nÓg midfielders McNeilly and McKeown. The score of the game came 10 minutes from the end of play when Colm Duffin broke down a Biddies attack, he switched the ball to Christy Sheerin who handed the ball to Tony Martin. Martin played an accurate ball to Logan’s hand out who pointed his third score of the game. Sean Duffin got his eleventh point of the game after a foul on Eamon Óg McAllister and the final score of the game came from James Doherty whose effort sailed over the bar. After this weekend’s results Tír na nÓg, Ahoghill and Carey now progress to the semi finals with Glenariffe and Gort na Mona to play this Wednesday night to determine whether one of them or Cloughmills take the fourth semi final spot.

Tír na nÓg 1. K.Sheerin 2. T. Martin 3. C. Sheerin 4. D. Martin 5. C. Duffin 6. R. O’Neill 7. C. O’Neill 8. A. McNeilly 9. C. McKeown 10. E. Óg McAllister 11. C. Logan 12. N. Devlin 13. K. Kerr 14. S. Duffin 15. E. Martin 17. C. Fitzgerald 18. C. Duffin 19. S. Donnelly 20. P. Sheerin 21. S. McKinley 22. D. Mallon 23. D. Fagan 24. O. McAtamney Subs: C. Duffin for R. O’Neill, S. Donnelly for E. Martin, S. McKinley for N. Devlin Scorers: S. Duffin (0.11- 7 frees), C. Logan (0.3), A. McNeilly (0.1), S. Donnelly (0.1)

Cloughmills 1. C. McKiernan 2. G. Óg Laverty 3. J. McGuckian 4. S. McKendry 5. A. Smiley 6. M. Morrison 7. S. Martin 8. C. Laverty 9. M. Dobbin 10. M. Devlin 11. R. Laverty 12. J. Doherty 13. E. Dobbin 14. L. Kearns 15. S. Smyth 16. A. Mooney 17. A. McGuckian 18. M. Reid 19. R. Dobbin 20. J. Symth 21. J. Duffin 22. B. Martin 23. D. Morrison Subs: A. Mooney for C. McKiernan, D. Morrison for J. McGuckian Scorers: S. Smyth (0.2), A. Smiley (0.2- 2 frees), M. Devlin (1.2- 1 free), L. Kearns (0.2- 2 frees), J. Doherty (0.1)