Kickham’s seal it in extra time

Andersonstown SC IHC Semi-Final

Kickham’s Creggan 4-24 Cloney Gaels 3-20 A.E.T.

Kickham’s Creggan came from a point down at half time in extra time to hit 8 unanswered points and claim a place in the final of the Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling final after beating Cloney Gaels in an enthralling contest at Whitehill on Sunday.

In a contest that had everything that is good in championship hurling both sides went at it tooth and nail from the first whistle with the lead changing hands several times over an hour and twenty minutes spell binding entertainment.

The Kickham’s led 1-4 to 0-5 at the first water break after Kevin Rice got in for the game’s opening goal after 30 seconds when he got on the end of a tantalising cross from Morgan Nelson. Owen Neeson replied immediately with a point for the Gaels before Oran McCann edged Creggan three in front once more from his first converted free of the afternoon.

With a strong cross-field breeze conditions weren’t ideal for good hurling and Cloney Gaels shot three wides in as many minutes before James O’Connell found his range as he pointed from play and then added another from a free with Ruairi McCann striking one from long distance for the Creggan men.

Things were starting to liven up as Donal Graham closed the gap to the minimum with a point in the 12th minute but Creggan replied immediately as Kevin Rice and Morgan Nelson fired over and PJ O’Connell and Ronan Graham responding for the Ahoghill side by the 16th minute.

Oran McCann then wasted the opportunity to extend the Kickham’s lead as he sent a couple of long range frees wide of the target as play resumed after the first water break before making amends with a good point from play to move his side two ahead but it was Cloney Gaels who found the extra gear in the run in to half time as PJ O’Connell, Owen Neeson and James O’Connell 0-2 moved them one in front by half time with the Creggan response coming from Kevin Rice.

Half Time: Kickham’s 1-6 Cloney Gaels 0-10

Cloney Gaels had the benefit of the elements for the second half and they made a bright start with points from Ronan Graham and Thomas McGlone with Oran McCann replying for the Staffordstown Road side as Sean Duffin replaced Tiarnan McLarnon in the Creggan side.

Oran McCann closed the gap to the minimum from a free in the 8th minute but Cloney Gaels were beginning to get on top and James O’Connell got on the end of an astute through ball to fire to the net in the 9th minute.

Before the celebrations had died down the Kickham’s found a response and acres of space at the other end and Morgan Nelson’s close range shot deflected of Martin Graham’s body and into the net to tie the contest before James O’Connell edged the Ahoghill side ahead again with a point in the 13th minute.

Cloney Gaels were playing some good hurling at this stage but they were opened up once more as Conor McCann got in for Creggan’s third goal and as this titanic struggle continued Owen Neeson and Ronan Graham replied with points and it was level once more at the second water break.

 It was clear that this one was going to go right down to the wire and indeed beyond it as Oran McCann pointed an 18th minute free as the Creggan number 12 continued to punish some undisciplined tackling by the opposition and his free taking would have a telling influence as we reached the business end of proceedings.

Aidan ‘Teddy’ McKeown moved the Staffordstown Road side two in front and the momentum seemed to be swinging the way of the Creggan men but once again Ahoghill found a response through PJ O’Connell and James O’Connell and when substitute Cola McDonnell fired to the Creggan net in the 24th minute the Gaels were one ahead once more.

Points from another Oran McCann free and one from play by Conor McCann left it all square as the clock counted down with the final two chances of normal time falling to the O’Connell brothers, James and PJ but both efforts from distance were just off target as referee Darren McKeown signalled extra time.

The significance of those misses  would come back to haunt Hugh Dobbin’s side but when substitute, Patrick Graham set up James O’Connell for a goal in the 4th minute of extra time to add to points from PJ O’Connell from a superb side-line cut and a Ronan Graham point from play they were soon forgotten.

As the Cloney side tired however they continued to concede silly frees and Oran McCann continued to punish them and two from the Creggan sharp shooter and a goal from Conor McCann in reply to a Patrick Graham point left just one in it as the sides turned for the final time.

Incredibly the Ahoghill men would not score again as Creggan finished with a flurry of points, eight unanswered in all with Oran McCann pointing three frees and adding another from play to bring his personal total for the day to 0-12 and Conor McCann, Sean Duffin and Morgan Nelson all on target as Creggan advance to meet Cathaoir an Ri in the final.

An absolutely splendid game of hurling and at several stages it looked like Cloney Gaels would advance to their second final in succession but Creggan’s persistence and ability to get goals at vital times in the game coupled by Oran McCann’s contribution from frees proved the difference in the end.

Kickham’s Creggan:  Emmet Long,  Aidan Maguire,  Declan McCann,  Danaan O’Hara,  Sam Maguire, Thomas McCann,  Aiden McKeown,  Tiarnan McLarnon,  Ruairi McCann,  Conor McCann,  Morgan Nelson,  Oran McCann,  Jake McAteer,  Kealan McCann,  Kevin Rice. Subs: Sean Duffin for Tiarnan McLarnon, Liam McCann for Declan McCann, Diarmuid Duffin for Kevin Rice

Cloney Gaels:  Martin Graham,  Stephen O’Connell,  James Magee,  Eamon Brady,  Fionnbar O’Neill,  Bernard Graham,  Dan O’Neill,  Francis Neeson,  Neill O’Connell,  Owen Neeson,  Thomas McGlone,  Ronan Graham,  PJ O’Connell,  Donal Graham,  James O’Connell. Subs:  Cola McDonnell, Patrick Graham

Referee: Darren McKeown (St. Gall’s)

Emmet’s get the nod to edge local derby

Andersonstown SC IHC Semi-Final

Emmet’s Cushendun Emmet’s v Carey Faughs

Armoy 2-00pm Sunday

By Paddy McIlwaine

Emmet’s Cushendun will start Sunday’s Andersonstown SC IHC semi-final in Armoy as favourites but that will probably suit a Carey side who will be still buzzing following their facile mid-week win over Gort na Mona at the Dub that secured them passage to Sunday’s semi-final.

The Cushendun men have had an excellent season to date and won all four of their Group 2 championship games following a division 2A league campaign where they won 4 and drew 2 games to finish second to Cloney Gaels.

In the championship the Emmet’s have been impressive to date and wins over St. Brigid’s Cloughmills, St. Paul’s, Kickham’s Creggan and Sarsfield’s has seen them installed as many pundits favourites to go all the way.

Cathaoir an Ri have reached Sunday’s semi-final the hard way and came with a late run down the home straight to pip Glenariffe Oisin for the second qualifying place in Group 1 with that win in Belfast in mid-week.

The Ballyvoy men made a bright start to their qualifying group when they beat St. Gall’s by five points but their progress was halted when their fixture against Gort na Mona was postponed on day two owing to Covid in the Gort’s camp.

An 0-24 to 2-18 draw with Oisin on day 3 left Cathaoir an Ri in a seemingly strong position but when they lost to visitors, Cloney Gaels the following Wednesday night their fate looked precarious. Glenariffe Oisin looked favourites to join Cloney Gaels in the play-offs due to a superior score difference as the Carey men headed to the Dub for their rearranged meeting with Gort na Mona.

Carey needed to win by 25 points to edge out the men from Waterfoot but what transpired is like something out of a fiction story as the Ballyvoy side raced into a 4-17 to 0-2 half time lead that saw many of those Glenariffe supporters who had made the journey, leave Queen’s at half time.

Cathaoir an Ri went on to win by a massive 43 points against a depleted Gort na Mona side to earn their place in Sunday’s semi-final against neighbours Emmets and will be looking forward with relish to a semi-final that looked out of reach nine days earlier.

Cushendun will fancy their chances of bringing their neighbours back down to earth with a bang following that massive 50 point haul at the Dub and Cathaoir an Ri are unlikely to find the passage to their opponents posts as easy to negotiate.

The Emmet’s are a solid outfit with Gareth Magee, Aidan Corbett, Tom Scally and Conor McHugh strong and reliable defenders. Cork native, Conleth Ryan and Calum Kilgore form a strong mid-field partnership while Conlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill, Harry Kilgore, Dominic McQuillan and Calum Kilgore pose a serious scoring threat.

Carey have a reliable and experienced keeper in Cathal McAuley while Sean McBride, Peadar McVeigh and Michael McVeigh are strong defenders. Daniel McBride and Patrick Butler are hard-working mid-fielders who are capable of contributing scores while in attack James ‘Rocket’ Black and Connor McBride are potential match winners.

The Ballyvoy side will start this one as outsiders but their draw with Glenariffe Oisin, that win over St. Gall’s and a narrow loss to Cloney Gaels would suggest they might not be too far away but in a tight contest Emmet’s get the nod.

Gaels can shade a tight semi-final

Andersonstown SC IHC Semi-Final

Cloney Gaels v Kickham’s Creggan

Sunday 2-00 (Randalstown)

By Paddy McIlwaine

This year’s Intermediate Hurling championship has been a real thriller to date with both groups undecided until the last round of games. In Group 1 it was Cloney Gaels who finished tops on 9 points from five starts but they had to win their final game against St. Gall’s in Cloney to ensure qualification.

Four wins and a draw from five starts however suggests that the Ahoghill men are in rude health with those victories coming against Glen Rovers, Gort na Mona, Cathaoir an Ri, and St. Gall’s with a draw against Glenariffe Oisin the only blip on their record.

It was perhaps in that draw against Glenariffe in Cloney that the Ahoghill side showed their real character however. The visitors looked to be in a strong position at half time when they led by six points.

After the break the sheer intensity of the home side slowly wore down the opposition and they drew level by the 18th minute and looked to be taking over but Oisin came back strongly with the lead changing hands several times before Alex O’Boyle brought matters level for the final time with a pointed free for the visitors in injury time.

In the other group things were slightly more clear cut with Emmet’s Cushendun winning all four of their games to finish on eight points from four starts including a 2-16 to 1-15 win over Kickham’s in Cushendun but that was the Creggan men’s only defeat in the group stages.

As in Group 1 things were not decided until the final day and Kickham’s travelled to Shaw’s Road knowing that a victory over St. Paul’s would probably guarantee them a place in the semi-final but aware that a win for Sarsfield’s over Cushendun at the Bear Pit could leave three sides on six points each and that score difference could come into play.

Cushendun spared the mathematicians the problem of deciding who qualified when they defeated the ‘Paddies’ by five points to win the group with Creggan securing second place by that win over St. Paul’s.

Meetings between Cloney Gaels and Kickham’s have always been keenly contested and hard to call and Sunday’s semi-final meeting at Whitehill is unlikely to be any different.

Both these two South West rivals have a rich hurling history with both clubs winning Ulster Junior and Intermediate hurling titles in the past and the Kickham’s going all the way in the Junior championship to win the All Ireland in 2014.

Cloney Gaels came close to All Ireland glory seven year’s earlier before losing out to Danesfort of Kilkenny and while those results are unlikely to have any bearing on Sunday’s game they never the less show the rich vein of hurling history in both clubs.

Cloney Gaels were last year’s beaten finalists, losing out to Tir na nOg in the final at Dunsilly and are determined to go one better this year but their South West rivals Creggan will be determined to stop that happening.

The Ahoghill side are vastly experienced and most of Sunday’s lineout have seen it all before. Martin Graham has proved an excellent keeper since his switch to the number 1 jersey at the start of last season.

Stephen O’Connell, James Magee, Eamon Brady, Fionnbar O’Neill, the Graham’s, Francis Neeson and Thomas McGlone will bring their vast experience into Sunday’s semi-final but it’s up front that the Gaels have the real aces in the pack in PJ and James O’Connell, both potential match winners on their day.

Their opponents on Sunday, Kickham’s, Creggan have a number of players who are no strangers to the big occasion with Sam Maguire, Aidan Maguire, Aidan McKeown, Rory McCann, Thomas McCann, Kevin Rice and Oran McCann all excellent hurlers and like Cloney, they have their own ace in the pack in county captain Conor McCann.

Conor McCann for Creggan and James and PJ O’Connell for Cloney Gaels are likely to come in for some very close attention on Sunday and the ability of both defences to contain the oppositions danger men may go a long way to deciding the issue.

However both teams have others who could be potential match winners on the day and there might not be too much between the sides come 3-10 pm on Sunday but Cloney Gaels have shown this year that they can dig out results when the chips are down and I expect Hugh Dobbin’s side to shade a tight semi-final by a couple of points.

Carey reach their target by half time

Andersonstown Social Club Antrim Intermediate Championship Group 1

Gort na Móna 0-7 Carey Faughs 7-29

Paul McIntyre reports from The Dub.

Carey Faughs proved too strong for a makeshift Gort na Móna on Tuesday evening to claim a semi-final berth in the years Andersonstown Social Club Antrim Intermediate Championship.

Going into the game the North Antrim side had to win by a margin of at least 25 points, if not, it would mean Glenariffe would be facing off against Cushendun in Sunday’s semi-final.

In the end they achieved that target by the half way stage as they lead 4-17 to 0-2, and despite a spirted showing from the West Belfast side, a further 3-12 in the second half ensured that the Faughs will have another day out on Sunday.

Neil Henry shot the Gorts into an early lead but a determined and focused Carey then took over and by the first waterbreak they lead 3-7 to 0-2.

Carey sharpshooter Conor McBride who ended up with 3-10 to his name

Caoláon McCaughan claimed the first goal after just three minutes before Séamus Black claimed a quick fire double just before the end of the first quarter.

Carey then totally dominated the second quarter and on 29 minutes Caoláon McCaughan turned provider for Connor McBride to slam home his sides fourth goal.

Backed by a large travelling support, the Faughs were in no mood to let up and three minutes into the second half Caoláon Mac Eacháin fired to the net for his second major of the evening.

Henry and Ryan Cahill tagged on scores for Gort na Móna but a stronger and fitter Carey kept the scoreboard ticking over as they made the most of every opportunity to make sure they were well clear of the magic number of 25.

As the contest ticked towards stoppage time Connor McBride brought his tall to 3-10 for the evening with two goals in less than a minute, with the first one in particular being a little bit special.

After being first to Seamus McCouaig’s long free, the corner forward flicked the ball over his marker’s head to fire past Mark Rea in the Gorts goal.

Attention now turns to Sunday’s semi-final against Cushendun, throw-in is at 2pm.

Carey’s Caolan McMcCaughan

Teams and Scorers:

Gort na Mona: Mark Rea, James Connolly, Gavin McKenna, Liam Dixon, Patrick Cournane, Padraig McHugh, Conor Healy, Sean Doyle (0-2), Neil Henry (0-3f), Ciarán McMullan (0-2), Ryan Cahill, Tiarnán Ó Cadhaigh, Reece Coleman, Declan Hughes, Conor McCann,

Subs: Niall Healy for McCann (15), Darren Boyd for Ó Cadhaigh (47).

Carey Faughs: Cathal McAuley, Daniel Hill, Sean McBride, Zach Mac Eacháin, Michael McVeigh (0-2), Peadar McVeigh, Seamus McCouaig (0-1f), Daniel McBride (0-3), Patrick Butler (0-1), Shea Hunter, Sean McBride (0-1), Caolán Mac Eacháin (2-4), Patrick Gillan (0-6), Séamus Black (2-1), Connor McBride (3-10 6f 1 ‘65’).

Referee: Mr Darren McKeown (St Galls).

And then there were two

Andersonstown SC IHC Group 2

St. Paul’s0-13 Kickham’s Creggan 5-21

Joe Rice reports from Shaw’s Road

Creggan travelled to Shaw’s Road on Sunday knowing that a victory would probably guarantee them a place in the semi-final of the Andersonstown SC IHC semi-final but aware that a win for Sarsfield’s over Cushendun at the Bear Pit could leave three sides on six points each and that score difference could come into play.

In the event they need not have worried as the Emmet’s win made that scenario irrelevant but the Staffordstown Road side were determined that they would put up a big score, just in case and so they did.

Shaws Road was the venue for Sunday’s clash with St. Pauls & Kickhams Creggan.  The home side were chasing their second win of the competition while the visitors were in search of their third win.

Referee, Brendan Toland, got proceedings underway and for the first 5 minutes both sides battled frantically with neither managing to score but the home side supporters raised their collective voice when Proinsias O’Suiligh popped over a 20 metre free. 

Creggan levelled matters a minute later with Kevin Rice cutting a side line over the bar and brothers, Liam McCann and Oran McCann, put the visitors 2 in front with 9 minutes gone. Declan McGreevy pointed from play and a second free from Proinsias O’Suiligh had the sides level with 11 minutes gone.

As we approached the first water break there was only 2 points between the sides, Keelan McCann getting the fourth score for Creggan but it was the turn of the visitors’ supporters to show their appreciation as Creggan turned the screw with Morgan Nelson getting his first point of the match. 

Oran McCann added 2 further scores in the 24th & 25th minute and Dermot Mulholland added to the visitor’s tally at the 27th minute mark.  Oran McCann popped over 2 additional frees to his tally in the 30th minute just as Conor McCann, after a positional swap, bagged the Staffordstown’s men’s first goal.  As half time approached, Rice added to his tally with a point from play with Proinsias O’Suiligh replying with a point for the home side as the half time whistle sounded just on the whistle.

HALF TIME SCORE:          ST.PAULS 0-04 v CREGGAN 1-12

As thesecond half got under way, it looked like Creggan had done enough to win the contest but in the back of their minds they knew that the score difference could make or break their chances of reaching the semi-final. 

With nothing to lose, the home side exerted early pressure on the Creggan goal with several goal mouth opportunities coming to nothing while Creggan’s net minder, Emmet long made a number of interceptions and cleared his lines.

Creggan resumed the second half as they ended the first half scoring at will with Liam McCann adding to his tally with 3 further points and a goal.  County Star, Conor McCann, added a further 3 points while Kevin Rice was on target with 0-2 of his own.

With 41 minutes gone Creggan were 17 points in front when Fionntain Gamble responded for the home side.  Declan McGreevy popped over a 65 while Marcus Munce got his first score to reduce the deficit to 14 points going into the second water break..

As the fourth quarter under way Creggan turned the screw and  Morgan Nelson bagged 2 majors minutes apart while Aron O’Ciara & Deaglan Chapman replied with a couple of consolation scores. 

With the contest decided, both teams emptied their benches and Dermot Mulholland pointed for the visitors while Oran McCann increased his tally with 2 more points.  Stiofan O’Ruanaidh and Proinsias O’Suiligh replied for the home side with points in the 53rd and 55th minute but these were merely consolation scores at this stage of the game. 

Sam Maguire got Creggan’s last point of the game in injury time and Morgan Nelson scored a second goal to bring his personal tally to 2-02.  St. Paul’s kept going to the final whistle and were rewarded for their efforts with the final  2 points of the game from Marcus Munce and Caoimhan O’Muiri.

 ST. PAULS: 1 Joe Gillen, No.2 Sean Bradley, No.3 Fionntan Gamble (0.01), No.4 Aron O’Ciara (0.01), No.5 Ciaran O’Cearuill, No.6 Stiofan O’Ruanaidh (0.01), No.7 Conall O’Fionnagain, No.8 Marcus Munce (0.02), No.9 Deaglan Chapman (0.01), No.10 Anthony Gallagher, No.11 Proinsias O’Suiligh (0.04), No.12 Gerard Maguire, No.13 Declan McGreevy (0.02), No.14 Seamus O’Fearail, No.15 Michael Walsh, No.16 Caoimhin O’Muiri, No.17 Aodhan Grego, No.18 Conall Magee.

KICKHAMS CREGGAN: No.1 Emmet Long, No.2 Jake McAteer, No.3 Declan McCann, No.4 Danaan O’Hara, No.5 Sam Maguire (0.01), No.6 Aidan Maguire, No.7 Aidan McKeown, No.8 Tiernan McLarnon, No.9 Rory McCann, No.10 Conor McCann (1.02), No.11 Morgan Nelson (2.02), No.12 Oran McCann (0.09), No.13 Liam McCann (0.04), No.14 Keelan McCann (0.01), No.15 Kevin Rice (0.03), No.16 Oliver Duffin, No.17 Michael Maguire, No.18 Joe Smyth, No.19 Thomas McCann, No.20 Enda Maguire, No.21 Sean Donnelly, No.22 Sean McAuley, No.23 Dermot Mulholland (0.02), No.24 Lee Johnton, No.25 Matthew Nelson, No.26 Owen Grant.

REFEREE:                            Brendan Toland (Lamderg).