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)

Heart. Skill. Determination. Passion. Heartbreak. Ecstasy.

Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-final

Pádraig Sairséil 1-20 Carey Faughs 3-17

By Liam Tunney@UnitUpdates

Páirc Rossa overflowed with all of the above as Carey Faughs sprung an upset on Sarsfield’s to reach the Andersonstown Social Club Antrim IHC Final after 80 minutes of the highest-octane championship hurling.

The Paddies had played with the wind in the first half but failed to take advantage of the elements, hitting 11 wides and only mustering a single-point lead at the break, Conor McBride’s long-range goal keeping Carey in touch.

After a breathless second half, it looked like Caillin Caldwell’s effort had sealed the Sarsfield’s victory, but a late, late John McBride free from his own 45m line sent the tie to extra time, where the Glens side pulled clear in the final minutes.

Just 3 minutes into the match Sarsfield’s had opened up a two-point lead, a Kevin McKernan effort preceding Niall McKenna’s first of eleven points, but Carey battled back with points from John and Conor McBride to level matters on 7 minutes.

0-03 without reply followed for the Paddies as a brace of Niall McKenna frees and a neat finish from Niall McAlea opened up some daylight between the sides, but a James Black rocket from the right-hand side and a long-range James McCuaig effort saw the Faughs reduce the deficit to one.

Loose tackling in defence was hurting Carey with Niall McKenna in inspired form from placed balls, adding another brace either side of a James Black score, before Man of the Match Conor McBride hit the first half’s crucial score in the 21st minute.

Sent clear by a neat John McBride hand pass, the corner forward galloped down the left flank and unleashed a low effort from 25 yards that bobbled on the turf into the bottom right corer of David Ward’s net to give Carey the lead.

Buoyed by the goal, there was a visible tenacity about the Faugh’s defence and it took Sarsfield’s five minutes to hit back through a long-range Kevin McKernan free.

Further points followed from McKenna and Ryan Carson before James McCuaig brought the first half to a close with his second of the afternoon.

It took only 2 minutes of the second half for Carey to wrestle back the lead, Cathal McAuley pulling to the net after the Sarsfield’s defence failed to deal adequately with a high ball.

Two further points from Conor McBride opened up a four-point lead for the Faughs over a visibly rocked Sarsfield’s side, but Niall McKenna continued his battle with James McCuaig by winning and pointing a free to get the Paddies off the mark.

The sequence was repeated six minutes later as McKenna notched a further free, before James Black restored Carey’s three-point lead, racing through and pointing off the hurl from close-range.

The Faughs then suffered a blow on 50 minutes as James McCuaig received his second yellow card, referee Kevin Parke ordering him off. James Black fired over his 4th point of the day on the run in defiant response but it took just 6 minutes for McCuaig’s sending off to be punished accordingly.

Breaking free of a ruck, Ryan Carson got a run at the Carey defence and finished low inside Chrissy Butler’s near post to level the scoreline with four minutes to play.

Sean McLaughlin responded by slotting the Faughs back into the lead, but another Niall McKenna free restored parity and the tension rose sharply as Parke indicated six minutes of stoppage time.

Conor McBride welcomed the start of injury time with a fine score to give his side the lead again, but Niall McKenna wriggled free of Michael McVeigh to feed Caillin Caldwell, the centre back firing over to equalise on 63 minutes.

In the final minute of injury time, Sarsfield’s found Niall McAlea in space on the right and his driving run ended with a flick back for Ryan Carson to split the posts to raucous cheers from the Paddies’ line.

There was yet more drama to come.

Carey worked their puck out short and were awarded a free on their own 45m line and up stepped the nerveless John McBride to hammer the ball over the black spot as the crowd on the hill watched in disbelief.

The Faughs were able to start extra time with the full complement of fifteen on the pitch, but it was Sarsfield’s who seized the initiative having regained wind advantage.

Niall McKenna pointed a free from almost the same position as John McBride minutes earlier, before the centre-forward hurled another effort over the Carey crossbar.

Unruffled, the Faughs roared forward again, Caolan McCaughan seeing his low drive beaten away by David Ward in the Paddies net before Carey ended the half with two Conor McBride frees to leave the sides level after 70 minutes.

It took five minutes of the second period before the deadlock was broken, substitute Martin Hunter judging the wind well to loop over a neat score before Caolan McCaughan followed suit with a long-range effort from midfield.

Sarsfield’s responded with a 78th minute 65 to leave just one between them, but as the seconds ticked away, Conor McBride latched onto a long ball and pulled it to the net on the bounce as the Carey sideline erupted in the kind of unbridled joy that championship hurling can release.

There was still time for a Paddies response and Niall McAlea finished the afternoon’s scoring with an acrobatic flick on a high ball looping over the bar, but Parke’s whistle brought to the end what was arguably the game of the season so far.

A superb 2-06 from Conor McBride saw him clinch the Man of the Match award, but Niall McKenna will be devastated to have finished on the losing side having hit 0-11 and starred in the match.

The cliché of neither side deserving to lose rang true but both were equally gracious in victory and defeat, but the beaming smiles of the Carey players and management carried them off the pitch and into a final meeting with Naomh Éanna.

Pádraig Sairséil: David Ward, Jack Daniels, James Cunningham, Kevin Ward, Niall McAlea (0-02), Caillin Caldwell (0-01), James McKernan, Eoghan Rodgers, Kevin McKernan (0-01, 0-02f), Gary Lennon, Niall McKenna (0-03, 0-08f), Ryan Carson (1-02), Daniel McKernan, Mark Rea, Caolan McKernan.

Subs: Aran Stewart for Mark Rea 41’, Brendan McGibbon for Daniel McKernan 43’, Malachy Campbell for Aran Stewart 46’, Niall McDonald for Brendan McGibbon (Blood Sub) 72’

Carey Faughs: Chrissy Butler, Kevin Murphy, Sean McBride, Patrick Gillan, Peadar McVeigh, James McCuaig (0-02f), Michael McVeigh, Colm McBride, Sean McLaughlin (0-01), Caolan McCaughan (0-01), John McBride (0-01, 0-01f), James Black (0-04), Fiachra McVeigh, Cathal McAuley (1-00), Conor McBride (2-03, 0-03f).

Subs: Paddy Butler for Colm McBride 34’, Cathair Brogan for Fiachra McVeigh 55’, Martin Butler (0-01) for Sean McLaughlin 59’, Darren McGowan for Cathal McAuley 71’, Dan Martin for Cathair Brogan 73’, Sean McLaughlin for James Black 77’.

Referee: Kevin Parke (Naomh Éanna)

McGoldrick fire-power leads St. Enda’s to victory

IHC Semi-Final

Oisín CLG Glenariffe 2-10 Naomh Éanna 3-19

By Liam Tunney@UnitUpdates

A fearsome Naomh Éanna scoring display, led by the imperious John McGoldrick, ended Glenariffe’s interest in the Andersonstown Social Club Antrim IHC this afternoon at St Paul’s.

McGoldrick may have been at the forefront of the Hightown attack with 0-08, but he was joined on the score sheet by no less than nine of his team-mates in a quite incredible spread of scorers. Oisín’s on the other hand relied mostly on the individual brilliance of Alex O’Boyle who ended the game with 1-03 to his name.

Terence McNaughton’s side played with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half, a breeze that extended McGoldrick’s already lengthy range and the Division 2 champions built up a healthy lead in the opening half and despite the Glens side battling back well in the second half, the Glengormley men always had an answer and were comfortable in the end.

McGoldrick had opened the scoring with a brace of points, one from either 45m line, before Alex O’Boyle hit back with a brace of his own to leave matters all square after 9 minutes.

With Oisín’s struggling to clear the ball in the face of a brisk breeze, Naomh Éanna capitalised with a Ruairí Donaghy point before they hit the first major of the day, Philly Curran poking home at the second opportunity after Seanan McToal had uncharacteristically spilled a high ball in his own box.

Glenariffe hit back straight away however as Alex O’Boyle swept home the sliotar following a surging Dan McKillop run through the heart of the St Enda’s defence.

Affronted by the concession of the goal, Naomh Éanna rattled off four points in as many minutes as Manus Mullan, Eddie O’Connor and a further McGoldrick brace opened up a six-point deficit.

An Alex O’Boyle free temporarily lifted the siege but a further three-point burst from McGoldrick (2) and an on-the-run finish from Joe Maskey followed as the Hightown side tightened their grip on the game.

O’Boyle and McGoldrick traded frees in first half stoppage time to leave the North coast side eight points adrift at the short whistle.

Oisín’s full back Randal McDonnell opened the second period with a huge free from inside his own 45m line and the score sparked a period of Glenariffe dominance as Naomh Éanna adjusted to playing into the breeze.

However, the Glens men could not make their purple patch count and hit three costly wides before McGoldrick split the posts up the other end. Dan McKillop again raised faint hopes of a comeback with a strong run and point down the left flank, but in the 41st minute the game was ended as a contest.

Tenacity from Killian Jennings ensured a wayward ball stayed in play along the end line and he recycled it back to Eddie O’Connor. O’Connor sent a pass zipping crossfield into the hand of Matthew O’Hare who applied the finish and sealed the win.

In the following minute, O’Boyle saw a 21m free saved on the line, the forward going low in a desperate effort to haul his side back into the game, but Naomh Éanna worked the sliotar back up the field for Killian Jennings to hit his side’s third goal of the afternoon.

Now trailing by fourteen points, Glenariffe were awarded a penalty. Alex O’Boyle wriggled free of his man and was upended unceremoniously by goalkeeper Martin Curran in the six-yard box. A shaken O’Boyle then watched in frustration as his strike was turned away by Curran for a 65 that Randal McDonnell converted.

Oisín’s did manage a goal in the 46th minute, Paul McDonnell letting fly from 30 yards and watching his effort find Curran’s net via an outstretched Naomh Éanna hurl and when Seamus McDonnell plucked the sliotar from the sky to point there was a murmur of hope from the assembled Oisín’s support.

Eddie O’Connor did his best to quell the optimism by taking a short ball to point for Naomh Éanna only for O’Boyle to fire over a free in response, before Fermanagh’s Ryan Bogue traded minors with Paul McDonnell.

That would prove to be Oisín’s final score as McNaughton’s men saw out the final minutes of the second half much like they had the first, a host of late scores from Joe Maskey, an Eddie O’Connor brace and a neat point from substitute Ruairí Crummey.

A thoroughly impressive performance from Naomh Éanna in this Semi-Final without really being forced into top gear. They played in bursts and managed the game well, maintaining the established gap between the sides.

They’ll now turn their attention to a final with Carey Faughs, having watched the other Semi-Final’s action from their perch on the St Paul’s balcony.

Oisín CLG: Seanan McToal, Michael Haughey, Randal McDonnell (0-01f, 0-01 – 65), Kieran McKendry, Shane O’Connor, Michael Gettens, Daniel Haughey, Caolan O’Connor, Aaron Cosgrove, Thomas Quinn, Conor McAllister, Dan McKillop (0-01), Conor Patterson (0-01), Paul McDonnell (1-01), Alex O’Boyle (1-00, 0-03f).

Subs: Seamus McDonnell (0-01) for Conor Patterson 22’, Alex McDonnell for Thomas Quinn 45’, Patrick Burns for Aaron Cosgrove 46’, Oliver Kearney for Conor McAllister 56’.

Naomh Éanna: Martin Curran, Niall O’Connor, Rian Gillan, Ruairí Diamond, Cormac Ross, Mark Donaghy, Joe Maskey (0-02), Ryan Bogue (0-01), Ruairí Donaghy (0-02), Philly Curran (1-00), Manus Mullan (0-01), Eddie O’Connor (0-03), John McGoldrick (0-01, 0-07f), Matthew O’Hare (1-00), Killian Jennings (1-00).

Subs: Ruairí Crummey (0-01) for Killian Jennings 57’.

Referee: Darren McKeown (Naomh Gall)