Magic McKenna drives Paddies to quarters

Andersonstown Social Club

Intermediate Hurling Championship

Preliminary Round

Cushendun 3-14 Sarsfields 3-19

Saturday August 10

Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr McGinn Park, Glenravel

When Kevin McKernan scored the Paddies third goal after teaming up with his younger brother Caolan, it looked like this game was over.  12 minutes to go and 11 points between the sides, Sarsfields could have been forgiven for thinking they had more than one foot in the next round.

It turns out they did have enough on the scoreboard but Cushendun pushed them to the pin of their collar in the final quarter. Goals from Harry Kilgore and James Morgan helped to bring the Emmet’s close but the Paddies and Niall McKenna weren’t to be denied in the opening match of the Intermediate Championship.  The Sarsfields star finished the match with a tally of 1-13 in a man of the match performance for the men from the Bear Pitt.  Seven of those white flags came from placed ball while his goal at the start of the second half was right out of the top drawer.  Firing the sliotar into the top right hand postage stamp from distance and it signalled the start of a purple patch for his side. 

With just two points between the sides at the short whistle, Sarsfields pulled away in the opening quarter after the restart.  McKernan’s major came after another major from substitute Ryan O’Neill, meaning the Paddies had outscored last year’s Junior champions 3-4 to 0-3 in the same space of time.

Cushendun never lay down however and with Conor McHugh and Connlaoth McNeill on form, they fought to the final whistle.  Five points was probably a fair reflection on the overall sixty minutes as the Paddies progress to a meeting with Tír na nÓg in the quarter-finals.

Sarsfields were more fluent and efficient with their use of the sliotar in the opening quarter and had a four point advantage built after 15 minutes.  McKenna landing five frees of their opening six white flags, Caolan McKernan with the other.  A brace of frees from Connlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill their only response.

David Kilgore landed the Emmet’s first from plat in the 15th minute and it signalled an awakening for his side.  ‘Loaf’ reduced the gap to two points before Ryan O’Neill landed Sarsfield’s seventh point of the match with his first touch of the sliotar.  Cushendun scored the first goal of the Intermediate championship in the 23rd minute when David Kilgore got on the end of along delivery from Niall McAuley, firing to the back of David Ward’s net.

Sarsfields edged the closing stages of the first half however.  A brace from McKenna (one free) and points from Gary Lennon and Kevin McKernan in response to a fine score from James Morgan and ‘Loaf’s’ fourth point of the match left two points between the sides at the short whistle.

Sarsfields came out at the start of the second half and put daylight between the sides.  Another free from ‘Loaf’ reduced the gap to one point but McKenna scored the Paddies first goal of the hour and what a goal it was.  On the left hand side and with plenty to do, McKenna found the top corner with a sublime strike.

Cushendun responded well and ‘Loaf’ and David Kilgore landed points after Ryan O’Neill took the Sarsfields lead to five points but the Paddies went through the gears once again.  A McKenna free in the 39th minute preceded their second goal.  Caolan McKernan playing an inch perfect pass into the path of brother Kevin and he made no mistake.  Pulling first time and beating Eoin Magee to give the west Belfast men a big advantage.

Cushendun were left with their Everest.  A mountain to climb with 12 minutes of time remaining and they threw caution to the wind.  They got a sniff when Harry Kilgore netted for their second major in the 49th minute, getting on the end of a long ball from Niall McAuley and a trio of points from substitute Pearse Bannon, Donal O’Hara and Conor McHugh gave the Emmet’s hope of making a dramatic comeback. 

Niall McKenna split the posts to stop the rot for Sarsfields in the 57th minute but the Emmet’s struck for goal once more.  ‘Loaf’ stood over a 21 yard free and while his effort was saved, no one could stop James Morgan from doubling on the sliotar in mid air and finding the back of the net.  Three between the sides going into injury time and Cushendun had a sniff.  Sarsfields had that bit extra in attack however and with Caolan McKernan and McKenna they have two lads capable of making something from nothing.  Both splitting the uprights in the time that remained to ensure the Paddies progress with five points to spare.

In the end, the favourites to progress, progressed but a thought for Cushendun who after their heroics in the Junior championship last year came close to taking a major scalp in this years Intermediate championship.  Paddies through to a meeting with Tír na nÓg in the quarters.

Cushendun: Eoin Magee; Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbett, Jack McKay; Tom Scally, Donal O’Hara, Niall McAuley; Conor McHugh, Cavan McCormick; Harry Kilgore, Dominic McQuillan, James Morgan; Dominic Sharkey, Connlaoth McNeill, David Kilgore.

Subs: Eoin McQuillan for D Sharkey (28); Pearse Bannon for E McQuillan (39); Michael Dunne for D McQuillan (54).

Scorers: Connlaoth McNeill 0-7 (4 f’s); David Kilgore 1-2; James Morgan 1-1; Harry Kilgore 1-00; Conor McHugh 0-2; Pearse Bannon 0-1; Donal O’Hara 0-1

Sarsfields: David Ward; Malachy Campbell, James Cunningham, Kevin Ward; Niall McAlea, Gary Lennon, Jim McKernan; Jack Daniels, Kevin McKernan; Tommy Doherty, Darragh McGuinness, Ryan Carson; Brendan Gibbons, Niall McKenna, Caolan McKernan.

Subs: Ryan O’Neill for T Doherty (20); Mark Rea for B Gibbons (35); Caolan Caldwell for R Carson (42).

Scorers: Niall McKenna 1-13 (7 f’s); Ryan O’Neill 1-2; Kevin McKernan 1-1; Caolan McKernan 0-2; Gary Lennon 0-1;

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Sarsfields and Naomh Eanna carry the favourites tags

Andersonstown Social Club

Intermediate Hurling Championship

The Intermediate Hurling championship gets underway this weekend with a double header in Glenravel.  Cushendun, Sarsfields, Clooney Gaels and Naomh Éanna play in the preliminary round and we’ve taken a closer look at the runners and riders to see who will progress

By Brendan McTaggart

SARSFIELDS V CUSHENDUN

Preliminary Round

Cushendun vs Sarsfields

Venue: Fr McGinn Park, Glenravel

Date: Saturday August 10

Throw In: 1:30pm

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Sarsfields Kevin Mckernan and Cushendun’s Conor McHugh

The Intermediate champions of two years ago and last year’s Junior champions.  An intriguing prospect lays ahead on Saturday afternoon with Sarsfields and Cushendun taking to the Fr McGinn pitch to get the Intermediate championship off and running.

Sarsfields will come into this one as favourites having played in a league above the Emmets and having sealed a play-off spot for a potential promotion to the top league.  2019 has gone as close to plan as the men from the Bear Pitt could have wished for.  Off their 13 league matches, they tasted defeat just twice against – Glenariffe by six points, the Oisin’s enjoyed a welcome return to form in the latter stage of the league and a one point defeat to eventual winers Naomh Éanna.

The return of Niall McKenna this year has been key.  He brings so much to the table for Sarsfields and has proved to be one of the best in the county in recent years with his exploits in a Saffron jersey.  His inclusion on the half forward line with the fire power of Kevin McKernan will be pivotal for the Paddies but the loss of Daniel McKernan will be equally felt across the Bear Pitt.  He suffered a cruciate injury in the Paddies win over Creggan in June and will be a major loss for the Belfast side but with a defence built around the tenacious tackling of Jack Daniels, Niall McAlea and Caolan Caldwell, the Paddies bring their good form and bags of experience at this level. 

Donal O’Hara had made a welcome return to the Emmet’s defence in recent weeks

Cushendun have had a solid if yet unspectacular year in Division 3.  Winning as many as they’ve lost while drawing one of their 13 league games.  A top half finish would have been the aim for the Emmet’s at the start of the campaign and they achieved as much. 

Tuesday night’s win over Bredagh will come as a welcome boost for Chris Dornan’s men and comes off the back of three league defeats since the split.  You can’t read too much into these fixtures with the holiday season, a fact that was underlined with Cushendun defeating Bredagh 2-20 to 4-9 while suffering a 1-24 to 2-12 defeat in late June to the same opposition.

Daniel McKernan may be missing due to injury but young brother Caolan should step in for his first championship campaign

The way Cushendun won the Antrim Junior championship in 2018 will make them dangerous opposition however.  They didn’t look troubled in Antrim and but for a late lapse against Castleblayney, their season could and probably should have been extended beyond Christmas.  They have quality players throughout and lads who will relish the big occasion.  Conlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill is a gem on the edge of the square while Harry and David Kilgore have the ability to cause the Paddies problems.  Thomas Scally will be vital in defence while much could rest on the young shoulders of Conor McHugh.  Smiley has shown in an Antrim shirt this year that he belongs at a higher level and Sarsfields will have to curtail his influence on the game to be successful.

All things considered, I think the momentum from a successful league campaign in Division 2 will be enough to get the Paddies over the line in this one.  The predicted weather could be a leveller but I can’t see anything other than a Sarsfields victory.

Two key men in Saturday’s IHC meeting, Cushendun’s Connlaoth McNeill and Sarsfields Niall McKenna

Darren McKeown of St Gall’s is the man in the middle for the Sarsfields v Cushendun game

Preliminary Round

Clooney Gaels vs Naomh Eanna

Venue: Fr McGinn Park, Glenravel

Date: Saturday August 10

Throw In: 3pm

Referee: Vincent Boyle (Dunloy)

Vincent Boyle of Dunloy is in charge of the Naomh Eanna v Cloney Gaels game

NAOMH EANNA V CLONEY GAELS

Naomh Eanna’s John McGoldrick and Cloney Gaels’ PJ O’Connell

The second of Saturday’s Intermediate double header in Glenravel sees two sides who have realistic expectations of championship silverware this year, Naomh Éanna and Cloney Gaels. 

Both sides have had differing league campaigns which to the naked eye may look like there will be only one winner but a closer look tells you, there isn’t much to separate these two sides.  Naomh Éanna have made history this year and have booked a spot at the top table of Antrim hurling for the 2020 season.  The influence of Sambo McNaughton in addition to the hard work and dedication put into the youth set up on the Hightown Road is starting to bear fruit with the wee ball as well as the big ball in recent years.  One defeat during the league season, in the Bear Pitt against Sarsfields meant that the Glengormley side will be playing in Division One.  A huge feat for the dual club and regardless of what happens in the championship, this season has been a success for them.  But, and there’s always a but, they want this championship.  Having come close in the recent past, this has been the one that has alluded them and they are best poised for a tilt at championship honours than they probably ever have in recent years.

Naomh Eanna centre forward Manus Mullan

They have gems littered through their squad punctuated by the hugely talented Joe Maskey and John McGoldrick.  ‘Big Sleep’ Maskey has become an Antrim regular in recent times although the early part of this season was hampered with injury while McGoldrick has flirted with the Saffrons squad as well.  In Killian Jennings they have an ace marksman from placed ball while Cormac Ross, Ruairi Diamond and Mark Donaghy all form part of an impressive defence.

But if Naomh Éanna are to progress, their defence will have to be firing on all cylinders as they come up against the form team of Division Two.  Cloney Gaels couldn’t put a win together at the start of the league campaign but a run of seven league wins in their last nine games tells you the Ahoghill side may have timed their run for the championship.  A look at their scores in recent matches tells you they won’t be lacking confidence either.  33 goals in their last seven games means they’re the second highest scoring team in Division Two this year, second only to their opponents on Saturday.

Cloney Gael’s Eoin Graham

It would be unfair to just highlight the Cloney Gaels attack considering they have a strong defence with the likes of Bernard Graham, Stephen O’Connell and Diarmuid Graham but an attack with PJ and James O’Connell will cause any team severe headaches.  James O’Connell with the standout individual performance of last years Intermediate championship with his 2-13 in their win over St Brigid’s, Cloughmills.

Their league match on the opening night of the season under the floodlights of Fr McGuigan Park, Naomh Éanna held on to record a one point victory.  Two goals from the O’Connell’s wasn’t enough with the Hightown Road side landing scores from all angles on a cold night.  The weather forecast won’t allow for pretty hurling and there won’t be much between these sides but I think Naomh Éanna may have enough to edge past Cloney on this occasion but I wouldn’t be surprised if we need extra time for this one.

Naomh Eanna’s Mark Donaghy and Cloney Gaels’ Eamon Brady

Antrim Hurling Championship Fixtures 2019

Here are the Antrim Hurling Championship fixtures up until the semi-finals stage

AUGUST 2nd

Junior B Hurling Championship semi-finals

Davitts v All Saints at Tir na nOg – Throw-In – 7.30

Loch Mor v Latharna Og at Feystown – Throw-In – 7-30

AUGUST 9th – Junior B Hurling final TBC

AUGUST 10th

Intermediate Hurling Championship Preliminary

Cushendun v Sarsfields at Glenravel/Ballymena TNN – Throw-in 1-30

Cloney Gaels v St Enda’s at Glenravel/Ballymena/TNN – Throw-in 3-00

Senior Hurling Championship Group 2 – Round 1

Loughgiel v St Johns at Healy Park Loughgiel. Throw in 7pm

AUGUST 11th

Senior Hurling Championship Preliminary – 2nd leg

Ballycastle v Rossa at Pairic McUilin, Ballycastle – Throw-in 3pm

Senior Hurling Championship Group 1 – Round 1

Dunloy v Ruairi Og at Pearse Park Dunloy – Throw in 6pm

AUGUST 16th

Senior Hurling Championship: Group 2 – Round 2

St Galls v Loughgiel at Milltown – Throw in 7-15pm

AUGUST 17th

Senior Hurling Championship: Group 1 – Round 2

Rossa/B’castle v Dunloy at Rossa Park or Pairc MacUilin – Throw in 2pm

AUGUST 30th

Junior Hurling Championship Quarter-final

St Pauls v St Teresas at Lamh Dhearg: Throw-in 7 pm

Intermediate Hurling Championship Quarter-final

Creggan v Clooney Gaels or St Endas at Tir na nOg: Throw in 7 pm

Carey v Armoy in Fr Healy Park, Loughgiel: Throw-in at 7pm

AUGUST 31st

Junior Hurling Championship Quarter-finals

Glenravel v Gort na Mona at Ahoghill: Throw-in 1pm

Junior B winner v Rasharkin at Ahoghill: Throw-in 2-30pm

Glenarm v Lamh Dhearg at Creggan: Throw-in 1pm

Intermediate Hurling Championship Quarter final

Sarsfields or Cushendun v Tir na nÓg at Creggan: Throw-in 2-30pm

Senior Hurling Championship Group 2 – Round 3

St Johns v St Galls at Corrigan Park: Throw in 1pm

Senior Hurling Championship-Group 1 – Round 3

Ruairi Og v Rossa/Ballycastle in Cushendall: Throw-in 5-30p

Monday September 2nd

Intermediate Hurling Championship Quarter-final

Cloughmills v Glenariffe at Armoy: Throw-in 7-15

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship draw

The Intermediate Hurling Championship, which this season has a new sponsor in Andersonstown Social Club, is probably the most competitive in all the codes in the county and Monday evening’s draw has thrown up a few mouth watering ties. In the preliminary round last season’s Junior champions Cushendun face a tough tie when they take on Sarsfields while new St Enda’s manager Terence Sambo McNaughton will be thrown in at the deep end when the Glengormley men face Cloney Gaels Ahoghill.

There is a big north Antrim derby when neighbours Carey Faughs and Armoy meet in the first of the quarter finals and another big game battle when Oisins take on St Brigid’s Cloughmills. The winners of the Sarsfields v Cushendun game play Tir na nOg in the third quarter final while last season’s runner-up Creggan take on either Cloney Gaels or St Enda’s.

Preliminary Round

Cushendun vs Sarsfields                Prelim 1

Clooney Gaels vs Naomh Éanna                Prelim 2

Quarter-Finals

Carey Faughs vs Glen Rovers, Armoy      QF1

St Brigid’s, Cloughmills vs Oisins                 QF2

Tir na nÓg vs Prelim 1                                     QF3

Creggan vs Prelim 2                                         QF4

Semi-Finals

QF1 vs QF3

QF4 vs QF2

Division One Hurling a massive positive at the end of St Galls All-Ireland journey

By a Kevin Herron 

St Galls Hurling captain Joe McDaniel insists that the big positive to take in the aftermath of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Oranmore is that they have Division One Hurling to look forward to in the season ahead. 

McDaniel recounts a heavy opening day league defeat and the hands of Armoy and believes the players would have bitten somebody’s hand off, if they had suggested winning Ulster and getting to an All-Ireland semi-final at Parnell Park was possible. 

The St Galls captain rued his sides failure to land a second-half goal with the game in the balance on Sunday and felt that any momentum was killed by the stop start nature of the game. 

Joe McDaniel leads out the St Gall’s team at Parnell Park. Pic by John McIlwaine

“The positives are we’ve division one Hurling to look forward to this year” McDaniel insists. 

“If you had have asked us in the beginning of the year after we were beaten by Armoy in our first league game by about thirty points – if you’d have spoke to us after and told us we would have won Ulster and had a chance of an All-Ireland semi-final at Parnell Park we would have thought you’d be pulling our leg, but also we’d have bitten your hand off for it”. 

“We never really got going – we said to the boys before the game if we were two or three points within them at half-time then we’d be happy and we’d make a fight for it in the last fifteen. We came out and they got the goal through a mistake – maybe that’s what we needed to get ourselves going, a goal at that stage. We never really got going to be honest.”

St Galls will also rue the failure to make use of a numerical advantage afforded to them for almost two thirds of the game – following a red-card issued to Oranmore corner-back Alan Bannon. 

McDaniel was of the opinion that Oranmore coped well with the dismissal and praised the Galway sides physicality as they prevented St Galls building from defence. 

“To be honest, when I said I would have been happy to come in two or three down at half-time – I was actually disappointed we hit seven wides in the first-half” reflected McDaniel. 

“We should have been at least two or three up and it would have gave us a real platform to go on in the second-half and Oranmore might have panicked. If you had have came into the game late after half-time and asked who had the extra man? You wouldn’t have been able to tell”. 

“They coped with it very well, they were well drilled. We struggled to find the extra-man and they were a big physical team – when we got the ball in defence they tied us up well and made it very difficult for us to get the ball into our forwards. We usually like to play the ball out of defence – we didn’t get the option to do that today”. 

Another statistic that St Galls will reflect upon is the fact that only 1-04 of Oranmore’s 1-13 came from play. 

Niall Burke top scored for the Galway men with 0-11 and 0-10 coming from the placed ball. McDaniel felt that his side gave away some soft fouls over the course of the sixty minutes which helped Oranmore, but admitted that his sides four point total up until their injury-time goals would not have been enough. 

“If you told me today that they’d only score 1-04 from play – I would say we’d win that game” admitted McDaniel. 

Joe McDaniel and his joint captain Ciaran McGourty with the Oranmore-Maree joint captains Niall Burke and Geróid McInerney and match referee Patrick Murphy

“I would say our lads are disciplined in the tackle – one big thing we preach is don’t be tackling with the stick, no slapping, tackle with the hands – that’s a skill we probably learn from football. Again being overly critical – I think we gave away some soft fouls, even still; you can’t be giving away the amount of frees we did and expect to win a game. Nor can you score four points and expect to win a game either”.