Slick moving Emmet’s advance to semi-finals

列印Ulster Junior hurling quarter-final

Cushendun Emmett’s (Antrim) 2-16 Na Magha (Derry) 0-10

Na Magha have been beaten Ulster Junior club finalists on three occasions recently and were expected to provide a stiff test for an Emmet’s side who were appearing in their first Ulster encounter at this level when the sides met at Quinn Park, Ballymena today.

In truth the Steelstown side never looked like troubling a slick moving Cushendun side who took control from early in the game and had put the result to bed by half time when they led 2-9 to 0-3 at the short whistle.

The Emmet’s were superior all over the field and any chance of a Na Maha comeback in the second half were soon dispelled with the Derry side’s first score from play coming five minutes from time, an excellent long range effort from Brendan Quigley.

Cushendun started brightly with  Conor McHugh excellent from frees and the North Antrim side went on to dominate the first half with Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbett and Mark Scally giving nothing away in defence and Na Maha having to work overtime for scores.

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59Mark Kilgore Logo-advert copy-na magha

Donal O’Hara did a good job in his man-marking job on their danger man, Alan Grant who lacked support until the Derry side dispensed with the sweeper shortly before half-time, but by that time Cushendun were in control in most areas of the pitch and there was no chance they would lose the initiative even though Na Magha had a better second half.

Cushendun, particularly during the opening half, worked hard in half-back, midfield and half-forward and the pace of David Kilgore and James Morgan opened up the Na Maha defence time and again. During the second half the Emmet’s eased up a little but by this time they had one foot in the next round as they continued to have too many options for their opponents.

McHugh set matters in motion as he pointed the first of nine frees from the polished mid-fielder, in the opening minute and he had added three more as Cushendun shot the first six points, the pick of them from David Kilgore from a sideline cut.

Deaglan Foley finally got his side on their way from two pointed frees but a long ball out of defence from Donal O’Hara deceived Na Maha keeper Barry Robinson who appeared unsighted in the bright sunshine and went all the way to the Derry net in the 16th minute with Eugene Duffin shepherding it over the line.

Five minutes later Aidan Corbett’s long diagonal ball set up James Morgan who turned his marker and fired low past Na Maha keeper, Robinson for a 2-7 to 0-2 lead. McHugh from a free and Morgan from play added points before the break and even at this stage it looked as good as over.

The excellent Conor McHugh and Conleth McNeill opened the Emmet’s second half account with two frees as the men in their change strip of Saffron continued to call the shots but although Na Magha replied from three Deaglan Foley frees, points from Dominic McQuillan (2), Eugene Duffin and McHugh had Cushendun coasting at 2-15 to 0-6.

Na Magha scored four of the last five points of the game, but these were merely consolation scores as Cushendun had already secured their place in the semi-final where they will face either Mullahoran of Cavan or Lurgan’s Sean Treacy’s on October 28th.Glendun Nursing Home ad copy

2.JPGMary McBrides

Cushendun: E Magee; S Hamilton, A Corbett, T Scally; M Scally capt., D O’Hara (1-0), P Bannon; M McCartin, C McHugh (0-9 frees); C McNeill (0-1 free), E McQuillan (0-1), D McQuillan (0-2); J Morgan (1-1), E Duffin (0-1), D Kilgore (0-1).

Subs: N McAuley for M Scally (HT), R McQuillan for E Duffin (45), M Dunne for D McQuillan (50), A McMullan for D Kilgore (53), R Millar for J Morgan (57).


Na Magha: B Robinson; C McGoran, J McQuillan, M Temple; M McShane, B Quigley (0-1), F McAnaney (0-1); T Rankin (0-1 free), B Glass; C Shiels, N McCallion, B Douban; A grant, D Foley (0-7 frees), D Shiels.

Subs : T Gallagher for M McShane (34), M McCloskey for N McCallion (38).

Referee : Barry Winters (Tyrone)

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Dornan and Davison Determined

列印1By Liam Tunney @Unitpdates

Na Magha manager Ciaran Davison winces at the mention of last season’s Ulster JHC Final loss and is scathing in his self-analysis.

“I suppose the temptation was to go man-to-man but I was a bit more cautious on the day and I think I maybe got it wrong.”

The Ballyarnett side will be looking to put the disappointment of losing out in no less than three Ulster JHC Finals in recent years behind them this weekend as they come up against Robert Emmet’s Cushendun, who, after finally getting over the line in Antrim, are entering the competition for the first time.

Both sides will come into this game with added motivation, having lost members of their club during the season. In July, the Na Magha community tragically lost 19-year-old Aodhán O’Donnell, a young star for both club and county.

With O’Donnell a playing member for the Derry men, his loss was keenly felt among his team-mates, who honoured his memory by donning commemorative jerseys in the run-up to their Derry championship opener against Michael Davitt’s Swatragh, a tough occasion according to their manager.

“An emotional day,” remembers the Ballycastle native, “we had his hurl and his helmet in with us in the huddle and I think the boys got a wee bit carried away with the emotion of it all.”

Davison laments a slow start in that particular game and admits that the form of some of the younger lads who were close to Aodhán understandably took a hit in the weeks that followed his passing as the club came to terms with the loss.

“You could see the form dip a bit, a few boys who would have been close to him were definitely affected.”

Cushendun’s own season was also touched by tragedy, losing club stalwart John McCaughan back in June.

McCaughan was part of the Emmet’s team who took on Cúchullain’s Dunloy in the 2000 Antrim SHC Final and Rory McQuillan, a team-mate on that occasion, paid a poignant tribute to John, dedicating the victory to him in an online post in the hours following the game.

RJ Plastering copy-na maghaDYLN3484Rory McQuillan celebtates his goal in the Antrim final win over Cushendun. Pic by Dylan McIlwaine

Manager Chris Dornan is keen to point out that although the desire to win for John was there, it was more of a quiet determination.

“It was always there in the background, there wasn’t a point where anyone stood up and said ‘let’s do it for John’ or anything.”

“He’s a big loss to the club,” continues Dornan, “everyone knew John and a lot of the boys who are in their late 20s or early 30s would have hurled along with him down the years.”

The Cushendall native stresses that the league was the priority for his side, and finishing in the top 6 was the only target they had in mind at the beginning of the year.

“We didn’t even start thinking about the Antrim championship until about July. Our priority was the league, we didn’t want to be facing a relegation battle going into championship and the Rasharkin game was a turning point really.”

Dornan refers to a league encounter at Dreen where his side found themselves trailing in the last five minutes, before hitting five unanswered points to win by four in a stirring finale to clinch a top six spot.

“After that we got the physical trainer back in again and started to build towards championship, we had a lot of outside men come in to freshen up the voices, Dinny Cahill was in to take a session and the boys really responded.”

43950556_740005906346217_5441809459082952704_nNa Magha players in a huddle before the Swatragh game – Pic by Liam Tunney

Na Magha also targeted promotion from the Antrim Division 4 league as a priority at the beginning of the year, with its importance enhanced by the strong underage set up yielding dividends in Ballyarnett.

“We have a panel of about 30 boys at U14 level coming through to U16, boys that wouldn’t look out of place in any county, some lovely wristy hurlers,” enthuses Davison, “but there were only a few real challenges in that league and we needed to get into Division 3 to give those young lads something to look forward to.”

Although paling in comparison, they have both had their fair share of on-field heartache too.

Last year’s final was particularly galling for the Derry men, losing by only three points to an excellent Setanta team, boasting the likes of Declan Coulter, Danny Cullen and Kevin Campbell among their ranks. Despite the disappointment, Davison remembers the game for its positive effect on his young team.

“You had a massive crowd from the club up to support us on the day, and there were chants and everything from the sideline. It was probably the first time any of the younger players had experienced that kind of support and it definitely gave them a lift.”

“That final was great experience but we’re concentrating on the weekend and the task in hand.”

Na Magha enter this season’s competition with their county championship still ongoing, Eoghan Rua’s big ball exploits delaying the replay of the drawn Derry JHC final a fortnight ago, and their manager extolled the virtues of their midweek tussle with Antrim Division 4 winners Bredagh.

“The Bredagh game just came at the right time” suggests Davison, who has been with the club for over eight years.

“I felt we were a wee bit flat in the Swatragh game and then in the first half against Coleraine, but we lifted it in the second half and got the draw, and then the Bredagh game was played at championship pace, eyeballs everywhere, and it was great preparation for the weekend.”
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Having lost five of the last nine Antrim finals, there was delight and an understandable amount of relief for Chris Dornan’s charges at finally being crowned champions, hitting an impressive 1-23 in a windswept Ballycastle to see off Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm.

“We were pleased with our performance in the final, some of the scores were phenomenal,” beams Dornan, “I was saying to the boys I couldn’t believe some of the scores they were getting with that wind.”

Having worked with Emmet’s for three years, Dornan has focused on instilling a style of play that suited his youthful side and the fruits of his labour were clear in the final, as David Kilgore and James Morgan found each other repeatedly with short, crisp stick passes.

“I took a look at the lads we had coming through and knew they had the talent and the skill to play that short passing game and after working at it, It’s great to see the boys have bought into it an executed it.”

David Kilgore had a fine game in the final, with Conlaoth McNeill, Pierce Bannon and Conor McHugh also performing strongly. The Cushendun forward unit delivered a superb display in testing conditions, their total actually exceeding the combined score from both Senior sides in the Semi-Final that followed their game. They were however relatively untested defensively as Glenarm struggled to make headway with what little possession they could muster.

This could be a worry as their opponents carry a forward threat of their own. In Deaglán Foley they not only have an unerring free-taker, but a superb all-round forward who would not be out of place on many senior teams in either county. Alan Grant links up well with his midfielders and has the vision to unlock defences, while at centre-back the solid Brendan Quigley marshals the defence with style and confidence.

When asked about Na Magha, Cushendun manager Dornan cast his mind back to their meetings in the 2017 Antrim Hurling League, when both teams played in the chaotic Division 3-4 hybrid.

“We would have played them last year in the league and I think we beat them by a point up at their pitch. I wouldn’t say their team are alien to us but we wouldn’t be overly familiar either.”

Cushendun come into this game in bonus territory and relieved of the pressure of expectation and the burden of the ‘nearly-men’ tag, they may be confident of booking a Semi-Final place. Na Magha though have been gearing towards this competition all year, given the ineligibility of Eoghan Rua, and their experience at this level may be an advantage.

They will however need to be prepared for Emmet’s strength in depth. In the final they were able to call on the experience of Rory McQuillan, who hit 1-02 in his cameo role in the dying moments of the game.

With both sides quietly determined to honour their former colleagues, the hunger, desire and passion on show will be a testament to two men who loved the game, whatever the result on the day.


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‘Dall and ‘Dun must do it on their own

On Sunday next neighbours Cushendall and Cushendun have their biggest games of the year so far, but both are roughly at the same time, 25 miles apart.Colum Thompson tries to work it all out.

By Colum Thompson

If you didn’t laugh you’d cry. A competitive club hurling match in Ulster was like an endangered species during the summer months of June, July and August. So rare in fact that if you had the good fortune to stumble across one you might find David Attenborough hiding in the bushes doing the commentary. When you consider that every Ulster county had exited their respective championship competitions by the end of June it seems baffling that now, over three months later we are still yet to play an Ulster club championship match at Senior, Intermediate or Junior level. What this means, like every other year is a rush to get games played before the snow arrives and the surfaces turn from heavy to complete bogs.

   When you have two villages separated by just a few miles like Cushendall and Cushendun, where people go to school together, youth clubs, discos, pubs and other social events together you often find what I call cross community marriages, like my own!! Joan Lingard wrote a novel in the early 1990’s called “Across The Barricades” about Kevin (a catholic) and Sadie (a protestant) finding love in war torn Belfast. I’m not saying a marriage between someone from Cushendall and someone from Cushendun is comparable to a catholic marrying a protestant during the troubles, a Dall/ Dun marriage is much more complicated and politically sensitive!!!

   In all seriousness you have plenty of families with someone in each camp. Cushendun’s manager is a Cushendall man, Chris Dornan who has taken plenty of teams for us as well. There would be several players on the Cushendun team who have played underage hurling for Cushendall and there’d be plenty of people in each village would want to watch the other in championship action. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what the fixture makers have done this weekend. That’s right, Cushendun play Na Magha in the Ulster Junior Quarter Final on Sunday at half 2 and Cushendall play St. Johns on the same day at three o’ clock in Ballycastle. Unless you can commandeer Marty McFly’s DeLorean you can’t watch both. Now I understand people weren’t expecting a draw in the Dall v Johnnies match a couple of weeks ago and I know that the Ulster Council made one fixture and the Antrim board the other but is a phone call really that hard to make? Or text, email, private message, Instagram, snapchat, carrier pigeon, smoke signal or whatever. Could one match not have been on Saturday and the other on Sunday? Or one at midday and the other at half three? I’ll be in Ballycastle on Sunday, in fact if Cushendall’s fixture was in Skibbereen Harbour in the middle of the night I’d be there, I love my club and I love hurling. It’s just such a pity I can’t see the newly noisy neighbours in their biggest match for many years as well.

‘Dorny’ was delighted to get Cushendun over the line

Emmett’s manager Chris Dornan gives his views on Sunday’s win

CRLL1629Chris Dornan was understandably delighted to have helped end Cushendun’s losing run in finals when Saffron Gael spoke to him after Sunday’s win over Glenarm in the Junior Hurling Championship

“It feels great to have won the championship in my first year as manager. I was involved in the management team for the past two years with Aidan Delargy and Skinner McAlister but this was my first year on my own and it feels great” The Ruairi Og clubman added “I’m especially pleased for the players, they have worked very hard all season. We have six or seven Under 21s and a couple just out of U21 in the team and this win will do them the world of good. I don’t like singling anyone out but today David Kilgore showed just how good he is with an outstanding display, and what can you say about Conor McHugh? We went down to the All Ireland Sevens (in early September) and he was in the running for player of the tournament. He was also on the county panel this season.” Dorny, as he is better know went on to say “I have to also mention Donal O’Hara who was out through injury for a large part of the season. He has been great in our three championship matches to date.  He is a real big game player”

Amidst the celebrations Dorny had still a word of praise for Sunday’s opponents Glenarm. “I have known their managers Kevin and Ronan for a long time and they are two great hurling men. They have put their heart into that team for the past two years. Their hands were tied this season because they were missing seven or eight players but they still managed to reach a county final. I know a good few of their players well and I managed some of them on juvenile teams in Cushendall and I have great time for them.”

Looking forward to the Ulster Junior Championship Dorny was buzzing at the thought of it. “I’m led to believe we play Na Magha of Derry at an Antrim venue and I think if we can reproduce the display we turned in today we are in with a chance”

Emmets make it sixth time lucky to take the junior crown

列印Junior Hurling Championship Final

Robert Emmet’s, Cushendun 1-23 Shane O’Neills, Glenarm 2-7

Sunday September 30

Brendan McTaggart reports from Paírc MacUílin, Ballycastle

They say you have to lose one to win one.  For the men of Cushendun, they’ve had to lose five in nine years but the wait is finally over.  Cushendun became Antrim junior hurling champions on Sunday with 13 points to spare over Shane O’Neills at Paírc MacUílin.

It was an imperious performance by the Emmets as they dominated the Feystown men from the first whistle.  Midfielder Conor McHugh top scored for the winners with 0-6 to his name with all but one coming from play.  David Kilgore and Conleth ‘Loaf’ McNeill chipped in with ten points split evenly between them while substitute Rory McQuillan put to bed the pain of being part of the previous five Junior final defeats, plus the 2000 Senior final to Dunloy, by scoring the Emmet’s only goal of the game in the 57th minute.

Glenarm were reliant on the brilliance of Daniel Black in their quest for junior glory.  Having tasted defeat in last year’s decider the Shane O’Neills impressed in their semi-final win over St Teresa’s but they couldn’t quite hit the same heights on Sunday.  Black top scored for the Glenarm men with 1-5 while Christopher Matthews first half goal breathed fresh impetus into their challenge and gave them hopes of defying the bookies.  Cushendun were a more efficient and slick machine though with attacking threats all over the field.  The ability of their midfield and half back to read the game, break at pace and deliver quality ball into their forwards was decisive in defining the winners.  The Emmet’s controlled the second half and put to bed the memory of their previous final reversals.RJ Plastering copy13Glendun Nursing Home ad copy

With the wind blowing straight across the pristine like surface at Paírc MacUílin, playing conditions were difficult.  Both sides made a lively start to the decider but it was the Shane O’Neill’s who settled into the contest from the off with Daniel Black (free) and Dylan McLaughlin firing over for their side inside the opening five minutes.  Cushendun began to impose their game on the Glenarm men and through McHugh (two), David Kilgore, McNeill and Eugene Duffin they stretched into a three point lead before Daniel Black stopped the rot with his second free of the match in the 12 minute.

Cushendun were well on top though playing an attractive brand of hurling and showing incredible hunger at the breakdown to win possession.  Loaf and Kilgore split the posts before Pierce Bannon (two) and McHugh put the Emmet’s into a seven point lead with just six minutes of the half remaining.

The Glenarm men hit back though and when Black and Dominic McQuillan swapped scores in the 26 minute, seven points still separated the sides before the Feystown men scored the opening goal of the contest.  Having swapped Conal Ward and Christopher Matthews just moments earlier, the Glenarm management team’s swap was vindicated straight away with Matthews finding the top corner from 20 yards out giving Eoin Magee no chance in the Emmets goals.

Daniel Black landed his fourth point of the match soon after to reduce the Emmets lead to three points with as many minutes remaining in the first half but Cushendun responded to the Glenarm purple patch well.  A brace of frees from Conleth McNeill, taking his tally for the first half to 0-4 gave the Emmets a five point lead at the interval.5A

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Glenarm and Sean O’Hare opened the scoring after the restart to give the Shane O’Neill’s support hopes of another rousing comeback just like 12 months ago but Cushendun went through the gears early in the second half.  Four points in the space of two minutes from McHugh, James Morgan, and two for Kilgore put eight between the sides and Cushendun were playing with a purpose and poise that breathed confidence among their support.

Daniel Black pointed his third free of the match in the 45th minute but it did little to derail the Cushendun charge as the Emmets replied with another McNeill free and Conor McHugh’s fourth point of the match in the 50th minute.

The Shane O’Neill’s were awarded a penalty in the 52nd minute when referee Vincent O’Boyle spotted an infringement on Patrick McAuley and although Black blasted the sliotar beyond the reach of Magee in the Cushendun goals, it proved to be their last score of the contest.  Cushendun finished with a flourish to man of the match Kilgore landing his fifth point of the match before McQuillan’s major in the 57th minute sealed the fate of Glenarm and taking the Emmets lead to 10 points.  A trio of points from McHugh, Dominic and Rory McQuillan added further gloss to the score line for the Emmets as they took the junior honours with a convincing victory and now look forward to an Ulster championship campaign. 4Dylan McIlwaine presents the Saffron Gael Man of the Match award plus the Martin Hurls Man of the Match award to David Kilgore

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Cushendun: Eoin Magee; Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbett, Jack McKay; Mark Scally, Donal O’Hara, Thomas Scally; Matthew McCartin, Conor McHugh; Pierce Bannon, Eugene Duffin, Dominic McQuillan; James Morgan, Conleth McNeill, David Kilgore.

Glenarm: Liam Mulvenna; Sean Moran, Martin Ward, Aidan O’Neill; Liam Mitchell, Darren Hamill, Jake Hamilton; Christopher Matthews, Patrick McAuley; Daniel Black, Kieran Mulvenna, Dylan McLaughlin; Sean O’Hare, Barry Hamill, Conal Ward.

Scorers for Cushendun: Conor McHugh 0-6 (1f); David Kilgore 0-5; Conleth McNeill 0-5 (1 ’65, 2 f’s); Rory McQuillan 1-1; Pierce Bannon 0-2; Dominic McQuillan 0-2; Eugene Duffin 0-1; James Morgan 0-1

Scorers for Glenarm: Daniel Black 1-5 (1-00 pen, 3 f’s); Christopher Matthews 1-00; Dylan McLaughlin 0-1; Sean O’Hare 0-1

Referee: Vincent Boyle (Dunloy)

Man of the Match: David Kilgore (Cushendun)

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