Cushendun Emmet’s Award night

Cushendun Emmet’s celebrated their Junior Hurling Championship winning season on Friday night at a dinner in Cushendall Golf Club. Saffron Gael went along to capture the action.

LEFT – North Antrim chairman Owen Elliott presents the Junior Hurling Championship trophy to Emmet’s captain Mark Scally at the Cushenun GAC dinner in Cushendall Golf Club. RIGHT – Committee member Debbie McQuillan presents the Wilsons of Rathkenny Merit Award to Seamus McQuillan

LEFT – Denis O’Hara presents the Hugh O’Hara Shield to Clubman of the Year Liam Mulholland. RIGHT – Gerry Scally presents the Minor Hurler of Year award to Tomas Scally

LEFT – Senior team captain Mark Scally makes a special presentation to RJ McQuillan for his long years of service to the Emmet’s on the playing fields. RIGHT – Junior Hurler of the Year Conor Bannon receives his trophy from John O’Hara.

LEFT –  Owen Elliott presents the North Antrim Junior Hurler of the Year award to Conor McHugh. RIGHT – Aidan McHugh accepts the a referee’s award on behalf of Paul McSparran.

LEFT – Senior team manager Chris Dornan presents the Senior Hurler of the Year award to Conor McHugh. RIGHT – Pearl McQuillan presents the Senior Players’ Player of the Year award to Jack McKay.

LEFT – Chris Dornan present the Most Dedicated Hurler award to joint winners James Morgan (left) and Eoin Magee (right). RIGHT- Chris Dornan presents the All Ireland Junior Sevens Shield to team captain Mark Scally. Emmet's 12The Cushendun team who won this season’s Antrim Junior Hurling Championship with the team management at the club awards dinner in Cushendall Golf Club Emmet's 16Emmet’s GAC committee and guests at the club’s award dinner. Emmet's 14The Emmet’s team who won the All Ireland Junior Sevens Shield Emmet's 17Club chairperson Helen Magee (left) who made special presentations to Anna Dornan and Sarah Hamilton (right) who were married during the past season and Catriona O’Hara for washing the team kit during the season.

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Guests who attended the Cushenun Emmet’s dinner in Cushendall Golf Club.

Dream is over for All Saints but the memories will last a lifetime

Photographs: Jim Brady

Leinster Junior B Hurling Championship

All Saints 2-15 (Antrim)  Balinderreen (Galway) 3-18

And so the dream is over for All Saints Ballymena but hopefully the experience and the benefits for future hurling in Ballymena will last a life time. For the second time in a fortnight they left Ballymena at 5-15am for the long trip to Limerick having made the journey two weeks ago to face Coolderry of Offaly in the quarter final of the Leinster B Hurling championship and came away victorious.

There’s been a buzz around the Slemish Park club since that victory and it was decided to run a spectators bus to Saturday’s semi-final and hopes were high that All Saints could record another victory even though they were playing a Balinderreen side who were previous winners of the tournament.

Those hopes looked well founded when the Antrim Junior champions turned around 2-10 to 0-9 ahead but the introduction of Sean Corcoran to the Ballinderreen side in the second half turned the game on its head. Corcoran scored 3-2 and certainly raised a few eyebrows and questions amongst the travelling support as to why he didn’t start.

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Ballinderreen made a bright start and looked the better team early on as they raced into a three point lead before All Saints responded with a couple of points from Ciaran Neeson and one from Padhraig Magill to draw level.

The Antrim champions matched their Galway counterparts score for score thereafter with Ciaran Neeson hitting five and Padraig Magill 0-3, Liam Cassley and Damian Gillan on target for the Slemish Park side and as they began to get on top two opportunist goals from Niall Magill put All Saints in pole position at the break when they led 2-10 to 0-9.

MATCH CHANGING SUBSTITUTION

Ballinderreen introduced Sean Corcoran for the second half and the bustling forward was to turn matters very much on their head. Corcoran hit 3 goals and 2 points in the last 15 minutes and proved unmarkable with the All Saints men unable to contain him.

All Saints fought hard in the second half but could only add five points to their first half total. Ciaran Neeson brought his total to eight as he converted three frees with defenders Damian Gillan and Colum Neeson their other scorers but they were never able to produce the fluency of the opening half.

Disappointment for the Ballymena side and their loyal band of supporters who made the long journey but when the disappointment subsides they will realise just what a great first season back in the Antrim leagues they have had.

This season should put hurling in the club back on a healthy footing and encourage more young lads to take up the game as the dedication shown by Paddy Neeson, Hector Cassley, Joe Casey and the rest of the team begin to provide the dividends their efforts deserve.

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All Saints: Daire Hasson, Darren McGinty, Chris McAfee, Ryan McGarry, Anthony Mitchell, Colum Neeson (0-1), Brendan McDonnell,  Liam Cassley (0-1),  Damian Gillan (0-2),  Ciaran Neeson (0-8 0-5 frees), Luke O’Rawe,  Paghraig Magill (0-3) ,Terence Diamond, Gary Miskella,  Niall McGarry (2-0)

Subs Ciaran McGarry for Anthony Mitchell, Eoin McGuigan for Terence Diamond, Vinny Esler, Barry Dorrity, Tony Connolly, James McDonnell, Enda Casey, Francis Casey, Sean O’Rawe.

2S

Ballinderreen: Colin Kelly, Niall Gill, Patrick Lane, Jack Tully, Conor Crotty 0-1, Patrick Carr 0-1, Gavin Duffy 0-2, Aidan Linnane 0-1, Alan Organ, Colm Gill 0-4, Gary Forde 0-2, Aidan Duffy 0-2, Padraig Lafferty 0-1, Kevin Coen 0-1, Hugh Moylan 0-1, Subs: Sean Corcoran 3-2, Gary Molloy, Allen Martyn

Referee: Bill Carr

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Saints back on the bus to Limerick

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All Ireland Junior B Hurling Series

Leinster Semi Final

Saturday 24th November

All Saints, Antrim v Ballinderreen, Galway

2:15 @ Killeedy GAA, Limerick.

When All Saints GAC Ballymena re-entered the Antrim hurling leagues this year there would have been few who could have envisaged that they would still have been playing competitive hurling at this stage of the season. Prior to their withdrawal from All County action a couple of seasons back it would be safe to say hurling in the club had stagnated and All Saints were struggling to field sides.

A number of players including Liam Cassley and Damian Gillan transferred to Cloughmills where they enjoyed a couple of very successful seasons and others played their hurling elsewhere but when the call to arms was issued these players were quick to return to the Slemish Park club.

In the meantime a number of young players had emerged and in hindsight that withdrawal, while painful at the time may have been the best thing for the club and certainly there has been an unprecedented interest since the new season began.

A league season that mixed good results with bad gave little indication early on as to just where All Saints were going but come championship time it was becoming obvious that the hard work being put in by Paddy Neeson, Hector Cassley, Joe Casey and Cushendall man, Skinner McAllister was paying dividends.

All Saints were drawn against Michael Davitt’s in the opening game of the Junior B Championship, a repeat of last year’s final which Davitt’s won, and it was the Ballymena side who ran out convincing winners. They went on to defeat St. Agnes in a one sided final and this qualified them for a place in the Junior A championship.

All Saints were drawn against Emmet’s Cushendun in their opening game and performed well before losing to a very good Emmet’s side who would go on to win Antrim before being beaten narrowly in the Ulster club final.

The Slemish Park side’s season wasn’t over however with an invitation from Killeedy GAC in Limerick to take part in their Leinster Junior B championship gratefully excepted and two weeks ago they travelled to Limerick.

A journey into the unknown and a meeting with Coolderry of Offaly in their opening game but All Saints embraced the opportunity and it was a happy squad who travelled back North with a victory over the Offaly men secured.

Despite the long journey to Limerick All Saints showed little signs of fatigue during the opening half of a game where they outclassed their opponents setting the foundations for their win. With Liam Cassley the outstanding performer on the field he led the team as a captain should and fired five points from play over the hour with his last giving his side a four point cushion and sealing the win.

This Saturday All Saints return to Killeedy where they meet Galway champions Balinderreen  and the attitude is likely to be the same. They will know little about Saturday’s opponents but it will be a case of ‘give it our best shot and see where it takes us’.

At the time of writing it wasn’t known just who was available for Saturday’s semi-final. County minor star, Ryan McGarry and his namesake, Ciaran McGarry missed the quarter-final and their availability would certainly enhance the Ballymena side’s chances.

There has been a lot of interest in the game and the club are running a bus to Limerick if there is sufficient interest and All Saints posted this notice on their website earlier in the week:

We have had enquiries about putting on a supporter’s bus.

Bus will leave Ballymena @ 5:15am. Breakfast stop and comfort break en route.

If you are interested in going on the bus, please contact Hector on 07525899006, or Gloria on 07732787278,

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Hector Cassley and Joe Casey get their hands on the Antrim Junior B cup and will be hoping their side can take another step towards the Leinster B title when they tavel to Kileeddy on Saturday.

 

Saints advance to semi-final

Leinster Junior B Hurling Championship

All Saints 3-16      Coolderry 3-12

Despite the long journey to Limerick All Saints showed little signs of fatigue during the opening half of a game where they outclassed their opponents setting the foundations for their win. With Liam Cassley the outstanding performer on the field he led the team as a captain should and fired five points from play over the hour with his last giving his side a four point cushion and sealing the win.

Changes in the Coolderry ranks at half time, which saw their full-forward switch to goalkeeper saw the Offaly side’s net minder begin to trouble the Ballymena men with his massive puck outs, over riding the mid-field area where the Slemish Park side had dominated in the opening half.

Despite a strong Coolderry come-back the All Saints defence stood tall and at the final whistle they led by four and now look forward to a meeting with the Galway champions in a couple of weeks’ time.

Ciaran Nesson opened the scoring for All Saints from a dead ball settling any early nerves they had. Two from Cassley and a kicked goal from Francis Casey gave the Ballymena men some breathing space as they dominated the early exchanges. The sides struggled to find the target after this with a number of wides from both sides before Coolderry eventually opened their account. Back came All Saints, a few pointed frees from Neeson and one from play followed by  goals from Gary Miskella and Padhraig Magill opened the gap before Coolderry responded with two goals of their own to serve notice that they weren’t there to make up the numbers. All Saints found another gear at this stage with two from Liam Cassley, Niall McGarry and back to back points from Damian Gillan sending them in at half time with a ten point lead.

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Half time

All Saints 3-10      Coolderry 2-3

Coolderry made a number of changes at the break which rejuvenated them. Most notably a change of goalkeeper and the All Saints defence now came under massive pressure from every puck out. The free flowing hurling of the first half had now turned into a much scrappier affair with the free count rising. Coolderry hit the opening points of the half and when they scored their third goal after some confusion in the All Saints defence it was clear the game was far from over. Padhraig Magill scored the point of the match from wide on the left and a point from Gary Miskella lifted some of the pressure his side were coming under. Coolderry kept the scoreboard ticking over, the majority coming from placed balls. With the gap now into three points Ciaran Nesson stood tall to point a long range free before Coolderrry hit back again and with the game now going into injury time it was backs to the wall stuff from the Saints. It was man of the match Cassley who finally put the game to bed with his fifth point sending his side through to the semi-final in a few weeks’ time.

All over the pitch the Ballymena men had big performances. With the middle third dominating the first half and with Brendan McDonnell excellent throughout the hour from wing back it set the tone for his colleagues. Ciaran Neeson’s accuracy from frees and aerial ability along with Padhraig Magill’s ball winning and work-rate to the fore in the second half.

All Saints: Daire Hasson, Darren McGinty, Chris McAfee, Terence Diamond, Anthony Mitchell, Colum Nesson, Brendan McDonnell, Liam Cassley (0-5), Damian Gillan (0-2), Ciaran Nesson (0-6), Luke O’Rawe, Padhraig Magill (1-1) Niall McGarry (0-1), Frank Casey (1-0), Gary Miskella (1-1)

Subs. Vinny Esler for Niall McGarry, Sean O’Rawe for Terence Diamond, Tony Connolly, Barry Dorrity, Enda Casey

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Dorny proud despite final defeat

By Brendan McTaggart

Cushendun didn’t get the fairy-tale ending on Sunday that their efforts throughout 2018 deserved.  A one point defeat, every bit as agonising as it sounds.  They had an element of control of the decider for 80% of the match yet unfortunately for the Emmet’s, Castleblayney made the most of their purple patch at the death.

Mark Treanor’s 46th minute goal proved to be the turning point.  Cushendun were sitting pretty with a five point lead but Treanor’s major gave the Monaghan men the impetus and momentum going into the final quarter to steal the win in the fourth minute of injury time.  The first and only time they would hold the lead.

Cushendun manager Chris Dornan initial reaction was understandable when we caught up with him on the Athletic Grounds pitch: “Really, really gutted.  I thought we put in a herculean game of hurling and we just came up short in the end.

“It’s hard to keep my emotions in check at the minute.  The work the boys put in, I don’t want to say too much in case I get into trouble.”

The brand of hurling Cushendun have played throughout their championship journey has belittled their junior status.  The Emmet’s continued to impress in the first half and while they came under huge pressure in the second, Dorny was delighted at how his charges went about their assault on the Ulster championship: “I am immensely proud.  I said in an interview earlier in the week, two years ago we were getting six at training.  Now we have 32, 33 or 34 players.  I just hope the boys go on in the Intermediate grade next year and give that a rattle because that didn’t do us justice today.”

Having been the bridesmaid for so long in Antrim, the Emmet’s wanted to give Rory McQuillan the ending to his 25 year career he deserved and while Dorny was disappointed, he cast his eye towards the 2019 season: “We didn’t give Rory the send-off he wanted but he got his championship medal.  The rest of the lads will have the winter off and come back refreshed but it’s heart-breaking.  There’s some of them boys in tears and I suppose it would have been the same for Castleblayney but I still think we’re the better hurling team.  We didn’t get the rub of the green with decisions at times and we missed a free at the end.  It’s these small things that make the difference but it doesn’t matter now.

“I just hope the boys come back next year refreshed.”

Cushendun came close to realising a dream under the low winter sun in Armagh on Sunday afternoon but when they reflect on their achievements of 2018, it’s been one to remember for the north Antrim men: “November last year when we first met up, we weren’t expecting to be hurling in November.  For a club as small as Cushendun numbers wise, they don’t expect to be hurling in November.  After winning Antrim, everything else was a bonus.

“That’s (Castleblayney) an intermediate team.  They fancied themselves at intermediate grade and we pushed them to the pin of their collar and on another day we could have won by three or four points but I wish them all the best.”2b