Shane O’Neill’s one step from Ulster Glory

Ulster Junior Hurling Club Final

Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm v Setanta Donegal

Celtic Park (Derry) Sunday 1.45pm

Antrim Junior Hurling champions, Shane O’Neill’s, Glenarm are one step away from Ulster glory. On Sunday they face Setanta of Donegal in the Ulster final at Celtic Park Derry and it is a final the Feystown side are more than capable of winning.

Shane O’Neill’s have had a wonderful season in Antrim, gaining promotion from division 3 as league winners and going through their league programme with only one defeat in 11 starts. They carried that good form into the Junior Championship which was ran in a group forum before progressing to a knockout stage.

Shane O’Neill’s topped their group which earned them a home draw against Glen Rovers, Armoy, a side they had already defeated in league and championship, and were given a tough game in Feystown before their bit of extra class saw them through to the Antrim final where they met St. Mary’s Rasharkin.

Glenarm produced a strong finish to finally banish their junior championship hoodoo.  Eight points separated the sides at the end of the hour as the Shane O’Neill’s saw off the dogged resistance of Rasharkin in the final quarter. It was the Glenarm men’s first junior title in 65 years, though they have won Intermediate and Intermediate Reserve titles in the interim, but the junior had eluded them.

It was on to Ulster and a trip to Ennis keen where Pat O’Neill’s side faced Monaghan’s Carrick across in the quarter-final and, despite conceding an early goal proved too good for the Monaghan side.

Glenarm produced a performance of awesome scoring power and intensity to sweep aside the challenge of their opponents to progress to the semi-final.

Team captain, Darren Hamill and Ciaran Magill led the way for the Antrim champions and their intensity and ability to grab goals saw them run home fairly comfortable winner as they hit an impressive 4-27 on the day to set up a semi-final meeting with Sean Treacy’s of Kurgan.

Egham Road Hurling Club in Duncannon was the venue for the semi-final and Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm produced another strong performance to overcome the challenge of a determined Sean Treacy’s, Kurgan to advance to the final.

The Antrim Champions led 0-12 to 0-6 at half time thanks to late points from Darren Hamill and Kevin O’Boyle but looked in a bit of trouble early in the second half when Sean Treacy’s ace marksman, Danny Magee pointed a couple of early frees and Tam McKavanagh added another from play to close the gap to three points after 6 minutes.

It was as close as the Armagh champions got however and when Kieran O’Boyle kicked the sliotar to the Treacy’s net, three minutes later after being placed by Ciaran Magill, the Feystown side never looked back.

Shane O’Neill’s went on to win by 1-20 to 0-12 and now face Donegal champions, Setanta where they are likely to face their toughest challenge to date.

Setanta were crowned 2022 Donegal Senior Hurling Champions with a five point win over Burt in extra time at O’Donnell Park Letterkenny. In normal time, the Inishowen side recovered twice to keep the game tight when the men from the Cross threatened to pull away. Four points in succession had Setanta leading 0-6 to 0-3 coming up to the break but Burt rallied to pull it back to 0-6 to 0-5 at half time.

In the opening exchanges of the second half, Setanta again looked to be establishing a winning platform, leading by 0-10 to 0-6 after 30 minutes but once again Burt recovered. A shock appeared on the cards when Man of the Match, and scorer of 13 points, Liam McKinney put Burt 0-12 to 0-11 ahead as the game entered the last five minutes. Declan Coulter, a man of the match contender himself with eight points and an all-round impressive display, levelled the match on the stroke of full-time and Danny Cullen followed up with a majestic score to give the Killygordon side the lead. Consistent with their never-say-die attitude throughout, Burt survived with McKinney striking over a pressure free to bring the match to extra time.

Setanta were fast out of the blocks with an early extra-time point and within a minute Burt were reduced to fourteen men with a red card to midfielder Christopher McDermott. Setanta made full use of their numerical advantage hitting four more points but Burt hung in with two of their own to leave it 0-18 to 0-15 at the break. Both sides traded points early in the second half but a Davin Flynn goal set the seal on the game and Setanta ran out 1-20 to 0-18 winners.

Setanta defeated Eoghan Ruadh in the Ulster quarter-final on a scoreline of 1-16 to 2-11 in Letterkenny before facing Na Magha of Derry, who play their hurling in the Antrim leagues in the semi-final.

Setanta had 7 points to spare in that one and they will go into Sunday’s final in a confident mood. They are a strong team. They won the Ulster Junior Hurling title back in 2017 when they beat Na Magha in the final.

Glenarm have the men to test the Donegal champions and in team captain Darren Hamill they have a man who leads by example and his performances on the ‘40’ this year have been outstanding and his eye for a goal makes him one to watch.

Their defence has been solid all year with Michael Abram in goals, Barry Hamill and Declan McDermott at the spine of an uncompromising defence who give nothing away easy. McDerrmott missed the semi-final win over Sean Treacy’s with Daniel Black dropping back to centre-half on that occasion and Ben O’Boyle coming into mid-field to partner Kieran O’Boyle.

If McDermott is available I would expect him to start at centre-half with Saffron Gael man of the match in the Antrim final, Daniel Black reverting to his more familiar mid-field role but wherever he plays he is likely to have a major influence on the final outcome.

Hamill will once again direct the Feystown orchestra on the ‘40’ and his ability to grab vital goals throughout the championship has been instrumental in his side’s success and with potential match winners like Niall McGarel, Dylan McLaughlin and Ciaran Magill throughout the Glenarm forward division I would expect Shane O’Neill’s to claim the Ulster Junior Crown.

Last out of Feystown on Sunday morning switch off the lights and lock the doors with another big support from Carnlough and the hills above Glenarm likely to make the journey to the maiden city and their support has been like a 16th man to Shane O’Neill’s as they turned up in numbers throughout the campaign, perhaps anticipating that something special could happen at Celtic Park.

O’ Boyle kicks Shane O’Neill’s into final

Ulster JHC Club semi-final

Shane O’Neill’s 1-20 Sean Treacy’s 0-12

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm produced another strong performance at Eoghan Ruadh Hurling Club in Dungannon today to overcome the challenge of a determined Sean Treacy’s, Lurgan to advance to the final of the Ulster Junior Club Hurling championship where they will play Setanta of Donegal in two weeks-time.

The Antrim champioins led 0-12 to 0-6 at half time thanks to late points from Darren Hamill and Kevin O’Boyle but looked in a bit of trouble early in the second half when Sean Treacy’s ace marksman, Danny Magee pointed a couple of early frees and Tam McKavanagh added another from play to close the gap to three points after 6 minutes.

It was as close as the Armagh champions got however and when Kieran O’Boyle kicked the sliotar to the Treacy’s net, three minutes later after being placed by Ciaran Magill, the Feystown side never looked back.

Both sides wasted opportunities during a nervous opening period before Darren Hamill got Glenarm off the mark from a 40 meter free in the 4th minute but Sean Treacy’s should have taken the lead when Michael Abram failed to come for a long searching delivery and Danny Magee’s flicked attempt sailed over when he might have had a goal.

A let-off for Shane O’Neill’s but they responded positively and points from Kevin O’Boyle, Liam Magill and a great long range effort from Dylan McLaughlin had them three in front with only 8 minutes played.

The tenacity and aggression of the Lurgan side was allowing their opponents little time on the ball and the Armagh side replied through a Danny Magee free and the corner forward would play a big part in keeping his side in the game.

Still the Feystown side looked to be gaining control as Sean O’Boyle, Ciaran Magill and Darren Hamill from a free moved the Glenarm men 0-9 to 0-3 ahead by the 19th minute with Magee getting his third of the contest from another free.

The little corner-forward added another from a 50 meter free as his side fought to get themselves into contention but a great Niall McGarel point from near the touchline kept the gap at six with 24 minutes gone. Once again Magee replied with his fifth and sixth points to close the gap to four after 27 minutes and the number 15 was keeping his side in contention almost single handed.

Shane O’Neill’s once again found a response however as Darren Hamill directed a long range free between the uprights and Kevin O’Boyle added another from play as the game moved into time added on to leave the Antrim champions 0-12 to 0-6 ahead at the short whistle.

It was the men from Lurgan who came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half, determined to rein in the Glenarm lead with marksman supreme, Danny Magee taking his personal tally for the evening to 0-8 (7 frees) and when Tam McKavanagh followed with an excellent point from play we looked to have a game on our hands.

The men in blue refused to panic as Kevin O’Boyle replied with an equally impressive point and when Ciaran Magill released Kieran O’Boyle with an astute hand pass the big mid-fielder kicked his shot to the net despite being closed down by three opponents.

It was to prove a turning point in the game and despite the fact that there was still over 20 minutes to play the Armagh side never again looked like getting back into contention though they fought with great determination and never gave up the challenge.

McGarel and Hamill added to the Glenarm total with the impressive Magee keeping the Sean Treacy’s total on the increase with one from a free and another from play in the 17th minute before Tiarnan McKavanagh became the Lurgan men’s third scorer with 8 minutes of normal time remaining.

It was to be their final score of the game as Shane O’Neill’s pressed home their advantage going down the home straight as Kevin O’Boyle placed Niall McGarel for a good score before Caolan McCann pulled off a superb save to deny Ciaran Magill.

Glenarm went looking for goals at this stage and it was the turn of Kane Laverty to turn away a Magill rocket with Hamill converting the resulting ‘65’ before McGarel concluded the scoring with another impressive point from the right hand touchline.

Another excellent performance from the men from Feystown as they advance to an Ulster final against Setanta in two weeks-time and on today’s showing they will take some beating though the Donegal champions are likely to provide them with a serious challenge.

Ben O’Boyle came in to replace Declan McDermott in the only change from last week’s starting line-up with Daniel Black dropping back to do a superb job at centre-half and O’Boyle fitting seamlessly into mid-field.

The Glenarm defence was solid and uncompromising throughout while Darren Hamill, Niall McGarel, Ciaran Magill and Kevin O’Boyle were best in an attack that carried a real scoring threat in every department.

Shane O’Neill’s: 1 Michael Abram, 25 Conal Ward, 3Barry Hamill, 4 Liam Og McKaughan, 5 Padraig McDermott, 8 Daniel Black 7 Aidan Scullion, 18 Ben O’Boyle, 9 Kieran O’Boyle, 10 Sean O’Boyle, 11 Darren Hamill, 12 Dylan McLaughlin, 13 Kevin O’Boyle, 14 Liam Magill, 15 Niall McGarel,

Sean Treacy’s: 1 Caolaqn McCann, 2 Marcus Magee, 3 Odhran McCann, 4Barry McDonald, 5 Mark Hamilton, 6 Rory Shine, 7 Ryan Stewart, 8 Tam McKavanagh, 9 Kane Laverty, 10 Reece Magee, 11 Michael Doran, 12 Tiarnan McKavanagh, 13 Anthony Carvill, 14Raymond Daly, 15 Danny Magee.

Subs: Patrick Scullion, Neil Corey, Stephen Holloway

Referee: Barry Winters (Tyrone)

Stiff test ahead for Shane O’Neill’s but one they will relish

Ulster JHC Club semi-final

Shane O’Neill’s Antrim v Sean Treacy’s Armagh

Eoghan Ruadh Hurling Club Dungannon 5.00pm Saturday

Saturday’s Ulster Junior Club Hurling championship semi-final in Dungannon pits Antrim champions, Shane O’Neill’s, Glenarm against Sean Treacy’s of Lurgan and the Feystown side face a much stiffer challenge than they did last weekend when they proved much too strong for Carrickmacross in Inniskeen in the quarter-final, but it is one they will relish.

The Glenarm men had quite a bit to spare as they swept aside the challenge of the Monaghan champions who were minus a few regulars but you can only play the team that’s there on the day and Shane O’Neill’s went about their job with great efficiency and determination.

Facing the wind in the opening half, Glenarm put themselves in a strong position at half time when they led by 3-11 to 1-8 with their goals coming from Niall McGael, and two from Darren Hamill despite falling behind to an early goal.

Hamill completed his hat-trick early in the second half and the Feystown side went on to add 16 second half points with full-forward, Liam Magill leading the way and the Glenarm sharp shooter finished with 0-8 to his credit with Niall McGarel and Sean O’Boyle also prominent in a very sharp attack as they ran out 4-27 to 1-12 winners.

While Shane O’Neill’s were laying down a marker in Inniskeen their opponents on Sunday, Sean Treacy’s of Lurgan were demonstrating why the Antrim champions should take them extremely seriously.

A hat-trick of goals from their own sharpshooter, Danny Magee guided the Lurgan men through to the last four as they overcame the challenge of Cootehill Celtic at the Atheletic Grounds.

Magee finished with a grand total of 3-6 to his names as Liam Kelly’s side ran out 12-point winners in the end.

Full forward Raymond Daly also chipped in with two goals while four other players weighed in with scores.

Michael Doran hit 0-3 and Tiarnan McKavanagh, Stephen Holloway and Kane Lavery got their names on the score-sheet and 5-12 is impressive scoring in anybody’s book.

Magee certainly looks one to watch for the Antrim champions but he is unlikely to be afforded the space he was given against the Cavan men while Shane O’Neill’s have the forwards to trouble them at the other end.

The Feystown side are unlikely to show any changes from the side who excelled in Inniskeen with Michael Abram in goals and Barry Hamill and Declan McDermott anchoring a strong and commanding defence.

Daniel Black has been a powerhouse at mid-field where has a useful partner in Kieran O’Boyle with team captain Darren Hamill, Niall McGarel, Ciaran Magill, Dylan McLaughlin and the O’Boyle’s, Sean and Kevin with the firepower to see Glenarm through in attack.

Awesome O’Neill’s sweep aside Carrickmacross challenge

Ulster Junior Hurling club Championship

Carrickmacross 1-12 Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm 4-27

Shane O’Neill’s, Glenarm produced a performance of awesome scoring power and intensity to sweep aside the challenge of Monaghan champions, Carrickmacross in the quarter-final of the Ulster Junior Hurling club championship in Inniskeen today.

The Antrim champions were slow to start and actually fell behind twice in the opening 4 minutes but once they got going Carrickmacross had little answer to their pace and movement and by half time the Feystown side held a fairly substantial 8 point lead despite having played into a stiff breeze.

Keeper, Eamon Collins gave the Monaghan side the lead when he pointed a long range free in the second minute but Glenarm replied immediately and Niall McGarel raced clear for a splendid goal with only four minutes gone.

Naill McGarel wheels away in celebration afer scoring Glenarm’s opening goal

The home side hit the front again for the second and last time in the game when a long range free from Oran Kieran sailed all the way to the Glenarm net with keeper Michael Abram seeming to lose site of the sliothar as it dropped out of the blinding sun.

Two minutes later Ciaran Magill, who was to have a massive influence at full-forward levelled matters with a point and Darren Hamill followed from a ‘65’ to move the Antrim men ahead before Rowan McMahon levelled the contest for the second time with Carrickmacross’ first point from play.

The intensity of the Glenarm men and their ability to close down the opposition and deny them time and space was starting to tell and Darren Hamill was first to react as McGarel challenged Eamon Collins for a dropping ball and the Glenarm captain fired to the net in the 10th minute.

At this stage Carrickmacross were still hanging in there as their free taker, Oran Kieran pointed from 40 meters but Hamill replied again from a 45 meter free and Magill added his second point when he gathered a great save from Collins, to deny Hamill before sending over.

The pressure was starting to pay dividends as Darren Hamill raced through the Carrickmacross defence and rode a couple of heavy tackles before blasting his shot past Collins for Glenarm’s third goal after 15 minutes and already it was looking ominous for the men in green.

The slick movement and passing of the Antrim champions continued to produce opportunities as Daniel Black pointed after another fine save from the excellent Eamon Collins and Kevin O’Boyle followed with another in response to a point from the long striking Kiernan for the home side.

It provided only temporary respite as Dylan McLaughlin, Darren Hamill and Niall McGarel added to the ever increasing Shane O’Neill’s total and Hamill had the last point of the half from a ‘65’ following another splendid stop from Eamon Collins who was performing heroics to keep his side in the game.

With the wind now at their back and holding an 8 point lead it was difficult to see anything but a resounding win for the Feystown side and Daniel Black increased their lead with a point on the restart but they had to be thankful to their keeper, Michael Abram who pulled off a good save to deny Brian Finn as Carrickmacross briefly threatened.

Oran Kiernan pointed the resulting ‘65’ but Glenarm replied with a good point from the lively Ciaran Magill before Darren Hamill fired home his third goal of the game to move his side 4-12 to 1-9 ahead with only 7 minutes of the new half gone.

Things got worse for the Monaghan champions when they lost their free taker and best player, Oran Kiernan to a straight Red and Shane O’Neill’s began to turn the screw with a fine exhibition of point taking.

Hamill from a 60 meter free, Dylan McLaughlin 0-2, Sean O’Boyle 0-3 and Ciaran Magill 0-7, Darren Hamill, Kevin O’Boyle and Niall McGarel were all on target with Carrickmacross replying with a couple of consolation pointed frees from Jamie Guinan.

Both sides emptied their benches with Rory Mulvenna and Sean O’Hare getting a run out for the Antrim champions who now face Sean Treacy’s next Sunday in the semi-final following the Armagh side’s 5-12 to 1-12 win over Coothill Celtic at Breffni Park today.

Sean Treacy’s are likely to provide the Feystown side with a much stiffer test than a limited Carrickmacross produced today but on this form Pat O’Neill and Kevin Mulvenna’s men will be hard to beat and with home advantage next Sunday I would expect them to progress to the final.

Darren Hamill fires in his team’s fourth goal early in the second half

Carrickmacross: 1 Eamon Collins, 25 Niall Bermingham, 3 Ciaran Guinan, 4 Lee Butler, 5 Ryan Nelson, 6 Oran Kiernan, 7 Jack Guinan, 8 Jamie Guinan, 9 Stephen Corrigan, 11 Brian Finn, 12 Eoghan Hoey, 13 Rowan McMahon, 15 Niall Keenan, 19 Darragh Waters, 21 Ciaran Slevin, 26 Michael Maguire, 27 Daithi Butler, 29 Aodhan Browne, 2 Darragh Cassidy.

Glenarm: 1 Michael Abram, 25 Conal Ward, 3 Barry Hamill, 4 Liam Og McCaughan, 5 Padraig McDermott, 6 Declan McDermott, 7 Aidan Scullion, 8 Daniel Black, 9 Kieran O’Boyle, 10 Sean O’Boyle, 11 Darren Hamill, 12 Dylan McLaughlin, 13 Kevin O’Boyle, 14 Ciaran Magill, 15 Niall McGarel

Glenarm manager Pat ‘Boone’ O’Neill

Shane O’Neill’s back on the Ulster trail

On Sunday Glenarm hurlers take thier first step in their bid to get back to the summit of Ulster Junior hurling when the they travel to Inniskeen to take on the Monaghan representatives Carrickmacross in the quarter finals. We take a look back at their Antrim win and go back even further to remember their last Ulster sucess 18 years ago.

Kevin O’Boyle’s goal was the score that really settled the Antrim final win over Rasharkin

Antirm Junior Hurling final recap

Shane O’Neill’s 1-21 Rasharkin 0-16

Glenarm produced a strong finish to finally banish their junior championship blues.  Eight points separated the sides at the end of the hour as the Shane O’Neill’s saw off the dogged resistance of Rasharkin in the final quarter. It was the Glenarm mens’ first Junior title in 65 years, though they have won Intermediate and Intermediate Reserve titles in the interim, but the Junior had eluded them.

On Sunday they make a journey into the unknown when they travel to Inniskeen to take on Monaghan’s Carrickmacross.

Carrickmacross were actually beaten in the Monaghan SHC final by Castleblaney but are nominated for the Ulster Junior Championship while Castleblaney will play in the Ulster Intermediate Club Championship and will face Clooney Gaels

Castleblayney charged to the Monaghan senior hurling championship title with a 16 point win over Carrickmacross back in August.

Blayney were always in control sealing victory 2-23 to 1-10 in O’Neill Park. Castleblayney led by 12 points at half-time 1-14 to five points and Brian McGuigan’s 10th minute goal set Blayney on their way with Stephen Lambe and Fergal Rafter adding points.

James Slevin grabbed a goal three minutes after half-time for Carrickmacross to give them some hope, but McGuigan grabbed a second goal seven minutes later to keep Blayney’s dominance in the game.

Treanor, Niall Garland, Rafter and Paudie Heaven all added scores for Blayney who ran out 16 point victors, 2-23 to 1-10.

Shane O’Neill’s will start this one as favourites following a season where they have accounted for nearly everyone who has come before them.

Darren Hamill has been his team’s top scorer this season

They won division 3 of the Antrim ACHL, suffering only one defeated in their 11 starts and went on to top their championship qualifying group before defeating Glen Rovers, Armoy in the semi-final.

They went on to beat St. Mary’s Rasharkin in the final at Dunsilly by 8 points but certainly didn’t get it all their own way against a Rasharkin team who fought to the death.

With just one point between the sides at the half time whistle, a goal was always going to be a massive score and it proved to be the case with Kevin O’Boyle making the most of indecision in the Rasharkin defence with a little over ten minutes of the final remaining. 

The major gave Glenarm the confidence they needed to push for home with Nial McGarel producing an awesome display of point taking at the death.  He would finish with four points with two of those coming after the Glenarm goal when they pushed for victory.

Shane O’Neill’s are well balanced mix of youth and experience with Michael Abram in goals, Barry Hamill and Declan McDermott anchoring a solid defence who have the potential to attack.

Dan Black was Glenarm’s man of the match in the Antrim final win over Rasharkin

Daniel Black at midfield was the Saffron Gael man of the match in the Antrim final and has a solid partner in Kieran O’Boyle while in attack former Antrim player, Darren Hamill and Dylan McLaughlin have the experience for the big occasion while Niall McGarel and Kevin O’Boyle add pace and scoring power.

Carrickmacross are something of an unknown quantity and with Inniskeen likely to have suffered from the effects of this week’s rain conditions could be a great leveller but I would expect Shane O’Neill’s to win with something to spare with a big travelling support there to cheer them on. However Sunday’s opponents were beaten Ulster finalist last year and Castleblaney have shown with their wins over Con Magees in the 2015 semi-final and Cushendun in 2018 final, hurling in Monaghan is strong at this level.

Glenarm last won the Ulster title back in 2004 when they beat St Malachy’s Portdown in the final at Casement Park.

Glenarm’s venture into Ulster will the first since the opening round of the competition in 2004 when they went all the way, beating St Malachy’s Portadown in the Ulster final at Casement Park. They didn’t actually win the Antrim title that year, but because they were beaten in the Antrim final by Loughgiel 2nds team, they went through as Antrim representatives, as a senior club were not allowed to enter.

The men from Feystown have waited a long time to get back to this level, and suffered a series of Antrim final defeats along the way. They made no mistake this time and will travel to Inniskeen determined to keep this run going.  

Shane O’Neill’s v Rasharkin: Michael Abram; Ben O’Boyle, Barry Hamill, Conal Ward; Padraig McDermott, Declan McDermott, Aidan Scullion; Daniel Black, Kieran O’Boyle; Sean O’Boyle, Darren Hamill, Dylan McLaughlin; Kevin O’Boyle, Ciaran Magill, Niall McGarel

Subs: Kevin O’Boyle for B O’Boyle (34); Liam Og McLaughlin for C Ward (inj); Sean O’Hare for D Black (inj)