AIB Ulster Club Junior Hurling Championship Semi-final
Newry Shamrocks 0-16
Gort na Móna 1-9
Gort na Mona’s dream of a place in the Ulster Junior Hurling championship final were dashed at a cold and bumpy Ballela today when they were forced to concede to a superior Newry Shamrocks who adapted much better to the difficult playing surface.
The Down champions always had a bit too much firepower for the Turf Lodge side with their half-forward line of Sean Campbell, Eoin McGuinness and the impressive Ruairi Campbell scoring 0-7 from play between them.
Indeed, the Newry men were clinical with their finishing in the first half and didn’t strike a wide until two minute before half-time and looked to be heading to the dressing room with a healthy lead. A Darren ‘Diesel’ Boyd goal, just before half time handed the Antrim champions a lifeline and left them trailing by three at the short whistle.
It was as close as the Antrim champions got however as they exited the provincial stage at the semi-finals for the second time in three seasons.
Gort Na Móna made a late change to their starting line-up with Sean Doyle coming into corner-back in place of Niall Healy. Patrick McCaffrey also moved to right half-forward with Mark Rea joining captain Declan Hughes at midfield.
It took Newry less than 20 seconds to get the game’s first point with midfielder Ryan Courtney splitting the posts.
Dessie McClean replied in kind for the Gorts one minute later, but the Gort na Mona talisman came in for some close attention after that and it was another 21 minutes before he raised a second white flag.
Frees from Artie McGuinness and Conor McPolin were followed by points by Ruairi and Sean Campbell, Courtney and Eoin McGuinness as the Shamrocks took control to move 0-7 to 0-1 ahead with 20 minutes played.
McClean missed a couple of chances before firing over his second point following a foul on Martin Ward but Ruairi Campbell continued to cause problems for the Gort na Móna defence and his second left six between the sides towards the end of the half.
A fine clearance out of defence by Padraig McHugh found Ward in space and his quick delivery into Boyd created the game’s first goal chance. Despite losing his footing initially, ‘Diesel’ recovered well to fire a shot across Ronan Sheehan and into the net.
The Antrim champions looked to be in for another goal as they enjoyed their best period of the half but Thomas McCaffrey’s initial shot came off the leg of Mark Cribben but broke for Ward to score a point from play.
Sean Campbell had the final score on the half as his third point gave Newry a three-point half-time lead.
Gort na Mona needed a good start to the second half but it took 11 minutes before they got their first point with Mark Rea scoring a stunning long-range effort from play after McPolin converted two frees at the other end for Newry.
Despite enjoying a greater deal of possession Gort na Mona were finding it difficult to break down a resolute Shamrocks defence in which Daniel McGuinness, Matthew Mee and Billy Campbell were outstanding. .
Dessie McClean and Padraig McCaffrey knocked over points from play but the Down champions replied with scores from McGuinness (two) and McPolin to keep their noses in front.
As the game became scrappy in the final 10 minutes, Gort na Móna managed to close the gap to three points with the industrious Boyd landing a fine point from play and five minutes of injury-time gave them a glimmer of hope.
However, Newry kept their composure with a free from McPolin deep in injury-time seeing them over the line with four points to spare while Christopher Devlin’s dismissal at the end compounded a disappointing afternoon for Gort na Móna.
NEWRY SHAMROCKS: R Sheehan; M Mee, G Courtney, M Gribben; A Mee, A McGuinness 0-1 (0-1f), B Campbell; R Courtney 0-2, N Lennon; S Campbell 0-1, E McGuinness 0-3, R Campbell 0-3; J Murphy, O McCaffery, C McPolin 0-6 (0-5fs).
Subs: M McKey for McCaffery (47mins), D Young for R Courtney (54mins),
GORT NA MÓNA: P Fryers; S Doyle, C Devlin, G McKenna; N Henry, P McHugh, C McCann; D Hughes, M Rea 0-1; P McCaffrey 0-1, M Ward 0-1, D Boyd 1-2; T McCaffrey, B Quinn, D McClean 0-4 (0-2fs).
Subs: S Kelly for Henry (36mins), C McErlaine for Ward (53mins).
REFEREE: G O’Neill (Derry).