Little to choose between Glenarm and Gort na Mona

Junior Hurling Championship Final preview

Glenarm v Gort na Mona at Armoy

Saturday September 16th at 2pm

By John McIlwaine

Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm bid to bridge a fifty year gap when they take on Gort na Mona in Saturday’s Junior Hurling Championship final in Armoy. 1957 was the last year the club, then known as St Joseph’s Glenarm, last captured the Junior trohy and though they have a won a few at Intermediate level since then the Junior has eluded them. Strange at it may seem they did win the Ulster Junior title in 2004 though. That year the men from Feystown were beaten in the Antrim final by Loughgiel’s 2nds, but because the Shamrocks are a senior club they were not allowed to compete in Ulster at Junior leavel and so Glenarm went through as Antrim’s representatives.  The Feystown side took full advantage of their reprieve and they actually went on to win the Ulster title by beating Armagh champions Portadown in the final at Casement Park.

Standing in their way on Saturday is the formidable challenge of Gort na Móna, a team who not too long ago were capturing Intermediate titles at Ulster level

Glenarm started this year’s campaign with a comprehensive win over St Teresa’s at Quinn Park, Ballymena back on August 5th. The Feystown side were slow to start that day and actually trailed by 0-8 to 0-5 after twenty five minutes, but a strong finish to the half saw them hit five points without reply to lead by 0-10 to 0-8 at the break. After the change of ends there was no stopping them and early points from Benny McDermott and Daniel Black, followed by a Sean O’Hare goal saw gain complete control and they played some top class hurling to run out winners by 4-23 to 1-11.


Glenarm’s Daniel Black

In their semi-final in Armoy they were slow to start once again as Con Magees Glenravel had the better of things in the first half. Playing against the stiff breeze Glenravel looked well placed to cause an upset when a Declan Traynor goal helped them to a 1-8 to 0-6 lead by the twenty fifth minute. Glenarm were up against it but the brilliant free taking of Daniel Black steadied the ship and a point from a Black free and one from play by Darren Hamill cut the gap to just a goal at the break. When the teams emerged for the second half Glenarm were a team transformed and boosted by a goal from county minor star Shane Magill they turned the game around in that second half to run five point winners on a scoreline of 1-17 to 1-12.

Gort na Mona’s path to the final

Gort na Mona faced Cushendun in their opening game and after an epic struggle they got home with a point to spare. Cushendun led early on thanks to a goal from Eoin McQuillan but the Belfast boys fought back and goals from Mark Ward and Thomas McCaffrey saw them open a 2-6 to 1-4 lead by half time. An early second half point saw them go six clear and though Cushendun made a real fight of it Gort na Mona were always able to keep a little daylight between the sides.  The Emmets produced a strong finish to get the gap down to a single point but the Gorts never panicked and held on to book a semi-final place.

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Gort na Mona’s Dessie McClean

It was a close battle once again in that semi-final as they faced near neighbours St Paul’s on the 3G pitch at Woodlands. With Dessie McClean pulling the strings for the Turf Lodge men they opened up a three point lead midway through the first half, but a Niall Peoples goal brought St Paul’s back on level terms. Darren Boyd and Dessie McClean put them two clear with half time fast approaching before St Paul’s hit a late point to leave the minimum between the sides at the break. Midway through the second half the sides were level for the seventh time in the game, but three unanswered points from Thomas McCaffrey, Declan Hughes and Darren Boyd gave them a bit of breathing space. However St Paul’s fought to the very end and closed the gap to a single point entering injury time, but just as in the quarter final the Turf Lodge side held on for victory.

This could go either way

A betting man wouldn’t know just what way to call this game. The teams form during the championship had been pretty similar and when they met each other in the league in July it ended level on 1-13 to 0-16. Glenarm’s defence have looked a little suspect at times this season and they will need to be at their best on Saturday to deal with the threat of Dessie McClean who can win a game of his own hurl.  However they have some fine hurlers at the back with the likes of Blain McDermott and Hugh Pat McNeill, and the way they snuffed out the Glenravel forwards in the second half of their semi-final must give them confidence. At midfield county minor Shane Magill had his best display of the season in the semi-final and after missing much of the club season because of his county commitment he will be champing at the bit on Saturday. Up front Daniel Black is a key man and his free taking will have a big bearing on the outcome of this game. Darren Hamill has been back to his best this season after a long lay-off through injury and though he was unusually quiet in the win over Glenravel he has the ability to control matters in the half forward line. Another key man is Dylan McLaughlin who has played well all season and his contribution will be vital.

Gort na Mona is a team with loads of talent in their ranks and the likes of Dessie McClean, Darren Boyd, Thomas McCaffrey and Sean Doyle will be formidable opponents. It is only two years since this Gort na Mona side took Creggan to extra time in the Intermediate semi-final, a Creggan team who went to win the Antrim and Ulster titles. Their form dipped the following season when Dessie McClean immigrated to America but the former county star is back and showing good form once again.

As I said in my introduction this is a hard one to call. The sides finished level in the league though Glenarm are four points better off in the league table, with a game in hand. There won’t be a lot between them in the end but I give a tentative nod in the direction of Glenarm……………..if they can stifle the threat of Dessie McClean.



Strong second half sees Glenarm book final place

Antrim Junior A hurling championship in Armoy


Glenram’s Shane Magill (8) gets a pat on the back from team mate Conor McNeill after scoring his team’s goal during the second half of his team’s JHC semi-final win over Glenravel in Armoy. Pic by John McIlwaine

Shane O’Neill’s 1-17 Con Magee’s 1-12

By Seamus McAleenan

At half-time in this Antrim Junior A hurling championship tie in Armoy, a shock looked on the cards when Con Magee’s held a 1-8 to 0-8 lead over Shane O’Neill’s after having played into the slight breeze. During that period Glenarm had hit six wides to Glenravel’s two and generally didn’t look like breaching their defence, relying on the accuracy of Daniel Black from frees to keep them in touch.

However the game changed in the third minute after the re-start when Darren Hamill slipped his marker and brought a brilliant save from Chris McCann only for Shane Magill to sweep the rebound to the net. That score put them ahead 1-9 to 1-8 and Glenarm were to pull away over the course of the remaining 27+ minutes with Daniel Black’s free-taking a huge impact on the scoreboard.

Glenravel conceded far too many frees, while the winners were that bit more disciplined in their tackling. Black hit a total of 11 points, nine of which came from placed balls and many from around the midfield area. He did put a couple astray before the break, but overall his contribution probably saw Shane O’Neill’s over the line.

Glenravel only had six scoreable frees over the hour and managed to put just two away and in the end frees made the difference.

However credit to the Green and Whites for taking the game to Glenarm particularly during the opening half. After 15 minutes the game was tied on 0-5 each with Black contributing four points and veteran Neil “Vic” McCann shooting three for Glenravel.

Black edged Glenarm ahead with another pointed free, but over the next ten minutes Glenravel moved into a four points’ lead. Initially Patrick O’Neill punished a loose clearance by shooting his third point and Vic McCann gave them a lead with a point in the 20th minute.

The short poc out was turned over by Glenravel and Jonathan Fyfe got a run on the goal. His shot was blocked but Declan Traynor forced the sliotar over the line. With ‘Vic’ adding a point in the 25th minute, his side were 1-8 to 0-6 ahead, but late points from Black and Darren Hamill left a gap of a goal at the break.

Halfway_houseGlenarm regained the lead early in the second half, and with Black continuing to punish fouls, they moved into a 1-15 to 1-10 lead at the end of the third quarter. Points from sub Niall Donnelly and Patrick O’Neill closed the gap for a short period, but Black and Brendan McDermott made sure there was going to be no late slip-ups from Glenarm.

Shane O’Neill’s : Patrick Abram, Sean Moran, Bliain McDermott, Paddy McAuley, Jake Hamilton, Hugh Pat McNeill, Declan McDermott, Padraig McDermott 0-1, Shane Magill 1-1, Daniel Black 0-11, 0-9 frees, Darren Hamill 0-1, Brendan McDermott 0-2, Sean O’Hare, Declan McLaughlin, Barry Hamill.

Sub : Conor McNeill for S O’Hare (HT)

Con Magee’s : Chris McCann, Sean Burns, Shanlee Kerr, Steven Atcheson, Declan McBride, Martin Scullion, Cormac Scullion, Brian O’Neill 0-1, Padge O’Neill 0-4, Barry McCann, Conor McNeill 0-1 free, Conor Carey, Neil McCann 0-5, 0-1 free, Declan Traynor 1-0, Jonathon Fyfe.

Subs : Niall Donnelly 0-1 for B McCann (HT), Shane Woulahan for J Fyfe (HT), Ronan McCann for C Carey (48), Damian O’Hagan for C McNeill (59).

Referee: Paul O’Neill (Creggan)

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Shaney ping

Gort na Mona Edge Out St. Paul’s in Excellent Semi-Final


Antrim Junior Hurling Championship semi-final

Gort na Móna 0-21

St Paul’s 2-14

The 3G surface at Woodlands provided the venue for this hard fought and times tempestuous Antrim Junior Hurling Championship semi-final where Gort na Mona held off the spirited challenge of St. Paul’s to advance to this year’s final.

The sliotar fairly flew on the fast plastic surface where a good support from both clubs gathered to cheer on their sides and they weren’t to be disappointed as Gort na Mona, led by the impressive Dessie McClean threatened to take control right from the throw in.

McClean made a couple of spectacular catches under pressure and came in for some heavy challenges as the Turf Lodge side threatened early on as he set up Nathan Gibson for their opening score in the second minute.

Ruaidhri O Muiri levelled for the Shaw’s Road side with the sides level on four occasions in the opening ten minutes with Dessie McClean, Darren Boyd and Thomas McCafferty on target for the Turf Lodge side and James Farrell, Patrick Doyle and the impressive Niall Peoples replying for St. Paul’s

McClean continued to look dangerous and his marker Kevin Gamble became the first player to be shown a yellow card for a dangerous pull on the Gort’s number 14 and at this stage St. Paul’s pulled Stephen Rooney back to man the square in an effort to contain the Gort na Mona danger man.

It seemed to be having little effect as the former county man struck the next three points to edge his side 0-7 to 0-4 ahead at the end of the opening quarter but St. Paul’s came back with points from Naoise O Caireallan to close the gap to the minimum.

Back came Gort na Mona with Sean Doyle increasing their lead to two but Niall Peoples, who was proving to be the Shaw’s Road side’s most dangerous forward responded with a goal after a mix-up in the Gort’s defence to put his side ahead for the first time with five minutes remaining to the break. Gort Na Mona responded with Thomas McCaffrey levelling matters once more before Darren Boyd and McClean raised white to put them back into the lead.

A long free from St. Paul’s Frankie Sewell left just one in it at the break with Gort na Móna leading 0-11 to 1-7 after a very entertaining half.

The Turf Lodge side opened the second half strongly with Sean Doyle increasing their lead but St. Paul’s kept battling away as play swung from end to end and a point from play by Niall Peoples and another from a free by Colm McLarnon tied the contest before Peoples edged them ahead for the second time.

It was all-square for the seventh time with Boyd raising another white flag as the game entered the final quarter before Gort na Móna regained control once again with Thomas McCaffrey scoring an excellent, over-the-shoulder point and Declan Hughes and Boyd added scores to send them into a 0-16 to 1-10 lead.

Patrick Doyle pulled one back at the other end, but a pair of fine Sean Doyle scores gave the Turf Lodge outfit a bit of breathing space as they led by four approaching the closing stages.

St Paul’s responded well with Ruaidhri O Muiri racing through but his goal bound shot sailed just over the bar and a couple of converted frees from Niall Peoples left just one in it as the clock ticked down.

As St. Paul’s pushed hard for an equaliser Gort na Móna found one last response with Doyle hitting his fifth of the evening before goalkeeper, Connor McCann stepped up to send two long range frees between the sticks and edge his side into what looked a safe four point advantage.

St Paul’s pushed hard as the game went into injury time with Peoples having a close range goal attempt diverted for a ‘65’ and as they pressed again referee Darren McKeown awarded them a close range free. This time Niall Peoples made no mistake as he drilled his shot to the Gort ha Mona net.

It was too little too late as the full-time whistle sounded to bring a pulsating contest to an end and St. Paul’s deserve massive credit for their never say die attitude but in the end Gort na Mona deserved the verdict and a place in the final against either Shane O’Neill’s, Glenarm or Con Magee’s Glenravel who meet in the other semi-final on Sunday.


GORT NA MÓNA: C McCann (0-2 frees); C Connolly, G McKenna, C Devlin; B Cousins, M Rea, G Doyle; D Hughes (0-1), S Doyle (0-5); D McVeigh, T McGoran, D Boyle (0-4); T McCaffrey (0-3), D McClean (0-5, 4 frees), N Gibson (0-1). Subs: P Fryers for N Gibson (44), K Valliday for C Connolly (60+3).


ST PAUL’S: J Gillen; C O’Carroll, K Gamble, D Gamble; F Gamble, S Bradley, F Sewell (0-1 free); R O Muiri (0-2), N Ó Cairealláin (0-1); C McLarnon (0-1), S O’Carroll, J Farrell (0-1); P Doyle (0-2), S Rooney, N Peoples (2-6, 1-5 frees). Subs: C Murray for K Gamble (45), C McVeigh for S O’Carroll (60+2).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St. Gall’s)

Gort na Móna and Glenarm favourites to advance

Junior Hurling Championship

Gort na Móna v St Paul’s9 copya

Belfast rivals Gort na Móna and St Pauls will battle it out at Corrigan Park on Saturday evening for a place in the Junior Hurling Final in another game that is hard to call. When the teams met in the league back in June Gort na Móna got the better of their rivals by 1-16 to 1-11 but on overall form in the league this season there hasn’t been a lot between them with the Shaw’s Road outfit actually three points ahead of their rivals with the same number of games played.

It is hard to believe that just two years ago Gort na Móna took Creggan to extra time in the semi-final of the Intermediate Championship, a Creggan side who went on to capture not only the Antrim title but also the Ulster crown. With a little luck that day the Turf Lodge men could have took a step towards those titles themselves, but things have slipped since them. However their win over Cushendun in a thrilling quarter-final three weeks ago showed that they can compete with anyone in this division. With former county player Dessie McClean back in the ranks and they liked of Mark Ward and Thomas and Patrick McCaffrey providing the ammunition Gort na Móna are a real threat.

St Paul’s have blown hot and cold this season but they ran Creggan to seven points on Monday evening in the league, a Creggan side who face county champions Loughgiel in the Senior Championship this weekend. Gortanmona on the other had took a real pasting form St Enda’s, though it is hard to tell the strength of the line-outs in these games, though you would imagine that both teams were fielding as near full strength as possible with championship less than a week away. If I were take a gamble I would probably go for Gort na Móna, but in truth I haven’t really seen enough of either team this season to make an informed judgement.Huntinglodge(57)


Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm v Con Magees, GlenravelCRLL0191 copy

Halfway_houseGlenarm’s win over St Teresa’s in their quarter final and their recent run of good form in the league and Junior Feis will see them start favourites in the second semi-final against Glenravel on Sunday in Armoy. The Feystown outfit were slow to start against St Teresa’s in the that quarter final in Ballymena three weeks ago but once they got going they controlled the game and ended up posting an  impressive 4-23 into the bargain. With last year’s county minor Daniel Black it top form from frees and play and former county player Darren Hamill back to near his best following a long lay-off through injury and Dylan McLaughlin proving a real handful for defences in the league Glenarm have a really potent forward division which will take a lot of stopping.

Glenravel have been disappointing this season with only four wins to date in the league. However they have the potential to do a lot better and with former Loughgiel star Marty Scullion now lining out in the green and white they have a player who knows all about the big occasion. Scullion his currently nursing a broken finger but I would be surprised if he didn’t make an appearance at some stage on Sunday. Veteran forward Neill ‘Vic’ McCann is still grabbing the scores up front with the support of the likes of Declan Traynor and Conor McNeill (if he passes a late fitness test) they can certainly cause the Glenram defence a lot of problems.

Glenravel beat run up a good score when they beat Junior B winners Davitt’s in their quarter final so they are not without some form this season, but it has been mostly a struggle. As I said earlier Glenarm will go into the game as hot favourites. Their league form is vastly  superior to that of Glenravel’s but the Con Magees can take some comfort in the fact that their best display of the season came in  the league against Glenarm when they beat the Feystown men at Fr Maginn Park. However they will have to at least match that performance on Sunday to have any chance.Shaney ping


Gorts hold off Emmet’s comeback to book semi-final place

Junior Hurling Championship quarter final

1By John McIlwaine

Gort na Móna held off a strong second half challenge from Cushendun in Saturday evening’s Junior Hurling Championship quarter-final at Randalstown to book a semi-final place against St Paul’s in two weeks’ time. When they went in at the break leading by 2-6 to 1-4 the Belfast men appeared to have a bit of breathing space but Cushendun came out in the second-half with all guns blazing and backed by superb displays by full-forward Conleth McNeill and the Kilgore brothers Harry and David, they edged their way back into the game. McNeill had a chance to steal the win when he was awarded a free thirty metres from goal in injury time, but his shot flew inches over the Gortnamona crossbar and the Gorts held on to secure a semi-final place.

Playing on the old pitch at Whitehill, Randalstown it was Cushendun who got off the perfect start when Eoin McQuillan goaled inside thirty seconds but points in the third and fourth minutes plus a goal on eight minutes by Mark Ward swung the game in favour of Gort na Mona. Cushendun were guilty of some bad wides but two quick points in the fourteenth and fifteenth minutes by Eoin McQuillan and Harry Kilgore had them level. A pointed free by Dessie McClean on nineteen minutes put Gort na Mona back in front and when  Thomas McCarfferty fired in his team’s second goal in the twenty-third, they were back in control. Conleth McNeill pulled a point back for the Emmets a minute later from a well struck free but the Belfast men finished the half strongly with points in the twenty-seventh, twenty-ninth and thirty-second minutes, in reply to one from Cushendun’s James Morgan to head to the dressing room with a 2-6 to 1-4 half-time lead.

The lead was out to six early in the second half when Darren Boyd pointed, but Conleth McNeill found a quick reply to close the gap back to five. Once again Gort na Mona stretched their advantage to six when Patrick McCaffrey pointed from play but McNeill was on the mark from a free seconds later to keep Cushendun in touch and when Harry Kilgore and McNeill tagged on two superb scores from play the gap was back to three points. A pointed free from Dessie McClean in the forty-fifth minute eased the pressure on the winners and opened the gap to four, but two quick points from substitute David Kilgore brought it back to just two, and it was game on once more.  As the excitement built Dessie McClean settled Gort na Móna nerves with a point from twenty five metres on the right to put three between them, and though David Kilgore responded with one at the other end inside thirty seconds, the Belfast men would not ease their grip and a McClean point from a close range free kept the Emmets at arms’ length. McNeill’s sixth point of the half from a free sixty metres out, again raised Cushendun hopes but once Gort na Móna found a response when it was most needed, and when the ball was worked out to centre back Mark Rea he sent it high between the posts from sixty metres to restore his team’s three point cushion.

A superb catch from Harry Kilgore from the puck out following Rea’s score saw the half forward find an opening and he sprinted clear to send a left sided strike between the posts, but the frustration for the Emmets fans continued as once again Gort na Móna hit back immediately, this time with a point from substitute Ciaran Kelly. As the game went deep into injury time David Kilgore closed the gap to two with his third point since being introduced and though McNeill fired over from a free in the sixty fifth minute it was just a few inches on the wrong side of the crossbar and Gort na Móna deservedly held on for the win.

Gort na Móna

Conor McCann, Brendan Cousins, Gavin McKenna, Conor Connolly, Gary Doyle, Mark Rea, Dominic Collins, Patrick McCaffrey, Declan Hughes, Thomas McGoran, Martin Ward, Sean Doyle, Darren Boyd, Dessie McClean, Thomas McCaffrey

Subs – Ciaran Kelly


Aidan Delargy, Sean Hamilton, Mark Scally, Aidan Corbett, Leo Morgan, Oisin McMahon, Conor McHugh, Eoin McQuillan, Matthew McCartin, Harry Kilgore, Don Whelan, James Morgan, Jack McKay, Conleth McNeill, Dominic McQuillan.

Subs – Rory McQuillan, Pearse Bannon, David Kilgore, Eoin Magee

Referee- Fionntan McCotter

Well done to Gort na Móna from all at the Hunting Lodge

Huntinglodge(57)The Hunting Lodge