Glenravel victorious against the odds.

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship

Glenravel 2-12.  Glenarm 0-09

By Aodh O’Loan

Con Magees Glenravel ripped up the form book to win the Casement Social Club Antrim  Junior Hurling Championship by beating strong favourites Glenarm in an entertaining encounter in Glenariffe.  This was the 6th time Glenravel won the junior championship; their first victory achieved back in 1975 against Ardoyne in the same venue.  Glenarm had justified their favourites tag having beaten Con Magees well in both league and Championship round robin series. But form mattered little as Glenravel set about de-constructing the men in blue, no doubt buoyed on by those defeats earlier in the season.

Team captain Johnny Fyfe shows his delight at the end

Glenravel setup with full forward, Sean Burns deployed as sweeper from the start. This worked well for them as it gave the Green & Whites a spare man in defence to clear up loose ball but it also allowed their corner forwards, Declan Traynor and Conleth O’Loan, space to attack the Glenarm defence which they did  to great effect through the game.

A strong cross field wind led to a low scoring first half where both sides squandered goal scoring  chances. Con Magees were guilty in the opening minutes but their opponents also missed green flag opportunities and we were left to ponder what might have been had those chances been converted.

Glenarm started stronger and were four points to the good after twenty minutes with frees from Ciaran Magill and Darren Hamill from placed balls augmented by a lovely score from play by Dylan McLoughlin. At this point, all was going according to script. Niall Donnelly opened Glenravel’s account on twenty minutes but Ciaran Magill replied for Glenarm, restoring their four point lead on twenty three minutes and it looked like the game would follow the pattern of previous encounters.  How wrong were we to think that. From that point to the end of the game, Glenarm would only add a further four points, whilst the sea of green and white returned a total of 2-11! Con Magees got a great break when corner forward Declan Traynor fired to the net on twenty four minutes. That was followed up by points from Johnny Fyfe and Niall Donnelly before Traynor added another point in first half injury time to leave Glenravel in front at half time 1-04 to 0-05.

Glenarm’s Patrick McAuley in action against Glenravel’s Niall Donnelly

In the second half, Conleth O’Loan assumed free taking duties for Glenravel and this paid dividends when he pointed from a tight angle within three minutes of the restart. Glenarm replied with a score one minute later and then the very impressive Cathal Hynds started to exert his authority on the game with a well taken point. Darren Hamill put over a 65 to keep the gap to two points but O’Loan increased that to three points with another tight angled free from the other side with ten minutes played in the second half.  Glenarm were piling on the pressure at this point and indiscipline in Con Magees defence gifted two frees which Ciaran Magill gratefully accepted to leave the minimum between the teams as Glenravel led 1-07 to 0-09 with twenty minutes of normal time remaining. The silverware could go anyway at that time but Glenravel finished stronger in the home straight to secure victory. Conleth O’Loan pointed a free on forty six minutes and Declan Traynor added to that one minute later to leave three points between the teams. The axis of Traynor and O’Loan were proving too hot to handle for Glenarm and when Conleth was upended on route to goal with less than five minutes remaining  the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. This resulted in a battle of the Niall’s as Glenarm’s Niall Hamill saved Glenravel’s Niall Donnelly piledriver. Unfortunately for the men in blue, the first guy on the scene was Cathal Hynds who  made no mistake.  As the umpire raised a green flag it seemed that Glenarm knew their fate. The ref declared eight minutes of injury time so Glenarm may have felt there was still time but the Glenravel defence closed up – and whilst Glenarm went in search of goals, the men in green and white  were giving nothing away. Indeed they went on to return two further points from Conleth O’Loan and Cathal Hynds and the trophy was heading ‘up the glen’.

Declan Traynor punches the air after scoring Glenravel’s first goal while team mate Conleth O’Loan joins in the celebrations

In truth this was a well deserved victory for Glenravel. They had stronger panel of players and when it mattered – everyone turned up. You would be hard pushed to pick a Glenravel player who didn’t perform at 100% on the day. But this is sport and you can always look back at spurned chances. Glenarm had several one on one chances but Glenravel keeper, Ronan Donnelly worked miracles at thwarting them. One couldn’t help but hark back one week, when Ronan’s sister Orla was starring in goals for Antrim minors Camogs in their All Ireland victory over Offaly.  Their father John, himself no stranger to Croke Park where he competed at county level, must have been immensely proud.

When analysing this game you could point to Glenravel’s forward power where Cathal Hynds, Declan Traynor and Conleth O’Loan each contributed five points each. You could single our there defence; Ronan Donnelly, Shanlee Kerr, Brian and Padge O’Neill were outstanding. Captain Jonathan Fyfe  was a colossus throughout the sixty minutes. But the real difference between the teams was that Glenravel had good hurlers across all positions and a passion to atone for previous defeats. That is what got them over the line the end. Team manager Ciaran McKernan must take a lot of credit too for turning things around this season. His move from the Bear Pit to Fr Maginn Park at the start of this season has certainly made a difference. His assistant Martin Scullion, former Shamrocks star, has also played a bit part, and club secretary Henry Duffin deserves a mention for his efforts in bring Ciaran McKernan to the club.

Cathal Hynds celebrates after scoing Glenravel’s second goal.

Glenarm will be wondering how they ended the season empty handed. They played some great hurling this season and were rightfuly favourites for Sunday, but things didn’t go their way on the day. They will be back and with brilliant minor Niall McGarel joining the senior ranks next season, they will take a lot of stopping.

A word of praise to Osian’s Glenarrife in staging the game. They are naturally blessed with the finest setting any hurling match could ever take place in – that is outside their control. But the state of the pitch and the handling of crowds entering and leaving the grounds is very much in their control – and they managed this with total professionalism.


Ronan Donnelly, Brian O’Neill, Shanlee Kerr, Michael McQuillan,  Padgraig O’Neill, Rian Lennon, Michael McDonnel, Charlie Henry, James Duffin, John Fyfe, Niall Donnelly, Cathal Hynds, Declan Traynor, Sean Burns, Conleth O’Loan


Niall Hamill, Paul Magill, Barry Hamill, Declan McDermott, Patrick McAuley, Darren Hamill, Kieran O’Boyle, Aidan Scullion, Ben O’Boyle, Ciaran Magill, Daniel Black, Dylan McLaughlin, Kevin O’Boyle, Sean O’Boyle

Donnelly holds his nerve to see Con Magee’s into Junior decider

Casement SC Antrim Junior Hurling Championship semi-final

Con Magee’s 0-16-1-12 Lámh Dhearg 

Kevin Herron reports from Randalstown 

An injury-time free from Niall Donnelly saw Con Magee’s edge past Lámh Dhearg and book their place in the Casement Social Club Antrim Junior Hurling final after a 0-16-1-12 win at Randalstown this afternoon. 

The Cargan outfit overcame a slow start to lead slenderly at the break and a spate of James Duffin free’s helped them into a five-point lead approaching the final quarter. 

But Lámh Dhearg themselves showed their powers of recovery and levelled on three occasions going down the home straight- Declan Lynch converting from the spot, but Donnelly finally saw off the plucky Hannahstown outfit after landing a pressure free deep into added time. 

Lámh Dhearg had opened their account early with Daniel Murray getting on the end of an Aidan McGuigan pass and firing high between the posts. but James Duffin swung over a leveller for Glenravel. 

Murray restored his sides lead after converting his first free of the half and extended it with two further efforts to make it 0-04-0-01 early-on. 

Niall Donnelly responded from the same scenario for Con Magee’s who almost took the lead from Conleth O’Loan’s effort that crashed off the post. 

The north-Antrim outfit pulled level with Duffin floating over his second of the half and Michael McDonnell then landing one from range. 

A point from Declan Traynor gave his side the advantage for the first time, however parity was quickly restored when Ronan Fegan intercepted a pass from Padraig Mervyn and conjured up his first score of the afternoon. 

Con Magee’s edged ahead again through a second converted Niall Donnelly free and doubled the lead through an angled Johnny Fyfe effort that sailed over the bar. 

Glenravel were perhaps fortunate to retain their full complement after Conleth O’Loan caught Declan Lynch in the mid-drift off the ball and referee Darren McKeown only saw the offence worthy of a booking. 

Daniel Murray converted his fourth free of the afternoon before the break as a single point separated the sides at the interval with Con Magee’s holding a 0-07-0-06 advantage. 

Con Magee’s made a terrific start to the second period and increased their lead, James Duffin floated over his first free of the afternoon and landed another soon after. 

A third from Duffin was followed by a response from Daniel Murray- converting his fifth free of the afternoon. 

Back-to-back scores from Conleth O’Loan and Cahill Hynds had Glenravel 0-12-0-07 ahead approaching the second-half water break – but Mark Finnegan converted a free to narrow the margin at the short whistle. 

Finnegan swung over his second in quick succession from Pearse Fitzsimons popped pass and with a quarter of an hour remaining the Hannahstown side had the chance to level. 

Declan Lynch floated a high ball into the area and substitute Gerard Smyth was illegally manhandled with McKeown signalling for a penalty. 

Declan Lynch seized advantage and fired it high past Ronan Donnelly in the Con Magee’s goal to make it 1-09-0-12. 

James Duffin nudged his side back in front from a free, but Finnegan was on-hand to land a third point and level for the fifth time in the game. 

The pendulum swung back in favour of Con Magee’s with Declan Traynor notching up his second point of the afternoon and Niall Donnelly converting a free. 

Lámh Dhearg refused to go away though as Finnegan converted his third free of the half and Ryan Diamond then swung over to tie the game at 1-12-0-15. 

In a frantic final five minutes Con Magee’s almost grabbed goal that would have surely downed the Dhearg, Conleth O’Loan steered the ball into the path of James Duffin- who was bravely denied by Francie Dugan in the Lámhs goal. 

Extra-time remained a distinct possibility- but three minutes into added time Niall Donnelly converted his fourth free of the afternoon to make it 0-16-1-12. 

Time was against Lámh Dhearg and a late Declan Lynch effort from range was flicked wide off the stick of Pearse Fitzsimons and time elapsed with Glenravel hanging on for a slender victory to book a place in the Junior decider in two-week’s time against Shane O’Neill’s. 

Con Magee’s: R Donnelly, B O’Neill, S Kerr, M McQuillan, P O’Neill, R Lennon, M McDonnell (0-01), C Henry, J Duffin (0-06, 0-04f), D Traynor (0-02), N Donnelly (0-04f), C Hynds (0-01), C O’Loan (0-01), S McCusker, J Fyfe (0-01). 

Lámh Dhearg: F Dugan, C Nolan, M Lynch, D O’Brien, SP Gibson, P Mervyn, R Diamond (0-01), M Hamill, A McGuigan, F Mervyn, D Lynch (1-00p), D Murray (0-06, 0-05f), R Fegan (0-01), P Fitzsimons, M Finnegan (0-04, 0-03f). Subs: B Rice for D O’Brien (HT), G Smyth for D Murray (44), N McGarry for M Finnegan (60+2’). 

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Saints and Davitt’s draw in excellent final game

Casement SC JHC Group 1

All Saints 1-17 Davitt’s 3-11

All Saints and Davitt’s played out a draw in the final game of Group 1 of the Casement SC Junior Hurling Championship at Slemish Park, Ballymena yesterday. Both side gave it everything from the start with the lead changing hands on a number of occasions and in the end a draw was probably a fair result.

The visitors held a narrow one point lead at the first water break with the score standing at 1-4 to 0-6 but at the second water break the home side had increased their total to 0-15 with Ciaran Neeson to the fore in the scoring stakes to move the home side one ahead.

It was end to end stuff throughout and it kept the crowd suitably entertained with All Saints adding 1-2 in the run in to the final whistle but the visitor’s contribution of 1-3 in that nail biting fin’sh was enough to earn the lower Falls’ side a share of the points.

There was a big shock in the other game played in Group 1 with Lamh Dhearg recording an impressive 4-16 to 1-8 win over previously unbeaten St. Mary’s Rasharkin in Hannastown and this win means that Lamh Dhearg finish top of the group with 5 points from 3 starts. Rasharkin qualify for the semi-finals in second place with 4 points from 3 starts while Davitt’s recorded two draws to finish in third.

This was All Saints only point that they gained in the group section but they have had a good season, winning the Junior B Championship and they were competitive in all three games in the A championship.

All Saints: Ciaran Cassley, Dwayne McKee, Chris McAfee, Kevin Brady, Padhraig Magill, Luke O’Rawe, Colum Neeson, Vinny Esler, Cormac Magill, Cormac Lemon, Gary Miskella, Ciaran Neeson, Daire Hasson, Damian Gillan, Eoghan Daly

Lámhs spring surprise to secure top spot

Casement Social Club JHC Group 1 

Lámh Dhearg 4-16-1-08 Rasharkin 

Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown 

Lámh Dhearg finished top of Group 1 of the Casement Social Club JHC after a 4-16-1-08 win over Rasharkin at Hannahstown on Sunday afternoon. 

Goals from Mark Finnegan and Ronan Fegan had the hosts in the early ascendency – though a Conor McFerran goal gave Rasharkin a lifeline before the break. 

Two further strikes in the second half from Pearse Fitzsimons and Ryan Diamond ensured that the Lámhs pipped their opponents to top-spot in the group. 

It took a while for either side to find range with an opening score coming from a converted Conor McKeever free after five minutes. 

Daniel Murray converted a 65’ to draw the sides level and the same duo traded further scores- both from frees. 

The opening goal arrived just before the first half water-break at Hannahstown. Mark Hamill flicked the ball into the path of Aidan McGuigan who swung the ball high towards the edge of the square, a deft touch from Pearse Fitzsimons allowed Mark Finnegan to run in behind and lash to the net to give his side a 1-02-0-02 lead. 

Rasharkin almost hit back the other side of the short break, Conor McFerran got a sighting of goal but was denied by a smart save from Francie Dugan, Mark Lynch then got in the way of the follow-up shot from Fearghal Kennedy before Conor McKeever stroked the ball over to get a point at the very least at the third time of asking. 

On 18 minutes Lámh Dhearg extended their lead, Daniel Murray floated a high ball which Fitzismons knocked down to Ronan Fegan and the corner-forward rifled to the corner of the net to make it 2-02-0-03. 

Fegan followed up with a point with Aidan McGuigan landing a nice score from range as the Hannahstown men were very much in the driving seat. 

Daniel Murray would add to his earlier two-points from another two converted frees but in-between those efforts Rasharkin found the net to give themselves renewed hope. 

On 24 minutes Shane Hasson’s clearance from defence was flicked forward from the stick of Conor McKeever and Conor McFerran got to the loose ball ahead of Francis Dugan and poked to the net. His side had work to do at the interval however- trailing Lámh Dhearg 2-06-1-03. 

Shane Hasson swung over the opening point of the second period for the visitors, though Ronan Fegan drew a foul and Daniel Murray conjured up his fourth free of the afternoon. 

Three minutes into the half a third goal arrived for Lámh Dhearg after Fionn Mervyn dropped the ball in on top of Pearse Fitzsimons who struck from close range to make it 3-07-1-04. 

Declan Lynch turned over the resulting puck-out and dropped over a further point from range with James Scally responding at the other end. 

Talisman Murray landed his first point from play of the game and on 38 minutes a fourth goal put the game beyond the reach of Rasharkin. 

Ryan Diamond flicked the ball to the path of Ronan Fegan and a quick set of handpasses saw Fegan find Aidan McGuigan and subsequently the run of Diamond whose low shot was spilt by Rasharkin keeper Aidan Darragh into the net as Lámh Dhearg were now 4-09-1-05 to the good. 

Murray landed his fifth free in the aftermath and struck another between goal scorer Conor McFerran adding a point to his earlier strike.

Substitute Niall McGarry slipped in Murray for his second point from play with McFerran adding another for Rasharkin- who at this stage were requiring goals if they were to stage an unlikely comeback. 

Kealan Darragh would add his sides final score as Lámh Dhearg finished strongly. Daniel Murray reached double figures after landing his second 65’ of the afternoon and Aidan McGuigan doubled his tally with a long range free. 

Murray chalked up two further frees to bring his tally from the placed ball to 0-08 as Lámh Dhearg ran out deserving 4-16-1-08 winners to come out on top of the group as both sides advance to next weekend’s semi-finals.

Lámh Dhearg: F Dugan, C Nolan, M Lynch, D O’Brien, SP Gibson, P Mervyn, R Diamond (1-00), M Hamill, A McGuigan (0-02, 0-01f), F Mervyn, D Lynch (0-01), D Murray (0-12, 0-08f, 0-02 65’), R Fegan (1-01), P Fitzsimons (1-00), M Finnegan (1-00). Subs: N McGarry for M Finnegan (41), B Rice for P Fitzsimons (57). 

Rasharkin: A Darragh, L Tunney, A McKeever, C Doherty, J Scally (0-01), S Hasson (0-01), D Hasson, E McFerran, D McKay, T O’Boyle, F Kennedy, R O’Boyle, C McFerran (1-02), D Quigg, C McKeever (0-03, 0-02f). Subs: D Doherty for L Tunney (24), K Darragh (0-01) for A McKeever (HT), T McMullan for F Kennedy (HT), E Kennedy for R O’Boyle (43), C Kennedy for E McFerran (46). 

Referee: Lorenzo McMullan (Bredagh)

Final round should decide semi-final places

Casement SC JHC

Group 1

St. Mary’s Rasharkin top Group 1 with two wins from two starts but face their toughest assignment to date when they travel to Hannastwon tomorrow to take on Lamh Dhearg. Lamh Dhearg opened their JHC campaign with a win over Junior B champions, All Saints, Ballymena but were held to a draw at Davitt’s Park next day out.

Rasharkin have recorded good wins at home to Davitt’s and away to All Saints and a win or even a draw at Lamh Dhearg tomorrow would see them win the group. Lamh Dhearg however could also top the group with a win but a defeat and a win for Davitt’s in Ballymena would see the Belfast sides looking at score difference to decide who would join the Dreen side.

All Saints have turned in a couple of descent performances but have no points to date and they will see tomorrow’s ‘Dead Rubber’ as an opportunity to measure their progress.

Group 2

The two games in Group 2 look a lot easier to predict though, like in life, nothing is certain in hurling. Shane O’Neill’s have been excellent in their two games to date, hammering Loch Mor Dal gCais in Crumlin before edging out Glenravel in a much tighter contest in Feystown on day 2.

St. Teresa’s had five points to spare over a much improved Loch Mor on day 2 but will have to find another step up in performance if they are to trouble Shane O’Neill’s tomorrow  and I expect the Glenarm side to record another win.

Glenravel look favourites to join them when they make the journey to Pairc McRuari but the beaten B finalists Loch Mor Dal gCias, like All Saints, will measure their progress this season and if they can run the Con Magee’s close will surely be satisfied.

JH Plate

In the only game scheduled in the Junior Hurling Plate, Latharna Og, Larne should edge it against St. Brigid’s