Shane O’Neill’s manager Pat ‘Boone’ O’Neill speaks with Brendan McTaggart after masterminding his side to Junior Championship glory….
There were fewer happier men on the Dunsilly pitch at the final whistle than Glenarm manager, Pat ‘Boone’ O’Neill. He had just masterminded the Shane O’Neill’s to junior success and he said the final was everything they were expecting: “It was a tough game. It was a typical final where everyone lifts their game and some go into their shell but as the game wore on we improved.
“Rasharkin played well.”
Kevin O’Boyle’s goal was ultimately the turning point for Glenarm. It breathed oxygen into their ranks and the Shane O’Neills never looked behind them. ‘Boone’ told us that in a game of this nature, a goal was always going to be decisive: “It came at the right time. It was the sort of game that a goal was always going to be decisive and so it proved. Thank God we got the goal.”
With that little bit of breathing space on the score line, the Glenarm players gew in confidence. None more than Niall McGarel. The Glenarm manager continued: “We have a lot of young players and we knew it was going to be a bit of a grind. We have the hurlers, we hoped their ability would come through and it did.
“Niall’s a special talent and when we need needed him he stood up. I thought Daniel Black had a magnificent game in midfield.”
Having tasted defeat at the same stage just 12 months ago, O’Neill told us the pain of that defeat was still fresh in their minds: “We were hurt last year. It was bad enough losing the final but to lose it the way we performed, we didn’t play the way we can play but Glenravel were the better team on the day last year but we regrouped. We did a lot of hard work in the gym through January and we knew we’d be back here and deliver this time.”
Saturday’s win signalled a 65 year wait since their last junior title and 24 years since their last championship win. It’s fair to say few would begrudge them their celebrations and the Glenarm manager was already thinking on Ulster: “This is our first championship in 24 years. We won an Intermediate Championship in 1998 and haven’t won one since. It’s worth the wait but I never thought it would be as long as it was but that’s hurling for you. There’s a lot of disappointments when you’re involved in this sport but this is a good day for Shane O’Neill’s.
“We’ll celebrate and regroup but we’ll look forward to Ulster and give it a good rattle.”
Last weekend I was part of the Saffron Gael team who covered all the football, hurling and camogie finals in Antrim and like my fellow colleagues I got great satisfaction in helping to record these moments in history that will still be there after most of us have gone.
A former friend-now sadly deceased once said to me at a game “PADDY, IT’S A GREAT GAME WHEN YOUR WINNING” and while I didn’t quite realise the impact of that statement at the time I have come to see what he was talking about over the years.
The joy and happiness and great sense of club and community can be best witnessed after a club has won a county title after the game, as their supporters and fellow club-members race onto the field to greet their heroes and fellow club members after the game.
These celebrations are more profound when a club hasn’t lifted a county title for a while and on Saturday I had the privilege to attend such finals and the celebrations that followed them.
Because of space restrictions that accompany reports I am publishing some of these celebration photographs on their own for the enjoyment of the spectators of Glenarm and Ahoghill and offer my congratulations to those clubs on their weekend achievements.
The Glenarm fans were out in Carnlough on Saturday evening to welcome the Junior Championship winning team home after their win over Rasharkin at Dunsilly. The team were joined by the club’s Under 11 team who last week won the North Antrim Under 11B championship, beating Glenariffe in the final in Cushendall. Afterwards all hands retired to Paddy Diamond’s Glencloy Inn to get the celebrations going in earnest
Pete Hyndman captured the action for the Saffron Gael.
Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship Final
Shane O’Neill’s 1-21 Rasharkin 0-16
Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly
Glenarm produced a strong finish on Saturday afternoon to finally banish their junior championship voodoo. 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 Reserver titles in the interim, but the Junior had eluded them. They lost a few finals in recent years when they appeared to be nailed on to win, but that was all forgot about today when team captain Darren Hamill lifted the cup.
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.
Rasharkin will look at the opening ten minutes of the second half and rue their inability to convert major chances. A series of handling errors and good Glenarm defending hurt the challenge of the men from Dreen and breathed oxygen into the Glenarm side.
The final quarter belonged to the Shane O’Neill’s however as they bridged a 24 year gap from their last championship win and 65 years since the last time they took home the Junior championship to Glenarm.
In a cagey opening to the final, neither side really took control in the opening exchanges. Darren Hamill was accurate from placed ball while Conor McKeever was following suit for Rasharkin. Sean O’Boyle split the uprights before Donagh Quigg and Conor McFerran edged Rasharkin ahead after ten minutes. It signalled an awakening in the Shane O’Neill’s camp however.
Playing with whatever wind was blowing at Dunsilly in the first half, Glenarm looked to go through the gears with quick fire scores from Ciaran Magill (two), Hamill (free) and Niall McGarel put a three point gap between the sides and Glenarm were beginning to show their true potential with some lovely use of the sliotar.
A Hamill free in the 17th minute put four between the sides before Conor McKeever (free) and Conor McFerran got the score board ticking again for the men from Dreen.
Dylan McLaughlin and Hamill (free) restored the four point lead for Glenarm but Rasharkin finished the half with a flourish. McKeever knocked over another brace of frees before Quigg left the minimum between the sides. Tiernan O’Boyle raised the white flag from distance, a truly memorable score with the Rasharkin defender under pressure and off balance while sending the sliotar towards the target to bring the sides level but Glenarm had the final say with Dylan McLaughlin’s second point of the half giving them a 0-10 to 0-9 lead at half time.
In a half where Glenarm played the majority of the hurling, Rasharkin would have been delighted to trail by just one point. The St Mary’s side were back on terms with the first attack of the second half when Conor McKeever split the uprights and while it was their last score for ten minutes, Rasharkin’s chances were slipping with every missed goal chance.
Conor McKeever had chances but couldn’t trouble Michael Abram in the Glenarm goals. Despite the reprieves, the Shane O’Neill’s weren’t exactly punishing Rasharkin at the other end of the pitch. Six wides in a seven minute spell with two points from Hamill (one free) was cancelled out by a brace of frees from McKeever.
Dylan McLaughlin and Quigg split the posts before McKeever landed another free that gave Rasharkin the lead for the first time since the third minute with a quarter of the match remaining.
Glenarm dug deep however and seemed to find another gear, especially in the middle third. They turned the pressure on Rasharkin and reaped the reward through Hamill’s frees (two) and a Kieron O’Boyle before scoring the only goal of the game. A cross-field ball was played into Hamill on the edge of the square and while it looked like Rasharkin were favourites to clear the danger, the sliotar fell to Kevin O’Boyle and he pulled first time to the back of Liam Tunney’s net.
Rasharkin responded well with the next two scores of the game, both from McKeever frees by McGarel took centre stage in the closing minutes. Three points, two of them from outrageous angles put daylight between the sides while Rasharkin spurned another goal chance at the other end of the pitch. Substitute Eamonn McNeill and Quigg with the chances but the writing was on the wall for Rasharkin’s championship hopes. Scores from Padraig McDermott and Hamill’s seventh free, eighth point overall rounded off the scoring and sealed a memorable afternoon for the Shane O’Neill’s.
ShaneO’Neill’s: 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)
Scorers: D Hamill 0-8 (7fs); C Magill 0-2; D McLaughlin 0-4; K O’Boyle 1-00; N McGarel 0-4; S O’Boyle 0-1; K O’Boyle 0-1; P McDermott 0-1