Rooney makes his point as St. Paul’s advance to final

Casement Social Club Antrim Junior Hurling Championship semi-final

St Paul’s 1-15

Cushendun 0-15

A man of the match performance from St. Paul’s Stephen Rooney edged his side through to a place in the Casement Social Club final when they overcame the considerable challenge of Emmet’s, Cushendun at Quinn Park, Ballymena yesterday.

In a very entertaining game which was in the balance right up to the final whistle, Rooney’s accuracy from the placed ball proved the difference in the end with the former county player hitting 0-11 from frees, and he was at the heart of nearly everything good his side produced

In an end-to-end encounter, both teams served up an entertaining battle and it was the experience and calmness of county star Stephen Rooney that settled matters in favour of the Belfast side.

James Farrell’s early major proved to be the game’s only goal with Cushendun’s Conleth McNeill top scoring for his side with 0-8, including two superbly struck ’65s. Donal O’Hara was also unfortunate to find himself on the losing side after an immense performance at centre back for Robert Emmet’s.

It was Cushendun who got off for the better start when David Kilgore pointed them ahead in the opening minute and Stephen Rooney shot wide at the other end.

It took the Shaw’s Road side a time to settle as they hit 4 wides in succession while their opponents extended their lead through points from Conleth McNeill, one from play and the other a converted free to move three ahead and looking good.

James Farrel wiped that lead out with a stroke of his sliotar as he stepped inside his marker before unleashing his shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

St. Paul’s edged ahead through Rooney’s first point of the game as he converted a 9th minute free but Conleth McNeill replied direct from a ‘65’ to level the contest for the second time.

The momentum was now with the West Belfast men however as Colm McLarnon and Rooney (free) added points to edge their side ahead once more before McNeill replied from another free just after the water break.

It was end to end stuff as St. Paul’s replied through Ó Duibhfinn and Conall Finnegan to move into a 1-5 to 0-6 lead but Cushendun began to get on top in the closing stages of the half.

Eoin Magee hit two for the seasiders and another from Harry Kilgore levelled matters with Stephen Rooney replying for the Belfast side and further scores from McNeill (free) and  Dominic Sharkey had the Emmet’s 0-12 to 1-8 ahead at the short whistle.

Both sides took a time to get going as the second half got under way with a Matthew McCarlin point the only score of the third quarter though the Emmet’s will feel that they could have widened the gap considerably in this period.

Cushendun had the opportunites to put more daylight between the sides but hit 7 wides during a period of dominance and would live to rue those misses.

Rooney and McNeill exchanged frees on 48 minutes and it was Cushendun who held a 0-14 to 1-8 lead going into the final 10 minutes and the Emmet’s looked on their way to the decider but they would only add one further score as St. Paul’s finished with a flourish.

McNeill’s eighth and final point on 57 minutes would be his side’s last of the game as St Paul’s responded strongly and three points from Stephen Rooney frees in a four-minute spell had them level with two minutes of normal time remaining.

The momentum was now very much with the ‘hoops’ as Colm McLarnon sent over an excellent point following a flowing build up and Stephen Rooney fired over from a penalty after Caolan O’ Duibhfinn was dragged down.

The same player hit the final point of the game after being fouled himself to move St Paul’s 1-15 to 0-15 ahead with Cushendun needing a goal to send the game into extra time but the St. Paul’s defence stood firm.

St Paul’s lost defender Frankie Sewell to a second yellow late in the game and things spilled over at the final whistle with both teams getting involved in an unsavoury clash following a game which had been played in a sporting manner.

The West Belfast men will take on Rasharkin in next weekend’s decider and they’ll be hoping their dual players come through Tuesday’s Intermediate Football semi-final against Moneyglass (Portglenone, 7.15pm) unscathed.

ST PAUL’S: J Gillen, D Stevenson, G Carberry, S Bradley; F Gamble, F Sewell, S Lawell; C Finnegan (0-1), D Chapman; C Crossan, N Ó Cairealláin, C McLarnon (0-2); C Ó Duibhfinn (0-1), J Farrell (1-0), S Rooney (0-11, 0-11fs).

Subs: S McCorry for Crossan (25mins), A Gallagher for Stevenson (41mins), A McMorrow for McCorry (45mins).

CUSHENDUN: M Scally; S Hamilton, A Corbett, E McQuillan; J McKay, D O’Hara, T Scally; C McHugh, D Kilgore (0-2); D Sharkey (0-1), H Kilgore (0-1), M McCarin (0-1); P Bannon, C McNeill (0-8, 0-5fs, 0-2 ’65), E Magee (0-2).

Subs: T Kinney for Bannon (35mins), O McMahon for McCartin (46mins), B McCartin for D Kilgore (51mins), C McCormick for McQuillan (56mins).

REFEREE: B Toland (Lámh Dhearg).

Emmet’s could get it tighter than most people think

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship semi-finals

Cushendun Emmet’s v St Paul’s at Ballymena @ 1pm

Rasharkin v Con Magees at Armoy @ 1pm

Odds on favourites to win the title outright Cushendun Emmet’s face their toughest task to date in Saturday’s Junior Hurling Championship semi-final when they take on St Paul’s at Ballymena. So far it has been plain sailing for the men from the north coast running up massive scores in both games, scoring 13 goals and 56 points overall. In their opening game they hit Loch Mór Dál gCais for 6-25 and they bettered that in their second outing against St Agnes when they recorded 7-31.

St Paul’s haven’t been behind the door in the scoring stakes either scoring just two points less than their opponents, but they did it over three games rather than two. Their first win over Glenarm in Feystown saw them hit 5-16 in an impressive win, while they hit 3-20 at home to West Belfast neighbours Davitt’s. In their second visit to East Antrim the scores flowed once again at they hit 4-21 against Latharna Og at the Brustin Braes about Larne.

What good these facile wins have done either team will be hard to tell, though it has to be said St Paul’s wins came against better opposition than the teams beaten by the Emmet’s. Cushendun will go into this game as favourites but they are coming up against much better opposition than they have faced already this season. If St Paul’s can off to a good start they might just plant doubts in the Emmet’s minds, and who knows what could happen. This will be closer than many people think but the scoring power of ‘Loaf’ and his fellow forwards should get them home.

The other semi-final is a different matter as old rivals Rasharkin and Glenravel go toe to toe in Armoy. Games between these two are quite often fiery affairs and I would expect this one to be something similar. It is six years since these two met in the 2014 final in Loughgiel, the Glenravel men winning a really tight contest. Rasharkin went on to win the title the following year and contested well in the Intermediate for a few season. Neither team is that level just now but this will take nothing away from Saturday’s meeting. Whoever wins this one will go into the final as no hopers but that won’t matter one iota, as the winners will hold the bragging rights for another season and that is very important to both of them.

Con Magees into semi-final

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship

Con Magees 5-22 Loch Mór Dál gCais 0-8

Con Magees booked a place in the Junior Hurling semi-final when they scored a convincing win over Loch Mór Dál gCais in Saturday’s semi-final at Whitehill, Randalstown. With Sean McKay and Decky Traynor sharing the top scoring honours with 2-7 apiece the Glenravel men were in control of this game from start to finish, despite the best efforts of a gallant Loch Mór team for whom Conor Jones top scored from centre half back with five points.

Glenravel’s Padge O’Neill wins this race for the ball

Michael McDonnell got Con Magees on the scoreboard within seconds of the throw-in and the points came thick and fast as Sean McKay (4), Johnny Fyfe, Brian O’Neill, and when Declan Traynor grabbed his team’s first goal they were 1-7 to 0-0 up at the first water break.

Traynor grabbed his second goal just after the restart before Lorcan Rooney got Loch Mór Dál gCais on the scoreboard with a good point. A Shane Woulahan goal and another point from Johnny Fyfe stretched the Glenravel lead further and after Conor Jones got the first of his five points for Loch Mór the Glenravel men his six on the trot to lead by 3-14 to 0-2 at half time.

Loch Mór’s Conor Jones clears from defence

Glenravel emptied their bench at the start of the second half with Dean Kerr, Conor Carey, Charlie Henry and Eoin Hynds getting some game time. Loch Mór Dál gCais had their best spell during the third quarter as Jones hit two more points in reply to two by Declan Traynor for the Con Magee, but a Niall Donnelly point and a goal from Sean McKay just before the second half water break stretched their lead to 4-17 to 0-4.

Conor McAreavy and Martin Braniff grabbed two points for Loch Mór Dál gCais after the action got going again but Glenravel substitutes got in on the action as Dean Kerr and Charlie Henry got their names on the scoresheet as they cruised through to a semi-final meeting with old rivals Rasharkin next weekend.

Emmet’s have too much for Lamh Dhearg

Casement Social Club Antrim Junior Hurling Championship QF

Cushendun 5-43 Lamh Dhearg 1-04

From Kevin Herron at Dunsilly

Cushendun advanced to the last four of the Antrim Junior Hurling Championship with a 5-43 to 1-05 win over Lamh Dhearg in a match that in truth resembled a training game in the last half-hour. 

The gulf in class was evident between the sides despite a spirited effort by the Hannahstown men. 

James Morgan flicked home the opener for the 2018 junior Champions on the fifth minute and that started the rout. 

A glut of points followed from Morgan, Conleth McNeill, Conor McHugh and Dominic Sharkey before Oisin McMahon rolled in his side’s second goal. 

David Kilgore and McNeill added further scores before Sean-Paul Gibson replied for Lamh Dhearg. 

The scores kept coming for Cushendun with Sharkey and Kilgore amongst the action with Daniel Murray and Aidan McGuigan offering responses. 

Just before the break Lamhs keeper Conor McConville made an excellent save to deny Harry Kilgore but Conor McHugh kept the move alive and hammered to the roof of the net to give his side a 3-16-0-03 lead at the midway point. 

Conleth McNeill and Conor McHugh were amongst the early scorers in the second-half with Michael McGuigan conjuring up a point for the Hannahstown side. 

The scores kept flowing for Cushendun through McNeill, David Kilgore, Sharkey and substitute Torr Kinney. 

Daniel Murray doubled his account in response but opportunities were few and far between. 

Harry Kilgore claimed his side’s fourth goal of the afternoon but at the other end Daniel Murray sent a high ball into the square and John Boyd claimed a consolation strike. 

Cushendun claimed their fifth and final goal on the hour-mark with Conor McHugh’s sideline puck falling to David Kilgore whose bullet of a strike gave McConville no chance as it flew into the top corner. 

Emmet’s continued to pick off scores at a canter and in truth will have much tougher encounter ahead in the last four. 

Rasharkin beat Glenarm to secure semi-final spot

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship

Rasharkin 1-16 Glenarm 1-14

Rasharkin booked their place in the semi-final of the Junior Hurling Championship when they beat Glenarm by two points at Pairc MacUílín Ballycastle on Saturday. In a closely contested contest in which the momentum swung one way, then the other the St Mary’s men got their noses in front seven minutes from time and held their lead until the end.

Glenarm started the game promisingly and three points from left half forward Sean O’Hare gave them a cushion after seven minutes. It was the 12th minute before Rasharkin got their first score through Conor McKeever and for the next 15 minutes it was point for point Daniel Balck and Ciaran Magill grabbing points for the Feystown men while McKeever, Shane Hasson and Declan McKay were on target for Rasharkin. Five minutes from the interval Shane Hasson grabbed a Rasharkin goal from play to give his team the edge but three points from centre forward Daniel Black, two from play and one from a free, helped bring Glenarm back level at half time on 0-10 to 1-7.

The first seven minutes of the second half was all Rasharkin as Conor McKeever and Shane Hasson added two apiece and Donach Quigg added one to pull their team five clear, but two points from Daniel Black and a goal from substitute Sean O’Boyle brought Shane O’Neill’s back on terms by the 52nd minute.

The men from Dreen responded well and three points without reply from Donach Quigg, Conor McKeever and Shne Hasson put them in command at a vital stage of the game. Twice in the run in Daniel Black sent over points from frees to keep Glenarm in touch, but Rasharkin were able to hold on to secure a semi-final spot against Con Magees Glenaravel next weekend.