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.

St. Paul’s ease into semi-final

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship quarter-final

St. Paul’s 6-32 All Saints 2-8

St. Paul’s produced a performance of power and precision to sweep aside the challenge of All Saints Ballymena at a bright and pleasant Dunsilly today. The Shaw’s Road side, one of the competitions favourites were given a run for their money during the opening 20 minutes but in truth were never really troubled by a young All Saints side who never the less gave it everything.

St. Paul’s opened sharply and threatened to over run their opponents in the opening quarter when they raced into a 0-6 to 0-0 lead with Stephen Rooney, Caolan Duffin 0-2 and Rooney with three more (1’ 65’) the men on target.

All Saints were battling hard but looked a little overawed up to this point but when Damian Gillan fired a free through a crowded goalmouth in the 17th minute they started to show a bit of belief. Gillan followed with a point from a 40 meter free to cut the deficit to two points but this score brought a quick response from the Shaw’s Road side.

James Farrell began their second scoring burst and the superb Stephen Rooney pointed a couple of frees and another from play before Kieran O’Boyle replied with a good point for All Saints to keep his side in touch.

Vincent Esler added another fine point and at this stage the belief was starting to grow amongst the Ballymena side before Caolan Duffin and Colm McLarnon replied for St. Paul’s to leave them 0-12 to 1-3 ahead after 21 minutes.

Damian Gillan added to the All Saints total as he pointed another free and Stephen Rooney for St. Paul’s and Gillan from a sideline cut for the Ballymena side exchanged further points to leave it 0-13 to 1-5  with 25 minutes gone.

St. Paul’s began to turn the screw with half time approaching and Caolan Crossan and Colm McLarnon added points with Vincent Esler getting his second for the ‘Town’ and Conal Finnegan concluding the first half scoring with a late point for St. Paul’s to leave them 0-16 to 1-6 in front at the break.

All Saints needed a good start to the second half if they were to keep in touch with their excellent opponents but in the event it was St. Paul’s who came racing out of the starting traps with a Caolan Duffin goal in the opening minute and Colm McLarnon and Stephen Rooney followed with points as gaps started to appear in the All Saints defence.

Damian Gillan interrupted the onslaught with a Ballymena point but it was only temporary respite as Caolan Duffin replied with a goal in the 8th minute and added two quick points as the All Saints challenge began to collapse.

Damian Gillan replied from a free in the 12th minute but the ‘Hoops’ were now scoring at will and James Farrell got in for their third goal and a flurry of points from Andy McMorrow, Colm McLarnon and Farrell again saw them move out of site at the second water break.

On the restart Farrell was on hand to finish to the net again following a good save from Ciaran Cassley before All Saints replied with their second goal of the game very much against the run of play.

The Ballymena side were awarded a free about 35 yards out and Damian Gillan opted to hang it in around the square and in the scramble that ensued the sliotar was adjudged to have crossed the line to offer the tiring All Saints some consolation for their efforts.

It brought only temporary respite however as St. Paul’s finished as they had started, well on top, and Stephen Rooney added 2-6 and Andy McMorrow a point as the floodgates opened with All Saints glad to hear the final whistle.

A polished performance for the Shaw’s Road side and last year’s beaten finalists will fancy their chances of going all the way this time though Emmet’s Cushendun could have something to say about that.

St. Paul’s had excellent performers all over the pitch but in Stephen Rooney they have a player of the highest order while Caolan Duffin, Andy McMorrow and Colm McLarnon are others who know where the posts are.

Spare a thought for All Saints. They came up against a side who are much better than anything hey have faced in the recent past and hurled out of their skins in the first half to keep the scoreline respectable before succumbing to a second half avalanche.

Ciaran Cassley in goals brought off a number of fine saves and Colm Neeson, Conor and Luke O’Rawe and Padhrig Magill hurled themselves to a standstill in defence. Vincent Esler and Cormac Magill battled against the odds at midfield while Damian Gillan was their main scoring threat but Kieran O’Boyle, Gary Miskella and Kevin Brady had their moments.

St. Pauls: Kevin Murray, Daire Stevenson, Gerard Carberry, Sean Bradley, Fionntan Gamble, Frankie Sewell, Sean Lawell, Conall Finnegan, Declan Chapman, Caolan Crossan, Stephen Rooney, Colm McLarnon, Caolan Duffin, James Farrell, Naoise O’Caireallain Subs: Andy McMorrow, Anthony Gallagher, Niall Martin,

All Saints: Ciaran Cassley, Dwane McKee, Colum Neeson, Conor O’Rawe, Terence Diamond, Luke O’Rawe, Padhraig Magill, Vincent Esler, Cormac Magill, Kieran O’Boyle, Damian Gillan, Rory McAllister, Daire Hasson, Gary Miskella, Kevin Brady. Subs: Brendan McDonnell, Ryan McAuley, Donny McKendry, PJ O’Kane

Referee:Eamon Hamill