Glenarm start as favourites but it won’t be easy

Casement SC JHC Final

Saturday – 1-00pm Dunsilly

Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm v St. Mary’s Rasharklin

Shane O’Neill’s, Glenarm will start as firm favourites for Saturday’s Casement SC JHC final where they take on Naomh Muire, Rasharkin at Dunsilly but the Feystown side would do well not to underestimate the threat posed by the men from Dreen.

Shane O’Neill’s have been in top form this season, suffering only one league defeat at home to St. Brigid’s Cloughmills on their way to the division 3 league title and they avenged that defeat when they travelled to Cloughmills in round 2 of the league by winning 4-20 to 3-17.

Two goals from corner-forward Kevin O’Boyle and goals apiece from Darren Hamill and Niall McGarel were the vital scores in a game that eventually decided the destination of the division 3 league and these three with Barry Hamill, Declan McDermott and the O’Boyle’s, Ben, Kieran and Sean and Dylan McLaughlin are all likely to play a vital role for the Feystown side at Dunsilly.

In contrast St. Mary’s had a mediocre league campaign, finishing second bottom with just four wins from 12 starts but came alive when it came around to the championship.

They finished top of their qualifying group with three wins from three starts with Davitt’s, All Saints and St. Brigid’s Belfast all put to the sword by the Rasharkin men.

Shane O’Neill’s came through a much tougher group 1 with wins over Glen Rovers, St. Brigid’s Cloughmill’s and a draw away to Lamh Dhearg and they were to meet the Armoy men again in the semi-final after Glen Rovers defeated Davitt’s in the quarter-final in Belfast.

Shane O’Neill’s recorded their fourth win of the season over Glen Rovers, Armoy in that semi-final at Feystown to advance to the final but despite the final margin of victory they were forced to fight all the way in a sometimes bruising battle.

The Glenarm men had already recorded home and away wins in the league against Armoy and added a win over the same side in group 2 of the qualifiers and so went into this one as firm favourites but the men from the Armoy Glen were determined to cause an upset on this occasion.

After falling behind to an early Owen Kinney goal, Glenarm came back with goals from Kevin O’Boyle and Niall McGarel to lead by 2-6 to 1-5 at the break but the game was far from over at this stage.

Despite having a man dismissed after 13 minutes of the second half, Armoy threw everything at the opposition and goals from Eamon McCaughan and Trevor Linton in reply to a second from Niall McGarel for Glenarm kept the contest alive going into the closing stages.

A fourth goal from Dylan McLaughlin put matters out of reach of the visitors and Glenarm pushed on to win by 4-17 to 3-8 in the end and look in rude health as they go into Saturday’s decider.

Like their opponents, Rasharkin enjoyed home advantage for their semi-final against a St. Brigid’s, Cloughmills side who had hammered All Saints in the quarter-final and despite home advantage, it was former division 2 side St. Brigid’s who were expected to advance.

St. Mary’s went into this one as underdogs but they showed the battling qualities that they will need again in abundance when they face Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm in a final where they will again start as outsiders.

A personal tally of 0-8 from Conor McKeever paved the way for an excellent victory for St. Mary’s Rasharkin over St. Brigid’s. The big number 15 was in great form, both from play and from placed balls but he was only one of an excellent all round home side who’s greater desire and fighting spirit got them through to Saturday’s final.

Rasharkin led 0-4 to 0-0 after 8 minutes with McKeever hitting 0-3 but Cloughmills responded to close the gap to the minimum with 11 minutes gone. Rasharkin went on to lead by two at the break but had keeper Liam Tunney to thank as he pulled off an excellent save to deny Corey Blair what looked a certain goal.

The game was still finally balanced at the end of the third quarter when Aaron Smylie pointed for the visitors to level matters but it would be Cloughmills final score as St. Mary’s intensity started to tell.

Shane Hasson struck an inspirational point to give Rasharkin back a lead they would not again lose and Conor McKeever brought his personal tally to 0-8 from a ‘65’ in the 58th minute before substitute Conor McKillop followed with the last point of the game to see the home side into the final.

Conor McKeever is the man that Rasharkin will look to for scores on Saturday but St. Mary’s are certainly not a one man team and in keeper Liam Tunney, defenders Conor Doherty and Emmet McFerran, Thomas McMullan and Tiernan O’Boyle at mid-field and a strong half forward line of Shane Hasson, Conor McFerran and Eamon McNeill they have strong performers.

Shane O’Neill’s will have to be at their best but if they can reach the level of consistency they have shown throughout the league and championship then they should have enough to edge this eagerly awaited final.

McKeever points Rasharkin into final

Casement SC JHC Semi-Final

Rasharkin0-12 Cloughmills 0-9

Pics by Bert Trowlen

A personal tally of 0-8 from Conor McKeever paved the way for an excellent victory for St. Mary’s Rasharkin over a fancied St. Brigid’s Cloughmills and this keenly contested Casement SC JHC semi-final in Dreen on Saturday.

The big number 15 was in great form, both from play and from placed balls but he was only one of an excellent all round home side who’s greater desire and fighting spirit got them through to a final where they will face Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm.

It was the other Conor, Conor McFerran who got Rasharkin off to the perfect start as he pointed after 15 seconds to serve notice that his side were up for the task in hand and when Conor McKeever followed with another in the opening minute the home side were on their way.

Cloughmills looked rattled by the intensity of the St. Mary’s opening as McKeever sent a long range free between the uprights and followed with another from similar distance to move Naomh Muire 0-4 to 0-0 ahead with only 8 minutes gone.

St. Brigid’s went into this one as favourites and the former division 2 side showed glimpses of just why they were tipped as favourites as they came back with points from Liam Kearns, and long range frees from Aaron Smylie and Ruairi Laverty to close the gap to the minimum by the 11th minute and suddenly we had a real championship clash on our hands.

Liam Tunney makes an outstanding save to deny Cloughmills corner forward Corey Blair.

The visitors might have gone ahead two minutes later but Liam Tunney in the Rasharkin goals brought off an excellent save to deny Corey Blair before Conor McKeever replied from a free at the other end to extend his side’s lead.

Things were beginning to liven up with a few meaty challenges going in from both sides as Liam Kearns from a free and Ruairi Laverty with an excellent point from distance for the Cloughmills side kept the travelling support on their feet and in fine voice.

Just when it looked like the visitors were getting on top it was that man McKeever who came back for the Dreen side as he pointed a 20th minute free and added another from play to edge his side two in front but an excellent point from corner-back, Martin Dobbin in reply left it finely balanced at the break.

Rasharkin started the second half as they did the first and Shane Hasson moved them two in front with a point after 10 seconds but the Biddies came back strongly with two from the excellent Liam Kearns to tie it at 0-8 apiece by the 38th minute.

McKeever for Rasharkin from another free and Smylie with a massive point from his own half had the side’s level once more at the end of the third quarter and it still looked anybody’s game at this stage but this would prove to be Cloughmills final score as the St. Mary’s intensity started to tell.

Shane Hasson struck an inspirational point to give Rasharkin back a lead they would not again lose and Conor McKeever brought his personal tally to 0-8 from a ‘65’ in the 58th minute before substitute Conor McKillop followed with the last point of the game to see the home side into the final.

St. Mary’s went into this one as underdogs but they showed the battling qualities that they will need again in abundance when they face Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm in a final where they will again start as outsiders.

That is unlikely to bother them and indeed could provide that bit of motivation they need and while Shane O’Neill’s have been the form team in both league and championship this year they will face a Rasharkin side who will relish the challenge.

Rasharkin: 1 Liam Tunney, 2 Daniel Doherty, 3 Conor Doherty, 4 James Higgins, 5 Ruairi O’Boyle, 6 Emmett McFerran, 7 Aidan McKeever, 8 Thomas McMullan, 9 Tiernan O’Boyle, 10 Shane Hasson, 11 Conor McFerran, 12 Eamonn McNeill, 13 Declan McKay, 14 Donagh Quigg, 15 Conor McKeever.

Cloughmills: 1Christopher McKernan, 2 Martin Dobbvin, 3 Sean McKendry, 5 Johnny Duffin, 6 Conor Laverty, 7 Joe Smyth, 8 Ruairi Laverty, 11 Micky Devlin, 12 Eoin Dobbin, 13 Corey Blair, 14 Liam Kearns, 15 Stephen Smyth, 19 Stephen Martin, 20 Aaron Smylie, 22 Reece Watt

Referee: Aidan Kelly (St. John’s)

Glenarm advance in bruising battle to clinch final place

Casement SC JHC Semi-Final

Shane O’Neill’s 4-17 Glen Rovers 3-8

Shane O’Neill’s recorded their fourth win of the season over Glen Rovers, Armoy at Feystown on Saturday to advance to the final of the Casement SC JHC but despite the margin of victory they were forced to fight all the way in a sometimes bruising battle.

The Glenarm men had already recorded home and away wins in the league against Saturday’s opponents and added a win over the same side in group 2 of the qualifiers and so went into this one as firm favourites but the men from the Armoy Glen were determined to cause an upset on this occasion.

In what turned out to be a battle of attrition they matched the Glenarm side for most of the opening half and took the lead after six minutes when a Turlough McBride free from deep in his own half was finished to the net by Owen Kinney.

Darren Hamill had given the home side the lead with a point in the second minute and the Feystown side responded to Kinney’s goal with one of their own, a minute later as Kevin O’Boyle directed a low shot past Conor Devlin.

The visitors were giving it everything at this stage and Tommy Burns and Owen Kinney restored their lead by the 9th minute as they fired over but just as it looked like they were gaining the initiative, Niall McGarel replied with an excellent goal for Glenarm to restore his side’s advantage.

It was end to end stuff as PJ McBride replied for the visitors with two quick fire points and a long range free from Turlough McBride had it all square after 18 minutes but significantly a number of wind assisted frees from the long striking McBride had sailed just wide of the uprights at this stage.

Shane O’Neill’s slowly wrestled control back from the opposition in the closing stages of the half as Darren Hamill started to impose himself and the former Antrim county man converted two frees and another from play and Dylan McLaughlin managed to get his name on the score card to leave the home side 2-6 to 1-5 ahead at the break.

With the wind now at their backs Shane O’Neill’s would have been expected to push on in the second half and when Niall McGarel pointed in the 2nd minute things appeared to be going to plan.

The visitors introduced a couple of subs at this stage as play became scrappy and disjointed with the man in the middle kept busy to keep a lid on matters before dismissing Owen Kinney in the 13th minute following an off the ball incident with an umpire calling his attention to the matter.

It was a further two minutes before Darren Hamill raised the second white flag of the half from a long range free before Trevor Linton finally got Glen Rovers off the mark from a free in the 17th minute.

The Glenarm response was immediate and decisive as youngster, Niall McGarel raced clear to fire to the net at the other end. PJ McBride replied with a point but further points from Darren Hamill and McGarel and a goal from Dylan McLaughlin put Glenarm in a strong position with 8 minutes remaining.

The visitors decided to go route one at this stage as they pushed ‘Rocky’ Dillon forward and he brought a good save from Michael Abram in the Glenarm goals but the Shane O’Neill’s net minder could do nothing to stop Eamon McCaughan from kicking the sliotar to the net from close range after making another save from the same player.

A couple more points from Darren Hamill in reply to one from PJ McBride kept the score board ticking but the route one approach from Armoy was now posing a few problems and Trevor Linton finished from close range after another scramble for his side’s third goal with four minutes of normal time remaining.

It was as close as the visitors would get however and despite five minutes of added time Shane O’Neill’s reasserted their control with Hamill adding three further points and Sean O’Boyle bringing a great save from Conor Devlin at the expense of another before Dylan McLaughlin concluded the scoring.

Shane O’Neill’s will now meet Rasharklin in the final in two weeks-time, the St. Mary’s win over Cloughmills raising a few surprised eyebrows in the hills over Glenarm but nobody in Feystown was dismissing the enormity of the task they will face in what should be a tight final.

Shane O’Neill’s: 1 Michael Abram, 25 Conal Ward, 3 Barry Hamill, 4 Liam Og McKaughin, 5 Padraig McDermott, 6 Declan McDermott, 8 Daniel Black, 9 Kieran O’Boyle, 10 Sean O’Boyle, 11 Darren Hamill, 12 Dylan McLaughlin, 13 Kevin O’Boyle, 14 Ciaran Magill, 15 Nial McGarel 18 Ben O’Boyle Subs: Sean O’Hare, Aidan O’Neill, Kieran O’Boyle, Liam Mulvenna

Glen Rovers: 1 Conor Devlin, 2 Callum Coyles, 3 Shane Devlin, 6 Arthur Devlin, 12 Turlough McBride, 4 Emmet O’Hara, 5 Liam Dillon, 8 Joey McBride, 17 John Dillon, 10 Ciaran McKenna, 13 Colin Lordan, 7 Eoin O’Boyle, 11 Tommy Burns, 21 Owen Kinney, 9 PJ McBride, Subs: Conor Waterson, Tim Burns, Ciaran Coyles, Joey McFetridge

Referee: Mark McDonald (St. Gall’s)

Shane O’Neill’s and Naomh Brid to edge tight semi-finals

Casement SC JHC Semi-Final

Saturday’s Casement SC JHC semi-finals both have the makings of tight and entertaining encounters with three of the top four teams in division 3 of the ACHL doing battle. The odd team out of the four is St. Mary’s Rasharkin but the Dreen side have put indifferent league form behind them to top their championship group and so enjoy home advantage for their meeting with Cloughmills.

Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm v Glen Rovers Armoy Saturday 3-00pm (Feystown)

The first semi-final throws together league winners, Shane O’Neill’s Glenarm and Glen Rovers, Armoy and as group winners the Feystown men enjoy home advantage against an Armoy side that they beat twice in the league.

When the sides met in Armoy on the 13th June Shane O’Neill’s recorded a high scoring 5-19 to 3-12 victory over the home side and the Glenarm men were again successful in Feystown when they ran out 1-20 to 0-7 winners and by virtue of those results will start Saturday’s encounter as firm favourites.

This will no doubt suit the visitors to Feystown who were drawn in what some considered the group of death with Shane O’Neill’s, St. Brigid’s and Lamh Dhearg and the Glen Rovers only qualified for the quarter-finals with a win over Lamh Dhearg in Armoy in their final group game after losing to both Shane O’Neill’s and St. Brigid’s.

Glen Rovers performed reasonably well in those two defeats, losing by a point at home to St. Brigid’s and scoring 3-10 on their visit to Feystown but eventually losing by 9 points.

Their win over Lamh Dhearg saw them drawn away to group 1 runners up, Michael Davitt’s and a win at Davitt’s Park is never easy and so it proved to be but the North Antrim side pulled out all the stops to win by 3-12 to 2-13 and that game will have given them the ideal preparation for Saturday’s encounter.

Shane O’Neill’s have been in top form this season, suffering only one league defeat at home to St. Brigid’s Cloughmills and they avenged that defeat when they travelled to Cloughmills in round 2 of the league by winning 4-20 to 3-17.

Two goals from corner-forward Kevin O’Boyle and goals apiece from Darren Hamill and Niall McGarel were the vital scores in a game that eventually decided the destination of the division 3 league and these three with Barry Hamill, Declan McDermott and the O’Boyle’s, Ben, Kieran and Sean and Dylan McLaughlin should give Shane O’Neill’s the edge on Saturday.

PJ McBride led the Armoy challenge against Davitt’s and finished with 0-4 while Thomas Burns was also to the fore with 1-3, Eamonn McCaughan, Rocky Dillon and Colin Lordan all to the fore for the visitors. The afore mentioned with Conor Devlin, Emmet O’Hara, Arthur Devlin and Owen Kinney will spearhead the Armoy challenge and they might not be too far away but I would expect home advantage to swing it Shane O’Neill’s way.

Rasharkin v Cloughmills Saturday 3-00pm (Rasharkin)

League form would suggest that St. Brigid’s will start this one as firm favourites despite St. Mary’s enjoying home advantage by virtue of topping their group in the championship. The Cloughmill’s men finished second in the league to eventual winners, Shane O’Neill’s and were the only team to beat the Glenarm men.

That win came at Feystown which would suggest that the ‘Biddies’ will not be over concerned by travelling to Dreen but they should never the less be wary of a Rasharkin side who seem to have found their best form in the championship following a less than impressive league campaign.

Rasharkin recorded only four wins in their 12 league starts and are the only team of Saturday’s semi-finalists to not make the cut when the league split and finished second bottom at the league’s end.

St. Mary’s have put that indifferent form behind them in the championship however and topped group 1 though it has to be said, group 1 wasn’t as strong as group 2. The  Dreen side beat what was in front of them however and after wins away to Ballymena and at home to the other St. Brigid’s (the Musgrave Park version) They defeated Davitt’s in Rasharkin to top the group.

Their opponents on Saturday, Naom Brid, Cloughmills finished second in group 2 with wins over Armoy and Lamh Dhearg with their only defeat suffered at the hands of Shane O’Neill’s in Cloughmills on the 2nd September.

As runners up in the group they had to play a quarter-final against All Saints and had little difficulty accounting of the Ballymena side in Cloughmills.

Cloughmills are strong in defence where Sean McKendry, Johnny Duffin and Conor Laverty anchor a solid unit. Ruairi Laverty and Geoffery Og Laverty form a solid mid-field partnership while defender turned attacker, Aaron Smiley, Liam Kearns and Mickey Devlin, if available form a real attacking threat.

Rasharkin will look to Conor Doherty, Ruairi O’Boyle and Emmet McFerran in defence while Tiernan O’Boyle has emerged as strong mid-fielder this season and could be partnered by the experienced Thomas McMullan with Declan McKay also dropping deep.

Perhaps the strongest unit in the St. Mary’s side is there half-forward line where Shane Hasson, Conor McFerran and Eamon McNeill all offer a serious threat while the pace of Donagh Quigg could also cause problems in the full-forward line.

Home advantage will certainly give Rasharkin a fighting chance and a big home support will get behind the men from Dreen but if Naomh Brid are at their best then I expect them to win this one and set up a final meeting with Shane O’Neill’s.

Armoy cling on to clinch semi-final meeting with Glenarm

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship Quarter Final  

Saturday 17th September

Report by Niall Kelly 

Michael Davitts  2-13         Glen Rovers Armoy 3-12

Photographs: Bert Trowlen

Armoy sealed their Junior Semi Final berth after weathering a few nervy last moments in Davitt Park. The Glenshesk men went into proceedings as favourites and after having clinically despatched two majors to Thomas Maguire’s net after five minutes of the second half and with a nine point margin now in their favour, they looked to have fulfilled the role to a tee. Indeed, the men in blue and white were in cruise control and it seemingly appeared they would coast their way to victory. However, a spirited and resilient Davitt’s side, spearheaded by Don Whelan and his magic wand, refused to follow the script and mounted a comeback effort which frayed the nerves of the visiting management and faithful alike during the closing exchanges. Davitt’s number ten can feel somewhat aggrieved not to have finished on the winning team as he notched a dazzling individual tally of 1-10 and his ability from the placed ball kept the hosts within distance of their North Antrim counterparts.

It was the home side who started brightest and established a 0-04 0-02 lead by the fifteenth minute. Marcus Toner and Don Whelan (3) were on target for Davitts with the ever-dangerous Tommy Burns and Colin Lordan raising the white flag of the umpires for Armoy. The visitors were growing in confidence as the half progressed and Turlough McBride fired over two consecutive frees to level proceedings a few minutes later.

Momentum continued to sway to and fro as both sides duelled valiantly to gain the ascendency but neither could establish any true dominance on the game. Davitts were heavily reliant on the genius of Whelan from placed balls. More often than not though, he delivered, and on the twentieth minute he had re-established the hosts’ lead after guiding the sliotar over the bar with devastating accuracy on three occasions in quick succession.

Armoy were in need of a score and talisman Tommy Burns duly obliged as his long-range, swerving effort crept just inside the post perfectly to invigorate his side. Turlough McBride had his bearings correct once again before Eamonn McCaughan stamped his authority on proceedings as he latched onto a Rocky Dillon pass before curling a sumptuous effort between the sticks to level matters.

Whelan again would respond for the hosts but Armoy were now dovetailing nicely in attack and dealt their hosts a hammer blow just before the interval. Ciaran McKenna’s sideline cut bounced invitingly for the onrushing Tommy Burns who kept his composure before rifling low and hard into the despairing Thomas Maguire’s net. PJ McBride popped up with another point before Whelan just had enough time to reply to leave the scores at half time 0-09 to 1-08 in favour of the men from the Glens.

The opening five minutes of the second half proved to be decisive in the fate of this game as Armoy ran rampant. PJ McBride continued where he left off before the half as he competently despatched from close range before Eamonn McCaughan grabbed his side’s second major as he unleashed a blistering effort into the top left of the Davitts goal. To further add salt in the wounds, ‘Rocky’ Dillon hammered home a penalty two minutes later and Davitts were left dumbfounded.

The hosts though rallied superbly and refused to wilt despite the now ominous gap between the sides. Whelan grabbed another from range before Marcus Toner presented his side with a lifeline after plundering his way through the heart of the Armoy rear-guard and blasting home to the net to galvanise his men. Davitts cut further into the lead as Cormac Maguire and Whelan pointed and suddenly the margin was down to three points with fifteen to go. 

Credit must go to the visitors though who remained composed, PJ McBride replied to a Toner effort and grabbed two inspirational scores to bolster his side before Burns pointed from range and Armoy seemed to have a handle on things again. They were keeping the sliotar well and trying to take the sting out of the game.

Matters then turned fiery and there was a tempestuous atmosphere for the remainder of the game which resulted in Davitt’s netminder receiving his marching orders after a robust challenge on Colin Lordan. A few other altercations were bubbling over too which resulted in a sizable portion of added time. As the clock then ticked through into injury time, Don Whelan sparked hope of completing a revival when he rifled spectacularly to the net from a long range free to trigger a raucous roar from the home spectators. But it was not be as Armoy stood resolute under the high balls that soared in as the game reached its conclusion.

Davitts will take great heart in their performance. They were dogged and determined throughout the game but will no doubt surely lament that opening five minute period of the second half. Despite the scare, Armoy will be fully focused now on their intriguing encounter with Glenarm in the semis. Glenarm have been tipped by many as the favourites to lift the Junior crown but with talented options within their arsenal, Armoy will certainly fancy their chances.

Teams:

Davitts: T Maguire; O Gorman, M Rowntree, C Cunningham; C Heaney, C Gallagher, A McLaughlin; D Mooney, P Óg Carleton; D Whelan (1-10,) S McGivern, M Toner (1-02;) C Maguire (0-01,) A Rowntree, J McNally

Armoy:

C Devlin; C Coyles, S Devlin, A Devlin; L Devlin, E O’Hara, T McBride (0-03;) J McFetridge, J Dillon (1-00;) C McKenna, T Burns (1-03,) E O’Boyle; E McCaughan (1-01,) C Lordan (0-01,) PJ McBride (0-04)

Referee: Danny O’Neill (Gort na Mona)