Cloughmills cling on for victory

Casement Social Club Junior Hurling Championship – Group 2

Friday 5th August

Report by Niall Kelly 

Glen Rovers Armoy 1-10      Saint Brigid’s Cloughmills 0-14

Ryan O’Reilly’s final whistle will have prompted significant sighs of relief from the Cloughmills faithful. With ten minutes to go, they seemed to be in cruise control. Six points up, a man to the good and playing some slick hurling, they looked destined to coast home and bolster their lead further. However, as cliché as it may be, Championship is a different animal. An Owen Kinney goal to narrow the gap to three ignited the touch paper for a spirited come-back attempt from Armoy. The ‘Biddies’ though managed to hang on in there and their defence stayed resolute when it mattered most.

This was always going to be a tough one to call. Some may have given the visitors a slight edge on their superior league finish but a ten-point victory for Armoy against the men in orange and black a little over a month ago would suggest that it would be exceptionally tight. That is exactly how it transpired.

The opening quarter of the game would pit Trever Linton and Liam Kearns dead ball abilities against one another. Kearns shot Cloughmills into an early two-point lead before the Glen Rover’s full-forward responded with two of his own. The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges of the half and the ever-dangerous Stevie Smyth was causing havoc in the Armoy defence with his movement and trickery a constant thorn in their side.  As he looked to surge through once more, Smyth was brought down and Kearns duly despatched with ease again from the dead ball before Ciaran McKenna responded for Amoy finding the target from a sixty-five.

The hosts soon began to click in attack themselves. Centre forward Thomas Burns bulldozed his way through a number of challenges on the left flank before blasting over from an acute angle on the 20th minute. Trevor Linton then increased the gap to two with another well-taken free.

Momentum continued to sway to and fro with before Cloughmills talisman Michael Devlin made his presence known. ‘Micky D’ certainly had his scope fixed perfectly as he unleashed two monstrous scores from range to level things up again. Two pinpoint frees from Liam Kearns and yet another long range effort this time from the hurl of Eoin Dobbin saw Cloughmills establish a three-point advantage. With the imminent sounding of the short whistle though, Armoy cut the deficit back to a point with white flags being raised from the hurls of PJ McBride and that man Trever Linton yet again.

Having taken stock and analysed proceedings over the half-time team-talks, it was Cloughmills who emerged with a fire in their bellies. They dominated the first fifteen minutes and it took until the 48th minute for Armoy to register their first score of the half. James Doherty’s blistering pace was a menace to the hosts and he fired home a superb point from range three minutes into the half.

The industry and tenacity of Stevie Smyth continued to be the detriment of Glen Rovers. They couldn’t seem to nullify his threat and his hard work was central to the next few scores for his team. Conor Laverty split the posts from range before the ever-reliant Kearns fired over yet again from a free.

Cloughmills were purring now and a well-deserved score from Smyth himself increased the gap further. Passions spilled over though not long after. There were some rather unsavoury scenes as an altercation off the ball between Liam Dillon and James Doherty escalated into somewhat a melee. Referee Ryan O’Riley had no other option but to brandish the red card to Dillon and it appeared this spelt the end for Armoy’s hopes of an opening win with ten minutes remaining on the clock.

Armoy however were not to follow the script and mounted a serious come back. Trever Linton replied to a Liam Kearns free before substitute Owen Kinney announced his arrival to proceedings in the most emphatic fashion as he latched on to a handpass and steered the ball into the despairing Chrissy McKernan’s net. The hosts now seemed to have wrestled the initiative back and began attacking in waves. Trever Linton despatched one from close range to cut the gap to two.

Cloughmills were struggling to maintain possession or make any penetrative passes and Armoy continued on their offensive.  Thomas Burns was pivotal in their attacks and his catching ability was unrivalled throughout and after plucking yet another ball out of the sky, he found the target from range to reduce the deficit to a single point with three minutes still to go.

The onslaught continued but to no avail as the Cloughmills defence, marshalled well by Aaron Smiley and Séan McKendry, refused to breach further and the ‘Biddies’ held on to stagger over the line.

Make no mistake about it, Championship hurling is all about ‘getting over the line’ and Cloughmills will be delighted to have clung on. It could well be an important two points considering the company of Group Two with league champions Glenarm and Lámh Dhearg also vying for the two semi-final spots. Armoy will no doubt be gutted at the marginal deficit of their defeat. They showed patches of promise and with more consistency in their next games will still fancy their chances of progressing out of the group stages.

Teams:

Glen Rovers Armoy:

C Devlin; C Coyles, S Devlin, E O’Hara; L Dillon, A Devlin, T McBride; J McFetridge, PJ McBride (0-01;) C McKenna (0-01,) T Burns (0-02,) E O’Boyle; C Lordan, T Linton (0-06,) C Watterson

Subs: O Kinney (1-00)

Naomh Bríd Cloughmills

C McKernan; M Dobbin, S McKendry, R Watt; J Duffin, C Laverty (0-01,) J Smyth; R Laverty, G Óg Laverty; J Doherty (0-01,) M Devlin (0-02,) E Dobbin (0-01;) A Smiley, L Kearns (0-07,) S Smyth (0-01)

Referee – Ryan O’Reilly

Caolan O’Connor returns Danny McNaughton’s jersey

Fourteen months ago Glenariffe’s Caolan O’Connor, who is a bio medical student, moved to Cork at part of his placement to take up a position with Stryker, who are a medical devices company based in Cork city. Caolan travelled up to play with Glenariffe as often as he could but it obviously wasn’t feasible to train with his Oisin team mates, so he went along to St Finabarr’s in Cork and ask if he could train with them.

This season he went a step further and joined the Barr’s for the Cork League campaign and has been a regular on the starting 15 al season. The team is managed by Cork goalkeeping legend Ger Cunningham and one day after training he told Caolan that he had a jersey in the attic that he had swopped with an Antrim player after the 1986 All Ireland SHC semi-final in Croke Park, that famous game when Antrim scored 1-24 against the Rebels, but unfortunately conceded 7-11 to lose by just five points.

Caolan O’Connor hands over Danny McNaughton’s 1986 All Ireland semi-final jersey to Anne Mari

When Cunningham brought the jersey to training the next day he gave it to Caolan and told him he felt it would mean more to an Antrim man to have it than sitting in his attic. However Caolan was curious to find out more about it and when he did a bit of research he discovered it was worn on that August day in 1986 by the late Danny McNaughton, who had scored two points in the game, despite being marked by the great Cork defender Dermot McCurtain.

Caolan would liked to have kept the jersey, but he knew that there was someone else that it would mean much more to, Danny’s widow Anne Marie, so on Thursday he and his mum Christine called around to Tavnahan Crescent to hand it over.

It goes without saying there were a few tears shed as Anne Marie took possession of the famous shirt. She was taken aback not only with getting the jersey, but also by Caolan’s thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit in seeing the bigger picture.

A copy of the 1986 match programme

St Gall’s win well as Con Magees regret missed chances

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship

Glenravel 0-07    St Galls 0-14

St Galls emerged victorious in this low scoring game where first touch hurling and accurate score taking were in short supply. To be fair both teams struggled under the heavy grey sky and constant drizzle making fast flowing hurling almost impossible. St Galls victory was largely down to a combination of indiscretion by the home team in the defensive third of the pitch being punished by accurate free taking from the visitors’ corner forward, Mark Napier, who got half his team’s scores, six of which were frees from  relatively easy positions.

The Belfast men would have been strong favourites having ploughed their trade this season a division above Con Magees who were making their Intermediate Championship debut having secured the Junior Championship last year. But a narrow two point lead on the short whistle would have had the city men  a little nervous in the half time changing rooms.

St Galls started the game in full flow with the opening three scores from Patrick Friel and two from Mark Napier. Declan McAuley making a welcome return to the starting lineup after a long layoff got Con Magees off the mark after eight minutes but that was cancelled out one minute later when St Galls’ burly full forward Antoin McCafferty pointed from close range. Glenravel had been playing well in the opening quarter but some wayward shooting found them trailing 0-04 to 0-01 at this stage. That would change over a three minute period when Niall Donnelly, Johnny Fyfe and Connor Deery brought the home side level after fifteen minutes of the first half. The second quarter was a dull affair for the purists with only two points recorded over a fifteen minute spell, both for St Galls from play by Fergus Donnelly and Patrick Friel.

The home support would have been happy enough with the half time scoreline but disappointed Glenravel hadn’t been a little more accurate from open play.

Sean McKay was introduced to the Con Magees forward line at the start of the second half at the expense of Declan McAuley who had done well in his first game back. However defensively the home team were starting to leak frees which Mark Napier and Ryan Irvine converted in the opening two minutes to double St Gall’s lead to four points and put some daylight between the teams for the first time. Connor Deery and Mark Napier traded frees before Declan Traynor picked off the score of the game when his quick thinking lead to a lovely point to reduce the gap to three points. St Galls would stretch the lead to four again when Fergus Donnelly pointed from play so we headed into the final quarter with St Galls ahead by four 0-10 to 0-06 and struggling to kill off Glenravel. However, in the final quarter the Division 2 side’s experience and guile won through. As the light was fading so were the home side’s chances with Con Magees resorting to conceding frees which Mark Napier (3) and Ryan Irvine (1) happily converted. Glenravel’s only response was fine point from play by Johnny Fyfe as the game ticked into added time leaving a final score of 0-14 to 0-07 in favour of St Galls.

O’Connell stars as Cloney open with a win

Andersonstown Social Club Intermediate Hurling Championship

Cloney Gaels 3-18 Cushendun Emmet’s 1-17

A fantastic display by Cloney Gaels corner forward James O’Connell, which saw the ex-county star end with 2-11 to his name, steered his team to victory over Cushendun in Wednesday evening’s opening game in the Intermediate Hurling Championship round robin at Ahoghill.

The corner forward had been well shackled during the opening twenty minutes of the game when he was held scoreless from play, but he was always a danger and in the final ten minutes of the opening half he cut loose to score 1-3 and give his team the lead at the break. His second goal came ten minutes from the end of the game, with the outcome in the balance, before adding two more points to take the game away from the visitors and get his team off to a great start.

Cushendun will be disappointed at the outcome, but they can take heart from a good display that had them in the game up until the last ten minutes, and in David Kilgore and Conlaoith ‘Loaf’ McNeill they had two men who pushed O’Connell hard for the man of the match award. Kilgore turned in a brilliant performance, scoring seven points from play, while ‘Loaf’ was not far behind. The full forward ended with 1-6, his well taken goal from play, while two of his points from frees were superb, one of them from well inside his own 65.

Cushendun’s David Kilgore who scored seven points from play

The game started at a hectic pace and Cloney Gaels had two points on the board inside the first minute, the first a pointed free by O’Connell at the throw-in and the other from play by full forward Donal Graham. Cushendun hit back with a great gem of a score from David Kilgore and one from a ‘Loaf’ McNeill free, and after O’Connell put the home team back in front Loaf struck for his team’s goal on seven minutes, firing the ball past Francis Neeson after catching a great ball sent in from the corner by Harry Kilgore. Two quick points from the same players, both from play put the Emmet’s four clear and they appeared to be getting on top, but the Ahoghill men never panicked and over the next ten minutes they clawed their way back, outscoring the visitors by 4 to 1, the points coming from Ronan Graham, Donal Graham, Borris O’Connell and James O’Connell, while Harry Kilgore got the Cushendun point.

Cushendun came back and two brilliant points inside a minute from David Kilgore and one from a Loaf McNeill free which put them four clear again just seven minutes out from half time, but the rest of the half belonged to O’Connell as he finally shook off the shackles of the Emmet’s defence to fire home his first goal before adding a pointed free. Conrad McDonnell responded with a point to edge Cushendun ahead again, but two more from O’Connell in the 28th and 30th minutes gave the home side a one pointe lead at the break. (1-10 to 1-9)

The second half started like the first, at breakneck speed, and David Kilgore had two points on the board inside 90 seconds to put his team back in front. James O’Connell levelled from a free but a massive strike from McNeill from inside his own levelled matters again and Pearse Bannon put the visitors back ahead after being put clear by David Kilgore.

Back came Cloney with two points from play by O’Connell, one them from a tight angle on the left, but David Kilgore struck again to level the game for the fifth time. Neill Borris O’Connell got Cloney’s noses back in front but three in a row from David Kilgore, Conrad McDonnell and Loaf McNeill, just on the third quarter mark, swung the pendulum back in the Emmet’s favour.

That was as good as it got however for the Cushendun men and when James O’Connell got in behind their defence to drill a ground shot to the net there was a definite swing in the home team’s favour. Substitute Eoin Graham added a point, and though Loaf landed another massive point for the Emmet’s it was to be their last score, while O’Connell two more before a great break by Patrick Graham saw the left half forward place full forward Donal Graham for his team’s third goal.

In the last seconds of the game a Cushendun player received a bad injury following an accidental collision with an Ahoghill opponent. The player needed medical attention and an ambulance was called, which arrived inside half an hour. A word of praise for those who attended to the stricken player and I know you will all join me in wishing him a speedy recovery

CLONEY GAELS

Francis Neeson, Harry O’Donnell, James Magee, Dairmaid Graham, Finbar O’Neill, Bernard Graham, Daniel O’Nell, Eamon Brady, Neill O’Connell, Owen Neeson, Thomas McGlone, Patrick Graham, Ronan Graham, Donal Graham, James O’Connell.

Subs – Colla McDonnell and Eoin Graham

CUSHENDUN

Gareth McGhee, Sean Hamilton Aidan Corbett, Jack McKay, Tom Scally, Conor McHugh, Matthew McCartin, Oisin McMahon, Pearse Bannon, Harry Kilgore, David Kilgore, Calum Kilgore, Conlaoith McNeill, Conor Bannon.

Subs – Gavan McCormick and Dominic Sharkey

Referee – Fionntan McCotter

O’Boyle strikes late to deny Paddies comeback victory

Andersonstown SC Intermediate Hurling Championship Group 1 

Sarsfields 1-25-4-16 Oisin’s Glenariff

Kevin Herron reports from the Bear Pit 

Michael O’Boyle saved Oisins blushes at the Bear Pit on Wednesday evening after Sarsfields overturned a seven-point deficit at the break in this thrilling 1-25-4-16 draw. 

A double from David Kearney and further goals from Seamus McDonnell and Caolan O’Connor had given the visitors a 4-09-1-11 lead at the midway point. 

However, Sarsfields slowly clawed their way back into the game and levelled late-on before Kevin McKernan looked to have steered them to victory. 

It wasn’t to be though as O’Boyle salvaged a draw for Oisins with the final play to ensure that the sides would leave with the share of the spoils in an entertaining Group 1 clash. 

Oisin’s hit the front from their first attack through a Seamus McDonnell point, though Kevin McKernan executed a side-line cut between the posts in response. 

The opening goal arrived after four minutes when a high ball landed in the square and McDonnell rifled low to the Sarsfields net to give his side a 1-01-0-01 lead. 

Niall McKenna and Alex O’Boyle (free) traded scores and the duo then landed terrific efforts from range in shortly after. 

Sarsfields closed the deficit to a single point after Daniel McKernan floated an angled shot between the posts and Niall McKenna notched up his third point of the half. 

A converted Alex O’Boyle free brought his personal tally to 0-03 but his side fell behind approaching the quarter-hour mark. 

A free from Niall McKenna dropped short of the target but Ryan Carson flicked the loose ball to the net to give the Paddies a 1-05-1-04 advantage. 

McKenna extended the lead after picking up the loose ball and swinging a high effort between the posts. 

Though Oisin’s restored parity thanks to an angled effort that spun between the posts from Seamus McDonnell and a third free from Alex O’Boyle.

Sarsfields edged in front again when Kevin McKernan dropped a ball on top of Niall McKenna to float a shot accurately over the bar. 

On 18 minutes the lead changed hands again and Oisin’s would stay in control for majority of the evening. 

The visitors hit the front for the third time in the half courtesy of a low David Kearney strike that squeezed into the net to make it 2-06-1-07. 

In response Donal Moran landed a fantastic point from range, however that was brief rest bite as Glenariff found a second goal in as many minutes and their third inside of twenty minutes. 

Naoise Ó Faoláin did well to keep the initial effort from Seamus McDonnell at bay but could do nothing to prevent Caolan O’Connor sweeping the rebound home from close range to give his side a 3-06-1-08 lead. 

Caolan O’Connor fires home Oisin’s third goal

Points were traded in the aftermath between Niall McKenna and Alex O’Boyle before Sarsfields talisman McKenna converted his first free of the evening. 

Six-minutes before the break a fourth goal increased Glenariff’s advantage, it was a second goal of the game for David Kearney after previous goal scorer O’Connor slipped the ball through on the overlap and Kearney fizzed a low effort to the net to make it 4-07-1-10. 

Further points from Alex O’Boyle (free) and Caolan O’Connor extended the visitors increasing lead with Donal Moran producing another effort from range that dropped between the posts to ensure the Paddies ended the half with a point but were 4-09-1-11 in arrears and had work to do in order to salvage anything from proceedings. 

Back-to-back Alex O’Boyle points at the beginning of the second half extended his sides lead, the first coming from his fifth placed ball and a third score from play would follow. 

In response Niall McKenna dropped a free over the bar to get the Paddies up and running – but they were unable to make further inroads and as the respective free-takers traded further placed-balls. 

Sarsfields had clocked up three scores on the spin with McKenna taking a fine pass from Ryan Carson and guiding the ball between the posts and Kevin McKernan landing a shot over from range to reduce arrears to six (4-12-1-15). 

For the eighth time in the evening talisman O’Boyle and McKenna cancelled each-other out from frees. 

Oisins inched further clear when Donal Kearney delivered the ball up the channel and substitute Paul McDonnell floated a shot between the posts. 

Momentum was slowly shifting as the Paddies landed five scores unanswered, Niall McKenna brought his free tally to five to with another two placed balls in-between a fine Kevin McKernan effort. 

Half-time substitute Darragh McGuiness made his presence felt and Daniel McKernan squeezed a high angled effort inside the posts to make it a two-point game (4-14-1-21) with little under ten minutes remaining. 

Alex O’Boyle briefly halted the comeback, converting his eighth free of the contest- although Sarsfields soon picked up where they left off. 

Anthony McGarrigle picked out Enda McCartan on the overlap and he directed a high shot over the bar.  

The bare minimum separated the sides when Kevin McKernan sent an effort over the bar from range for his fourth point and with a minute to go the hosts tied things up. 

McKernan found the run of brother Daniel who flighted his shot between the posts to make it 1-24-4-15. 

The home side sensed victory was within the taking and they hit the front in time added on with Kevin McKernan doing enough to steer his shot over the bar. 

Oisins were now the side under pressure but continued to advance into the hosts attacking third courtesy of winning a few side-line balls. 

Eventually their opportunity to restore parity came and Michael O’Boyle seized it- landing the late pressure shot- which would prove to be the final act of the evening to secure a 1-25-4-16 draw as both sides left content with a point a piece in the end. 

Sarsfields: N Ó Faoláin, D Johnston, J Cunningham, M McCavanagh, N Ó Maoláin, E Rodgers, D Moran (0-02), E McCartan (0-01), K McKernan (0-05, 0-01f), A McGarrigle, D McKernan (0-03), R Carson (1-00), D McKernan snr, N McKenna (0-13, 0-05f), C McKernan. Subs: B Jackson for N Ó Faoláin (HT), D McGuinness (0-01) for D McKernan snr (HT), M Johnston for M McCavanagh (HT). 

Oisins: P McMullan, M Haughey, N Murray, Daniel Kearney, Donal Kearney, CR Patterson, M Gettens, O Kearney, S McIntosh, A O’Boyle (0-11, 0-08f), D Kearney (2-00), O Gillan, M O’Boyle (0-01), S McDonnell (1-02), C O’Connor (1-01). Subs: P McDonnell (0-01) for O Gillan (40), D McKillop for S McIntosh (49), A Cosgrove for O Kearney (55). 

Referee: Kevin Parke (Naomh Éanna)