Johnnies championship dreams ‘Dall over

LURIG MURAL copy 3Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship – Semi-Final Replay

Cushendall 2-16 St Johns 3-11

Brendan McTaggart reports from Paírc MacUílín, Ballycastle

When the vast crowd packed into Paírc MacUílín on Sunday afternoon, there was an air of anticipation before throw in.  There always is before any championship semi-final but this felt different.  After the first match two weeks ago and the dramatic ending, we were left waiting excruciatingly for two weeks to find who would be joining Loughgiel in the 2018 Final but my word wasn’t it worth the wait.

Cushendall edged St Johns with two points to spare after another hugely entertaining and no less dramatic hour and more of hurling.  Their place in the decider was only settled with a free in the sixth minute of injury time by substitute Emmett Laverty but just like 14 days previous, the Ruairi’s were pushed to the pin of their collar by a gallant and luckless Johnnies side.

After seven minutes, it looked like the consensus around the county had got it right.  Cushendall started like a house on fire and had opened up a six point lead while St Johns were metaphorically still in the changing rooms.  They couldn’t get to grips with the Ruairi’s juggernaut and the prospects of another tight championship encounter was somewhere between bleak and non-existent. People1stA

7St John’s Michial Dudley runs at the Cushendall defence

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However the Johnnies have shown in 2018 that they are the real deal.  They are a team to be reckoned with and on Sunday they showed the determination and character that goes hand in hand with championship winning teams.  They reeled the Ruairi’s in to leave just two points between the sides at the short whistle, thanks largely to the talents of Conor Johnston and after eight minutes of the second half they had taken the lead.  Barry McFall’s goal upping the stakes and sending the atmosphere at Paírc MacUílín to fever pitch and thoughts turned to the possibility of a first City side in the championship Final since St Galls in 2014 and Rossa in 2004.

The Ruairi’s showed their championship pedigree by steadying their ship with Neil McManus, Natty McNaughton and Conor Carson to the fore but they were rocked with five minutes remaining with Peter McCallin’s major giving the Johnnies the lead once again.

The Cushendall response this time was emphatic.  Two goals from Man of the Match Conor Carson opened a five point lead going into injury time for 13 time county champions only for St Johns to roll the dice one more time.  Micheal Bradley splitting the posts from distance before Conor Johnston landed their third major deep in injury time.

With the game in the melting pot the Ruairi’s were awarded a free from close to the ’65 and substitute Emmett Laverty eased the nerves within the Cushendall support.

Dani's Designs logo-textA24Arron Graffin blocks down a shot by St John’s full forward Michael BradleyConnolly's Logo copy 2

Both teams were forced into changes to their starting 15.  Cushendall were without the services of Eoghan Campbell but started the replay with a team that was close to the 15 that finished the first match.  Natty McNaughton, Alex Delargy and Martin Burke earning their shirt for their efforts the last day out.  St John’s were without Donal Carson but also elected to draft in Gerard Cunningham with Simon McCrory starting as well as a raft of positional changes from the first encounter.

All the changes seemed to be counter-productive for the Johnnies though as Cushendall steam rolled the Corrigan Park side in the opening exchanges.  McManus, putting thoughts of his misadventures with placed ball the last day to one side and was back to his imperious best, landing two huge frees in the opening minutes while scoring his first from play after Fergus McCambridge also opened his account.  A brace of points from Ryan McCambridge and Cormac McClafferty followed to leave six between the sides in the seventh minute, all while Cushendall ‘keeper Eoin Gillan still hadn’t touched the sliotar.

The first St Johns point came in the 11th minute, Barry McFall splitting the posts as the Johnnies continued to look for a way of settling into the semi-final.  Conor Johnston landed a brace of frees either side of a long range point from Francis McCurry and when Ryan McCambridge and Michail Dudley swapped points in the 15th minute, four points separated the sides with Cushendall doing all the early running.

St Johns finished the half well though and managed to bring the Cushendall lead down to two points by the short whistle.  Conor Johnston landing two points (one free) with his brother Ciaran also getting in on the act with another trademark free from distance while the Ruairi’s only had a point from Fergus McCambridge to show for their efforts in the second quarter.

It was another half of hurling that had big hits, big tackles and loads of intensity.  Both teams played on the edge and while space and time was at a premium, goal chances were created throughout the first half.  McFall was denied by Paddy Burke in the 11th minute while Alex Delargy’s effort was cleared off the line by Ryan McNulty.

10The match was still in the melting pot despite the Cushendall dominance of the first half.  The Ruairi’s hit double the wides of St Johns in the opening 30 minutes with a few frees going astray from McManus but they started the second half in the same fashion as the first, this time Natty McNaughton and McManus (free) landing the scores in the opening three minutes to open a four point lead once again.

The Ruairi’s wouldn’t score for another five minutes which in the grand scheme of the match wasn’t long but the Johnnies manages to take the lead in that time.  A brace of frees from Conor Johnston preceded the first goal of the semi-final.  Barry McFall finishing a slick move in the 38thminute to give St Johns the lead for the first time in the match.

The Ruairi’s response was resembled everything they have become through the years.  They remained calm while becoming more clinical with the passing and execution.  A trio of scores from Paddy McGill and McManus (two frees) came on either side of  a point from Conor Johnston to leave the Cushendall men ahead by the minimum mid-way through the second half.

With the game becoming less structured and more frenetic, space and time was becoming more readily available.  McManus took his tally to 0-7 for the match before St John’s dealt another hammer blow in the 55th minute with Peter McCallin scoring their second goal.  The St Johns man turning two Ruairi defenders before rifling his shot low past the advancing Gillan in the Cushendall goals.

44026454_516188375514358_4348316725461123072_nConor Carson receives the Saffron Gael Man of the Match award, a new hurl kindly sponsored by Martin Hurls, Randalstown.

The Cushendall response was epic.  They were awarded a free from close to their own ’65, still within McManus’ range but his effort dropped short with the sliotar falling into the waiting crowd.  Carson got a touch to the dropping ball and suddenly it was in the back of Simon Doherty’s net.  A huge goal for his side and just reward for the Cushendall man who had been going through a mountain of work during the match in a magnificent tussle with St Johns defender Ryan McNulty.

With the match entering injury time Cushendall thought they had finally extinguished the flickering flame of the St Johns championship when substitute Eunan McKillop found Carson in space with the ‘Dall forward landing his second goal in five minutes at the business end of the semi-final.

The Johnnies found a second wind though with Micheal Bradley splitting the posts from distance before Conor Johnston collected a lose ball in the Cushendall defence and fired their third major of the match to leave one between the sides.  Cushendall’s nerves were eased moments later however when Emmet Laverty split the posts with a 60 yard free with the last poc of the game to seal the Ruairi’s sixth championship final in succession and the small matter of a meeting with Loughgiel in two weeks time.

23Neil McManus seems certain to score here but Simon Doherty somehow got his body in the way to deflect the ball out for a 65


Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Arron Graffin, Paddy Burke, Martin Burke; Sean Delargy, David Kearney, Francis McCurry; Paddy McGill, Neil McManus; Conor Carson, Donal McNaughton, Ryan McCambridge; Fergus McCambridge, Cormac McClafferty, Alex Delargy.

Scorers: Neil McManus 0-7 5 f’s); Conor Carson 2-00; Fergus McCambridge 0-2; Ryan McCambridge 0-2; Francis McCurry 0-1; Cormac McClafferty 0-1; Paddy McGill 0-1; Donal McNaughton 0-1; Emmett Laverty 0-1 (1 f).

St Johns:  Simon Doherty; Conall Morgan, Ryan McNulty, Aidan McMahon; Stephen Tierney, Ciaran Johnston, Gerard Cunningham; Simon McCrory, Jim Peoples; Barry McFall, Peter McCallin, Shea Shannon; Michail Dudley, Michael Bradley, Conor Johnston.

Scorers: Conor Johnston 1-7 (4 f’s); Barry McFall 1-1; Peter McCallin 1-00; Michail Dudley 0-1; Micheal Bradley 0-1; Ciaran Johnston 0-1 (1 f).

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

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Pics by John McIlwaine

Johnnies and Ruairis do it all again

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Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship – Semi-Final Replay

at Paírc MacUílín, Ballycastle

St Johns vs Cushendall

Sunday 14th October 2018

Throw In: 3pm

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

285Ciaran Johnston earned Naomh Eoin a replay the last day out with a late point during his man of the match performance. People1stA

It doesn’t quite feel like it’s been two weeks since these two championship contenders left their supporters as nervous wrecks in Dunloy. 60 minutes and then some of pure and unadulterated championship hurling. Passion in its rawest, but best form.

Cushendall and St Johns couldn’t find a winner by the full time whistle on the day and on Sunday they go again. Both these sides have dusted themselves down, nursed knocks and niggles and are now finalising their preparations ahead of Sunday’s semi-final but they still managed to take the time to have a yarn with us and give their thoughts on what has been and what lays ahead.

St Johns Manager – Tony McNulty….

Despite leading by five points with as many minutes of normal time remaining, the Johnnies were reliant on Ciaran Johnston showing he had nerves of steel in the middle of Pearse Park. After a slight delay, Johnston split the posts from close to 70 yards with the last poc of the game. A dramatic ending but the Johnnies manager feels that his side were far from at their best: “Look we did a lot of things good on the day but off course there’s things we weren’t happy about. The obvious one is the free taking. It was a difficult day with the conditions but we need to be better than that if we want to progress. Some of that was because of the conditions but nerves were a factor as well.

“I don’t think either team were at their best if I’m honest. We gave the ball away a lot and our use of the ball can be a lot better than we showed but we’re still there and still fighting.”

The Corrigan Park side were on Big Ball duties last weekend. A semi-final defeat to Creggan dented their chances of repeating their 2017 campaign and reaching the senior football decider and while there is obvious disappointment, McNulty told us they are turning it to their advantage: “They are still upbeat. They’re a great bunch of lads and yes they were deflated at the full time whistle in Dunloy but they’re itching to put things right again.

“We had seven lads with the footballers last weekend. They’ve came through unscathed but they’re obviously disappointed with the defeat. They haven’t done much training this week – after a championship match like they had it takes two or three days to recover from that but it’s another incentive for them to get over the line on Sunday.”

11Donal Carson. ‘Donal of the dancing feet’ will be a bad loss for St John’s on Sunday, and a bad loss to hurling in general as the little corner forward has lit up the championship this year with a series of great goals.

With Simon McCrory expected to take his place in the starting 15 on Sunday, the Johnnies will be forced into changes, not through McCrory’s introduction but rather the loss of one of their star performers the last day out. Donal Carson finished the match with 1-1 and was a constant threat to the Cushendall defence. McNulty told us: “Donal Carson is away to Australia but it’s something we knew was coming. He’s going to be a huge loss, there’s no doubting that. Donal had a great knack all year of scoring goals for us, I think he scored one in every game.”

McNulty told us they had hopes of the replay being held in Belfast but he is more than happy to head to Paírc MacUílín for a second championship encounter of the year: “The match was initially penned for Dunloy again and to be honest we were more than happy with that. They asked us if we minded if they changed the venue to get the minor final played before it and to be honest it didn’t matter to us. When you’re the length of Dunloy, for us Ballycastle is just a bit further up the road. We’ve had success on that pitch this year so hopefully it’s a good omen.”

With Loughgiel laying in wait, the bookies have the Ruairi’s as favourites to meet the Shamrocks in the decider. There’s an air of feeling around the county the Johnnies might have missed the boat after the first match. That feeling doesn’t sit too well with McNulty: “The bookies have us down as third favourites. Loughgiel are evens and we’re something like six or 7/1. We don’t feel like that. We don’t have an underdog mentality. We showed the last day that we are a match for Cushendall and the likes. We feel like if we make a few less mistakes and reach the same intensity as we did the last day we won’t be far away.”

All Dalled Up bannerADYLN5001Eoghan Campbell will miss the replay through injury, bad blow for the Ruairis and for hurling fans in general.


Cushendall Coach – Ciaran Kearney…..

Cushendall almost grasped victory from the jaws of defeat the last time out. It took a late Alex Delargy goal to bring the Ruairi’s back from the brink while late Natty McNaughton and Neil McManus points edged them in front before being pegged back. Drama to the end and Cushendall coach Ciaran Kearney was thankful for the Ruairi’s strength in depth: “We finished strongly in the last 10 minutes and at that point it could have went either way. I think both teams walked away thinking they could have won the game.”

Despite not firing on all cylinders in the first half last time out, Kearney told us they were relatively satisfied with their work in the opening 30 minutes but they have a serious selection headache on their hands: “We were happy enough at half time but our start to the second half wasn’t good enough. We made changes and they made the difference. We knew we had a strong bench. To be able to call upon the likes of Alex Delargy, Natty (McNaughton), Marty Burke and Sean (McAfee) was huge for us.

“It’s definitely given us a headache. Those guys are game changers and proved that when they came on the last day. They’ve pushed their cases forward for a starting position but it was the same for the first match. It wasn’t an easy call to make, the competition for places is huge.

“The feeling among the camp is great though. The lads have belief in whoever starts and while some will be disappointed they don’t start, they’ll be eager to impress if they come on and push for a starting place the next day.”

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Alex Delargy made a welcome return to championship hurling when he was introduced during the drawn game.

Delargy’s major was a real turning point in the game. A remarkable turnaround for the Ruairi Og man who suffered a horrific hand injury earlier in the year. Kearney praised his super-sub from the first match when adding: “We were shocked when we saw how well Alex had progressed. It was a horror injury but he’s shown a greater maturity to comeback and force his way back into the reckoning. He brings a great vibe to the squad and he’s a great lad. He went the right way about ensuring his season wasn’t over.”

Cushendall will be without the services of the hugely influential Eoghan Campbell for the replay. Campbell sustained a fractured wrist late in the game but it’s not all doom and gloom on the injury front for the Ruairi’s: “He’s (Campbell) a massive loss. He’s always capable of hitting a couple of points a game but he uses the ball so well from defence and has a vast amount of experience. It’s a definite blow for us but other than that, we have a full panel to pick from again.”

Kearney is hoping for a less stressful hours hurling on Sunday but backs his squad no matter what: “Off course we would love to be in a position where we’re four or five points close to the end but as this team have shown in recent times, they never know when they’re beaten. They keep going to the final whistle.

“We’re hoping to play like the last 10 or so minutes for the full 60 on Sunday.”

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CRLL0909Neil McManus will again be the go-to man in the Ruairis attack, but Cushendall may need a few of the other forwards on song as well to get them over the line


There’s a trail of thought among the neutrals in the county that the Johnnies missed the boat first time out and Cushendall will play better the next day out. I tend to look at it that the Ruairi’s could only play as well as they were allowed. St Johns got their tactics perfect on the day but couldn’t capitalise and see the job out. We can look at different scenarios from the first match but that has been and gone and will have little or no bearing on finding a winner on Sunday.

Having Simon McCrory in the starting 15 will be a massive lift for the Johnnies while Campbell’s and Donal Carson’s losses are hugely significant. McNulty and co will rejig their line up to bring McCrory into the starting 15 in Carson’s absence but I wouldn’t be surprised if Campbell’s omission is the only change in the Ruairi’s starting 15. They may want to go with the tried and tested, championship and seasoned campaigners who performed so well when introduced in the first match ahead of the younger players. It’s a big call for the Ruairi’s management to make. There’s only one way for youth to get big game experience.

If I’m pushed, I think Cushendall will edge it. I still don’t necessarily think St Johns missed the boat the last day out, I just think the Ruairi’s never say die spirit is unfathomable as they proved last day out. Cushendall to progress with no more than a poc of the ball between the sides, but don’t be surprised if our stay in Ballyastle is prolonged for 20 minutes.

‘Dall and ‘Dun must do it on their own

On Sunday next neighbours Cushendall and Cushendun have their biggest games of the year so far, but both are roughly at the same time, 25 miles apart.Colum Thompson tries to work it all out.

By Colum Thompson

If you didn’t laugh you’d cry. A competitive club hurling match in Ulster was like an endangered species during the summer months of June, July and August. So rare in fact that if you had the good fortune to stumble across one you might find David Attenborough hiding in the bushes doing the commentary. When you consider that every Ulster county had exited their respective championship competitions by the end of June it seems baffling that now, over three months later we are still yet to play an Ulster club championship match at Senior, Intermediate or Junior level. What this means, like every other year is a rush to get games played before the snow arrives and the surfaces turn from heavy to complete bogs.

   When you have two villages separated by just a few miles like Cushendall and Cushendun, where people go to school together, youth clubs, discos, pubs and other social events together you often find what I call cross community marriages, like my own!! Joan Lingard wrote a novel in the early 1990’s called “Across The Barricades” about Kevin (a catholic) and Sadie (a protestant) finding love in war torn Belfast. I’m not saying a marriage between someone from Cushendall and someone from Cushendun is comparable to a catholic marrying a protestant during the troubles, a Dall/ Dun marriage is much more complicated and politically sensitive!!!

   In all seriousness you have plenty of families with someone in each camp. Cushendun’s manager is a Cushendall man, Chris Dornan who has taken plenty of teams for us as well. There would be several players on the Cushendun team who have played underage hurling for Cushendall and there’d be plenty of people in each village would want to watch the other in championship action. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what the fixture makers have done this weekend. That’s right, Cushendun play Na Magha in the Ulster Junior Quarter Final on Sunday at half 2 and Cushendall play St. Johns on the same day at three o’ clock in Ballycastle. Unless you can commandeer Marty McFly’s DeLorean you can’t watch both. Now I understand people weren’t expecting a draw in the Dall v Johnnies match a couple of weeks ago and I know that the Ulster Council made one fixture and the Antrim board the other but is a phone call really that hard to make? Or text, email, private message, Instagram, snapchat, carrier pigeon, smoke signal or whatever. Could one match not have been on Saturday and the other on Sunday? Or one at midday and the other at half three? I’ll be in Ballycastle on Sunday, in fact if Cushendall’s fixture was in Skibbereen Harbour in the middle of the night I’d be there, I love my club and I love hurling. It’s just such a pity I can’t see the newly noisy neighbours in their biggest match for many years as well.

Could CMac be facing the ‘Dall in an Ulster final?

Down Senior Hurling final

Ballycran 2-13 Portaferry 1-14

While his old club Ruairi Og were battling for their lives against St John’s in the semi-final of the Antrim Senior Hurling Championship at the weekend in Dunloy Cormac McAllister was winning silverware with his new club Ballycran in the Down final against Portaferry.

CMac hurled for the Ruairi Og for a number of years but when he met and fell in love with a woman from the Ards Peninsula he upped sticks and headed for the county Down, where he was persuaded to don the black and amber shirt of Ballycran. He played for them during their league campaign in Division 1A of the Antrim leagues and on Sunday he lined out against neighbours Portaferry in the Down final at Ballygalget. His new side played second fiddle for long periods of the game, but a goal from a twenty metre free by Conor Woods deep into injury time saw Ballycran grab a dramatic victory.

Ballycran had started the game well and boosted by a CMac goal in the 11th minute they took a 1-2 to 0-2 lead. However that was to be their last score of the opening half as Portaferry took control and boosted by Ronan Blair goal they went on to lead by 1-9 to 1-2 at half time.

There was little in the early stages of the second half to suggest that Ballycran would get back into the game, but slowly they began to gain a foothold and with Conor Woods pulling the strings they got back to within a point. CMac had the chance to put them ahead with time almost up but his shot for goal was brilliantly saved by Portaferry netminder Karol Keating. They thought the chance was gone but seconds later the men in black and amber were awarded a close range free which Woods duly dispatched to seal the win and set up an Ulster semi-final place against reigning champions Slaughtneil.

The odds are probably against it. Cushendall have a mighty struggle on their hands to overcome St John’s in the semi-final replay with Loughgiel lying in wait in the final. Ballycran will start as rank outsiders against 3-in-row chasing Slauthtneil but there is still a chance that CMac could be facing his old team-mates in an Ulster final

Tough few days…

Saffron Gael corrospondent Brendan McTaggart is an avid Dunloy follower and it has been a bad few days for the scribe, now resident in deepest Derry. In such cases there is nothing more therapeutic than writing it all down…….. so he did!

By Brendan McTaggart

It’s been a tough oul week. Between work and matches, I’ve seen fierce little of my better half and our four ‘little angels’ we have at our feet but you won’t hear me complain. Normally.

When you do this journalism carry on, you take the rough with the smooth. You work with the four and five match weekends with the knowledge that you will at some stage come across a gem of a contest that will help you get through the wee hours of the morning in front of the laptop.

That being said, it’s been a long, long week.

It started with the usual. “Daddy can I go with you to the Dunloy match on Sunday?”

Caoimhe, my eldest daughter. She might play camogie for Lavey and avidly follow the Erin’s Own side everywhere she can but like me, if she was cut her blood runs green and gold. An odd combination you might say but like any Saffron-Oak marriage, you have to negotiate these things to make it work. The Bann can be a treacherous crossing at the best of times.

With a night writing previews and Caoimhe giving her helpful editorial advice, the craic started. “Daddy you remember the Team of ’17 song last year?”

How could I forget?

“I’ve a new one wrote for this year.”

Before I could say ‘settle yourself’ or ‘it’s only a semi-final’ she was gone and started to sing:

The flags fly high and there yellow and green

Come with me and you’ll see what I mean

There’s a Big Eared cup that we’re dreaming off

If you need me you’ll know where I’ll be.

I’ll be riding shot gun

Underneath for the hot sun

Singing up Cuchullains

She was onto a winner. It stuck in my head and we got to work on the rest of the lyrics. Plans were afoot for ‘Up Cuchullains’ to be typed out and sent to the primary school and we’d have a YouTube hit. We saw our names in lights. Dunloy’s answer to Simon and Garfunkel. All we needed was a Dunloy win and we could get the ball rolling. That’s all we needed. That was all. Since the events of last Sunday in Ballycastle I’ve cried a little anytime George Ezra comes on the radio.

Anyway, the previews. A yarn with the four semi-final managers and the craic was good. As always, I finished by wishing them all the best for their respective matches…..obviously Gregory O’Kane’s wishes were a little more heart felt than Johnny Campbell’s but the Loughgiel manager knew the craic.

So onto Saturday in Dunloy. I took Caoimhe and daughter number two Aoibheann over with me to watch St Johns and Cushendall do battle on the pitch and a bit of a barney off it. Great, epic and a dramatic ending. The game I was hoping for when it comes to doing the report. It’s easy to write a match report on hurling, there’s always something happening to make it readable and the Johnnies and the Ruairi’s served up a treat.

Sunday. D-Day. Caoimhe, my lone passenger this time. Aoibheann got a run of foundering in Dunloy and wasn’t prepared to do the same the next day. Another young Lavey wan but just hasn’t found her eternal love for Dunloy…..yet.

Anyway, I arrived at Páirc MacUílín in plenty of time – I was covering the Junior Final as well. Caoimhe empties my pockets half way through the first half to ‘get you a cup of tea to warm you up’. That was a dear cup of tea. I’m still waiting on my change.

Cushendun ended a 55 year drought and bridged the gap from their last Junior win in 1963 (though they did win 3 Intermediates in between times) with a terrific display that belittled their junior status. Another game that was going to be easy to write about.

Life was good.

Everything was going to plan until around 3.30pm when ‘Dugout-Gate’ began. A standoff. As one punter in the crowd reminded me ‘yous Dunloy wans are handy at these stand offs.’ A throw back to darker days in the village.

The match itself? I’d rather not talk about it. Out gunned and out manoeuvred. Some have called Loughgiel’s tactics as ‘anti-hurling’. Nonsense. They did what they had to do within the rules and laws of the game and got their just reward. Begrudgingly, well done and fair play to them.

That was not an easy thing to say as a loyal son of Cuchullain.

Interview number one. Gregory looked exactly how I felt. Pained, shocked and wanted to let a gowl out of him. A sense of a release of tension required. A shake of hands and a thank you for being a gent during the season. Not the interview either of us wanted to be doing on the day.

Interview number two. Johnny kept me waiting. As soon as he saw me there was a smile on his face. He would have the final say after our banter during the week. A brief analysis of the game and tactics followed before me and Caoimhe took ourselves off home.

The flags weren’t flying just so high anymore.

Tuesday and another championship match. The big ball this time and I was back on duty. Maybe, just maybe with the right tweak here and there I could get use of Caoimhe’s take on Mr Ezra’s tune.

Thanks to Gort na Mona for putting me completely out of my championship misery this year. They waited until the third minute of injury time and the sudden realisation of championship emptiness had hit me like the proverbial ten tonne truck under the floodlights at Ahoghill.

That’s the championship for you. We have our days in the sun, others will be cold nights under the floodlights where your world ends for a few brief moments.

It’s not always fun and games with the journo life. It’s difficult to report on your team at the best of times, when they get beat its bordering mission impossible. It’s something that doesn’t get any easier with each defeat I can tell you. For now, after the heroics of the Team of ’17 and the perennial Intermediate Championship contenders make their exit from the 2018 championships, I am assured with the knowledge there will be sunnier days in the future and I have no doubt the flags will fly high with yellow and green once again.