More drama expected in the semi’s

Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship

Semi-Final

Cushendall vs Rossa 12:30pm Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)

Dunloy vs St John’s 4.30pm Referee: Kevin Parke (Naomh Eanna)

Brendan McTaggart previews the doubleheader at Dunsilly

And then there were four.

The race for the Volunteer Cup reaches the semi-finals and like last year, a double header in Dunsilly. Lovely stuff.

Rossa and Cushendall, Dunloy and St John’s and two ties that could really go either way, no matter what the bookies might tell you.  For the record, they have Cushendall at -2 and Dunloy at -6.  Extremely generous and there may be a few who might have a look at the betting in the second semi-final.

So a look at the quarter-finals first of all.  Cushendall safely negotiated as expected, the challenge of Naomh Eanna.  Although maybe just not as handsomely as initially thought.  It was a solid if not spectacular performance from the Ruairi’s who were relieved for a broken Joe Maskey hurl and a favourable square-ball call.  Naomh Eanna gave a good account of themselves and but for some horrendous luck, they could have been closer to Cushendall but you got the feeling the Ruairi’s could go through the gears if required.

After an initial burst from the Hightown Road men, Cushendall settled with Christy McNaughton and Neil McManus dovetailing well in attack and Niall McCormick’s early goal and menace giving the ‘Dall an edge.

They go into Sunday’s first semi-final as slight favourite’s as thoughts turn to the encounter with Rossa a little over 12 months ago.  At the Hightown Road, a brace of goals from Stephen Beatty caused an upset with Colly Murphy’s men defeating Cushendall by a score line of 2-11 to 0-16.  A match that could be looked upon as a watershed moment for the Jeremiah’s and a belief in what they’re building towards underlined with a big win over Loughgiel in the group stage.

That win in Fr Healy Park had more significance for Rossa given the fact they have had that more than a few of their squad have dual responsibilities also.  The extra week break for their hurlers will be exactly what the doctor ordered and has allowed for a clean bill of health with Michael Armstrong recovering from a hamstring injury.  Cushendall’s injury concerns are a little less clear cut with Alex Delargy missing the Naomh Eanna game after picking up a knock in the group game win over St John’s while Paddy McGill was introduced as a sub but taken off against Naomh Eanna with a niggle.

It’s a fascinating game with sub-plots every way you turn.  Cushendall will feel like they have a point to prove following last years defeat to the same opposition and perhaps a point to prove to themselves, they are better than the performance they gave in the last round.  For Rossa, they want to keep their momentum going.  An unbeaten league campaign and another scalp against one of the north Antrim big guns under their belt, momentum, a clean bill of health and a chance to reach a first county final since 2004.

The bookies have Cushendall as narrow favourites and with league victories (two) and a win against Rossa in the reserve championship, you can see why that is.  They are a side who are never easily beaten and have a knowhow when it comes to the championship.  I have a sneaky suspicion that the Jeremiah’s will upset the odds, however…

The second semi is a repeat of the classic between these sides three weeks ago in Corrigan Park.  Dunloy came out on top 2-30 to 1-26 in a scorefest between the best two attacking sides in the county.  Dunloy purred through the gears early on and controlled that contest but St John’s more than played their part.  Shea Shannon, Conor Johnston and Donal Carson excellent in attack and Michael Bradley was excellent from midfield.

The Johnnies made some positional changes for their quarter-final with Oisin Donnelly moving to midfield and partnering Michael Bradley while Peter McCallin and Ciaran Johnston took a starting 15 jersey.  Donnelly is carrying a niggle and is a doubt for Sunday’s quarter-final but I’d expect a similar 15 again.  The Johnnies will know where they got it wrong against Dunloy in the group stages and coming off the back of a big win against Loughgiel, they will have a huge amount of confidence.  So often in recent years they have come up short in tight matches but against Loughgiel, they rode out the storm and edged home in a titanic tussle.

If the Johnnies go man for man against Dunloy, it will be an incredible spectacle but you have to think they will come out second best.  Dunloy have the best attacking unit in the county and if you’re going to beat the reigning champions, you have to limit their attacking threats.  That being said, it’s easier said that done. Cushendall did it in the first match of the championship and St John’s tried it in Corrigan Park but the Cuchullains were in top form by that stage with cobwebs blown and ring rust gone.  They should have Paul Shiels back in the starting line up, Shorty has been carrying a niggle since the Cushendall game but played the last five in Corrigan. 

Who wins?  Dunloy are favourites and it will take something special from St John’s to stop them but if any team is capable of it, Brian McFall’s men certainly are.  They will need to go beyond and reach a higher performance level than they’ve shown to date in 2021 but momentum is a wonderful attribute in this beautiful game.  The expected weather conditions could even the playing field and make this anyone’s game but I see the Cuchullains making the final.

Dunsilly direct.

‘Dall Progress against gallant Naomh Eanna

Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship – Quarter-Final

Cushendall 1-20 Naomh Eanna 0-16

Sunday September 12

Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly, Antrim

Cushendall progressed to the last four of this championship on Sunday afternoon but they were pushed all the way by a determined Naomh Eanna side.  The Ruairi’s came into this quarter-final as hot favourites to progress but they came up against a spirited performance from the Naomh Eanna men who looked to upset the odds.

The Hightown Road men will look back at a disallowed goal at the end of the first half and a penalty in the second half that saw Joe Maskey break his hurl as he made contact with the sliotar.  Both came at pivotal moments in the game and if Naomh Eanna were going to cause the mother of all upsets, they needed to come out on the right sight of moments like these.

They didn’t.

Maskey’s hurl breaking is a freak incident while the square ball call against Philly Curran looked dubious but referee Ciaran McCloskey made the call straight away without hesitation.

The underdogs started superbly with Cormac Ross (free) firing the opening score of the game before Eddie O’Connor took centre stage.  Three points in as many minutes gave the Glengormley men a four point lead with Cushendall stuck in neutral.

The Ruairi’s finally got going with Eoghan Campbell, Francis McCurry and Neil McManus (free) all splitting the uprights before scoring the only goal of the game in the 13th minute.  McManus playing the sliotar into space where Niall McCormick collected and went on a trademark dangerous run.  His finish was emphatic and Cushendall looked to have finally settled into the quarter-final.

McManus and Christy McNaughton (free) fired points either side of a Ruairi Donaghy score for Naomh Eanna to leave three between the sides at the end of the first quarter but Cushendall rallied after the water break.

Philly Curran reduced the lead to two on the resumption but six unanswered points from the Ruairi’s put them in a strong position as they began to make better use of the sliotar.  Scott Walsh excelling in the half back line in a man of the match performance while Christy McNaughton’s accuracy from frees was machine like.  Paddy Burke chipped in with scores along with Fergus McCambridge but the drama came at the other end of the pitch in the 28th minute.

Naomh Eanna needed to break the momentum Cushendall had gathered and they looked to have landed a perfect punch against the Ruairi’s.  Rian Bogue sending the sliotar high to the edge of the square with Philly Curran waiting.  He had Martin Burke and Ryan McCambridge for company along with Eoin Gillan but the sliotar evaded everyone and landed in the back of the net with all men ending up on the ground also. Naomh Eanna’s celebrations were short-lived however as referee McCloskey immediately called for a square-ball, much to the annoyance of Curran who felt like he had been fouled as the sliotar made it’s way down the Dunsilly sky.

Scott Walsh and Eddie O’Connor’s fourth point of the half ended the scoring for the first half with Cushendall ahead 1-12 to 0-7 at half time.

Cushendall looked to quell any thoughts of a comeback from Naomh Eanna early after the restart with three quick points.  Paddy Burke, Christy McNaughton (’65) and McManus finding the required accuracy for the Ruairi’s.

Naomh Eanna dug deep however and enjoyed their best spell of the game with points from Killian Jennings, Luke O’Connor and Philly Curran coming before they were awarded a penalty.  Philly Curran in the thick of the action once again as he collected a long delivery from Joe Maskey.  He was hauled to the ground and the Glengormley men had a chance to turn the heat on their illustrious opponents.  Joe Maskey stepped up but incredibly his hurl broke as he made impact with the sliotar and Eoin Gillan saved his shot easily.  A goal at that stage would have reduced the Cushendall lead to five points and would have given the Hightown Road men a lift but lady luck didn’t shine on them when they needed it.

Cushendall broke their momentum with Ruari McCollam splitting the uprights with a brace of Christy McNaughton frees following.  A Philly Curran free the sole response from Naomh Eanna in the same period before the water break.

Naomh Eanna continued to play with great intensity and didn’t let their performance levels dip in the last quarter and outscored Cushendall 0-5 to 0-2.  Substitute Eoin Conlon having a positive impact with a brace of white flags while Cormac Ross (’65), Niall O’Connor and Rian Bogue also collected scores. Christy McNaughton’s eighth point of the game and a tidy score from substitute Sean McAfee the response from Cushendall.

The Ruairi’s controlled the remainder of the game without much more incident.  Naomh Eanna had another half goal chance late in the day when Philly Curran stood over a 21 yard free but Eoin Gillan was equal to his effort.

A great performance from Naomh Eanna who made light of the odds against them on the day.  It was another step on their journey in senior championship hurling and they will look back on the 2021 championship as another breakthrough year for them as a club.  In the end, it’s a seven point win for the Ruairi’s who know they will have to find another couple of gears when they face Rossa in the semi-finals in two week’s time in a repeat of last years quarter-final that saw the Shaw’s Road men take a memorable victory.  Rivalries will be renewed once more.

TEAMS

Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Ryan McCambridge, Martin Burke, Shane McKenna; Scott Walsh, Arron Graffin, Ruari McCollam; Eoghan Campbell, Fergus McCambridge; Paddy Burke, Christy McNaughton, Aidan McNaughton; Francis McCurry, Neil McManus, Niall McCormick

Scorers: Christy McNaughton 0-8 (7f’s, 1’65); Neil McManus 0-3 (2 f’s); Niall McCormick 1-00; Eoghan Campbell 0-2; Paddy Burke 0-2; Scott Walsh 0-1; Ruari McCollam 0-1; Fergus McCambridge 0-1; Francis McCurry 0-1; Sean McAfee 0-1

Naomh Eanna: Martin Curran; Ruari Diamond, Rian Gillen, Niall O’Connor; Cormac Ross, Mark Donaghy, Joe Maskey; Rian Bogue, Luke O’Connor; Eddie O’Connor, Ruairi Donaghy, Matthew O’Hare; Killian Jennings, Daniel Lowry, Philly Curran

Scorers: Eddie O’Connor 0-4; Philly Curran 0-3 (1f); Cormac Ross 0-2 (1f 1’65); Eoin Conlon 0-2; Niall O’Connor 0-1; Rian Bogue 0-1; Luke O’Connor 0-1; Ruairi Donaghy 0-1; Killian Jennings 0-1

Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)

Johnston Majors seal win for Johnnies

Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship – Quarter-Final

St Johns 2-21 Loughgiel 1-22

Sunday September 12

Brendan McTaggart reports from Pairc Ui Cheallagh, Portglenone

St John’s and Loughgiel just don’t do dour and drab encounters, do they?  Under the floodlights of Pairc Ui Cheallagh, they laid out a feast of championship hurling for the big crowd to devour.  It was an epic, titanic tussle that had everyone gripped from the first whistle.  In the end, goals from Conor and Ciaran Johnston proved to be the telling scores, one in each half as the Johnnies edged Loughgiel by two points to finally come out on top of a close contest.

In recent seasons, St John’s have been involved in so many battles with extra time and replays coming and going with the Corrigan Park side coming out on the wrong side of them.  They didn’t need extra time or a reply on Sunday evening but this was every bit the gargantuan battle we expected beforehand.

Loughgiel came into the game with something to prove to themselves after their performance against Rossa seven days ago and they improved immeasurably.  James McNaughton was once again their star man with a breath taking display, roaming all over the pitch but the inside forward duo of Chirsty McGarry and substitute Rian McMullan brought the Shamrocks to life while Ciaran McKay was tireless from half back.  The Shamrocks are backing their youth and how they responded to the belief instilled in them.  Eleven minutes into the second half and St John’s looked to be taking control of this quarter-final with Ciaran Johnston’s brilliant goal helping them to an eight point lead but Loughgiel responded by scoring 1-4 in the space of five minutes and but for the brilliance of Simon Doherty between the posts, it could have been more.  Rian McMullan with the goal while Paul Boyle’s rasping drive was saved superbly.

St John’s midfielder Michael Bradley

If anything the Loughgiel momentum was staved by the second half water-break.  They were in full throttle and with the wind at their sails but St John’s dug in once again in the final quarter of a match they were never behind in.  From racing into an early four point lead by the seventh minute to opening a six point lead after Conor Johnston’s goal, the Johnnies always had an edge on the scoreboard.  Conor Johnston’s goal coming after great work from Michal Dudley down the right.

It was a night for leaders and both sides had them in spades.  Domhnall Nugent didn’t need to do his Roger Federer impression this time around but he was immense at centre half for the Johnnies while Michael Bradley and Michal Dudley were always in the thick of the action.  Ciaran Johnston was quite brilliant also and his goal typified his performance.  Quick feet, powerful running, composure to evade tackles and a rasping drive when he had the half a yard he needed.  Tony McCloskey and Shan McGrath both in close attendance but his goal was unstoppable.

At the other end of the pitch, Loughgiel looked to the youthful exuberance of Christy McGarry and Rian McMullan.  Both made an absolute nuisance of themselves every time the sliotar went into the danger area and both had a hand in the Shamrocks goal.  Paul Boyle delivering a ball into the inside forward line with Christy McGarry contesting.  He couldn’t get the sliotar cleanly but Rian McMullan was on hand to sweep home in the 46th minute.  

The Shamrocks could have had another goal with the next attack but Christy McGarry’s effort came back off the foot of the upright just before the water break.

James McNaughton makes a high catch during Sunday’s epic clash with St John’s in Portglenone.

In a game where scores were taken from all angles and on a breathless night where it seemed like distance didn’t matter when it came to chances, there was none better than James McNaughton.  13 points to his name, four from play and one of the scores of this and any championship.  His feet were touching the whitewash of the side line and close to half way, McNaughton struck off his back foot and under pressure from two St John’s defenders.  It mattered little to the Shamrocks star man.  A point from the Gods as he looked to lead the Loughgiel challenge against a defiant St Johns team.  

The Corrigan Park men showed their attacking prowess once more with Shea Shannon brilliant and metronomic from placed ball.  Conor Johnston at his fleet footed best while they used the sliotar intelligently to create chances.

Chances that came and went for both sides, especially at the end of the first half where Loughgiel will look back on a series of wides that with hindsight, cost them dearly as the Johnnies always held that edge.

The closing stages were nervy with the Shamrocks throwing everything they had in their armoury.  Simon Doherty was called into action and stood tall for his side when Rian McMullan had another sniff of a goal but this was the Johnnies time.

They progress to the semi-finals and another meeting with Dunloy in two week’s time as Loughgiel’s championship dream ends for 2021.  

Ciaran Johnston fires in a St John’s goal early in the second half

TEAMS

St Johns: Simon Doherty; Aidan McMahon, Ryan McNulty, Jack Bohill; Conal Bohill, Domhnall Nugent, Conall Morgan; Michael Bradley, Oisin Donnelly; Michal Dudley, Shea Shannon, Conor Johnston; Donal Carson, Ciaran Johnston, Peter McCallin

Scorers: Shea Shannon 0-11 (8f’s, 2’65s); Conor Johnston 1-3; Michal Dudley 0-3; Domhnall Nugent 0-1; Conal Morgan 0-1; Michael Bradley 0-1; Peter McCallin 0-1

Loughgiel: Chrissy O’Connell; Seamus Dobbin, Tony McCloskey, Ronan McCloskey; Ciaran McKay, Damon McMullan, Declan McCloskey; Dan McCloskey, Shan McGrath; Donal McKinley, Eddie McCloskey, Paul Boyle; Michael McGarry, James McNaughton, Christy McGarry

Scorers: James McNaughton 0-13 (8 f’s, 1 ’65); Christy McGarry 0-3; Rian McMullan 1-00; Eddie McCloskey 0-2; Ciaran McKay 0-2; Donal McKinley 0-1; Paul Boyle 0-1

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

Make or break in Senior Championship

Bathashacks Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-Finals

Brendan McTaggart previews the Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship matches this weekend.

The jockeying for position has finished and the battle lines have been drawn.  A double-header, a head-scratcher, a rethink and eventually a change of plans but the bottom line is we have two quarter-finals tomorrow and knockout championship in the race for the Volunteer Cup.

It’s been a week from hell for those trying to schedule these fixtures, a task I wouldn’t enjoy.  I was told once that it’s impossible to please everyone, I think that’s what the ‘think tank’ behind the fixtures were faced with.  From a doubleheader in Dunsilly, we’ve moved to one game at 4:30pm in Dunsilly and the second at Portglenone under the first class floodlights of Pairc Ui Cheallagh.  It’s not the ideal scenario and doesn’t allow for attendances at all three games for those who would be that way inclined and let’s face it, there is more than a few.  They have a choice to make to embrace the “Nothing Beats Being There” slogan used for so long.  Unfair?  Probably.  What was the alternatives?  Move the quarter-finals to the Monday evening in separate floodlit venues and allow the All-Ireland ‘Sunday’ to remain free and the camogs have their rightful day in the sun?  I’m not sure if it was ever an option.  A Monday night for senior hurling championship games would be a rarity but it could have been problem solved.

Anyhow, there’s no point in looking at what could have been or what we might think should have been.  The hand the four clubs have been dealt with is:

Naomh Eanna vs Cushendall @ Dunsilly.  4:30pm

St Johns vs Loughgiel @ Portglenone. 7:30pm

To say Cushendall will come into their game with Naomh Eanna as strong favourites is an understatement. Last year was the first time in an incredibly long, long time the Ruairi’s haven’t made at least the semi-final of the championship.  They fell at this hurdle to Rossa a little over 12 months ago and while it caused more than a few ripples through Cushendall, they’ve got the reaction they were after since.

They have won the League and Reserve Championship while runner-up to the Shamrocks in the Feis at a foggy Cushendun. They finished second in Group 2 on score difference but have been playing their way through the gears in the process.  Against Dunloy they could have won it at the end and as Colum Thompson described superbly in the recent ‘DallCast’, they had to beat St John’s twice.  They got off to a cracking start before St John’s clawed their way back into the game and made Cushendall dig a little deeper.  Six goals and a comfortable win against Tir na nOg followed and the Ruairi’s are in the mix once again.  

They have a more fluent look to their side this year with runners in the middle third as they look to youth and experience.  They have the ability to break lines at speed with Scott Walsh and Ruairi McCollam from half back, Alec Delargy in midfield along with Fergus McCambridge and Niall McCormick up top, Cushendall look like a team evolving.  They still have the tried and trusted, the experience and Ruairi legends Neil McManus, Arron Graffin, the Burke brothers and Eoghan Campbell while Ryan McCambridge has played in defence this year, arguably his most efficient position.

For the men from Hightown, this might be a step into the unknown but an undoubted sign they are still on the rise.  They have acquitted themselves well in Division One this year and while some may have considered their win against Ballycastle a shock, it’s a win that has been coming such has been the progression of Naomh Eanna in recent times.  Goals from Eddie O’Connor, Philly Curran and Daniel Lowry ensuring they would record a first win at senior championship level.  Having suffered defeats to Rossa and Loughgiel previously, the Hightown Road men got the win and a debut at this stage.  All without the services of leading marksman John McGoldrick, a player who has flirted with the Antrim senior squad but who’s season has been shortened with a cruciate injury.  They will also be without Eoin Conlon and Cormac Jennings on Sunday but this is a free hit for them.  They will come into the game with no pressure and with that can come the freedom to express themselves. 

Rian Gillen is an excellent defender on the edge of his own square while Cormac Ross, Mark Donaghy and Joe Maskey make-up an excellent half back line.  Philly Curran has seen it all in a Naomh Eanna shirt while Killian Jennings is an excellent forward who will cause problems.

It’s a massive occasion for Naomh Eanna and added to for their management as Michael McCambridge looks to bring about the downfall of his home-town club.  Hurling can throw up these fateful scenarios on occasions but this looks to be a step too far for the Glengormley men. 

St John’s v Loughgiel Shamrocks

The second quarter-final is mouth-watering and the one that immediately jumped out at me after the groups were settled last weekend.  St John’s and Loughgiel will travel to Portglenone to face each other underf the floodlights and a place in the last four at stake.  This has all the makings of humdinger!  

St John’s have, like Cushendall, steadily improved as this championship campaign has progressed.  Against Tir na nOg, they gave the Randalstown men a 12 point lead before winning by eight in the end.  Against Cushendall, they again started slowly and while they fought back, the Ruairi’s finished strongly.  Last day out, they hit 1-26 and still got beat.  There isn’t many teams who will hit that type of scoring and come away in second place but such is the talent in attack for the Johnnies, they have it in their locker to hit such scores.

Aaron Bradley, Donal Carson, Michal Dudley, Conor Johnston and a returning Peter McCallin will cause plenty of problems while Shea Shannon and Michael Bradley in midfield have the makings of an excellent partnership.  In defence, they struggled to contain the Cuchullains but then again, they aren’t the first side to have said the same thing.  They brought Jimmy Peoples into a sweeping position and it didn’t work but the changes they did make defensively last Sunday did have an impact.  Conall Morgan dropping into full back and Ciaran Johnston coming on as a sweeper all giving St John’s options.

Loughgiel come into the quarter-final a sort of wounded animal.  They were disappointing against Rossa last Sunday against Rossa and know they need to improve to progress in this year’s championship.  They are a side in rebuild mode as they look to bring in fresh blood and the prospects are there on the conveyor belt at Fr Healy Park.  Christy McGarry, Paul Boyle and Rian McMullan certainly have huge futures in front of them and experiencing their first full year of senior hurling while they have the talents of James McNaughton, Dan and Tony McCloskey to call upon while Declan McCloskey is burgeoning a reputation for his displays on the half back line over the past couple of seasons.

They will be missing Tiarnan Coyle for the quarter-final tie with the Shamrock’s defender seeing red against Rossa last weekend and they could bring in the experience of Odhran Laverty to help their cause.

They say a wounded animal is dangerous and there’s no doubting Loughgiel would have been hurting after last weekend.  Sunday is a huge test for them and it will be interesting to see how they react to the set-back of defeat.  They will certainly be looking for a reaction but then again, this is Loughgiel against St John’s.  Take Two.  Last year, this was match of the championship.  A semi-final that saw goals galore, extra time, heroic displays and drama aplenty.  No, that is not sensationalist journalism, it was that good.  If Sunday’s game reaches anywhere near this scale, it will be a cracker.  It may take additional time again but I can see the Johnnies making the semi’s.

Rossa join Dunloy in semi-finals

Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship, Group One

Loughgiel Shamrocks 1-14 O’Donovan Rossa 0-21

O’Donovan Rossa turned in a sparkling performance at Healey Park on Sunday to overcome the challenge of Loughgiel Shamrock’s and suggest that they are serious challengers for this year’s Bathshack Senior Hurling championship.

The home side were lethargic at times and were much too reliant on ace marksman, James McNaughton and it was not until the 44th minute that anyone other than their Antrim county man got their name on the Loughgiel score-sheet.

The Shamrock’s had difficulty breaking down a very solid Rossa defence over the hour and their cause wasn’t helped with the dismissal of Tiernan Coyle in the 22nd minute as the visitors used the spare man to good advantage.

Even before Coyle’s dismissal it was visitors Rossa who were dictating the exchanges and they

looked much more fluid going forward and took some excellent scores over the hour to build a winning tally and claim what was a huge victory away from home.

It was hosts Loughgiel who made the brighter opening however and James McNaughton fired over a point within 30 seconds and then Christy McGarry combined with John Francis Connolly to find McNaughton out to his left and the Shamrocks’ ace marksman made no mistake as he fired past Armstrong in the 3d minute.

Loughgiel flattered to deceive however as Rossa began to gain control and a pair of Stephen Beatty points and another from Tiernan Murphy left the Shaw’s Road side just one adrift and as the half wore on they really started to boss proceedings.

Loughgiel struggled to put meaningful attacks together as they hit just three further scores in the half, all from McNaughton with his ninth-minute point from around mid-field their last score from play for just under 34 minutes.

In contrast, Rossa took control as they took the game to the Healey park side with Deaglan Murphy scoring from play and frees, while Seaghan Shannon got in on the act with a brace either side of the water break.

Loughiel’s cause wasn’t helped when Coyle got his marching orders in the 22nd minute after referee Column Cunning consulted with his umpires and motioned that the Loughgiel corner-back had struck out at Murphy.

The visitors were worthy of their 0-10 to 1-4 half-time advantage with late points from Gerard Walsh and a Murphy free, and then powered on in the third quarter with some excellent scores through Beatty, Eoin Trainor and a real peach from  Aidan Orchin with Murphy also knocking over a couple as Rossa moved eight clear.

McNaughton was doing all in his power to keep his side in the game as he pointed two frees before Dan McCloskey finally became the Shamrock’s second scorer on the day, firing over from deep in the 44th minute.

The gap was six at the water break and Rossa kept the scoreboard ticking over when play resumed with the Murphy brothers leading the charge as Deaglan, Tiernan and Daire all on target.

Loughgiel kept battling away with McNaughton firing two close-in frees just over the bar and he had a third saved on the line, while two late points by substitute Michael McGarry got them to within four, but it was as close as they got and it is Rossa who advance directly to the semi-final with Dunloy while Loughgiel face a quarter-final meeting with St John’s next week.

Loughgiel’s Donal McKinley in action against Rossa in Saturday’s SHC game at Fr Healy Park. Pic by Sean Paul McKillop

LOUGHGIEL: C O’Connell; T Coyle, T McCloskey, R McCloskey; R McKee, S Dobbin, Declan McCloskey; J McNaughton (1-11, 0-9 frees), S McGrath; D McKinley, C McKendry, P Boyle; C McGarry, Dan McCloskey (0-1), JF Connolly.

Subs: R McMullan for JF Connolly (28), N McNaughton for C McKendry (30+2), E McCloskey for S McGrath (41), M McGarry (0-2) for C McGarry (51), O Laverty for R McKee (51)

ROSSA: D Armstrong; C Orchin, N Crossan, A Orchin (0-1); Stephen Shannon, A Kenneally, A O’Brien; G Walsh (0-1), E Trainor (0-1); Daire Murphy (0-1),  Seaghan Shannon (0-2), D McEnhill; T Murphy (0-3), S Beatty (0-4), Deaglan Murphy (0-8, 0-6 frees).

Subs: D Rocks for D McEnhill (35), T Morgan for E Trainor (49), C McGettigan for S Beatty (57).

REFEREE: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)