Shamrocks withstand late Ballycastle rally to stay unbeaten

Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Champions – Round 2

Loughgiel 1-17 Ballycastle 0-19

Loughgiel held off a late rally by Ballycastle to make it two wins out of two in Group 2 of the Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship in Cushendall on Sunday. A brilliantly taken goal from Loughgiel’s Shan McGrath had given the Shamrocks the lead for the first time and they appeared to be holding that lead fairly comfortably going into the last ten minutes of the game.

However Ballycastle found another gear going down the home straight and outscored Loughgiel by four points to one to close within a single point in injury time. They had a couple of half chances to get that equalising score in the minute or so that remained, but Loughgiel held on to earn the win and set things up for next week’s meeting with Cushendall at Fr Healy Park.

Going into the game short five or six regulars the Town were rank outsiders but they did not perform that way and went 0-2 to 0-0 ahead after four minute with points from a long range free from Conor Boyd and one from play by Rambo McCarry. Loughgiel got on the scoreboard when James McNaughton pointed a 65 which was gifted to them by a Ballycastle defender who tried a pass back to goalkeeper Ryan McGarry from out on the wing and overhit the shot, sending it wide. The full forward brought the Shamrocks level when he sent one over from play on seven minutes but Ballycastle came back with three on the trot, two from Tiernan Smyth frees and one from play by Ronan McCarry to go three clear at the end of a low scoring opening quarter.

The pendulum swung the other was at Loughgiel came back with three unanswered points, two of them from James McNaughton and one from Ruairi McCormick, but two more pointed frees by Smith had the Town two clear again by the twenty fourth minute. Loughgiel were struggling to get a grip on the game but they produced a brilliant finish to the opening half with a point from play by corner back Tiernan Coyle, two from frees by Shan McGrath and a brilliant solo goal by McGrath to go in at the break with a four point lead. (1-8 to 0-7)

Ryan McCook brought Ballycastle back to within a goal when he pointed in the opening minute of the new half, but Loughgiel responded really well with two sweetly taken points from James McNaughton and ‘Bicky’ McGarry and another from a free by Shan McGrath to push the gap out to six. Points from Seamus McAuley and Tiernan Smyth closed the gap to four again but Loughgiel came back right away as James McNaughton soloed through for a beauty of a point and Shan McGrath added one from play. That middle ten minutes of the second half was score for score with Ballycastle getting it back to four again, but each time Loughgiel had an answer and when they were still five clear entering the last ten minutes you felt the Town needed a goal to revive their challenge.

The goal they needed didn’t really ever look like coming but they made a good fist of it without a goal as Tiernan Smyth added points from frees in the 52nd, 54th and 55th minutes to close the gap back to the minimum. As he had done at vital times throughout the game Shan McGrath grabbed a Loughgiel point when it was really needed to open the gap to two again with just a minute of normal time left to play. When Smyth closed the gap to the minimum once again a shock result looked on, but a clear cut chance never came for the Town and the Shamrocks squeezed home by a single point.


Chrissy O’Connell, Tiernan Coyle, Declan McGarry, Ronan McCloskey, Enda Og McGarry, Damon McMullan, Caolan Blair, Ryan McKee, Dan McCloskey, Cathal Hargan, James McNaughton, Ruairi McCormick, Jack McCloskey, Paul Boyle, Shan McGrath.

Subs – Christy McGarry for Jack McCloskey (inj); Darragh Patterson for Cathal Hargan; Donal McKinley for Paul Boyle


Ryan McGarry, Oran Kearney, James McLister, Reuben McClean, Jack McGowan, Conor Boyd, Eoin McAlonan, Rian McCook, Cian Waldron, Lorcan Donnelly, Ronan McCarry, Seamus McAuley, Cathal Conor, Ciaran Butley, Tiernan Smyth.

Subs – Mark McClean for Reuben McClean; Fearghal McKiernan for Cathal Connor; James McShane for Cian Waldron.

Referee – C Cunning (Dunloy)

Win for St. John’s despite late Cloney comeback

Bathshack SHC Group 1

St. John’s 2-21 Clooney Gaels 3-17

Playing into the wind in the opening half, St. John’s looked on their way to a comfortable win in this Bathshack SHC Group 1 meeting with Clooney Gaels in Loughgiel on Saturday night when they led by 2-13 to 1-9.

They had dominated for long periods and might well have been further ahead had it not been for two splendid saves from Ahoghill keeper Francis Neeson who denied Conor Hand twice in the opening exchanges.

The Clooney side were faced with a mountain to climb in the second half, having lost Dan O’Neill to injury just before the break but they showed unbelievable fighting spirit to leave St. John’s hanging on for a narrow victory.

Conor Johnston and Conal Bohill gave St. John’s an early lead before Ronan Graham got the South West side off the mark with a point in the 6th minute. Either side of Graham’s point Francis Neeson made two spectacular stops as St. John’s threatened to over run their opponents.

Conor Johnston and Oisin McManus 0-2 had the Whiterock side four ahead by the 10th minute but Clooney Gaels replied through James and PJ O’Connell to leave two in it with 13 minutes gone.

The Ahoghill men were giving as good as they got at this stage and Conor Hand and PJ O’Connell exchanged points but O’Connell might well have had a goal as his fiercely struck effort sailed over the bar.

Gradually though St. John’s started to take control with Conor Hand, Conal Bohill, Ruairi Galbraith and Conor Johnston hitting four unanswered points by the 20th minute.

Dan O’Neill halted the Johnnies run with a great point for the Ahoghill men but Conor Johnston and Daragh McGuinness responded with points and Oisin McManus fired home the game’s opening goal after Ronan Graham had pulled one back for last year’s Intermediate champions.

Patrick Graham and PJ O’Connell added points in reply to an Oisin McManus pointed free for the Belfast side as half time approached but the final minutes of the half would prove to be spectacular.

Ruairi Galbraith looked to have put his side in a strong position when he got on the end of a pass across the square to tap home but Ahoghill ended the half with a goal of their own with Patrick Graham finishing from close range in a goalmouth scramble.

In between Owen Neeson added a point for the Clooney side and St. John’s lost a man to a straight Red but with the elements to face in the second half it looked a long way back for the ‘Gaels’.

HT 2-13 TO 1-9

Ahoghill started the second half minus the services of Dan O’Neill, who had taken a bad knock but they started the half brightly with PJ and James O’Connell pointing and Oisin Donnelly and Daragh McGuinness replying for the Corrigan men.

James O’Connell fired home a penalty in the 6th minute and after McManus replied with a pointed free the Ahoghill side began to get on top with three pointed frees from James O’Connell and another from play from Donal Graham to leave just a point in it after 13 minutes.

St. John’s looked rattled but slowly they regained their composure with Conall Morgan, Conor Johnston, Daragh McGuinness and Conal Bohill striking four without reply by the 20th minute and they appeared to have survived the Clooney storm.

The division 2 side quite simply refused to give up however and PJ O’Connell drove a free through a crowded goalmouth to launch another comeback with five minutes remaining.

Oisin McManus, who had been prominent for the Whiterock Road men with his free taking, added his side’s final point a minute later and it would prove to be an important one.

Ahoghill finished the game on the offensive with James O’Connell converting a free and Eoin Graham added another to close the gap to one as the St. John’s supporters called for the full-time whistle.

This first win in Group 1 keeps St. John’s hopes of qualification alive but they look to have a mountain to climb when they travel to Dunloy for their final Group game on the 2nd September.

Clooney Gaels travel to Rossa on the same day but despite the Shaw’s Road side’s heavy defeat to the Cuchullain’s yesterday, the Jerimiah’s look favourites to join them in the quarter finals.

St. John’s: 1 Simon Doherty, 2 Lorcan Heenan, 3 Ryan McNulty, 4 Aidan McMahon, 5 Conall Morgan, 6 Ciaran Johnston, 7 Jack Bohill, 8 Sean Wilson, 9 Daragh McGuinness, 10 Conor Hand, 11 Conol Bohill, 12 Conor Johnston, 13 Oisin |McManus, 14 Oisin Donnelly, 15 Ruairi Galbraith

Clooney Gaels: 1 Francis Neeson, 2 Harry O’Donnell, 3 James Magee, 4 Diarmaid Graham, 5 Fionnbar O’Neill, 6 Bernard Graham, 7 Dan O’Neill, 8 Eamonn Brady, 29 Owen Neeson, 10 Ronan Graham, 11 Donal Graham, 12 Patrick Graham, 13 PJ O’Connell, 14 Eoin Graham, 28 James O’Connell. Sub: Gerard Graham for Dan O’Neill

Referee: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)  

Cloney Gaels – Ahoghill St Mary’s chairman Gerald McGarry presents a cheque for £750 to Bert Trowlen of the Saffron Gael before Saturday’s SHC game in Loughgiel. Many thanks to the Ahoghill club for their continued support

McLaughlin’s debut opener sends Cushendall on their way to decisive victory

Bathshack SHC Group 2

Cushendall 2-21 Ballycastle 0-12

Ruairi Og’s, Cushendall proved too good for McQuillan’s, Ballycastle in this Senior Hurling Championship Group 2 opener in Cushendall on Saturday evening.

A goal from championship debutant, Joe McLaughlin after 20 seconds gave the Ruairi’s the perfect start and they never looked back. The home side went on to lead 1-11 to 0-4 at the halfway mark and even at this juncture, it looked a long way back for the visitors.

Sean McAfee struck for a second Cushendall goal, five minutes after the restart to all but end any lurking notions of a Ballycastle comeback and a flurry of points saw the home side run out convincing winners by 15 points.

Neil McManus added a 2nd minute point to McLaughlin’s dramatic opener before Tiernan Smyth got Ballycastle off the mark with a point in the 4th minute.

It provided only temporary respite as the Ruairi’s replied through Scott Walsh, Neil McManus, Francis McCurry and Ronan McAteer with four points on the bounce by the 12th minute.

Conor Boyd briefly halted the one way traffic towards the ‘Castle’ goal as he struck a fine point from a free in the 14th minute but again the response was decisive as the ‘Dall’ replied through Alex Delargey and two from Francis McCurry.

That pattern of play would continue as Tiernan Smyth raised Ballycastle’s third white flag in the 24th minute with McManus replying with two for the home side and Smyth and McManus would exchange late points to leave it 1-11 to 0-4 in favour of the Maroon’s at half time.

Things wouldn’t get a lot better for Ballycastle in the second half though they battled all the way despite being short of a number of key players as Eoghan Campbell got his name on the score card with a Ruairi’s point in the 2nd minute. 

Cathal Conor replied with Ballycastle’s fifth of the evening and Sean McAfee and the ever reliable McManus extended the home lead to 12 by the 6th minute before the visitors sprung into life.

Conor Boyd, Tiernan Smyth and two from Seamus McAuley saw them enjoy their best spell of the game and close the gap to eight by the 11th minute and suddenly there appeared to be a glimmer of hope for the visitors.

That glimmer was quickly extinguished and McQuillan’s wouldn’t score again for the next 15 minutes as Cushendall returned to the offensive in dramatic fashion.

Neil McManus led the way and Ronan McAteer, Scott Walsh, McManus again and Joseph McLaughlin would move the home side 13 clear by the 25th minute and it was well and truly over.

Ballycastle continued to fight against what had become impossible odds and Fearghal McKiernan and Seamus McAuley replied with points but these scores brought another reply from Niall McCormick and Ronan McAteer.

The final score would fall to Ballycastle’s Ryan McCook as he split the posts in injury time but it would have no bearing on the final result and it is Cushendall who get this year’s championship campaign up and running with an opening day win.

They face St Enda’s on Friday the 18th August a team who began their campaign on Sunday against Loughgiel while Ballycastle must regroup for their clash with the Shamrock’s, two days later on Sunday 20th August.

Goals the difference as Rossa defeat St John’s

Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship – Group 1

Rossa 2-21 St John’s 0-21

Saturday 15 August

Brendan McTaggart reports from Corrigan Park, Belfast

Goals from Eoin Trainor and Dominic McEnhill in either half ensured it was Rossa who started their championship campaign on a winning note at Corrigan Park.  In a match where it was a classic case of a game of two halves, Rossa dominated St John’s after the interval but the tide, momentum and game change in the last action of the first half.

Dominic McEnhill who starred for Rossa in Saturday’s win over St John’s

St John’s at one stage were ahead by six points and with Oisin MacManus his metronomic self from frees and Ruairi Galbraith giving the Rossa full back line plenty to think about, the home side had Rossa chasing shadows.  With the game ticking into first half injury time, Rossa had reduced the St John’s lead to four points before scoring the opening goal of the game.  Eoin Trainor breaking from a ruck of players before bearing down on goal and despite the efforts of Declan Creggan, the sliotar went over the line. 

Rossa controlled the second half and took the lead for the first time in the game from the 42nd minute and never looked like relinquishing that lead in the time that remained with McEnhill putting in a man of the match performance while Cormac McGettigan, Stephen Shannon and Eoghan McMenamin also had a great game for the visitors.

St John’s played with plenty of intensity and precision in the first half and their interplay was at times breath taking to find a man in space but they struggled they were reliant on the free taking ability of MacManus while they never looked like causing a goal threat.  There were times that Rossa looked shaky in the full back line but they had the ability to recover and clear any danger that may have come their way.

MacManus fired the opening three scores of the game from placed ball inside the first five minutes.  The home side had settled more quickly than their city neighbours but it was McMenamin who scored the first from play with the opening score for the Shaws Road men.  Stephen Beatty and an O’Brien free tied the scores for the first time in the match.  They would be level another four occasions throughout the hour but with the sides tied at five points each, St John’s found another gear in attack.  They outscored Rossa seven points to one in a 15 minute period that saw MacManus punish any indiscretion from frees while Mick Bradley was his usual workhorse self in the middle third.

Rossa hit back in first half injury time however.  O’Brien’s third free of the half preceded a brace of scores from McEnhill, and while Conall Morgan fired over after a super catch, Rossa had the final word of the half with Trainor’s goal on the stroke of half time.

The goal felt like a sucker-punch at the time for St John’s who had did the majority of the positive hurling in the half.  Rossa would have been delighted to go in just one point down at half time (0-13 to 1-9) and while there wasn’t a substantial wind blowing towards the Whiterock Road, it would have been enough to give the visitors to Corrigan Park incentive to push on after the break.

The Johnnies fired over the opening score of the half with Aaron Bradley hitting the target,  but Rossa began to show signs of how the second half would transpire in those early exchanges.  Gerard Walsh and a classy over the shoulder score from McEnhill tied the scores and while MacManus split the posts from another free, O’Brien and Rossa responded in kind.  A run of three unanswered frees and another McEnhill score gave Rossa a two point lead midway through that second period.

Substitute Conor Hand briefly halted the Rossa charge, firing over with what was his first touch but the Jeremiah’s turned the screw a little further in attack.  Scores from Dara Rocks and McMenamin stretched the Rossa lead to four before McEnhill found the back of the net in the 46th minute.  A long delivery sent to the edge of the square from Pearse Short and while McEnhill still had work to do, he showed plenty of composure to get the yard needed to beat Cregan in the Johnnies goals.

St John’s responded well with MacManus (free) and Conor Johnston firing over but they rarely looked like threatening a water-tight Rossa defence while the vistors were creating chances at will at the other end of the pitch. 

MacManus took his tally to 0-13 for the match with white flags from placed ball while Beatty, Cricky McGuinness and two further scores from man of the match McEnhill ensured the championship points and bragging rights went to the Shaws Road.

As fate would have it, these two sides will face each other once again in the football championship next Saturday at Lamh Dhearg before they then turn their attention to the ash once again the following weekend.


St John’s: Declan Cregan; Aaron Bradley, Ryan McNulty, Ciaran Johnston; Ciaran McKenna, Conall Morgan, Michael Bradley; Conor Johnston, Sean Wilson; Oisin MacManus, Daragh McGuinness, Niall McCallin; Jack Bohill, Ruairi Galbraith, Lorcan Heenan

Subs: Dannan McKeogh for R Galbraith (HT); Conor Hand for N McCallin (40); Jordan McAllister for C McKenna (54)

Blood sub: Conor Hand for A Bradley (30+4) – reversed (30+6); Louis Boyd for J Bohill (56) – reversed (60+3)

Scorers: O MacManus 0-13 (13 frees); R Galbraith 0-2; A Bradley 0-2; C Morgan 0-1; M Bradley 0-1; Conor Johnston 0-1; C Hand 0-1

Rossa: Matthew Devlin; Ciaran Orchin, Chris McGuinness, Conal Shannon; Declan McCartney, Stephen Shannon, Pearse Short; Gerard Walsh, Eoin Trainor; Dominic McEnhill, Stephen Beatty, Aodhan O’Brien; Cormac McGettigan, Eoghan McMenamin, Dara Rocks

Subs: Diarmuid Rogan for E McMenamin (60+3); Niall Devlin for P Short (60+3); Owen May for D McCartney (60+5); James Close for C McGettigan (60+5)

Scorers: D McEnhill 1-6 (1f); A O’Brien 0-6 (6fs); E Trainor 1-00; E McMenamin 0-2; G Walsh 0-2;

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)

Molloy’s Magic Major Helps Cuchullains to All-Ireland Final

AIB All Ireland Club Hurling Championship


Dunloy 1-14 St Thomas 0-13

Sunday 18 December

Brendan McTaggart reports from Croke Park, Dublin

And the Dunloy juggernaut rolls on.  The Cuchullains came to Croke Park on Sunday as underdogs but booked their place in the Club All Ireland final for the fifth time in their history.

Four points separated the sides by the time referee John Keenan called time at the end of the hour, Dunloy having to withstand a barrage of St Thomas attacks on their goal in the closing stages but the winning of this game came in mid-way through the second half and a moment of pure genius from Keelan Molloy.  Collecting a pass from Nigel Elliott, Molloy gathered and set off to find a yard of space.  The St Thomas defence converged on Molloy but he continued on his merry way, lifting the sliotar to evade a challenge before rippling the onion bag.  You’ll travel far to see a finer goal.  It felt like a game changer at the time, it proved to be the winning of this game.

Defensively Dunloy were superb.  St Thomas rarely looked like threatening Ryan Elliott’s goal with Ryan McGarry, Oran Quinn, Eamon Smyth and Kevin Molloy all superb.  The midfield duo of Conor Kinsella and Eoin McFerran snuffed out the threat of the lauded duo of Bernard and David Burke while in attack Dunloy caused problems for the full hour.  Ronan Molloy, Seaan and Nigel Elliott going through a mountain of work, Conal Cunning with touches of class while Keelan Molloy is turning Croke Park into his playground. 

The Cuchullains made one change to the team that claimed the Ulster Championship two weeks ago, Deaglan Smith coming on for Anton McGrath.  They played against the breeze in the opening half but made a superb start.  Nigel Elliott with a cracking score inside the first 20 seconds and Conal Cunning two minutes later.  St Thomas and Conor Cooney opened their account in the 6th minute but Dunloy were well on top on the opening exchanges and should have been further ahead but for some wayward shooting.

The Galway champions were making the most of the wind at their back with Gerard Kelly’s puck outs going a mile towards Hill 16.  Dunloy were dealing with the aerial assault with Kevin Molloy and Ryan McGarry instrumental but St Thomas begun to settle into the game with Damien McGlynn bringing the sides level.

Keelan Molloy’s dummy and strike from out the field restored the Dunloy lead moments later but it would be their last score for fully 16 minutes at St Thomas looked to turn the screw.  They opened a two point lead in the same time with Conor Cooney’s second of the day (free) along with scores from Oisin Flannery and Mark Caulfield but Dunloy without scoring, were looking dangerous.  When they got past the sweeping David Burke, the inside forward trio always looked like doing damage and they were awarded a penalty after 19 minutes thanks to the brilliance of Nigel and Seaan Elliott.  The later dragged down inside the square.  Cunning stepped up to take the penalty and while he struck his shot well, St Thomas ‘keeper Kelly dived to his right and at full stretch pushed the sliotar to safety.

Despite that miss, Dunloy looked to have found another gear.  Keelan Molloy’s second of the game cut the St Thomas lead to the minimum but the Dunloy radar was faltering with a number of wides.

St Thomas weren’t fairing much better at the other end of the pitch with Conor Cooney uncharacteristically missing a couple of frees. 

The closing stages of the first half were key for the Cuchullains.  They had another half goal chance with Nigel Elliott going close but they tagged on another couple of scores from Cunning (free and ’65) either side of Cooney’s second converted free of the half to leave the sides tied on 0-6 apiece at the short whistle.

Being level at half time was the bare minimum Dunloy’s performance in the first half deserved.  They had created 17 scoring chances against the wind but were wasteful in possession on a couple of occasions.

They started the second half in the same vein of form as the first.  Using the width of Croke Park to their benefit to create holes in the St Thomas defence and making the sliotar to the work.  St Thomas came out with more intensity with Aaron Crawford having to come off after a dangerous foul that saw David Burke lucky to stay on the pitch.  With ‘Snoozer’ leaving the pitch, it hurried the introduction of Paul Shiels, ‘Shorty’ instrumental as Dunloy looked to wrestle momentum and dominate the middle third.

St Thomas troubles in front of the target continued in the third quarter and while Dunloy weren’t exactly prolific, they opened a three point lead with Coby Cunning putting daylight between the sides.

Conor Cooney’s free in the 44th minute was the first score for St Thomas in the second half but Molloy’s major followed.  Brilliant from Nigel Elliott, the catch and vision to find Keelan Molloy coming off the shoulder.  The run and finish simply outrageous from Molloy.  A goal good enough to grace any pitch in Ireland, Keelan Molloy did it in headquarters.

Anton McGrath followed up Molloy’s goal with a sublime effort from his left, wide on the left but St Thomas found another level.  They kept Dunloy scoreless for 10 minutes while Caulfield, Cooney (free) and McGlynn all fired over to leave two between the sides with five minutes remaining.

With the game in the melting pot, Dunloy delivered once again.  Three scores in a two minute spell from Nigel Elliott, Cunning and a huge score from Eamon Smyth put them five clear.

The fourth official showed four minutes of injury time and St Thomas laid siege on Ryan Elliott’s goal.  It was never coming.  Dunloy defended heroically in the closing stages with an Eanna Burke point all the Galway men could muster as the final whistle blew.

With this current Dunloy team finally getting over the line in Ulster, they are now one step away from becoming hurling immortals.

On 22nd January, Ballyhale awaits.


Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Ryan McGarry, Oran Quinn; Aaron Crawford, Kevin Molloy, Eamon Smyth; Conor Kinsella, Eoin McFerran; Ronan Molloy, Keelan Molloy, Nigel Elliott; Seaan Elliott, Conal Cunning, Deaglan Smith

Subs: Anton McGrath for D Smith (29); Paul Shiels for A Crawford (33); Nicky McKeague for N Elliott (58); Gabriel McTaggart for R Molloy (60)

Scorers: C Cunning 0-7 (3fs 1’65); Keelan Molloy 1-2; N Elliott 0-2; E Smyth 0-1; S Elliott 0-1; A McGrath 0-1

St Thomas’: Gerard Kelly; Cian Maloney, Fintan Burke, John Headd; Evan Duggan, Mark Caulfield, Cathal Burke; Bernard Burke, David Burke; Brendan Farrell, Conor Cooney, Oisin Flannery; Victor Manso, Eanna Burke, Damien McGlynn

Subs: Conor Headd for B Farrell (HT); Shane Cooney for V Manso (42); Darragh Boyle for M Caulfield (53)

Scorers: C Cooney 0-6 (4fs); D McGlynn 0-2; M Caulfield 0-2; E Duggan 0-1; O Flannery 0-1; E Burke 0-1

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)