Morgan and McLaughlin run the show as Glenavy reach Junior decider

Antrim LGFA Junior Championship semi-final 

Lámh Dhearg 1-04-0-14 Glenavy

Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown 

Six-points each from Antrim players Ellen Morgan and Grainne McLaughlin proved the difference in the end as Glenavy booked their place in the Junior Championship final with a 0-14-1-04 victory over Lámh Dhearg at Hannahstown on Sunday evening. 

Playing with the wind advantage in the first half Glenavy were the most productive in front of goal and established a four-point lead. 

Antrim star Grainne McLaughlin notched the first three herself and a further score from Natasha O’Neil had the visitors in control on the scoreboard. 

Lámh Dhearg were confident on the ball and worked a couple of fantastic opportunities with Robyn Murray neatly knitting the play, but a number of shots dropped short playing against the gale force wind in Hannahstown. 

The hosts eventually got off the mark through a point from Hailey McKeever after a nice build-up move involving Murray and Aoibheann Larkin.

Glenavy should have had the game’s first goal, but Lámh Dhearg goalkeeper Shannon McCann pulled off a fantastic save to deny Megan McGarry and then turned away the follow-up shot. 

A further point from Grainne McLaughlin restored her sides four-point advantage- though a converted Robyn Murray free had a score between the sides. 

Just before the break the visitors saw another goal chance go abegging when Megan McGarry cut the ball back from the by-line to tee up Ellen Morgan, however McCann produced another fine save to ensure her side remained in the game at the interval trailing 0-05-0-02. 

Lámh Dhearg were first off the mark in the second-half through a Ciara Doherty free, although Ellen Morgan replied from the same scenario at the other end. 

Cara McGarry swung over the visitors second of the half to extend Glenavy’s lead, but Lámh Dhearg hit back at the other end. 

Racheal Mulholland drove forward with the ball and saw her shot turned onto the bar by Orlagh Mullin- however Ciara Larkin bundled the loose ball to the net to make it a one-point game at 0-07-1-03. 

Back-to-back Ellen Morgan free’s opened up a three-point deficit again and Grainne McLaughlin kicked her first point of the half. 

 Morgan would end the evening on six points after converting two further frees and landing one from play with Grainne McLaughlin nipping in to conjure up her sixth. 

The game was beyond the hosts, although they continued to battle until the game’s conclusion and a late Racheal Mulholland point ended the scoring for the evening as Glenavy ran out 0-14-1-04 winners to book their place in the Junior decider. 

Gorts are Junior Champions as Dessie top scores

Casements Social Club

Junior Hurling Championship final

Gort na Mona 0-20 St. Paul’s 0-14

Dessie McClean scored 0-11 as Gort na Mona proved too good in the end for a battling St. Paul’s side who kept going right until the final whistle. The former county man gave an outstanding exhibition of free taking, landing at least four from beyond 70 meters and punished every foul that the opposition conceded.

McClean got the Turf Lodge men off the mark from a free in the opening minute before Sean O’Carroll equalised with a point from play with two minutes on the clock. O’Carroll fired over when he might have had a goal and it was Gort na Mona who went on to dominate the opening exchanges.

Patrick McCafferty restored their lead with a good point from play with Dessie McClean (free) and Thomas McCaffery moving them 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after nine minutes. Sean Lawell raised the Shaw’s Road side’s second point but Gort na Mona replied immediately through Darren Diesel Boyd as they continued to hold the upper hand.

St. Paul’s were badly in need of inspiration and suddenly they began to find a bit of momentum as substitute Cairbre O’Caireallain split the uprights and points from Colm McLarnon and Gerard Carberry had them on level terms by the 15th minute as their supporters roared their approval.

Gort na Mona were soon back on the ascendancy however as Dessie McClean pointed a ‘65’ and followed with another from 70 meters before Patrick McCaffery added another from play to leave them three in front by the 23d minute.

Cairbre O’Caireallain pulled one back for the Hoops but another couple of long range efforts from the brilliant McClean had the Gorts four in front by the 29th minute and they again looked to be taking control.

St. Paul’s were fighting with everything they had to keep in touch however and Colm McLarnon replied from two pointed frees to leave just two in it again as the game moved into injury time. The final scores of the half were to go the way of the Turf Lodge men however as Patrick McCaffery and Dessie McClean concluded the first half scoring to restore their four point advantage as the half time whistle sounded.

St. Paul’s need a good start to the second half if they were to get back into contention and Colm McLarnon raised their hopes when he pointed a free in the opening minute but as the hits continued to go in thick and fast Dessie McClean replied from frees in the 33d and 42nd minutes at the other end.

St. Paul’s were enjoying their fair share of possession at this stage but Sean O’Carroll held his head in frustration after his goal bound shot came back of an upright but they continued to press and were rewarded with a pointed free from Colm McLarnon and a superb long range point from corner-back, Chris Murray.

Dessie McClean again eased the pressure from another free but Gort na Mona were then dealt a blow when James Connolly was shown red after a dangerous pull.

Could this be the turning point in the game? The answer was a definitive no as Gort na Mona came storming forward, led by the impressive McCaffery and the big mid-fielder hit a fine point with Dessie McClean and Steven Rooney following suit to put a bit of daylight between the sides.

A Colm McLarnon free with four minutes of normal time remaining and another from Stephen Rooney gave St. Paul’s a bit of encouragement but it was too little, too late with Dessie McClean and Martin Ward concluding the Gort na Mona scoring and Rooney responding with St. Paul’s final point of the game.

A very competitive game of hurling with little quarter asked or given but it was Gort na Mona who had the greater experience and fire power and they never really looked like losing this one.

They were solid in defence where keeper Padraig Fryer, Niall Henry, Padraig McHugh and Mark Rea excelled. Patrick McCaffery and Declan Hughes dominated at mid-field while Dessie McClean and Thomas McCaffery were superb in a sharp attack.

St. Paul’s gave it everything they had and were unfortunate to come up against a Gort na Mona side who were simply flying. Joe Gillan never put a foot wrong in goals while Ciaran Hetherington, Sean Lawell, Fionntan Gamble, Colm McLarnon and Sean O’Carroll impressed

GORT NA MÓNA: P Fryers; J Connolly, N Henry, C Devlin; G McKenna, P McHugh, C McCann; D Hughes (0-1), P McCaffrey (0-2); T McCaffrey (0-1), M Ward (0-1), L Dixon; B Quinn (0-1), D Boyd (0-1), D McClean (0-12, 7 frees, 2 65s, 1 sideline). Subs: C McErlean for L Dixon (24), S Doyle for C McErlean (46), P Cournane for M Rea (54).

ST PAUL’S: J Gillen; S Rooney (0-2), C Hetherington, S Bradley; C O’Carroll, F Sewell, S Lawell (0-2); F Gamble, D Chapman; C McLarnon (0-6, 5 frees), C Ó Caireállain (0-2), C Rea; P Doyle, S O’Carroll, J Farrell. Subs: G Carberry for C rea (6), C Murray for C O’Carroll (37), D Stevenson for P Doyle (52).

REFEREE: Ciaran McCloskey (Loughgiel)

Second Junior semi-final down for decision tonight

Junior Hurling Championship semi-final

Gort na Mona v St. Mary’s Rasharkin

Quinn Park Ballymena  Tonight (Wednesday 7-45)

The second of the Junior Hurling Championship semi-finals is down for decision tonight at Quinn Park Ballymena and if it proves as exciting as last week’s semi at the same venue then it will be well worth the admission money.

St. Paul’s came with a late surge to beat a Glenarm team who looked on their way to the final when they led 0-8 to 0-4 at half time and no doubt will have a few ‘spies’ at tonight’s clash between St. Mary’s Rasharkin and Gort na Mona.

Both tonight’s opponents came close to collecting Ulster Junior titles in recent years and after dipping their toes in the Intermediate waters have returned to the Junior grade and even at this stage will be setting their sights on another Ulster campaign.

The Belfast men will start tonight’s game as favourites by virtue of a strong division 3 campaign which saw them top the table and gain promotion to division 2 for next season. While the ‘Gorts’ were beating all before them to win promotion St. Mary’s enjoyed a steady if unspectacular league campaign but lost by five to Gort na Mona down at Dreen back in May.

Both sides have already had an outing in this year’s championship with Gort na Mona defeating Glenravel in Ahoghill and Rasharkin proving too strong for Junior B champions, Latharna Og at the same stage of the competition.

Championship favourites Gort na Mona progressed to the last four with 12 points to spare over Con Magees.  Despite a spirited challenge from the Glenravel men, Gort na Mona never really looked troubled over the hour in a comfortable afternoon’s work for the men from Turf Lodge.

A first half goal from Desi McClean and two in two minutes from substitute Christopher McErlean paved the way for the Gort victory.  McClean top scored for the Gorts with seven points in addition to his first half major but this victory was built around the strength of their half backs and midfield.  Padraig McHugh had a major influence throughout from centre half while Patrick McCaffrey and Declan Hughes went through a mountain of work to help the Gorts maintain a sense of control over this quarter-final.

Eleven points from Shane Hasson, and a man of the match performance from James Scally, was enough to see Rasharkin cruise their way through to the semi-final of the junior hurling championship.  The north Antrim men had 19 points to spare over Latharna Óg and despite a spirited start, the Junior B champions lost their way in the second half and ended the contest with 13 men.

It was an impressive attacking performance from the Dreen side, 15 of their 24 points coming from play with eight different scorers over the hour.  A tireless midfield duo of Emmet McFerran and Donagh Quigg and strong work rate of their half forwards allowed Rasharkin to enjoy a comfortable opener to their championship campaign.

Gort na Mona will represent a considerable step up for the South West side and will start tonight’s game as favourites by virtue of a high scoring and impressive league campaign but Rasharkin in the championship could be a different animal and they are likely to ask major questions of the South Antrim side and, like last week, this one could go right down to the wire.

Creggan put last year’s disappointment behind them to claim title

Ladies Junior Football Final

Creggan 3-5 Gort na Mona  1-4

Kickhams Creggan put the heartbreak of losing last year’s final behind them to claim the 2019 Antrim Ladies Junior championship at a wet and windy Rossa on Saturday afternoon.

Gort na Móna started the brighter of the two teams and quickly went 0-3 in front as the Creggan ladies took some time to settle.  However, once Leanne Flanagan got a point from a free they very much had their tails up and following good work from Susan McIlwee they got the first goal of the game from a terrific Ciara McCollum shot.   The two evenly matched teams had very strong defences and they both broke down several attacks before Creggan scored the last point of the first half to lead 1-2 to 0-3 at half time.

In the second half and playing with the wind Creggan really started to exert themselves and take control of the game.   They tagged on another couple of points to extend their lead and when they were awarded a penalty from which Leanne Flanagan scored from the rebound it looked like the game was over as they led by 2-4 to 4 points with 10 minutes to go.   Gort na Móna continued to battle on and when they also scored from a penalty to leave 4 points between the teams it set up a tense finale.

Creggan, however, remained calm and when the player of the match Aoife McAteer, broke out from full-back and carried the ball the length of the pitch to set up Leanne Flanagan for her second goalthe cup was destined for the lough shore and they ended up winners on a scoreline of 3-5 to 1-4.

In her speech at the end, Creggans excellent captain Eimear McCartney reflected on how losing last year’s final had really motivated the girls to redouble their efforts and it was clear from the fitness, work rate and skill of the Creggan ladies that they have continued to develop into a very good football team.