Lamh Dhearg fought back to complete a remarkable double in 1992

After winning the Minor Hurling title in 1992 Lamh Dhearg’s attention then turned to the Minor Football and the chances of completing a unique double. With manager Jim Brady assisted by Pat McKeague and Paul Buchanan they set about doing just that. Looking back at it a few years later Brady (now the principal of St Brigit’s PS in Ballymena) admitted that while the club’s achievement in winning the minor hurling for the first time was undoubtedly the highlight of the year for the club, the one that gave him most pleasure was guiding the footballers to the double.

They had reached the final at Under 16 level two years before that but were beaten by St John’s and going into 1992 they felt they could turn that result around. Jim and Pat McCague were joined by Paul Buchanan in 1991, and though they had done well to get through to what was just the club’s third minor final they were well beaten by Cargin in the decider.

The following year they were determined to make it count but they faced a tough game in the opening round home game against Creggan. Jim Brady felt they were the better team but complacency almost cost them and they did well to squeeze through by two points. A clear the air meeting was held after that game where Brady and his selectors pointed out that if they were to go all the way their attitudes had to change dramatically.

From then on there was a marked change in with full attendances at training and the new spirit was evident when they disposed of their near neighbours St Paul’s by six points in the quarter final.

The semi-final saw them up against Dunloy and though they got off to a bad start, something that was a feature of their play that season, they managed to battle back and despite having a man sent off they came through to win by four in the end to set up a final meeting with St John’s.

The Lamh Dhearg team who played Armagh champions Clan na nGael in the St Paul’s Ulster Minor tournament in 1992.
Back Row L-R – Paul Buchanan, Martin Matthews, Peter Kane, Paul Maxwell, Declan Toland, Robbie Murray, Michael McGuigan, Donal O’Hara, Gary Agnew, Gerard Magill, Daryl Fegan, Damien McLaughlin, Pat McCague, Jim Brady.
Front row L-R,
Michael Phillips, Owen O’Neill, Mark Mc Kenna, Paddy Tumelty (capt), Colin Gorman, Eamon Kane, Kevin Elliott, Cormac Carmichael, Niall O’Hara.


Lamhs come back from nine down to seal victory

Match report from the Ballymena Guardian

Lamh Dhearg 2-12 St John’s 3-6

When St John’s moved into a nine point lead three minutes into the second half of Sunday’s Minor Football Championship final at Casement Park, Lamh Dhearg’s hopes of the double looked remote. However the boys from the Hill staged a remarkable comeback to dominate the second period and achieve a victory which now gives them the football and hurling double, the first time this has been achieved since Rossa did it back in 1949.

Gary Agnew, hero of the hurling final win over Loughgiel the previous week, got them off to a good start with a point in the second minute and they were two points to the good on seven minutes when Gary Cammichael added another. Back came St John’s and Martin Crummey opened their account with a point in the eighth minute and the Corrigan Park side took the lead soon afterwards when Michael McMahon found the Lamh Dhearf net. With Seamus O’Prey and Michael O’Kane dominating midfield the Johnnies went further ahead with Michael Crummey point from a 30 metre free, and the gap was out to three when Pat McStravick added one from play in the 18th minute.

Lamh Dhearg pulled a point back through Michael McGuigan, but St John’s again returned to the offensive and O’Prey fired over in the 21st minute before Pat McStravick lobbed the Lamh Dhearg keeper Damien McLaughlin for a goal that appeared to have them in complete control. A Cormac Carmichael point steadied the ship for Lamh Dhearg, and after the introduction of Eamon Kane and Martin Matthews, Carmichael got the last point of the half to leave the Lamhs trailing by five at the half time whistle

Renewed hope

The Hannahstown boys came out with renewed hope at the start of the second half but when St John’s grabbed their third goal through Stephen McCann, and Martin Crummey tacked on a point two minutes later, the boys from the Whiterock were nine clear.

It appeared the only thing to be decided now was the size of St John’s winning margin, but to their credit Lamh Dhearg never gave up the fight and slowly but surely the began to edge their way back into contention. Cormac Carmichael started the comeback when he pointed a 40 metre free, Cormac Carmichael added another from play before Gary Agnew hammered home a goal to cut the deficit to four.

With Donal O’Hara and Patrick Tumelty now beginning to get on top at midfield the momentum began to swing back in Lamh Dhearg’s favour, and with corner forward Colin Gorman starting to makes his presence in the corner, the tide was turning.

St John’s introduced Gerard Carson and Stephen McCann but Lamh Dhearg continued to call the tune and points from Carmichael and Declan Toland left just two between the sides by the end of the third quarter. Gary Agnew added a point to leave just one between the sides, but when Martin O’Hara grabbed a point for the Johnnies at the other end it looked like they might have halted the slide.

When they still held that two point cushion with just seven minutes left to play the Hannahstown fans were getting anxious once again, but up stepped that man Cormac Carmichael to settle those nerves as he fired a penalty to the St John’s net to put his team in front for the first time since the second minute. The boys from up the Hill were now in control and in the final minutes Peter McGuigan and Colin Gorman fired over the insurance points to seal a memorable double.

A great season for the Lamh Dhearg club who have now won the minor hurling and football titles in successive weeks. They are still in the Under 21 football championship and many of Sunday’s team will be in action again on Sunday when they face Cargin in the semi-final.

How they played

Paul Maxwell had a good game in goal for with winners while in defence Owen O’Neill and Brendan Elliott came well into the game in the second half.  At midfield Donal O’Hara and Patrick Tumelty were outplayed in the opening half, but they got well on top as the game progressed. Up front Colin Gorman, Cormac Carmichael and fifteen-year-old substitute Peter McGuigan were the danger men.

For St John’s Donal Gallagher, Seamus O’Prey, Michael O’Kane Martin Crummey Martin O’Hare and Pat McStravick were best.  

Team captain Paddy Tumelty raises the cup after receiving it from county chairman Oliver Kelly


Damian McLaughlin, Owen O’Neill, Paul Matthews, Martin Matthews, Brendan Elliott, Daryl Fegan, Robert Murray, Patrick Tumelty (capt), Donal O’Hara, Declan Toland, Cormac Carmichael, Michael McGuigan, Kevin Elliott, Gary Agnes, Colin Gorman.

Subs – Tony Stanley, Mark McKenna, Peter Kane, Gerard Magill, Niall O’Hara, Eamon Kane, Michael Philips, Peter McGuigan.


Barry Mulgrew, Kevin Rafferty, Donal Gallagher, Anthony Kelly, John Kennedy, Paul Teague, Sean Reilly, Seamus O’Prey, Michael O’Kane, Martin Crummey, Martin O’Hare, Stephen McCann, Michael O’Connor, Pat McStravick, Michael McMahon.

Subs – Danny McDonald, Gerard Carson, Peter Sloan, Martin Kelly, John McGratten, Stephen Grego.

Lamh Dhearg minor hurlers made history in 1992

Lamh Dhearg 1992

1992 was a special year for Lamh Dhearg Hanahstown as they completed a remarkable double by winning the Minor Hurling and Minor Football titles in the same year. Winning the football title may not have been regarded as an upset for a football based club, but collecting the hurling title for the first time was a truly remarkable achievement.

With current county Secretary, Frankie Quinn at the helm the boys from Hannahstown got their campaign underway with a convincing win over St Gall’s at Milltown, running up a big score in the process. The quarter-final saw them pitted against Rossa, always one of the big hitters in this grade. The boys in red had home advantage and with Donal O’Hara giving a fantastic display they made their way through to the semi-final.

Teams were starting to sit up and take notice of these new kids on the block. Their semi-final opponents were Cushendall, a club who were ruling the roost at senior level at the time, but the boys from the Glens were no match for the Lamhs on this occasion as they booked their place in a minor hurling final for the very first time.

Competition favourites Loughgiel were the opponents in the final. These two sides had met at Feile and Under 16 level in the years leading up to minor grade and thought the games had been closely contested the Shamrocks had come out on top. The went into the final as favourites to come through once again but on a historic day for Hannahstown boys, they upset the odds to write their names in the history book, their hero of the hour Gary Agnew turning in an outstanding display in goals.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the minor footballers achievement but today here is the report of the hurling final which appeared in the Ballymena Guardian at the tome


Lamh Dhearg 2-10 Loughgiel Shamrocks 2-8

The Lamh Dhearg team who made history by beating Loughgiel in the 1992 Antrim Minor Hurling final. Back row, L-R: Frankie Quinn (manager), M McGuigan, D Toland, C Carmichael, D Fegan, K Elliott, M Matthews, G Agnew (capt), D O’Hara, R Murray, P Maxwell, T Stanley. Front row, L-R: O O’Neill, P Tumelty, B Elliott, M McKenna, R Herron, G Murray, P McGuigan, E Kane.

In a welter of excitement the young hurlers of Hannahstown Lamh Dhearg wrote their names in the record books when they withstood a late rally by Loughgiel Shamrocks to take their first ever title as Casement Park on Sunday.

In a game that was exciting from start to finish the Hannahstown boys, from a parish more famed for its football prowess, showed just how well hurling is advancing in the club as they produced a polished display.

The final five minutes were heart-stopping as the Lamh Dhearg fought to defend a lead given to them by a brilliant goal from substitute Paul Maxwell in the 55th minute. The Shamrocks laid siege on the Lamh Dhearg goal looking for what would have been an equalising goal, but they were denied twice by outstanding saves by goalkeeper and team captain Gary Agnew, who pulled off two remarkable saves. The Shamrocks were denied twice by Agnew’s brilliance, and once by the crossbar as they battled to get back in the game, but a resolute Lamh’s defence held out to seal the win and take the title for the first time.

Playing with the breeze Loughgiel looked the more assured team early on and after PJ O’Mullan pointed them ahead from a free, corner forward Paddy Donnelly drilled the ball to the net to give the north Antrim boys a four point cushion.  Donal O’Hara settled the Hannahstown nerves with a point and when Kevin Elliott added one from a narrow angle it was clear they were not going to be overawed.

A point from PJ O’Mullan, following a great ground clearance by corner-back Joey McKendry, put Loughgiel a goal clear once again and when the stylish Aidan McCloskey added another from play the Shamrocks were four to the good. McKendry denied Lamh Dhearg a goal when he made a great clearance off the line, but the Hannahstown boys were having a good spell and two neat point from Kevin Elliott and one from Gary Murray brought them back to within a point.

PJ O’Mullan was proving a real handful for the Lamh Dhearg defence and he stretched his team’s lead to three with two well taken points, but just before the break midfielder Owen O’Neill gave the Lamhs a great boost when he fired the ball to the Shamrocks net to send the teams in at half time on level terms.

On the restart PJ O’Mullan gave Loughgiel back the lead with a point from a free, but Lamh Dhearg were soon back on terms when Michael McGuigan pointed from play. O’Mullan restored the Shamrocks advantage in the 42nd minute but once again the Hannahstown boys found a reply, this time through Donal O’Hara.

Loughgiel appeared to have made the breakthrough when right half forward Emmett McFadden goaled with fifteen minutes to go, but they were only able to raise one more flag in the final quarter as the Lamh Dhearg defence got on top. Patrick Tumelty started the Lamh Dhearg fightback with a point in the 50th minute and after Donal O’Hara had cut the gap back to a single point Tumelty struck again to bring things level.

Four minutes from time substitute Paul Maxwell send the Lamh Dhearg fans wild when he rifled a grounds shot to the Shamrocks net to put his side three clear. The tension was palpable as Loughgiel went in search of an equalising goal. They dominated possession but Gary Agnew was proving unbeatable in the Lamh Dhearg goal, and on the one occasion he was beaten PJ O’Mullan’s well struck shot from a 20 meter free rifled back off the crossbar. Still the game was in the balance and when Loughgiel full forward Aidan McCloskey cut through on goal it seemed they could still salvage the game. However Gary Agnew had saved his best to last and he somehow got his hurl to McCloskey’s goalbound shot and turned to over the bar to seal the title for the boys from ‘Up The Hill.’

Agnew was the star of the show but he was ably assisted at the back by stand in full back Raymond Herron, corner back Declan Toland plus half backs Carmichael and Elliott, who performed heroics at times. Patrick Tumelty and Owen O’Neill held sway at midfield, while in attack Donal O’Hara, Kevin Elliott and substitute Paul Maxwell were the stars.

Terence O’Mullan did well in goals for Loughgiel while in defence Joey McKendry had a great game, closely followed by Art Connolly, Colm McCloskey and Brendan McMullan. Up front PJ O’Mullan was the main man, though Aidan McCloskey and Emmett McFadden also did well.

Hurling Board Chairman Gilly McIlhatton presents the cup to Lamh Dhearg captain Gary Agnew while county chairman Oliver Kelly looks on

Lamh Dhearg scorers – Kevin Elliott 0-3; Donal O’Hara 0-3; Owen O’Neill 1-0; Kevin Maxwell 0-1; Michael McGuigan 0-1; Gary Murray 0-1.

Loughgiel scorers – PJ O’Mullan 0-6; Paddy Donnelly 1-0; Emmett McFadden 1-0; Aidan McCloskey 0-2.

Referee –  Dessie Gallagher

Bridini Og Presentation 2005

Today we take a look back at the Bridini Og Juvenile Presentation of 2005 where Moya Forde, a former All Ireland winner with Antrim was the guest of honour. Moya was the Antrim full-back from 1950 to 1970 and won two All Ireland titles with her beloved Saffrons in 1956 and 1957. It was a big night for the Bridini Og and accomanying Moya on the night was Fiona O’Driscoll, an All Ireland winner with Cork in 2005.

Dunloy will say farewell to a man who served them well

James McLean RIP

By John Curly McIlwaine

James McLean will be laid to rest in his native Dunloy after Requim Mass tomorrow (Wednesday), just a few hundred yards from where he grew-up in McClelland Park, down the Station Road. He passed away on Monday morning in his home in Bellaghy Park, a few hundred yards out the Bellaghy Road.

During his 67 years on this earth he made the journey up the Bridge Road many thousands of times, be it on his way to school at St Briget’s PS, worship at St Briget’s Church or to hurl at his beloved Pearse Park. So much of his life circled around that area of the village and helped shape him into the man he was.

Tomorrow he will make that journey for the final time.

James McLean shakes hands with Loughgiel’s Eamon Connolly at tend of a championship game between the two North Antrim rivals in the mid eighties

James McLean was born in Dunloy in 1953 and grew up playing hurling and football for the club. Hurling was of course his first love and he was a member of the Cuchullains team who beat Rossa in the final of the Minor Hurling Championship in Loughgiel in 1971. Five years later he played on the Dunloy team who qualified for Antrim Senior final, where they were well beaten by a very good Rossa team in Casement Park.

James McLean (3rd from left – front row) on the Antrim team who played Galway in the 1981 All Ireland quarter final in Croke Park.

A highly skilful hurler he played for Antrim and Ulster through to the early 1980s and for the club up until the mid-eighties, just missing out on the club’s great breakthrough in 1990.


With the Cushendall captains and his linesmen before the 2005 Antrim Senior Hurling final

After hanging up the hurl he got involved in refereeing, something he again put his heart and soul into, and rose through the ranks to inter-county level, the pinnacle of his county career coming in 1999 when he was the man in the middle for the Galway v Kilkenny All Ireland Minor Hurling semi-final in Croke Park. Of course he continued on at club level for many years after that and took charge of the 2005 Antrim Senior Hurling final between Cushendall and Loughgiel in Casement Park. He would have done many more had his home club not been so dominant in that era.

He was involved in his club committee at different times but in 2009 he took over as North Antrim Board chairman and served on the board in other positions for over a decade. He was also a county committe member as was Ulster delegate for a couple of years. Two years ago he was elected club chairman, something he was very proud of, and he had the honour of seeing the club collect the last two senior hurling titles.

When Dunloy beat Cushendall in the Antrim Senior Hurling Final back on September 13th they became the first club to win the new Fr Fitzpatrick Cup. After the initial bout of celebrations had died down and photos had been taken with the new silverware James McLean went to the boot of his car to retrieve the old Volunteer Cup, which Dunloy had won the previous year. He took it out onto the pitch to hand it back to county secretary Frankie Quinn who was taking it back to the county offices for safe storage. However when the fans and players saw the old trophy they all wanted their photos taken with the ‘Big Ears’ one last time, and so the cycle of celebration photos started all over again. James finally regained possession of the historic silverware and handed it safely back to Frankie. Little did we think it would be one of the last official duties he would carry out for the club.

A few short weeks later the grave news filtered through about his terminal condition and we knew there would be no more great days in the sun for a man who gave so much for club and county. His lovely wife Bernie and their children helped nurse him through that final journey as we waited knowing there would only be one outcome.

Those of us who knew James will mourn his passing, but it pales into insignificance in comparison to what Bernie and the family are feeling. To her, their sons Dario, Brian and Alan plus daughters Orlagh and Alisha, to his brothers Tom and Cyril plus sister Katleen Anne and the wider McLean family we offer our sincere condolences.

With the current Covid restrictions we won’t get the chance to give him the send-off he deserves, but we will be with his family in spirit on that final journey.

James (back left) on a Dunloy team v Ballycastle at Leyland Road in the mid eighties

Stephen Rooney of Saffcast

Stephen Rooney of St Paul’s and Antrim is Conor Donnelly’s first guest of 2021 on his Saffcast. The big corner-back talks about a highly successful 2020 season and what lies ahead in 2021