Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final
Dunloy 1-19 St Johns 0-13
Sunday September 26
Brendan McTaggart reports from Dunsilly
It wasn’t quite the classic these sides put on three weeks ago but it will matter little to the people of Dunloy as the Cuchullains booked their place in this years county final. The reigning champions led this semi-final from start to finish but were undoubtedly helped with St John’s being reduced to 14 men with barely three minutes on the clock. The red mist descended on Ciaran Johnston and an uphill battle became an attempt to climb Mount Everest for the Johnnies.
The Corrigan Park men did everything they could to stay with the Cuchullains and brought the best out of Ryan Elliott on a number of occasions but after the stop start nature of the first half, the Cuchullains went through the gears after the restart and Keelan Molloy’s goal after the water break sealed the win in monsoon like conditions at Dunsilly.
While plenty has been made about Dunloy’s attacking unit, Sunday’s win was built upon an outstanding defensive display, limiting a talented St John’s attack to just 13 points over the hour. Conor McKinley was exceptional on the edge of his own square while Kevin McKeague’s battle with Domhnall Nugent was a fascinating subplot that you could tell both men relished. The Dunloy half back line excelled in the second half with their positional sense and Ronan Molloy taking the Man of The Match honours in an exquisite display.
Up top, Conal Cunning excelled. He finished top scorer with six of his eight points coming from placed ball while Keelan Molloy added three points to his goal.
The Johnnies were without the services of Oisin Donnelly but defensively they held Dunloy and it wasn’t until the final 10 minutes that the Cuchullains pulled away. Aidan McMahon, Conal Bohill and Stephen Tierney all putting in a huge shift for the Corrigan Park men while Shea Shannon and Conor Johnston always looked like causing Dunloy problems.
The weather conditions didn’t allow for free-flowing hurling and the Johnnies attempted to break up the play as much as possible. Neither side could play their usual brand of hurling but it was effective for the Johnnies as they hung onto the coat-tails of the Cuchullains despite their numerical disadvantage.
With Nugent in the mood for causing mayhem, St John’s always had a chance. His ability to catch primary possession was key to how the Johnnies went about their business but with Conor Johnston and Shea Shannon working in the breakdown, St John’s always had a threat. Substitute Aaron Bradley led the fight for the Johnnies with four white flags after coming on in the 22nd minute.
The first half was a slow burner with the Cuchullains leading 0-9 to 0-7 and as the heavens opened the second half, so did the space in the St John’s defence as their efforts physically began to take its toll. It was going to take a herculean effort and the Johnnies gave everything they had. Dunloy moved the sliotar with precision for a lot of the game and with the speed of Seaan Elliott and Conal Cunning they reaped the rewards. The introduction of Deaglan Smith injected further strength and pace into a Cuchullain attack who were beginning to purr.
The Johnnies created late chances and had a Domhnall Nugent goal not been disallowed with referee Kevin Parke calling a pass as a throw ball before Keelan Molloy’s major while Shea Shannon’s injury time penalty was superbly saved by Ryan Elliott in the Dunloy goals. But the Cuchullains were well worthy of the win and a fourth county final in five years while St Johns fall at the semi-final hurdle yet again.
DUNLOY: R Elliott; P Duffin, C McKinley, C Kinsella; R Molloy, A Crawford, R McGarry; E McFerran, Keelan Molloy (1-3); E O’Neill (0-2), N McKeague (0-1), P Shiels (0-2, 1 free); C McMahon, C Cunning (0-8, 5 frees, 1 65), S Elliott (0-2).
Subs: K McKeague for P Duffin (8), Kevin Molloy for N McKeague (HT), D Smith (0-1) for C McMahon (45), A McGrath for P Shiels (55).
ST JOHN’S: S Doherty; A McMahon, R McNulty, S Tierney; Ciaran Johnston, C Morgan, C Bohill (0-1); S Shannon (0-6, 4 frees), J Bohill; M Dudley (0-1), D Nugent (0-1), M Bradley; D Carson, Conor Johnston, P McCallin.
Subs: A Bradley (0-4) for D Carson (22), C Carson for C Morgan (30+2).
REFEREE: Kevin Parke (Naomh Éanna)
Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC Group 3
Lámh Dhearg 0-16-1-11 St Enda’s
Kevin Herron reports from Hannahstown
Photos by J.J Lawell
Lámh Dhearg virtually secured themselves a top place finish in Group 3 of the Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC with a nervy 0-16-1-11 win over St Enda’s at Hannahstown on Sunday afternoon.
In a nip and tuck encounter that saw the sides level on five occasions in the second period, the hosts finished strongly as substitute Owen O’Neill came off the bench to kick back-to-back points and seal a victory that takes the Hannahstown men two-points clear of St Enda’s and Aghagallon in the battle for a top spot and a place in the last eight.
Both sides went into the game tied on six-points with St Enda’s leading the group thanks to their four-point win in the corresponding fixture at Hightown last month.
The hosts were dominant in the opening stages and quickly found themselves three points to the good.
Ben Rice guided the ball into the path of Ryan Diamond who opened the scoring inside of 30-seconds, Marc Jordan then shot over from close range after Ryan Murray’s simple layoff and Conor Murray squeezed over a third.
Kristian Healy got St Enda’s off the mark and despite their slow start the Hightown men had the opportunity to hit the front after Odhran Eastwood was felled in the area and Gerard Crossey tucked the resulting penalty past Mark McIlvenny.
Marc Jordan levelled with his second point- again Ryan Murray was involved in the build-up and older sibling Conor added his second of the half to restore his sides advantage.
St Enda’s levelled at the first water-break courtesy of Kristian Healy’s second point, but Lámh Dhearg forged ahead again through Ryan Murray’s simple score and a converted Paddy Cunningham free.
Ruairi Scott swung over a fantastic point in response with Conor McAuley running straight towards the target and slipping it over to level.
It looked as though St Enda’s were going to take a slender lead at the interval when Kristian Healy took a pass off the shoulder and shifted it between the posts for his third point, Paddy Cunningham would ensure it was all square at the break though with his second converted free drawing the sides level at 0-08-1-05.
St Enda’s were quickest out of the traps after the break with Eoin Nagle fisting them back in front, only for Ben Rice to come up with an instant reply and level matters for the fourth time in proceedings.
Odhran Eastwood curled his side back in front and Paddy Cunningham hit back with his third converted free of the afternoon.
The pattern of the half continued with St Enda’s getting back in front through a converted Odhran Eastwood free and Conor Murray swinging over a response to ensure the sides were level 0-11-1-08 at the second water-break as a tense finale was on the cards.
For the fourth time in the half the Hightown men stole a march with Eastwood kicking his third free- yet again Lámh Dhearg found the response, this time through half-time substitute Kevin Quinn.
Eastwood would nudge his side ahead for the final time before the hosts stepped it up a gear in the final ten minutes.
Conor Murray landed his fourth score of the contest to level at 0-13-1-10 and Paddy Cunningham gave his side the lead with a converted free a few minutes later.
Owen O’Neill was sprung from the bench and made an immediate impact kicking back-to-back points to give his side some breathing space going down the home straight.
Odhran Eastwood could only muster a point in response, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his side falling to a defeat which leaves their qualification hopes on a knife-edge.
St Enda’s must travel to Aghagallon in two-week’s time and win by five-points if they are to claim a place in the last eight.
For Lámh Dhearg, a win or a draw against Aldergrove would secure a top place finish in the group.
Lámh Dhearg: M McIlvenny, P Larkin, A McAufield, M McGarry, E Matassa, D Lynch, B Rice (0-01), P Mervyn, P Fitzsimons, R Diamond (0-01), R Murray (0-01), M Jordan (0-02), P Cunningham (0-04f), C Murray (0-04), T McCrudden. Subs: K Quinn (0-01) for R Diamond (HT), O O’Neill (0-02) for R Murray (45), C Maxwell for P Cunningham (57).
St Enda’s: P Flood, F Eastwood, M McNamee, C McAuley (0-01), P Healy, C Maxwell, C Thompson, M Morgan, N McKeown, C Lyttle, E Nagle (0-01), G Crossey (1-00p), O Eastwood (0-05, 0-04f), R Scott (0-01), K Healy (0-03). Subs: J McAuley for G Crossey (13), D Walsh for C Lyttle (35), F Nagle for N McKeown (46), N Heatley for M Morgan (56).
Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)
Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship
St Mary’s, Ahoghill 0-10 St Brigid’s 0-10
Sunday September 19
Brendan McTaggart reports from Cloney , Ahoghill
Daniel O’Neill’s third point of the game in the second minute of injury time ensured a share of the championship points between Ahoghill and St Brigids. This was an even contest played with high commitment, huge intensity and incredible desire with both sides looking like they had the upper-hand in the closing stages but in the end a draw was a fair result at the end of the hour.
With five minutes to go, the home side had just hit the third of three unanswered points to take the lead for the second time in the contest. That score from James O’Connell coincidentally the only white flag raised from a free by the Ahoghill Reds but with tired legs and minds in the closing stages, the game opened up with chances for both sides.
St Brigid’s had the lions share of possession from the first whistle with Rory Brolly opening the scoring in the third minute. Ahoghill looked dangerous on the break and mixed their game with patience when required, their opening score from Patrick Graham showcasing their ball retention and running off the shoulder with great effect.
The St Brigid’s challenge was dented early with the loss of Peter Henvey with a hamstring injury. The home side took the lead with another well worked point from Ronan Graham but it was their last score for 10 minutes as St Brigid’s took control. Scores from substitute Peter Webb and a brace of frees from the lively Conor McAleer edged the Musgrave Park men two points ahead just after the water break.
Daniel O’Neill’s first of the game broke the St Brigid’s momentum in the 21st minute but both sides were guilty of missed chances with defences on top. McAleer’s third free of the half opened a two point lead in the 28th minute but a sumptuous score from Ronan Boyle halved the deficit at the short whistle.
The second 30 minutes had everything with momentum swinging like the proverbial pendulum. A quite brilliant point from Daniel O’Neill restored parity once again soon after the restart, wide on the right and his feet on the whitewash, O’Neill pointed 30 yards from goal.
Both defences were on top with neither side giving an inch in the scoring areas of the pitch. Rory Brolly did manage to split the uprights in the 40th minute thanks to good work from substitute Paul McComiskey and while Eoin Graham tied the sides for the third time in the game, the momentum swung towards the way of the south Belfast men once again.
McComiskey and Brolly combined once again, this time it was the substitute who raised the white flag while Ronan Boyle doubled their lead just before the second half water break, cutting in from the left hand side before firing over.
With Martin Graham on the edge of the St Brigids square for the second half, it gave the home side another option in attack and they were unlucky not to score the opening goal of the game in the 46th minute. James O’Connell sent the ball high towards the Ahoghill target man and while he got a strong palm to the dropping ball, his effort cannoned back off the crossbar allowing St Brigid’s to clear to safety.
The visitors to Cloney had their own chance with their next foray into the Ahoghill half. Patrick Finnegan’s pointed effort was partially blocked and James Smith punched to the back of the net but referee Darren McKeown was well placed to call a square ball to dampen the St Brigids celebrations.
The reprieve looked to boost the home side though as they rallied at the other end of the pitch. A brace of scores from distance brought them level once again, James O’Connell and Patrick Graham with the accuracy before O’Connell split the uprights in the 55th minute from a free to give the home side the lead.
With the game in the melting pot, St Brigid’s dug deep once again. McAleer’s fourth point of the hour was worthy of this or any game with. He pointed from an acute angle and raised his hand in celebration as soon as the ball left his foot.
Ronan Boyle edged St Brigid’s ahead once again in the last minute of the hour after a well worked side line ball but Daniel O’Neill had the final say. A high ball sent to Martin Graham fell lose with O’Neill on hand to fire over in the last action of the game.
The result mean St Brigids seal their place in the quarter-final while Ahoghill travel to Portglenone in two week’s time in a winner takes all contest and the championship journey on the line.
Ahoghill: Francis Neeson; Eamon Brady, James Magee, Stephen O’Connell; Ronan Graham, Patrick Graham, Fionnbar O’Neill; Neill O’Connell, Martin Graham; James O’Connell, Michael O’Connell, Daniel O’Neill; Eoin Graham, Donal Graham, Bernard Graham
Subs: Thomas McGlone for M O’Connell (36); Conor Paul Crossey for E Graham (50)
Scorers: Daniel O’Neill 0-3; Ronan Graham 0-2; Patrick Graham 0-2; James O’Connell 0-2 (1f); Eoin Graham 0-1
St Brigids: Declan Heery; John Morgan, Conor King, Shay Campbell; Ronan Boyle, John Toner, Oran Boyle; James Loughrey, Jack Dowling; Patrick Finnegan, Conor McAleer, Rory Brolly; Peter Henvey, Joseph Finnegan, James Smith
Subs: Peter Webb for P Henvey (5); Paul McComiskey for J Finnegan (37); Ryan Tweedy for P Webb (37); Michael Cummings for S Campbell (40)
Scorers: Conor McAleer 0-4 (3f’s); Rory Brolly 0-2; Ronan Boyle 0-2; Peter Webb 0-1; Paul McComiskey 0-1
Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)
The last Primary school that Maeve Kelly visited on Friday afternoon was Mount St Michael’s Randalstown. Once again there was a big welcome for Maeve from staff and students. A number of the students had been in Croke Park last Sunday to watch Antrim collect the title and they were delighted to see the Player of the Match from the final and her trophy.
Mr Lavery conducted three Q and A session with different class groups in the main hall that had been decked out in the Antrim colours for the occasion.
After each Q and A session, there was a draw for a hurl which Maeve signed and the final group got the opportunity for Maeve to sign their personal hurls, sliotars and jerseys.
Of course the school has their own Saffron stars on the staff.
Mrs McMullan was on the Antrim team the last time they won the All-Ireland Intermediate title (2003).
Mrs Hegarty scored 1-1 when Antrim won the 2011 All-Ireland Junior title and was back in Croke Park in 2012 when they lost the Intermediate final to Wexford, while Mrs Duffin has represented Antrim at senior level in recent years.
However on Friday the pupils and staff were only interested in the current Antrim No 10.