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Minor Hurling Championship Final

Dunloy Cuchullains 1-16 Naomh Padraig 0-8
By Brendan McTaggart

Dunloy made it three minor championship crowns in succession in Ballycastle on Sunday afternoon with an 11 point victory over Naomh Padraig.  Despite losing influential half back Paddy Graffin to a straight red card in the 19th minute, the Cuchullains never looked like losing.  In fairness, going down to 14 men seemed to help the Dunloy men, up until that point Naomh Padraig were more than a match for the Cuchullains but a virtuoso display from Ronan Molloy and a Sean O’Neill goal in the second half ensured the Cuchullains would be celebrating an unprecedented treble.

The Cuchullains came into the game without the services of their star forward Seaan Elliott who has a suspected ACL injury.  Neither side hit the ground running in the opening quarter, it was the resilience of the Naomh Padraig defence and the threat of Daniel Martin and Conor McBride in attack who were prominent in the opening exchanges.

Despite scoring the opening point of the final in the sixth minute thanks to Ronan Molloy’s first point of 10 throughout the hour, the Cuchullains were trailing after the tenth minute when Conor McHugh and James Morgan gave Naomh Padraig a deserving lead.  Molloy added his second soon after before Conor McBride gave Naomh Padraig the lead once more in the 13th minute and while a brace of scores from Molloy and Smyth gave the Cuchullains the lead once again, the final was about to change.

Paddy Graffin and Liam O’Hara were having a tough battle throughout the first half with both getting the upper-hand on different occasions.  Graffin overstepped the mark though in the 19th minute when he pulled O’Hara’s helmet off by the faceguard.  Referee Paul O’Neill was alerted to the incident by his linesman and Graffin’s final was cut short.

It should have given the Naomh Padraig men a lift.  They came into the match as underdogs and had more than held their own in the opening exchanges but instead, going down to 14 men helped to focus the young Cuchullains and they never looked behind them.  Ryan McFarlane dropped into the half back line to cover the hole left with Graffin’s sending off and the transition was seemless.  Full back Aaron Crawford was coming to terms with the physical presence of Martin on the edge of the square while Deaglan Smyth was finding more room around the midfield.

Three points from the impressively accurate Ronan Molloy, two from frees, gave the Cuchullains a four point lead before Naomh Padraig registered their first score in 14 minutes when David Kilgore split the posts.

The Cuchullains ended the half superbly though and a brace of points from Molloy, taking his tally to eight for the half before Smyth scored his second of the match to give Dunloy a six point lead at the short whistle.

Naomh Padraig will have left the field at half time wondering how they let the Cuchullains get away from them in the opening 30 minutes but the Cuchullains proved their worth in the final ten minutes of the first half scoring six points to Naomh Padraig’s one after going down to 14 men.

Naomh Padriag needed a fast start when the game restarted but instead it was the Cuchullains who fired the opening score, Smyth with his third of the match.  Ciaran McCormick-McKenna was playing as a sweeper but the Dunloy half back line and midfield were turning every ball send their way with Ryan McGarry in particular outstanding.  A trio of wides from the Cuchullains with a couple of uncharacteristic errors from placed ball by Molloy kept the Naomh Padraig challenge alive but when Sean O’Neill scored the Cuchullains goal in the 42nd minute, the writing was on the wall.  A long ball played into the corner was gathered superbly by Anton McGrath.  The Dunloy forward had been playing well throughout the match without much reward but he cut through the Naomh Padraig defence before finding O’Neill in space.  O’Neill lashed the sliotar to the back of Timothy Burns net and with 18 minutes remaining the Cuchullains had a strong grip on the minor crown.

A Darren McGowan free from inside his own half gave Naomh Padraig their opening score of the second half but a brace of scores from the Cuchullains dynamic duo of Smyth and Molloy made sure the momentum stayed with the Dunloy men.

As the game wore into the closing stages, Naomh Padraig went in search for goals and there were times when the Cuchullains defence was tested to its fullest.  Martin brought the best out of Adam Mooney, the Dunloy ‘keeper showing superb reflexes to beat away his goal bound effort but the Cuchullains remained on top all over the field.

David Kilgore and Conor McBride raised white flags for their side but scores from Callum Scullion, Molloy and substitute Rory Mullan ensured the Cuchullains would be celebrating at the full-time whistle.

A comfortable victroy in the end for the Cuchullains but credit must be given to the Naomh Padraig men and their management who despite their club being in their infancy, were competing in their second minor final in three years.  Unfortunately, on both occasions they have come up short against the Cuchullains who continue with their dominance at the age group.

Dunloy: Adam Mooney; Paddy Kinsella; Aaron Crawford; Eoin McMullan; Paddy Graffin; Ryan McGarry; Eoin McGrath; Callum Scullion; Ronan Molloy; Ryan McFarlane; Liam McCann; Deaglan Smith; Nathan Richmond; Sean O’Neill; Anton McGrath

Naomh Padraig: Timothy Burns; Emmett O’Hara; Tiarnán McGlynn; Ciarán McCormick-McKenna; Jack McKay; Darren McGowan; Patrick; Conor McHugh; Tomás Scally; Liam O’Hara; James Morgan; Callum Campbell; Conor McBride; Daniel Martin; David Kilgore


Dunloy: Ronan Molloy 0-10 (4 frees, 2 ‘65’s); Deaglan Smyth 0-4; Sean O’Neill 1-00; Callum Scullion 0-1 (1 free); Rory Mullan 0-1

Naomh Padraig: Conor McBride 0-3; David Kilgore 0-2; James Morgan 0-1; Conor McHugh 0-1; Darren McGowan 0-1 (1 free)

Referee: Paul O’Neill (Creggan)

Intermediate Hurling Championship Final

Patrick Sarsfields 0-16 Carey Faughs 1-7
43 years.  A long time in any man’s books and more than a lifetime for many of those in attendance at Armoy on Saturday afternoon but by 4:20pm they were made to wait no more.  Sarsfields, county champions.  1973 was the last time the Paddies tasted success at the Intermediate level before going on and taking senior honours the following year and on Saturday evening they broke their duck.  Six points separated the Paddies and Carey after a tense battle played in horrible conditions in Armoy. To be honest the score line flattered the Faughs as Sarsfields were dominant, in the second half in particular, but a series of wides and missed opportunities meant that the Faughs were always in with a shout.

Just one point separated the sides with 15 minutes to go, largely down to the profligacy of the Sarsfileds attack but the McKernan brothers, Kevin and Daniel stepped up the tempo when it was most needed.  The duo had been a thorn in the side of Carey for the majority of the match but they, along with Niall McKenna and Darragh McGuinness were immense in the closing stages as the Paddies turned the screw.  Carey fought hard throughout the hour and once again, James ‘Rocket’ Black was a shining light for the men from Ballyvoy.  Rocket was played in a number of positions throughout the hour and played a main roll in a lot that was good in the Carey men.  James McCouaig was superb in defence while Cathal ‘Doog’ McAuley was always dangerous on the edge of the Paddies square.

The Faugh’s were reduced to 14 men with nine minutes remaining, their excellent full-back Sean McBride getting the line for a second yellow card but the writing was already on the wall at that stage for Carey.

With Donal McKernan unable to start the final with a leg injury, Sarsfields gave a Eoghan Rodgers a place in the starting 15.  Rodgers lined out in the corner forward berth but was Rockets shadow throughout the game, anywhere the influential Carey man went, Rodgers wasn’t too far behind.

With the weather worsening at the throw in, it looked like the heavy underfoot conditions would suit the Faughs and in the early exchanges that appeared to be the case as the boys from Ballyvoy got off to the dream start.  The match was only 90 seconds old when the Faughs scored the only goal of the game.  Sarsfields ‘keeper David Ward failing to clear a ’65 from Black that hung in the wind, McAuley pulling the lose sliotar to the back of the net.  The start they would have hoped for and the start that many neutrals would have been keen to see.  Despite Carey playing in a league above the Paddies in 2017, Sarsfields started the match as strong favourites.  Game on.

Daniel McKernan showed his pedigree when he opened the Paddies account with the next attack of the game but Carey’s dream start almost changed to a fairy-tale for the men from Ballyvoy when they were awarded a penalty in the 4th minute.  Again, it was McAuley who was causing the Sarsfileds defence problems.  The Carey full forward collected the sliotar before being bundled to the floor inside the square.  Match referee Colum Cunning awarded the Faughs a penalty which McAuley took himself, electing to drive the sliotar over the bar, much to the relief of the Sarsfields faithful, a decision that baffled most of the Faughs followers.

It was a reprieve for Sarsfields, in hindsight maybe going for goal with less pressure and in the circumstances was better option for Carey and the Paddies took full advantage.  They scored four unanswered points thanks to efforts from McKenna, Darragh McGuinness and two Kevin McKernan frees to take the lead and while Black replied for the Faugh’s, Sarsfields were well on top, scoring another trio of scores to lead by three in the 22nd minute and banish any memory of their nightmare start.  McKenna, Kevin McKernan and Niall McAlea raising the white flags for their side.  McAuley and Kevin McKernan traded frees in the closing stages but the Sarsfields midfielder should have put daylight between the sides in first half injury time.  Through on goal, Steven McGinn produced a superb save to deny the Paddies and while McKernan was also first to the rebound, his grounds stroke somehow managed to spin wide with the goal at his mercy.

The Faugh’s made a bright start to the second half with McAuley landing two more frees to take his tally to 1-4 for the match to leave the minimum between the sides and while Sarsfields always looked dangerous in attack, they were struggling to find their range.

The Paddies had goal chances, twice they were denied with referee Cunning calling a square ball on Gary Lennon on both occasions while the Sarsfields full forward brought the best out of McGinn in the 40th minute but a superb score from McKenna after a strong run was all they had to show for their efforts in the opening exchanges of the second half.

A long range point from half back Jack McBride brought Carey to within touching distance once more but Sarsfields found another gear when it mattered most.  Five unanswered points in as many minutes from the 46th minute put them firmly in control, Kevin McKernan with his fifth and sixth points of the final with Daniel McKernan (twice) and substitute Donal McKernan helping to open a six point gap with ten minutes remaining.

The Carey challenge hit a major road block when full back Sean McBride received his second yellow card soon after and while the Faughs never slackened in their pursuit of glory, Sarsfields proved to be a step too far.  McAuley and McKenna exchanging frees in the closing stages to leave six points between the sides at the full time whistle.

It’s another final defeat for the Faughs who have been knocking hard on the door for the last few years, it seems it’s only a matter of time before they make the breakthrough while the Paddies go on to represent Antrim in the Ulster championship and will be hoping that Saturday’s silverware will be added to when their football counterparts take on St Pat’s of Lisburn in the Junior football decider next Saturday.

Sarsfields: David Ward; Peter Corr; James Cunningham; Jack Daniels; Michael Callaghan; Caolan Mervyn; Caillin Caldwell; Kevin McKernan; Darragh McGuinness; Daniel McKernan; Niall McKenna; Niall McAlea; James McKernan; Gary Lennon; Eoghan Rodgers

Subs: Donal McKernan for M Callaghan (35 mins)

Scorers: Kevin McKernan 0-6 (2 frees); Niall McKenna 0-4 (1 free); Danial McKernan 0-3; Darragh McGuinness 0-1; Niall McAlea 0-1; Donal McKernan 0-1

Carey: Steven McGinn; Eoin Hill; Sean McBride; Daniel Hill; Michael McVeigh; James McCouaig; John McBride; Kevin Murphy; James Black; Shea Hunter; Nat Hunter; Martin Hunter; Peadar McVeigh; Cathal McAuley; Sean McLoughlin

Subs: Fiachra McVeigh for K Murphy (HT); Gerard McBride for S McLoughlin (50 mins); Daniel McBride for J McBride (inj)

Scorers: Cathal McAuley 1-5 (0-1 pen, 4 frees); James Black 0-1 (1 free); John McBride 0-1

Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)

Fourteen man Carey hold off Tir na nÓg fightback

Carey Faugh’s 0-19 Tír na nÓg 0-17
Carey Faugh’s certainly did not make life easy for themselves in this Antrim Intermediate championship tie at Armoy. Midfielder Patrick Butler received a straight red card after just 50 seconds for an off the ball incident picked up by referee Mark O’Neill. But they still took the game by the scruff of the neck and won it with a power-packed display in the first half by the end of which they had opened up a 0-13 to 0-7 lead. Despite a valiant attempt by Tír na nÓg over the course of the second half, Carey held on for a narrow victory and passage into the decider next month where they will meet Sarsfields. Carey’s striking was that little bit crisper and they used their physicality better, particularly during the first half, to create and execute much needed scores. Tír na nÓg probably didn’t use the extra player well during the first half, but they raised their game significantly after the break with the half-back line in particular taking control and keeping Carey pinned back in their half for long periods. After the delay around the early red card, Kevin Sheerin pointed the resultant free and Tír na nÓg moved into a 0-5 to 0-3 lead after 10 minutes with Kevin’s brothers Pearse and Christy also making the score-board. However Carey were showing a battling mentality and chasing down everything with full-forward Cathal McAuley creating enough problems for the Randalstown defence that the points were totting up all the time. McAuley himself fired over some nice scores from frees and open play, while Martin Hunter’s second point put the team’s level at 0-5 each. James Black, who was magnificent in the first half, hit the target twice from long-range frees midway through that opening half and Sean McLaughlin added two more white flags in the five minutes before the break to open a 0-13 to 0-7 lead. Indeed Randalstown could have been in worse trouble only Kevin Kerr saved brilliantly from Fiachra McVeigh a short time before McLaughlin’s double.
Tír na nÓg came out strongly for the second half with an early point from Caoimhín Duffin followed by Ciaran Logan’s third from play and two frees from Kevin Sheerin. Suddenly the difference was down to two points, but over the next five minutes Carey hit four points of their own, two from ‘Doog’McAuley frees and one each from James Black and Fiachra McVeigh. That slowed Randalstown’s momentum and it wasn’t until the 50th minute that they were back down to a three point gap again. Sub Kevin Murphy however hit back with a point, but further Tír na nÓg frees from Sheerin (2) and Colm Duffin brought it back to a single point in the fourth minute of added time. However another Carey sub, Shay Hunter, came to their rescue pouncing on a loose ball and firing over from 40 metres just before Mark O’Neill sounded the long whistle. The north Antrim men certainly will be delighted that they were able to dig deep and come through 60 minutes of hard championship hurling with 14 men against 15, but Tír na nÓg will reflect on what might have been if they had not allowed the second quarter gap on the score-board to develop.

Carey : Stephen McGinn, Eoin Hill, Sean McBride, Daniel Hill, john McBride, James McCuaig, Michael McVeigh 0-1, James Black 0-3, 0-2 frees, Patrick Butler, Fiachra McVeigh 0-2, Nathaniel Hunter, Martin Hunter 0-2, Peadar McVeigh, Cathal McAuley 0-7, 0-5 frees, Sean McLaughlin 0-2.
Subs : Kevin Murphy for M Hunter (HT), Shay Hunter 0-1 for S McLaughlin (48), Chris Butler for F McVeigh (53), Gerard McBride for J Black (59).

Tír na nÓg : Kevin Kerr, Conor Fitzgerald, Tony Martin, Brendan Kerr, Ryan O’Neill, Colm Duffin 0-1 free, Ronan O’Neill, Christy Sheerin 0-1, Caoimhín Duffin 0-1, Ciaran McKeown, Pearse Sheerin 0-1, Ciaran Logan 0-4, Kevin McCann, Kevin Sheerin 0-9, 0-8 frees, Emmett Martin.
Subs : Conor Dougan for E Martin (24), Donal Martin for Ronan O’Neill (52).
Referee : Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

Minor Hurling Championship quarter final

Naomh Padraig 4-11 Ossians 3-3

After 15 minutes of this quarter final contest, played at Carey, it looked like it was going to be Oisins’ night. The home side Naomh Padraig were rocked by 3 goals as Oisins lead was carved out by good work from Michael Mc Conaghie (2) and Caolan O’Connor. With the wet conditions making it difficult for both teams to get fluency into their play the question was would Oisins build on this decisive lead or could Naomh Padraig, with home advantage, rise to the challenge?

Conor Mc Hugh, Jack Mc Kay and Thomas Scally were probably the players that got to grips with the Oisins challenge best and turned the game in Naomh Padraig’s favour. Bit by bit Naomh Padraig got themselves back into the game and by half time they had closed the margin to a single point- Ossians 3-2 Naomh Padraig 1-7.

Centre-half forward Daniel Martin, with an ever growing fan club, chipped in with a goal and a point! Now Connor Mc Bride was beginning to find the range with some cleverly taken points. However Glenariffe took the fight to the home side but the defence had tightened up considerably to thwart the best efforts of the O’Connors, Mulvenna and McConaghie. A good win for the North Antrim boys but Coach Raymond Mc Mullan knows that his side will need to work hard before they meet Loughgiel Shamrocks in the semi-final in two weeks’ time, but they look forward to the challenge

Naomh Padraig scorers
Daniel Martin (1-1)
Conor McBride (1-5)
Tom Scally (0-2)
Ciaran McKenna (1-1)
James Morgan (1-0)
Darren McGowan (0-1f)
Liam O’Hara (0-1)