Antrim SHC: More heartache for Johnnies
Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship quarter-finals
Cushendall 6-29 Creggan 1-12
There is no answer to six goals. That’s the position Antrim intermediate champions Creggan found themselves up against when they faced the might of Cushendall writes Jim Smyth.
The Antrim and Ulster champions wiped the floor with them in winning by 32 points and sent out a warning to all would-be contenders.
Three goals in a five-minute spell during the opening quarter put an end to any ambitions Creggan had and when they found themselves 19 points back at the break they could well have packed up and gone home.
Five points on the board in the opening four minutes gave some idea of the intensity of the champions’ approach and when Alex Delargy followed with back-to-back goals in the sixth and seventh minutes it was curtains.
Conor Carson three minutes later added number three and while the South West side had their moments – Odhran McCann hitting three points and Conor Small and Thomas McCann one each at 3-15 to 0-5 at the break – it became one great yawn.
There was no relenting in the second half from the Philip Campbell managed side, the new man in charge hoping to impress. And impress he did with his charges adding three further second half goals.
Loughgiel 4-24 St Gall’s 1-7
When these sides met at the quarter-final stage last season, the Shamrocks won by 1 points before losing out to Cushendall in the semi-final writes Jim Smyth..
This time around they increased their winning margin to 26 points in a slick performance which saw St Gall’s struggle from start to finish.
Level at one each after two minutes, the Belfast side drifted into very deep water and by halfway they were struggling to stay afloat.
An early goal from corner-forward Dan McCloskey put the cat among the pigeons and thanks to the accuracy of Maol Connolly and Shay Casey the gap between the sides widened despite the best efforts of Sean McAreavey and Jackson and Gregory McGreevey.
Changing ends at 0-5 to 1-10 the Milltown lads must have felt they were still in the hunt but a sixth minute Shay Casey goal followed by Maol Connolly and Mark McFadden points put paid to that idea.
Corner-forward Benny McCarry crashed home their third goal in the 19th minute and as the points flowed from Connolly, substitutes Liam Watson and Barney McAuley it was left to St Gall’s to pick up a couple of consolation scores a Brendan Bradley point and late Mark McAreavey goal.
O’Donovan Rossa 1-22 St John’s 1-18
A GOAL from Paul Close in the final minute saw O’Donovan Rossa grab victory over old rivals St John’s in an epic quarter-final at Hannahstown yesterday writes Anthony Gunning.
It was cruel luck on a Johnnies side – beaten at the death for a second year in succession – who bossed the game for long stretches, but the double sending off of Jimmy Peoples and Gerard Cunningham on 41 minutes left them with a mountain to climb.
Both cards were for second yellows, with Peoples actually booked before the ball was thrown in after an altercation with Deaghlan Murphy, who was also carded.
There is no love lost between these sides and the early indiscretion lay down a marker for St John’s who were up for the challenge and stayed point-for-point with Rossa in the opening stages with Michael Bradley and Simon McCrory outstanding throughout.
Rossa’s attack was also functioning well as Murphy, Michael Armstrong and midfielder, Chris McIlhatton raised flags to see the sides locked at 0-8 on 21 minutes.
McIlhatton nudged Rossa ahead straight after but back came St John’s with CJ McKenna firing to the net after being played in by Peter McCallin.
The scores continued to flow from both sides as they went into the half with St John’s 1-13 to 0-13 ahead.
It was evident Rossa needed a response and when Matt Devlin and Deaghlan Murphy clipped over scores to reduce the arrears to one, it seemed they would push on.
However, St John’s were not for turning and with Michael Bradley knocking over points, they kept their lead.
On 41 minutes, a wild challenge by Peoples on Armstrong prompted a red card and back-chat from Cunningham in the aftermath gave referee Colum Cunning no option but to flash a second red.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, St John’s continued to hang on with Bradley raising flags and they seemed destined for victory despite Rossa chipping at their lead to get within one with time running out.
As the clock ticked towards 60, Rossa hit the jackpot as the ball broke towards Paul Close just to the right of goal who shot for a point, but his strike was semi-blocked and the ball spun in almost slow motion into the air and landed into the net to break Johnnies’ hearts.
Now trailing, but with a two-man disadvantage, St John’s tried for the win but late scores from Seaghan Shannon and Deaghlan Murphy at the other end sealed it for the Premier club.
Ballycastle 1-18 Dunloy 1-15
There was no less drama in Loughgiel last night as the showdown between Ballycastle and Dunloy finished with McQuillan’s getting through writes Anthony Gunning.
Nicky McKeage’s free from 40 metres out took a deflection to help Dunloy into a 1-7 to 0-9 half-time lead in a game that looked set to go to the wire.
Ciaran Clarke was on top form for Ballycastle, however, landing the majority of their scores and it was the corner-forward who fed Stephen McAfee to score the decisive goal and seal a semi-final against Loughgiel.