Antrim SHC: History makers Naomh Éanna go up against Cushendall
Antrim Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final: Naomh Éanna v Ruairí Óg, Cushendall (tomorrow, 4.30pm, Dunsilly)
NAOMH Éanna have already made history this year in qualifying for the knock-out rounds of the Antrim Senior Hurling Championship for the first time, but they'll be determined to make a bit more when they take on Cushendall at Dunsilly tomorrow afternoon,
The Glengormley club, managed by Cushendall native Michael McCambridge, produced what may have been the best result in their history when they defeated the illustrious McQuillan's of Ballycastle in the final game of the group stages last weekend.
That win left Ballycastle pointless in Group One and confirmed Naomh Éanna's progress through to today's quarter-final against the 2018 county senior champions. Enda's only won the county intermediate championship for the first time in 2019, but have come of age this year in the senior championship.
Steeled by tough games against Group One winners Rossa and Loughgiel, Enda's were more than a match for Ballycastle at Leyland Road. Daniel Lowry, Eddie O'Connor and Philly Curran got their goals in a 3-18 to 0-19 win which they were good value for. Martin Curran also impressed between the posts on the day.
However, Michael McCambridge's task against his home club tomorrow – already a tall order – isn't helped by injuries to leading forward John McGoldrick, who is out for the season with a cruciate injury, while both Eoin Conlon (hip) and Cormac Jennings (broken hand) are also ruled out.
Ruairí Óg's limbered up for tomorrow's quarter-final with a handsome 6-18 to 0-14 win over Randalstown last Sunday. They were unbeaten in Group Two, drawing with defending champions Dunloy and defeating St John's, with Cúchulainn's only securing the automatic semi-final spot on scoring difference.
From the outset of this campaign, Cushendall will have had their eyes fixed on securing a first county championship in three years and with the likes of Saffron stars Paddy Burke, Ryan McCambridge, Neil McManus and Eoghan Campbell among their ranks, they are justly overwhelming favourites to progress to a semi-final meeting with Rossa. Former county stalwart Arron Graffin should also feature prominently for the north Antrim men tomorrow afternoon.
When these sides met at the group stages of last year's county championship, Cushendall ran out comfortable 11-point winners. A narrowing of that margin may prove the best Naomh Éanna can conjure tomorrow.