Hurling and camogie

Emotional Rossa ace Stephen Beatty hails best ever win

Cushendall's Scott Walsh and Rossa's Stephen Beatty fight for possession in yesterday's county semi-final at Dunsilly Picture: Seamus Loughran
From Brendan Crossan at Dunsilly

Antrim senior hurling championship semi-final: O’Donovan Rossa, Belfast 4-18 Ruairi Og Cushendall 3-20

MOMENTS after the final whistle Rossa hurler Stephen Beatty tried to hold it together before surrendering totally to the emotion of the day.

So, too, did every other member of the west Belfast club who rushed onto the pitch to embrace their heroes and celebrate their first appearance in a senior county final since 2004, where they will face defending champions Dunloy.

Games like this take your breath away.

Trailing by two points with seconds remaining and Cushendall’s remarkable comeback seemingly complete, substitute Dara Rocks collected Michael Armstrong’s off-load and thumped the ball into the back of the net to send Rossa into dreamland.

It was a truly outrageous finish to a brilliant semi-final.

Beatty, who lost his father Davy Beatty (64) to cancer last year, described yesterday’s dramatic win as the best of the lot.

“It’s the best win ever,” said Beatty, trying to hold back the tears.

“It was the maddest game I ever played in my life. The finish was just unbelievable. I thought the game was gone but we were going so well this year that we wouldn’t have deserved to go out like that.”

Beatty grabbed one of four majors for Rossa, but Cushendall’s legendary resilience saw them battle back from five points down in the second half to forge ahead in the second minute of stoppage-time thanks to a Paddy McGill goal.

But there was still time for one more play that saw Rocks nick an incredible win.

“It’s just very emotional just thinking about playing a county final,” Beatty added.

“I remember being in the crowd in 2004 and now I’m actually going to play in one. I sat all morning thinking about dad. This is what it’s all about…

“What else would you be doing? I’m playing with my mates and winning with my mates. Hopefully we can push on and get over the line in the final in two weeks’ time.”

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Hurling and camogie