Hurling and camogie

Murphy hat-trick helps Loughgiel past Ballycastle while Dunloy are too strong for Cushendall

Racquel Murphy (right) scored three goals in Loughgiel's Antrim semi-final win over Ballycastle

Antrim Senior Camogie Championship semi-final: Loughgiel 4-13 Ballycastle 0-9

RACQUEL Murphy was always a problem for any defence. After a couple of years out, she returned to full-forward for Loughgiel on Saturday and destroyed any hopes that last year's finalists Ballycastle might have had of stopping the Shamrocks' juggernaut.

Murphy grabbed a hat-trick in the 4-13 to 0-9 win over Ballycastle with her first two goals arguably killing the game before it had any opportunity to burst into life.

Annie Lynn raced in on goal in the second minute, Murphy pulled off to the right, received the pass and fired a bullet to the net.

Murphy then laid on a pass for Emma McMullan to go for goal a couple of minutes later. McMullan was blocked down, but recovered and kicked the sliotar to the net.

If Ballycastle were not in trouble at that point, they certainly were in the 12th minute when a long ball in from Róisín McCormick dropped in the goal area and Murphy scrambled it home and the Shamrocks were 3-3 to 0-1 up and on their way to a comfortable victory.

Their half-back line, with Lucia McNaughton superb in the role of sweeper, cut out everything that the challengers threw at them and Ballycastle had to bring Maeve Kelly to midfield to get a foothold in the game.

From 3-4 to 0-2 down at the water-break, they clawed back to 3-5 to 0-5 at half-time and Nuala Devlin scored an excellent point at the start of the second half.

However Róisín McCormick then took over and from frees and open play she hit the target six times during the final half hour with Racquel Murphy providing 1-1 taking a high delivery from Maeve Connolly in the 46th minute to complete her hat-trick.

It turned out easier than expected for the Shamrocks, their team-work much superior to the younger Ballycastle team.

Loughgiel scorers: R Murphy (3-1), E McMullan (1-1), R McCormick (0-9, 0-5 frees), M Connolly (0-1), A Lynn (0-1).

Ballycastle: C Wright (0-3, 0-2 frees), M Kelly (0-3, 0-1 free), N Devlin (0-1), F Kelly (0-1), F McIntosh (0-1).

Antrim Senior Camogie Championship semi-final: Dunloy 1-16 Cushendall 0-6

DUNLOY were expected to win this semi-final and they eased their way through to a comfortable enough victory, pulling away with a series of points in each half.

Nicole O'Neill hit the target on six occasions in the opening half and the lively Erin Elliott added two more points as Dunloy built up a half-time lead of 0-11 to 0-2, both Cushendall points coming from Dervla Cosgrove frees.

Credit though has to go to the Cushendall defence marshalled by Colleen Patterson. They kept their shape throughout and there weren't too many goal opportunities for the Cúchulainn's side who also were sound at the back with county star Caoimhe Conlon and the Molloy sisters prominent.

After the break, the scoring slowed a little but the play was still very much in Cushendall's half of the pitch and the sea-siders didn't score from open play until the final ten minutes when Aoife Delargy fired over.

Dunloy's goal came in the last minute with Áine Magill getting in behind the defence. It capped a good performance for the winners, but one senses that they will need to be a lot better to get the better of the Shamrocks in this weekend's final.

Dunloy scorers: Á Magill (1-3), N O'Neill (0-8, 0-6 frees), E Elliott (0-3), C McArthur (0-1), C Crawford (0-1).

Cushendall: D Cosgrove (0-5 frees), A Delargy (0-1).

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Hurling and camogie