Loughgiel retain Ulster minor final as Carrickmore are left to rue missed chances
Leadon Timberframe Ulster Minor Club Hurling Cup final: Loughgiel (Antrim) 3-11 Éire Óg, Carrickmore (Tyrone) 0-8
LOUGHGIEL pulled clear to retain their Ulster minor hurling title at a windswept Ballinascreen on Saturday.
Tyrone champions Éire Óg, with the aid of a stiff breeze, held the upper hand for much of the first half, but missed chances to swell their 0-6 to 0-2 lead.
Their wayward shooting came back to bite them when Jack McCloskey, who bagged three semi-final goals against Lavey, shot to the net in the 20th minute to give the Shamrocks a path back into the game.
Roan McGarry added a second Loughgiel goal to get their noses in front before Aidan Woods levelled matters, 2-2 to 0-8, at half-time.
The second half was a different story with Carrickmore failing to raise a flag and McGarry adding a second goal to put Loughgiel on their way to victory.
“We knew Carrickmore would bring. They are physical and a big, strong team,” said Loughgiel manager Martin McNaughton.
“We played against the breeze in the first half and felt we could weather the storm. We told the boys to stick at it and when we got a couple of goals we were happy level at half time.”
Aidan Woods boomed over the first score of the game with Roan McGarry hitting back for Loughgiel in front of an electrifying and thronged Dean McGlinchey Park stand.
With Conn Sweeney playing a sweeper, Carrickmore used the space in front of Shea Munroe to great effect to stretch their lead to 0-5 to 0-2 after 18 minutes with Munroe's second point the score of the game.
The game changed in the 20th minute when Loughgiel capitalised on a defensive slip and Codai McGarry's pass found Jack McCloskey who pulled his low shot to the net.
As the half ticked into stoppage time, goalkeeper Hughes failed to clear a high deliver from McCloskey and Roan McGarry finished to the net.
The sides were level at the break, but McCloskey had the ball over the bar in the first attack of the second half to edge Loughgiel ahead.
They rained the pressure on the Éire Óg square, but McCloskey had a 35th minute goal ruled out, with Goalkeeper Hughes overworked in the third quarter with the Loughgiel pressure.
“If you hunt for goals, they'll not always come. You need to keep the scoreboard ticking and the goals will come,” McNaughton added of his team's display.
Ben McGarry put over a 65 to start the spell when Loughgiel put the game out of sight. A long ball into the Éire Óg full-back line was touched to the net by Roan McGarry.
Ronan Fitzgerald and Darragh Patterson tagged on two points and the Shamrocks were 3-7 to 0-8 ahead to complete a 1-3 salvo inside three minutes.
Éire Óg were struggling to breakdown Loughgiel's defence and their only real scoring chance came from a 21 metre free from Woods that pulled a fine save out of goalkeeper Christie to ensure his clean sheet.
Loughgiel came into the decider as red-hot favourites and finished with a flourish with points from Roan McGarry, Jack McCloskey and Darragh Patterson in a commanding win.
“We reckon we could've been going for four (Ulster titles) in a row,” McNaughton said, referring to the two unplayed Ulster campaigns due to Covid restrictions.
“We are looking for senior hurlers. That's the main aim of the whole thing. We'd rather it (minor) went back to (under) 18 I just can't understand why it is U17.”
Loughgiel: M Christie; R McLaughlin, P Patterson, A McGarry; T McGarry, B McGarry (0-2 frees), P McGarry; L Glackin, C O'Hagan; R Fitzgerald (0-1), D Patterson (0-2), R O'Boyle; J McCloskey (1-4, 0-2 frees), C McGarry, R McGarry (2-2)
Subs: D McAuley for R O'Boyle (54), C Johnston for C McGarry (54), R Casey for D Patterson (59), E Smith for P McGarry (59), C McCormick for C O'Hagan (59)
Éire Óg: K Hughes; C Kerr, C McCrystal, Senan Munroe; D McPhillips, D McElhatton, M Coyle; F Hurson, C Sweeney; P McCrystal, Shea Munroe (0-3), D Devlin; C Martin, A Woods (0-5, 4f), C Kerr
Subs: P Gavin for D McPhillips (40), D Coney for C Martin (54), C McGarvey for D Devlin (54)
Referee: A Nash (Derry)