Shamrocks withstand Ballycastle fightback
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O’Neill’s All County Minor Hurling League15Another hurley bites the dust in the Loughgiel dusk as Ballycastle’s Lorcan Donnelly blocks down Loughgiel’s Odhran McGarry during Friday night’s All County Minor Hurling League game at Fr Healy Park.
Loughgiel 1-19 Ballycastle 1-17
By John McIlwaine
Loughgiel and Ballycastle served up a real cracker in their opening game of the All County Minor Hurling League at Fr Healy Park, Loughgiel on Friday evening in a game that ended in almost total darkness. After a shaky start Loughgiel went on to dominate the opening half, hitting ten points in a row at one stage, and by the short whistle they led by nine points, 1-15 to 1-6. The home side were still nine to the good seven minutes into the second half and appeared to be coasting to a big win, but Ballycastle suddenly found their feet and for the remainder of the game outscored the home side by 8 points to 1 and with five minutes left for play were just two points behind. There were chances to close the game even further but by this stage they were focused on the goal that would have won the game for them and Loughgiel held on for the victory.
The game started with in a flurry with Odhran McGrath pointing Loughgiel ahead, only for Ballycastle to bounce back with a brilliant goal from Conor McBride and a point from Seamus McAuley in the fourth minute. However it would be another fifteen minutes before the visitors raised another flag, and in the mean-time Loughgiel took total control and hit a series of superb points, eleven of them in all. Michael McGarry led the charge with six top class scores, while Paul Boyle got two, Cormac McFadden two and Cathal Hargan one as they stretched their lead to 0-12 to 1-4 after nineteen minutes.
Ballycastle were all at sea but two quick points from Conor McBride and Seamus McAuley appeared to settle them. McAuley added another and it looked they were getting themselves back into contention when Loughgiel struck with a late salvo, which included a well worked goal, finished expertly by Odhran McGrath to open up a 1-15 to 1-6 lead at half time.
The opening five minutes of the second half saw the gap stay at nine as Odhran McMullan, Paul Boyle and Michael McGarry answered points by Ballycastle’s Oscar Egan and Conor McBride (2), but when Ballycastle’s Lorcan Donnelly and Conor McBride hit two in a minute things began to change. Michael McGarry came back with one Loughgiel, but it was to be their last score of the game and slowly but surely Ballycastle started to claw their way back. With Oisin McAuley moved out from full back to wing back they started to gain a lot more possession and a fantastic point by centre back Cormac Donnelly from inside his own half started a run of scores which say Conor McBride, Oisin McAuley and three on the trot from Seamus McAuley and gap was back to two. With five minutes still to go there were chances to salvage the game, but the Loughgiel defence held firm in the darkness to seal the win.
A great game, and a great advert for hurling but everyone there left asking the question why this game did not start at 6-45 instead of 7-15. 7-15 is just too late to start a game so early in the season. There were times when high balls were landing in around the ‘square’ in the second half when it was downright dangerous for the players involved.
Kevin McAuley, Reece Watt, Declan McCloskey, Dara McIlhatton, Ciaran McKay, Odhran McMullan (0-2), Tiernan McAlonan, Cormac McFadden (0-2), Shane O’Boyle, Conor Deery, Enda Og McGarry, Cathal Hargan (0-1), Odhran McGrath (1-2), Paul Boyle, Michael McGarry (0-12).
Dillon McMullan, Gary Maybin, Oisin McAuley (0-2) , Tiernan Donnelly, Emmett O’Hara, Cormac Donnelly (0-1), Colm Butler, Ryan Hill, Lorcan Donnelly (0-1), Conor McBride (1-4), Conor Waterson, Seamus McAuley (0-6), Dylan Hill (0-1), Tiernan Kelly, Calum Campbell (0-1).
Subs – Oscar Egan (0-1) for Watterson; Jo McToal for Kelly.
Referee – PJ O’Mullan (Loughgiel)
Pics by John McIlwaine
Minor round up
In the other games that were played tonight Glenariffe Oisins travelled to Rossa and came away winners by 5-17 t0 1-13, Ballycran beat St Gall’s at the Bog Meadows by 3-20 to 0-8, while in Division 2 Lavey beat Tir na nÓg by 4-17 to 1-7. In Thursday evening’s Division 1 game Dunloy travelled to Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon and won by 4-13 to 1-13