Naomh Éanna 0-15 Mac Uilín Ballycastle 3-26
Mac Uilín Ballycastle bounced back from their midweek draw with St Brigid's Cloughmills to record a nineteen-point O'Neill's Antrim ACHL Division 2 victory over a battling Naomh Éanna side in Glengormley on Saturday evening.
The hosts came into the game on a high from a thrilling home victory over Glenariffe and were keen to continue where they left off, racing into a 0-02 to 0-00 lead with early points from Cillian Jennings and Ruairí Donaghy before Eamonn Elliott got the 'Castle off the mark to continue a breathless opening few minutes in Hightown.
Ciaran Butler, who was a thorn in the side of the home defence throughout, then netted the first of his side's three goals. Diarmuid McShane won the ball tenaciously and left the defender in his wake, drawing a man before slipping a hand pass to the waiting Butler, who made no mistake, drilling it past Martin Curran in the Naomh Éanna goal.
The hosts reply was immediate, a low shot parried by Ryan McGarry in the Mac Uilín goalmouth, only for Tiarnan Curran to bat the ball over the bar as it broke in the air. Oliver Breen then had the sides level with a huge score from out the field, capping a mature response to conceding the goal by the Hightown men.
Neat stickwork in the Ballycastle forward line then released James McLister to point, before Diarmuid McShane fired over his first white flag of the evening, claiming the ball well and shooting over on the run.
Ciaran Butler then extended the away lead with a neat catch and finish on the turn before a clever Cillian Jennings' score reduced the arrears to two, the full forward meeting a wayward shot fully on the volley and steering it between the uprights.
Further points for Ciaran Butler and Kevin Barry McShane were cancelled out by two identical Cormac Jennings frees from around the middle, before the latter took control in his own half back line, breaking free and splitting the posts from just outside his own 45m line.
After responding well to the opening goal of the game, the hosts were then rocked when the Castle hit their second, perseverance from Diarmuid McShane winning the ball on the left flank this time and another strong run this time yielded a finish as he fired low past Curran to leave the visitors five to the good.
Cormac Jennings and Kevin Barry McShane then swapped points before the goal-hungry Glensmen found the net once again, a short Connor Boyd effort batted down by Curran into the path of the grateful Ciaran Butler, who gobbled up the gift he'd been given and found the net.
Matthew Muldoon then made an outstanding hook on Kevin Barry McShane as he shaped to shoot but when the two tangled minutes later, referee Brendan Toland adjudged Muldoon to have fouled and McShane sent over the free to leave the visitors leading by nine at the break.
Ballycastle dropped Tiarnan Butler into centre-forward for the second half and he opened the scoring, tucking into the pocket of space in front of Manas Mullan and raising a white flag.
Butler's intervention was followed by quickfire points from substitute Aaron Mooney, Diarmuid McShane and a beautiful Ronan McCarry sideline, before Butler ended the salvo as he started it, firing between the posts to see the visitors suddenly leading by fourteen points.
Cormac Jennings briefly lifted the siege with a fine individual effort from midfield, only for Ballycastle to rattle off another three points, the pick of them a Tiarnan Butler effort. Picking the ball up on the run with one touch into his hand, he rounded his man and unleashed a shot from the left flank that sailed over from 45 yards out.
Mícheál McGivern replied for the hosts as they continued to snap at the heels of the league leaders, but Diarmuid McShane and substitute Cathal Connor hit points before Malachy McGowan could join McGivern on the scoresheet.
Ciaran Butler and Cormac Jennings swapped points once again, only for an immediate rebuke as Tiarnan Butler and Connor Boyd went successfully in search of scores.
With the game entering the last five minutes, Jennings raised another white flag for the hosts only for Tiarnan Butler to have the final say, sending over a score from play and then landing a big 65 after Martin Curran showed good reactions to deny Conal Colgan a fourth Ballycastle goal.
The visitors will be delighted to return to winning ways in a victory that increases their lead at the top to six while Naomh Éanna remain firmly in the promotion hunt in 4th place on eight points.
Naomh Éanna: Martin Curran, Ruairí Diamond, Matthew O'Hare, Michael McNicholl, Eddie O'Connor, Manas Mullan, Matthew Muldoon, Cormac Jennings, Cormac Ross, Phillip Curran, Ruairí Donaghy, Oliver Breen, Tiarnan Curran, Cillian Jennings, David Saunders.
Mac Uilín, Ballycastle: Ryan McGarry, Oran Kearney, Matthew Donnelly (c), Oisín McAuley, John McLister, Neal McAuley, Shane McCarry, Ronan McCarry, Connor Boyd, Eamonn Elliott, James McLister, Kevin Barry McShane, Diarmuid McShane, Ciaran Butler, Tiarnan Butler.
Referee: Brendan Toland (Lámh Dhearg)