Loughgiel Shamrocks (Aontroim) 1-14
Eoghan Ruadh (Tír Eoghain) 1-10
Loughgiel Shamrocks' dominance in the opening half proved the difference in today's Paddy Toner Cup Final at a blustery Ballinascreen as the Antrim champions belatedly wrote their name onto the Ulster MHC Roll of Honour with victory over Eoghan Ruadh of Tyrone.
The Tyrone champions were playing in their first ever final and were bidding to become the only the second Red Hand side to lift the title after Éire Óg in 2003, but the Glens side were six up by the 14th minute as scores from Cathal Hargan, Rían McMullan and four Michael McGarry frees saw them open a lead.
Eoghan Ruadh’s only scores in the opening period came from dead balls that were accurately converted by full-forward Cain Ferguson but further scores from Rían McMullan (2), Michael, Christy and Enda Óg McGarry saw them build a commanding eight-point half-time lead.
A 32nd- minute Rory Weir goal sparked the second half into life. The Loughgiel defence failed to deal with a high ball into the square and Weir was on hand to lash home the breaking ball and instil fresh hope in the Tyrone men.
Loughgiel responded immediately however and worked the ball up the field through the hands for Odhran McGrath to finish past Conal Molloy and wipe out the advantage.
The Shield winners then hit 0-03 without reply as they refused to accept defeat. A Cain Ferguson brace and an excellent sideline cut from wing back Sean Paul McKernan reduced the gap to five points from 45 metres in the 38th minute.
In the remaining 12 minutes of the game, Eoghan Ruadh outscored Loughgiel by 0-04 to 0-03, with the Antrim side’s final score coming in the 46th minute from Michael McGarry. The point was his second inside five minutes, intersected by a Rían McMullan minor.
Scores from Sean Paul McKernan, Fergal Donaghy, Cain Ferguson and a 61st minute Michael Little 65 resulted as Eoghan Ruadh made a valiant attempt to reel in their opponents and the last ten minutes were marked with frantic defending from the Shamrocks.
Kevin McAuley was forced to turn away two goalbound efforts as Eoghan Ruadh found their rhythm and the Shamrocks’ defence also had to stand firm to block a 21m free from Cain Ferguson.
It was a case of ‘tús maith leath na hoibre’ for Loughgiel though as their early blitz proved the difference and the Antrim champions will be delighted to write their name onto the Paddy Toner Cup Roll of Honour.
Shamrocks: Kevin McAuley, Conor Henry, Ruairí McCloskey, Christy Dickson, Enda Óg McGarry (0-01), Declan McCloskey, Tiernan McAlonan, Shane Boyle, Cathal Hargan (0-01), Ryan Hill, Michael McGarry (0-07f), Frank Boyle, Rían McMullan (0-04), Odhran McGrath (1-00), Christy McGarry (0-01).
Subs: Conor O’Mullan for Frank Boyle 55’.
Eoghan Ruadh: Conal Molloy, Jack Donnelly, Fionn Devlin, Brian Rush, Adam Toner, Conall Devlin, Sean Paul McKernan (0-01, 0-01 sideline), Michael Little (0-01), Conor Fitzgerald, Matthew McCann, Connor McGinnity, Fergal Donaghy (0-01), Cormac Hughes, Cain Ferguson (0-01, 0-05f), Rory Weir (1-00).
Subs: Cian McCrory for Brian Rush 38’, Mark McCann for Conor Fitzgerald 53’.
Referee: Alan Nash – Doire Trasna