Robert Emmet's Cushendun 1-23 Shane O'Neill's Glenarm 2-07
Cushendun produced a sparkling display of attacking hurling in difficult, blustery conditions in Ballycastle as they exorcised the ghosts of 2016 to claim the Junior Hurling Championship title against Shane O'Neill's Glenarm.
With all but 0-04 of their 1-23 total coming from play, the Emmet's side made light of the conditions, with their forward unit dazzling the Glenarm defence to see their eventual margin of victory standing at thirteen points.
Daniel Black, having top-scored in the Semi-Final against St Teresa's, was again their top marksman and it was the wing half forward who opened the scoring with an early free for Shane O'Neill's, before Dylan McLaughlin doubled their lead moments later, bursting through the Emmet's defence to raise a white flag.
The lead was short-lived, with Connor McHugh pointing an early free for Cushendun, before James Morgan showed great vision to square the ball from right to left flank, where the waiting David Kilgore controlled and fired the sides level.
Kilgore then followed up with a lovely piece of skill to find Pierce Bannon, pulling it first time into his hand under pressure from Sean Moran and after Bannon's effort tailed wide, Kilgore won the puck out and sent his side into the lead.
Bannon made up for his profligacy moments later, stepping back and firing over a shot that looped out and in with the strong wind before dropping over the bar. For good measure, he then repeated the effort in the next play to give Emmet's a three-point lead.
Glenarm were then presented with their first goal chance, Patrick McAuley dispatching a twenty-yard hand pass into the run of Daniel Black, whose effort was well-saved by Eoin Magee, who could only watch as Sean O'Hare flashed his follow-up agonisingly wide.
Conleth McNeill was having success in dropping deep, and fired over a huge effort to increase the gap to three with fourteen minutes of the first half remaining, before Kilgore and Bannon again found the target as they raced into a five-point lead.
Further points from Bannon and McHugh saw Cushendun reach double figures before Daniel Black took advantage of a foul on Dylan McLaughlin to slot a free from 30 yards, only for Connor McHugh to immediately respond for Emmet's.
As the game looked to be slipping away from Shane O'Neill's, they were handed a route back into the game when Kieran Mulvenna refused to give up on a loose ball, eventually raising it into his hand and firing past Eoin Magee's despairing dive to reduce the arrears to four points.
A further Daniel Black point saw Glenarm get back to within three points of their opponents before Emmet's had their own goal chance, Liam Mulvenna having to react sharply to deny David Kilgore as the defence scrambled away the rebound.
In the final minute of the half, Conleth McNeill managed to register a 65 and a free and despite a late sniff of goal from Daniel Black, Cushendun went in at the break five to the good.
Black began the second half with a neat score from play as Glenarm looked to haul themselves back into the game, but an immediate Connor McHugh reply rendered it futile, before points from James Morgan and a brace from the impressive Kilgore further extended the Emmet's lead.
A brief lull followed as both sides seemed to take a breather, before Daniel Black landed a long range free out on the right flank to leave seven between them, only for Conleth McNeill to slot a close range free after a foul on Dominic McQuillan.
Neat stick passing from the Emmet's yielded a further score through Connor McHugh before Glenarm were again awarded an opportunity to get themselves back in touch, this time from the penalty spot after Dylan McLaughlin was dragged down.
Daniel Black dispatched the penalty neatly to the right of Eoin Magee in the Cushendun goal and reduced the lead to six as the game entered the final nine minutes, but the goal proved to be the final score of the day for the Shane O'Neill's men.
Moments later, however, they had a golden opportunity to halve the deficit as an almighty scramble broke out in the Cushendun six yard box after a high ball in from Darren Hamill. As the ball bounced towards the net, goalkeeper Magee launched himself full length to scoop the ball off his line and away from danger.
A fine score from Kilgore wide on the left settled the Emmet's once again before substitute RJ McQuillan emphatically raised a green flag of his own to finish a fine running move from the men in green and black.
With ten points now separating the sides, the game looked beyond Glenarm and Cushendun proceeded to enjoy the final three minutes, further points from McHugh and from Dominic and RJ McQuillan icing the championship cake for Emmet's. In a poignant touch, RJ McQuillan later online dedicated his goal and the victory to the memory of the late John McCaughan, a club stalwart who sadly passed away earlier this year.
After the celebrations subside, Cushendun will turn their attention to an Ulster JHC meeting with Na Magha of Derry, who drew their Derry final today and will face the prospect of an energy-sapping replay with Eoghan Rua, who can not proceed to the Ulster series due to the three-year rule.
Robert Emmet's Cushendun: Eoin Magee, Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbett, Jack McKay, Mark Scally, Donal O'Hara, Thomas Scally, Matthew McCartin, Connor McHugh (0-05, 0-01f), Pierce Bannon (0-04), Eugene Duffin, Dominic McQuillan, James Morgan, Conleth McNeill (0-01, 0-03f), David Kilgore (0-05).
Scoing Substitutes: RJ McQuillan (1-02).
Shane O'Neill's Glenarm: Liam Mulvenna, Sean Moran, Martin Ward, Aidan O'Neill, Liam Mitchell, Darren Hamill, Jake Hamilton, Christopher Matthews, Patrick McAuley, Daniel Black (1-02, 0-4f), Kieran Mulvenna (1-00), Dylan McLaughlin (0-01),
Sean O'Hare, Barry Hamill, Conal Ward.
Referee: Vincent Boyle (Cúchullain's Dunloy)