Dunloy, Ballymena

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Review - Antrim ACHL Division 3

Action from Rasharkin v Carryduff in Division 3. Pic: Carryduff Hurling Photos.

The only hurling league to operate a mid-season split, Division 3 had eight teams realistically laying claim to the top six and there was an exciting climax to the initial round, with Cushendun nipping in front of Rasharkin and Cúchullain's to take the final spot.

At the top, Clooney Gaels sealed promotion to Division 2, where they will be joined by Carey Faughs. Despite the early promise of Kickham's Creggan, they ended the season in 4th place, with Tyrone side Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon taking 3rd place.

1st - Clooney Gaels - 27pts

Despite suffering opening day defeat away to Rasharkin, the Ahoghill men regrouped to remain unbeaten throughout the rest of the league. With James O'Connell on fire in the full-forward line, providing ample support to the seasoned PJ O'Connell, the Gaels netted 54 goals, ranked 2nd only to Division 4 winners Bredagh. At the back too they were solid and boasted the tightest defence in the league, shipping only 12 goals all season. In fact had it not been for Bredagh's strong performance in the bottom division, Clooney would have topped almost every statistical chart in our records. A fine league season.

2nd - Carey Faughs - 25pts

Another side who suffered a slow start, Rasharkin also proving their downfall in their second game of the campaign. It was one of three defeats suffered by the Faughs, the others at the hands of Eoghan Ruadh and Clooney Gaels. They boasted the third highest score difference over all four leagues and also the third tightest defence, conceding only 20 goals. James Black was again pivotal to their season and when he was unavailable they found scores slightly more difficult to come by. Carey will be delighted to return to Division 2 for 2019.

3rd - Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon - 19pts

A solid season for the Dungannon men, led by Team Talk Mag Hurler of the Year Damian Casey. The Tyrone side finished up in third lace having fired home a total of 27-205 throughout the year, but their defence was the bedrock for their high position, boasting the second lowest number of goals conceded. They ranked 1st in the points conceded column, pointing to their searing workrate that sees them turn the ball over numerous times during games. They will be hoping to push on towards Division 2 next season.

4th - Kickham's Creggan - 17pts

It all began so promisingly for the Staffordstown Road side who raced into a six match unbeaten run, before Cúchullain's Armagh brought it to an end in late May by the Loughshore. As they attempted to balance their dual commitments, the second half of the league saw them struggle a little, losing six more games to finish in 4th place. They ranked 2nd in terms of points conceded but their defence offered some cause for concern, shipping 30 goals across the season and ranking 7th. With Conor McCann, Kevin Small and Oran McCann scoring freely, they had plenty of firepower up front and finished with the third best score difference in the league, reaching the IHC Final as well.

5th - Gort na Móna - 16pts

After a stuttering start to the league, the Turf Lodge men took advantage of the break for the football league and regrouped to win their next three games over Rasharkin, Cushendun and Carryduff before Cúchullain's put an end to the revival in Armagh. Gort na Móna found the post-split fixtures a struggle, with a single-point victory over Cushendun their only points in the second half of the league. At times the Belfast side relied heavily on Dessie McLean to raise flags and finished as the league's third lowest overall scorers, with only Lámh Dhearg and Carryduff below them.

6th - Robert Emmett's Cushendun - 13pts

Honours: Antrim Junior Hurling Championship Winners

A momentous year championship-wise for Cushendun, and manager Chris Dornan credits the come-from-behind victory over Rasharkin with launching their season. The result saw Emmett's pip St Mary's to 6th place and set up a top-6 run-in to championship competition. The seasiders were the league's fourth highest goalscorers and with Conleth McNeill and David Kilgore leading the line, supported by Conor McHugh's sublime accuracy from frees, Cushendun used the league well as a springboard into championship action.

7th - St Mary's Rasharkin - 19pts

The season started so well for Paul McKillen's side, springing upsets on promoted teams Clooney Gaels and Carey Faughs in their opening two games, their win in Ballyvoy particularly impressive. After beating Lámh Dhearg, their unbeaten run came to an end in defeat to Creggan at Dreen and St Mary's were inconsistent throughout the rest of the league. Ranked 4th in the league in terms of goals conceded, they had a reasonably tight defence and with Conor McKeever and Eamonn McNeill leading the scoring, they also ranked fourth in terms of points scored. They will look to improve their record in 2019.

8th - St Paul's - 16pts

With Niall Peoples to the fore, St Paul's rounded off a poor season by their standards with an 8th place finish in Division 3. They ranked third from bottom in terms of points scored and also in terms of goals conceded, but managed to finish with a 50% win/loss ratio. They too will hope for an improvement going into 2019.

9th - Cúchullain's HC Armagh - 15pts

With the initial round of games reaching a climax, the Armagh men looked on course for a top 6 finish, but their mid-season slump allowed Gort na Móna and Cushendun to leapfrog them into the top half. Ranking 6th in terms of points scored, the Cúchullain's have some talented forwards and boast experience at the back with Ciaran Clifford bolstering the defence.

10th - St Joseph's Carryduff - 10pts

A last-day victory over Shane O'Neill's ensured that Carryduff continue their spell in Division 3 and the Down men will have learned from their opening few seasons in the league. Beginning in slightly naive fashion, under Antoin McCaffrey's watch they have added a little more bite to their speedy running game. Their defence in itself was ranked 6th in the league, conceding 19 goals, but they ranked third from bottom in terms of points conceded, with 233 in the 'against' column.

11th - Shane O'Neill's Glenarm - 8pts

Relegated in their final game and losing the JHC final, Glenarm will be disappointed as they turn to Division 4 for 2019. Ranking second from bottom in points and goals conceded and indeed overall score difference, Shane O'Neill's can have little disputing their final league position, but will be disappointed that they didn't take the chance to stay up in their final game of the season. In Daniel Black they have a fine half-forward and Darren Hamill continues to lead his team well.

12th - Lámh Dhearg - 4pts

A season to forget for the 2016 Junior Hurling champions. Their 2018 team was a pale shadow of the championship-winning side but Joe Doone's depleted charges battled on, recording home victories over Carryduff and Cúchullain's Armagh but with a score difference of -237, ranking only above Division 4's bottom two sides, a bottom-placed finish looked likely.

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Tickled your statistical taste buds? Have a look at our Division 4 Season Review.