Dunloy, Ballymena

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Review - Derry Mid Season Hurling League

Deaglán Foley stands over a free for Na Magha in Ballinascreen.

Generally regarded as a warm-up competition for the Derry Senior Hurling League (SHL), The Mid Season Hurling League (MSHL) is, as the name suggests, played mid-way through the season.

This year the traditional Derry sides were joined by Éire Óg Carrickmore and Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon of Tyrone, and Setanta of Donegal, while Eoghan Rua Coleraine opted not to enter on this occasion.

The competition itself was heavily hit by concessions and unfulfilled fixtures, with 18 of the possible 90 games either conceded or not played.

Eoghan Ruadh played only two of their games before finding the schedule incompatible with their commitments across other competitions, while Derry city side Na Magha had only three games played, the remainder of their total either awarded to them or conceded by the Ballyarnet men.

In the end it was the men of Kevin Lynch Hurling Club who claimed the title, winning all of their eight games in the competition to romp home with a 100% record. Let's have a more detailed look at how the teams fared.

1st - Kevin Lynch Hurling Club - 16pts

A 100% record saw the Lynch's take home the title, leading the scoring charts with a final score difference of +60. Their ability to hit goals in this early season competition was telling, but it was their mean defence that really stood out, leaking only four goals in the competition. The eventual winners also had the notable achievement of finding the net in every game.

2nd - St Mary's Banagher - 14pts

The free-scoring men from Feeny were runners-up to Kevin Lynch's, a loss to their local rivals in June proving fatal to their title challenge, but Banagher did top the goalscoring record in the competition with an impressive sixteen in nine games. In their opening game against Na Magha, they fired home 5-13 and continued in this vein throughout.

3rd - St Colm's Ballinascreen - 11th

Three consecutive early losses to Kevin Lynch's, Banagher and Swatragh ended any hopes St Colm's had of success in this competition, but they recovered throughout the second half of the league to earn a respectable third place finish. The pick of their results in the competition was a 5-16 to 2-09 victory over Na Magha in June.

4th - Robert Emmett's Slaughtneil - 10pts

County senior champions Slaughtneil made a solid start to the MSHL. A draw with Ballinascreen and victories over Setanta, Lavey and Banagher saw them sitting comfortably, but after running into defeat at the hands of Kevin Lynch's, they went down 1-11 to 0-08 at Michael Davitt Park before a draw with Éire Óg brought the curtain down on their campaign in 4th.

5th - Erin's Own Lavey - 8pts

A fairly flexible Lavey defence proved their undoing in the MSHL, their overall scores conceded only outdone by Swatragh. Their scoring statistics tell a slightly better story and they were involved in what looks to be the stand-out game from the league, defeating Setanta on a scoreline of 6-27 (45) to 5-16 (31) in late June.

6th - Michael Davitt's Swatragh - 8pts

With 170 sitting uncomfortably in the 'Total Against' column, Swatragh's issue in this competition is fairly clear and they were unfortunate to be on the end of some heavy defeats. Thankfully for the South Derry men their early form was not an indication of future results and they recovered to take the Derry IHC later in the season.

7th - Éire Óg Carrickmore - 5pts

Finding the net in all five of their played games, the Tyrone men join champions Kevin Lynch's and Setanta as the only three teams to achieve the honour. They began the campaign with victory over Swatragh in May but had a gap of over a month until their next game, a narrow defeat to Ballinascreen. An epic draw with Slaughtneil was the peak of their campaign, which they rounded off with another tight defeat at the hands of Banagher.

8th - Eoghan Ruadh Dungannon - 4pts

The Dungannon men began this competition with a tough assignment away to eventual winners Kevin Lynch's which ended in a nine-point defeat. Undeterred, they recovered to hit 4-27 in a demolition of Swatragh, before the challenge of competing in so many different leagues across various counties proved incompatible with the league administration and they withdrew from the competition.

9th - Setanta Donegal - 4pts

Also hitting the net in all of their six games played, the Donegal side definitely carried a goal threat, but it was the goals conceded in their opener against Ballinascreen that eventually saw them fall to defeat. Their wins came over Swatragh and Na Magha towards the end of the league, but their most memorable game was the epic 5-16 to 6-27 shootout with Erin's Own Lavey.

10th - Na Magha - 4pts

Similar to the plight of Eoghan Ruadh, the city men may have suffered from having too many plates to spin and their involvement in the Antrim league proved difficult to juggle with the commitments of this competition. That said, they were often on the end of concessions from others, playing only three games, in which they were unable to find the net.

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