Dunloy, Ballymena

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Shamrocks See Off Cushendall


Patrick Burke (Ruairí Óg) and Shay Casey (Loughgiel Shamrocks) with referee Colum Cunning (Cúchullain's Dunloy)

Loughgiel Shamrocks 3-18 Ruairí Óg Cushendall 1-15


Two goals from corner forward Daniel McCloskey helped Loughgiel go second in the O'Neill's Antrim ACHL Division 1 by seeing off rivals Ruairí Óg in comprehensive fashion.


Maol Connolly and Neil McManus traded frees in the opening minutes and it looked as if the game would continue in this way, with the early stages of the game punctuated by fouls from both sides.


Daniel McCloskey and James McNaughton registered scores from play before the first goal chance of the game fell to Cushendall's Paddy McGill, the full foward latching onto a loose ball and surging forward, only to see his shot parried and cleared by DD Quinn in the Shamrocks goal.


Ruairí Óg created a lot of chances in the opening quarter but were wasteful in front of the posts, racking up the wides from all angles before Eoghan Campbell steadied the away side with a fine run and score to level the game at four points apiece.


Rising star James McNaughton then made his mark with the game's first goal. Picking up a breaking ball around 25 yards out, he rounded the defender and finished with aplomb past Eoin Gillan in the Ruairí Óg net.


Connolly and McManus then ended the half as they had kicked it off, trading points from frees to leave the visitors three adrift at the half-time whistle.


Referee Colum Cunning ensured a quick turnaround at half-time and Loughgiel were determined to pick up where they left off, Maol Connolly sending over a point within seconds of the throw-in. McManus immediately matched his counterpart and restored the gap to three.


The Shamrocks full-forward line applying the pressure.


Donal McKinley and Ryan Delargy were the next pairing to swap points before the Shamrocks gave themselves some more breathing space with their second major of the night, getting on the end of a sweeping move and shooting low past the onrushing Gillan.


James McNaughton and Maol Connolly followed up quickly, raising white flags to keep the Loughgiel momentum going before Paddy McGill notched Cushendall's best score of the evening, collecting a crossfield Patrick Burke pass and splitting the posts from an angle.


With the tempo rising, the sides continued to keep the umpires engaged, the game swinging from end to end before Ruairí Óg hit a purple patch with 0-3 without reply, McGill, Ryan McCambridge and McManus finding their rhythm before Maol Connolly hit his first score from play, a fine effort over his right shoulder on the run.


Joey Scullion then pointed wide on the right as the hosts hit a purple patch of their own with Connolly keeping the scoreboard ticking over before Cushendall nicked a fortuitous goal, a Neil McManus free dropping short and ending up past DD Quinn in the Shamrocks goal.


The Loughgiel response was immediate as they registered a score from the puck out to quell the visitors' notions of a comeback. James McNaughton added another before Neil McManus shot low over the crossbar from a 21 yard free - a goal very clearly on his mind.


McCloskey then landed the goal that snuffed out the Cushendall mini-revival. Applying pressure to the Ruairí Óg defence as they tried to clear, McCloskey won the ball, wriggled free of the scrambling defenders and rippling the net with a tidy finish.


As the game entered added time, there was time for James McNaughton to cut through the Cushendall half back line and float over a point to see the Shamrocks running out nine-point winners.


The Herron Hurls Man of the Match Daniel McCloskey.

Loughgiel Shamrocks: DD Quinn, Paul Gillan, Tony McCloskey, Ronan McCloskey, Tiarnan Coyle, Damon McMullan, Odhran McFadden, Mark McFadden, Declan Gillan, Joey Scullion, James McNaughton, Donal McKinley, Daniel McCloskey, Maol Connolly, Shay Casey (c).


Ruairí Óg Cushendall: Eoin Gillan, Sean Delargy, Aaron Graffin, Joseph McCurry, Ryan McCambridge, Patrick Burke (c), Francis McCurry, Eoghan Campbell, Emmet Laverty, Neil McManus, Fergus McCambridge, Cormac McClafferty, Ryan Delargy, Patrick McGill, Eddie McQuillan.


Referee: Colum Cunning (Cúchullain's Dunloy)


Tonight's coverage sponsored by Herron Hurls, Hannahstown.