Report by Colum Thompson Photos by Sean Paul McKillop
It might not have been the best game of hurling I’ve ever seen but it was without doubt the one I’ve looked forward too the most. Thank God to be back. Glenariffe was the venue as Cushendall and Ballycastle played last years’s Senior Feis Cup final, a game tha that had been postponed for a variety of reasons.
Cushendall started the game like a house on fire with four quick points from Alex Delargy, Eoghan Campbell, Neil Mc Manus and Ryan McCambridge. Ballycastle got their first point of the game from a Ciaran Clarke free in the tenth minute and they doubled their tally a minute later from James McShane, but Neil McManus was beginning to stamp his authority on the game. He first pointed a free and after Christy McNaughton had been upended in the square McManus blasted the resultant penalty to the back of The Castle net.
He extended The Dall lead further with a tidy point from play from the left wing and then turned provider setting Ryan Mc Cambridge on his way for his second point of the game. Clarke stopped the rot for Ballycastle with a free before The Castle danger man traded scores with Dall full forward Dominic Delargy. McManus hit another two points, one from play and one from a free, to put Cushendall in a commanding position but The Town hit back as Dirmuid McShane clipped over a point from an acute angle before Ciaran Clarke rounded Stephen Walsh and finished to the net beyond the diving Conor McAllister. As half time approached there was just enough time for Paddy McGill and James McShane to trade points to leave the scores at half time Cushendall 2-10 Ballycastle 1-6.
Cushendall again exploded out of the traps with a goal and three points without reply. Christy McNaughton with a goal and a point and the other points from the industrious Ryan Cambridge and Aidan McNaughton. But just like in the first half when Cushendall threatened to cut loose The Town answered back.
Dirmuid McShane slipped under the cover of The Dall defence to finish to the net for an excellent goal, Ronan McCarry then pointed for the McQuillans and it looked like it was game on. However quick as a flash Cushendall responded. That man McManus won possession on the 45 yard line, beat his man and from 20 yards blasted past Benny Connor for a superb individual goal. In the closing stages the game was really over as a contest but both teams played some good hurling. Cushendall had further scores from Christy McNaughton(1-1) and points from McManus, Dominic Delargy and Scott Walsh while Ballycastle added scores from Clarke and Lorcan Donnelly. Final score Cushendall 4-19 Ballycastle 2-14.
How they played: Cushendall played some really good hurling for long periods but found a youthful Ballycastle side tough to shake off. In defence Paddy Burke marshalled well from centre half back and Ryan Cambridge was also on top form. Eoghan Campbell was the pick of the midfielders and up front Christy McNaughton was always dangerous but man of the match was Neil McManus. An individual tally of 2-8 simply speaks for itself. For this young Ballycastle team it was a steep learning curve but the game will have done them the world of good with Cormac Donnelly, Ciaran Clarke and Diarmud McShane particularly impressive.
Cushendall: C McAllister, S Walsh, M Burke, A Graffin, R McCambridge, P Burke, F McCambridge, E Campbell, A McNaughton, N McCormick, N McManus, P McGill, A Delargy, D Delargy, C McNaughton.
Ballycastle: B Connor, S Kelly, M Donnelly, O Kearney, J McLister, T Butler, C Donnelly, R McCarry, C Boyd, C Butler, J McShane, C McCurdy, D McShane, T McIlroy, C Clarke.