After two hard fought victories against Belfast Royal Academy and Friends’ School Lisburn, Ballycastle’s first XI met Antrim Grammar in their third pool match in the Prior Shield.
Antrim started at a blistering pace and dominated the early exchanges. Resolute defence from James Orr, Owen McLaughlin, Matthew McConaghie and Aaron McAuley meant Antrim’s early dominance didn’t result in any clear cut chances. Captain Andy Christie and Vice Barry McMullan settled the team and Ballycastle started to control possession and create some excellent opportunities. Barry broke the deadlock after 15 minutes, an excellent through ball saw him one on one with the keeper and he coolly finished. One nil soon became two as Andrew Christie smashed a reverse stick hit which nestled into the top right hand corner. Barry McMullan continued his rich vein of form on front of goal adding another two goals before half time. His first from great work by Craig Cunningham who supplied the key pass; he brushed past the defender and accurately finished into the bottom left corner. Barry completed his hat trick with a cheeky reverse stick hit low to the keeper’s left for a 4-0 lead at half time.
In the second half the North Coast men continued to create opportunities through excellent work by the midfield. Jack Neill and Adam Jamison worked tirelessly in attack, taking care of Antrim’s dangerous attacks down the wings. This midfield pressure led to a well-earned short corner. Craig injected to Andy who switched to Barry, who thumped the ball through the keeper. Antrim continued to work tirelessly and their pressure paid off. They earned two short corners which were dragged flicked into the roof of the net, making the score 5-2. Barry, capped an outstanding day, scoring his fifth as Andy played the ball to the top of the D and Ballycastle’s centre forward struck a powerful shot in at the keeper’s near post. Antrim finished with a flurry of attacks but strong work from Ballycastle’s replacements; Luis McMaster, John Moore, Ryan Quinn and Jack Price kept them on top. With two minutes on the clock Antrim managed to beat Jamie Kane to make the score 6-3. Ballycastle deservedly had the last word when a final short corner, injected by Craig Cunningham was dispatched in the bottom left corner by Andy Christie to make the score 7-3.