Antrim Senior Hurling Championship semi-final
Cushendall 2-11 St Gall’s 2-10
An injury time point by Conor Carson snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for Cushendall and completed a fantastic comeback against magnificent underdogs St Gall’s in Sunday evening’s pulsating semi-final of the Contract Services Senior Hurling Championship in Loughgiel.
Seven minutes into the second-half Cushendall were staring into the abyss as they trailed St Gall’s by eleven points (2-9 to 0-4). The Belfast men, who had caused a shock by beating Dunloy in Wednesday evening’s quarter-final replay, were hurling brilliantly and with heroes all over the field they looked set to book a final place against Loughgiel on September 25th.
Cushendall, who had only scored a single point from play at this stage, were in deep trouble but somehow the spirit and will-to-win, which had been absent in the first-half, re-emerged. Substitute Eunan McKillop strated the comeback with two well taken points from play, Paddy McGill added another and Conor Carson tagged on one more to cut the gap to seven by the forty-ninth minute.
When Sean McAreavey fired over a St Gall’s point ten minutes from the end of normal time to leave eight between the sides again there seemed no way the Ruairis could save the game, and when Paddy McGill rifled a goal-bound shot off the St Gall’s upright it looked like it wasn’t going to be their day. However they were thrown a lifeline one minute later when St Gall’s goalkeeper Daniel McDonnell (who had been magnificent throughout) tried to clear the ball inside his own ‘square’ and Cushendall substitute Fred McAuley cleverly flicked it the net. The comeback was well and truly on now and further points from Shane McNaughton and Karl McKeegan left just a goal between the sides.
When the game had gone into injury time, with St Gall’s still hanging on to that three point lead, the Belfast men appeared to have done enough, but as Shane McNaughton lobbed a high ball onto the edge of the St Gall’s ‘square’ it was doubled overhead by Declan McKillop or Paddy McGill (both claimed the goal afterwards) to the back of the St Gall’s net and Cushendall were level. Most neutrals at this stage probably hoped for the final whistle for a chance to see this brilliant contest again, but just when a Casement Park replay looked certain big Conor Carson popped up to send over the winner and breaks St Gall’s hearts to earn his team a tilt at champions Loughgiel in two weeks time.
CUSHENDALL – Ronan Kearney, Terry McAllister, Odhran Scullion, Sean Delargy, Martin Burke, Donal McNaughton, Arron Graffin, Karl McKeegan, Paddy McNaughton, Brian Delargy, Conor Carson, Paddy McGill, Aiden Delargy, Declan McKillop, Shane Mcnaughton. SUBS – Eunan McKillop and Francis McAuley.
ST GALL’S – Daniel McGonnell, Stephen Morrison, Sean Burke, David Sheehan, Kieran McGourty, Conor McGourty, Terence Austin, Karl Stewart, Jackson McGreevy, Conor Burke, Anton McCaffrey, Sean McAreavey, Ciaran Galalgher, Aodhan Gallagher, Niall O’Neill.
REFEREE – Ray Matthews (Glenavy)