Loughgiel ease into Ulster Final

Loughgiel 1-25 Middletown 0-12

SHAMROCKS boss PJ O’Mullan watched Loughgiel ease past Middletown in Sunday’s Ulster Club Championship semi-final but the All-Ireland club champions will have to raise their game for the final against Portaferry, he insists.

After the Middletown match, PJ said: “It was one of those matches you just want to get through. We were hot favourites and knew if we brought our A game we’d have a good chance.

“We picked off a lot of nice scores but we wouldn’t be naive enough to think that that is good to win Ulster. Portaferry are a good side and it will be a different pace the next day and we will have to step it up.”

PJ made two changes to the starting line-up at Casement Park bringing in Mark McFadden to midfield in place of Barney McAuley and Daniel McCloskey in for Joey Scullion at full forward.

Added O’Mullan: “We have a big squad and a lot of boys pushing and we are just trying to freshen it up. We try to pick our team on form and who is playing well in training.

“It is hard mentally for players to focus all the time and we thought we would come here today and try and get a bit of our game going. Coming out of your own county takes the pressure off and I thought our full forward line picked off some beautiful scores.”

It took Loughgiel until the end of the opening quarter to really get their act together and in fact Middletown led by 0-2 to 0-1 after eight minutes with Ryan Gaffney converting two frees either side of a Shay Casey effort.

A Liam Watson free levelled matters and began a run of five unanswered scores with Benny McGarry in great form. A brace from the corner forward helped Loughgiel to a 0-6 to 0-2 lead by the 16th minute before Martin Maguire pulled one back to make a double-scores game.

The Armagh men looked far from over-awed but still trailed by three 0-8 to 0-5 after 22 minutes when Gaffney converted his fourth free but Loughgiel pushed ahead 0-12 to 0-5 at half-time.

The game’s only goal came just after the start of the second half when Eddie McCloskey kicked to the net after getting on to a ball in from Joey Scullion.

McCloskey continued his fine form throughout the second half finishing the game with a 1-6 and loughgiel picked off further points.

Loughgiel: DD Quinn, P Gillan, N McGarry, R McCloskey, J Campbell, M Scullion, J Campbell, M McFadden (0-2), T McCloskey, L Watson (0-8), D Laverty (0-2), E McCloskey (1-6), B McCarry (0-6), D McCloskey, S Casey (0-1). Subs: J Scullion for D McCloskey, S Dobbin for R McCloskey, B McAuley for J Campbell, O McFadden for N McGarry, D McCloskey for L Watson.