Antrim All County Hurling League - Division 1
Ballycastle picked up three points out of their first two games back in Division 1 of the Antrim Hurling League with a home draw against St John’s on Wednesday evening and an away win against Ballygalget on Sunday.
The Wednesday evening game was a slow-burner and after a slow start which saw them fall behind to a Brian McFall point they came back with points from teenage corner-forward Saul McCaughan (2) and left-half-forward Eoin McAlonan to edge ahead by the end of the opening quarter and were still 0-6 to 0-5 ahead at half-time.
A goal within a minute of the change of ends by full-forward James McLister gave Ballycastle the edge but they were pegged back when Barry McFall got in for a goal at the other end for St John’s.
Ballycastle retook the lead and were two clear going into the final ten minutes but late points from St John’s Paddy Nugent and Brian McFall gave the Belfast side a share of the spoils.
Sunday’s away fixture against Ballygalget on paper looked a much more difficult task for the young McQuillan’s side considering the number of players who were still absent. However they journeyed down the Ards peninsula and came away with both league points after a 3-13 to 0-13 victory.
All three goals came in the first-half with James McLister starting the ball rolling, followed by one from Saul McCaughan while number three came when a long range free by Malachy Dallas deceived the Ballygalget keeper and ended in the net.
Ahead by 3-3 to 0-5 at the break Ballycastle were able to maintain their lead throughout the second-half and ran out winners by three clear goals.
Ballycastle team v St John’s
Raymond McMullan, Paul McLernon, Mickey Dallat, David Donnelly, Shane Staunton, Neal McAuley, Dermot Donnelly, Stephen McAfee, James McShane, Malachy Dallas, Fergal McConnon, Eoin McAlonan, Conor McGarry, James McLister, Saul McCaughan.
Ballycastle team v Ballygalget
Raymond McMullan, Paul McLernon, Mickey Dallat, David Donnelly, Shane Staunton, Kieran Kelly, Neal McAuley, Eoin McAlonan, Stephen McAfee, Chris Boyle, James McShane, Malachy Dallas, Conor McGarry, James McLister, Saul McCaughan.
McManus double helps Cushendall stay unbeaten
Two goals from Neil McManus and one from Francis McAuley helped Cushendall to victory over Ballycran on Sunday to make it two wins out of two for the Ruairi Og.
McManus, who had been relatively quiet during the opening half suddenly burst into life in the nineteenth minute when he caught a high ball and soloed through from sixty metres out to fire in a brilliant goal, a score which helped his side to a 1-8 to 1-6 half-time lead.
When Francis McAuley scored his team’s second goal early in the second-half and McManus grabbed the third to put Cushendall eight points clear, it looked like they were on easy street, but driven on by the brilliant Scott Nicholson (who scored 2-4 of the Ballycran total) the Down men came back and the ‘Dall were holding on a bit at the last before claiming the points.
Cushendall team – Ronan Kearney, Sean McKillop, Odhran Scullion, Sean Delargy, Martin Burke, Aaron Graffin, Donal McNaughton, Karl McKeegan (0-2), Paddy McNaughton (0-3), Francis McAuley (1-0), Neil McManus (2-2), Conor Carson (0-1), John McManus, Brian Delargy (0-1), Shane McNaughton (0-4).
All Ireland club champions Loughgiel shared the points with Portaferry despite fielding without half of their regular side, the sides ending level on 1-14 to 2-11 in Portaferry.