Impressive Cushendall power way into final

St Kevin's midfielder Conor Laverty wins possession Saturday evening's Under 21 semi-final against Cushendall in Dunloy. INBM 23-776CS
St Kevin's midfielder Conor Laverty wins possession Saturday evening's Under 21 semi-final against Cushendall in Dunloy. INBM 23-776CS

Antrim Under 21 Hurling Championship semi-final: Cushendall 1-18 St Kevin’s 1-9

A highly impressive Cushendall side booked their place in the final of the Under 21 Hurling Championship when they had nine points to spare over the Armoy/Carey/Cloughmills combination St Kevin’s in the second of Saturday’s double bill in Dunloy.

Cushendall looked sharp all over the field as they produced a performance which was on a level above anything else on show that day to breeze through to next weekend’s final.

St Kevin’s needed to get way to a good start but disaster struck early on when a long ball from Ryan McCambridge seemed to deflect off either the St Kevin’s full-back or the Cushendall full forward and ended in the net.

Mickey Devlin opened the scoring for St Kevin’s with a point in the fifth minute but Cushendall were flying it and Eoin Laverty and Ronan McGrady sent over points from distance to pull them five clear by the eighth minute (1-3 to 0-1).

Two top class points in a minute from Stefan Smyth brought St Kevin’s back to within three, but inside the next twelve minutes Cushendall took the game away from St Kevin’s with six points to just one reply from the Saints.

With Dominic Delargy orchestrating matters from full-forward they took control with two points from the excellent Ryan McCambridge, two from Eoin Laverty and one each from Mark Donaghy and Ronan McGrady, in reply to just one from St Kevin’s Eoin Kinney. It had them eight ahead by the twenty-second minute.

Mickey Devlin pulled one back for the Saints from a free in the twenty-third minute but Cushendall pressed on and points from Ryan McCambridge, Mark Donaghy and Dominic Delargy saw them go in at half-time with a ten point cushion. (1-12 to 0-5)

St Kevin’s did make a fight of it in the second-half and spell of dominance during the third quarter saw them come back into contention. Mickey Devlin started the revival when he pointed a sideline cut from distance before Conor Laverty added one from a ‘65’.

James McQuoig sent one over from play and when Mickey Devlin’s twenty metre free went all the way to the Cushendall net in the forty-fourth minute to cut the arrears back to four it was game on once again.

However Cushendall slowly began to find their rhythm again and after Eoin Laverty ended a scoreless seventeen minute spell with a point from play they took control once again. Ronan McGrady pointed with ten minutes left to play to put six between the sides, and though Conor Laverty responded with a St Kevin’s point in the fifty-first minute it was to be their last score and two apiece from Eoin Laverty and Dominic Delargy saw them home on a 1-18 to 1-9 scoreline.

CUSHENDALL – Conor McAlister, Conor Grant, Seamus McNaughton, Dan Kinney, Sean McKillop, Paddy Burke, Paddy Blaney, Paddy McNaughton, Eoin Campbell, Mark Donaghy (0-2), Ronan McGrady (0-3), Ryan McCambridge (1-3), Eoin Laverty (0-6), Dominic Delargy (0-3), Andrew Delargy. Subs – Alex Delargy.

ST KEVIN’S – Chris McKeown, Tiernan McLaughlin, Chris Butler, Sean McBride, Rory Laverty, James McQuoig (0-1), Mark McVeigh, Conor Laverty (0-2), James Black, Mickey Devlin (1-3), John McBride, Stephen McGinn, Stefan Smith (0-1), Eoin Kinney (0-1), Eamon McCaughan.

Referee – Colm Cunning (Dunloy)