LOUGHGIEL and Cushendall will clash in the final of the Antrim Senior Hurling Championship.
It is a repeat of the 2011 decider after defending champions Loughgiel Shamrocks and Cushendall Ruairi Og emerged victorious from this weekend’s semi-finals.
Loughgiel, chasing a fourth successive title, had a 2-20 to 1-10 win over Ballycastle in Cushendall on Sunday to secure their 10th final berth in 11 years.
Much of the pre-match talk was that Ballycastle – backboned by some of the Antrim U21 side that reached the All-Ireland final – could cause an upset but it was not to be despite the underdogs making a fine start and going three points ahead thanks to Stephen McAfee.
However, the 2012 All-Ireland champions roared back with Eddie McCloskey leading the charge. The county vice captain hit some fine scores while talisman Liam Watson also chipped in to give Loughgiel a 0-11 to 0-6 half-time advantage.
Ballycastle’s hit back with a goal from Peter Dallat but Loughgiel steadied and a fortuitous goal from man of the match McCloskey reasserted the Shamrocks dominance.
A second major score from Watson ended the argument as PJ O’Mullan’s men pulled away.
In the first semi-final, Cushendall withstood a fine Dunloy rally for a 1-18 to 2-10 victory.