Loughgiel beat Rossa in championship opener

Antrim Senior Hurling Championship

Loughgiel 0-15 Rossa 1-9

County champions Loughgiel opened the defence of their Senior Hurling title at Fr Maginn Park, Glenravel on Friday evening, but they were pushed all the way by Division 2 side Rossa who certainly made the champions work for their victory.

In a poor quality game the Shamrocks trailed at half-time, but they found their form in the second-half and with Benny McCarry, Eddie McCloskey and Liam Watson picking off some fine points up front they did enough to book a semi-final spot. However there was disappointment for the Loughgiel following when Watson received a straight red card in injury time after what appeared to be an altercation with a linesman and will now almost certainly miss the semi-final against the winners of tomorrow evening’s quarter-final between St John’s and Ballycastle.

Loughgiel had the better of things during a low key opening quarter and led by two points to nil after seven minutes. However the scoring dried up dramatically and Rossa edged ahead with two points from Michael Armstrong and one from right-half forward Conor Rocks. Eddie McCloskey ended a twenty-two minute scoreless spell for the Shamrocks when he landed a great point on the run two minutes from the break to tie the scores, but an injury time point from Armstrong gave Rossa a 0-4 to 0-3 half-time lead.

Loughgiel were much sharper after the resumption and Eddie McCloskey had them level inside the opening minute. Watson edged them ahead from a free, and though Michael Armstrong again restored parity, Loughgiel found their form and hit five unanswered points, the pick of them a real beauty from distance from team captain Johnny Campbell.

Rossa were thrown a lifeline when Conor Rocks batted in a goal in the fiftieth minute to cut the gap to two, though Loughgiel responded with two well taken points from Watson and one from Barney McAuley . Armstrong kept Rossa in touch with two pointed frees but the goal they needed to save the game never looked likely and Loughgiel advanced to the semi-final with three points to spare.

LOUGHGIEL – DD Quinn, Paull Gillan, Neilly McGarry, Ronan McCloksey, James Campbell, Martin Scullion, Johnny Campbell, Barney McAuley, Mark McFadden, Liam Watson, Declan Laverty, Eddie McCloskey, Benny McCarry, Joey Scullion Damian Laverty.

Subs used – Shay Casey, Tony McCloskey, Dan McCloskey

ROSSA – Philip Crean, Ciaran Grego, Eoin O’Neill, Kevin McDonnell, Mickey Kettle, Stephen Shannon, John Kerr, Ciaran Orchin, Paul Close, Stephen Beattie, Gavin Bell, Conor Rocks, Michael Armstrong, Chris Hamill, Christopher McDonnell.

Subs used – Johnny McGuinness