Ruairi Og, Cushendall proved too good in the end for a battling Naomh Gall in this Reserve Hurling Cup semi-final at a wet Slemish Park, Ballymena tonight. The North Antrim side led 0-7 to 0-3 at the first water break before going on extend that lead to 0-9 to 0-4 at half time.
The Milltown side were still hanging in there by the skin of the teeth but a goal from Colm McKeegan at the start of the final quarter finally killed off their challenge and it is Ruairi Og who now go forward to face the winners of Rossa and Dunloy in the final.
The rain that came pouring down just prior to throw in made playing conditions extremely difficult but both sides gave it everything right from the start and this game was played with real championship fervour right from the off.
It was Ruairi Og who always held the upper hand however with Colm McKeegan a real threat at full forward but the ‘Dall’ carried a scoring threat all over the field. The visitors matched them during the opening ten minutes as both sides tried to find their feet in the wet conditions but slowly the sea siders got on top.
They led by four at the first water break with Scott Walsh and Fred McCurry giving them an edge at mid-field though Fergus Donnelly was giving them their fill of it in this department for the Milltown side.
Ruairi Og went on to lead 0-12 to 0-5 at half time with Walsh, McCurry Paddy Sharpe and Colm McKeegan leading the way and Fergus Donnelly, Sean McAreavey, Dara Delaney, Aodh Mullan and Gregory McGreevey carrying the St. Gall’s challenge.
St. Gall’s hung in there during the third quarter but McKeegan’s goal gave the winners a bit of leeway and the Milltown men went looking for goals instead of taking their points but could find no way through a Cushendall defence in which Eoin Gillan, Terry McAllister, Ruairi McCollum and Mark Emerson hardly put a foot wrong.
The Cushendall side introduced their full quota of subs during the closing quarter but still continued to call the shots despite the best efforts of Cormac Sheehan, Connla McCarthy, Ciaran McCaffery, Daniel Churchill, Fergus Donnelly, Gregory McGreevey, Aodh Mullan and Sean McAreavey for the Milltown side.
Ruairi Og: Eoin Gillan, Joe McCurry, Terry McAllister, Shane McKenna, Conor McCollum, Ruairi McCollum 0-1, Mark Emerson, Scott Walsh 0-2, Fred McCurry 0-2, Paddy Sharpe 0-2, Seanan Black, Emmet Laverty 0-1, Eoin Laverty 0-4, Colm McKeegan 1-3, Christy McNaughton 0-1. Subs: Ronan McAteer 0-1, for C McNaughton, Conan Brown for Paddy Sharpe, Matthew McCann for Emmet Laverty, Pierce McKeegan for Senan Black, Declan Magill for Scott Walsh
St. Gall’s: Cormac Sheehan, Lorcan O’Ciaran, Connla McCarthy, Dultach MacLiam, Adam O’Hare, Ciaran McCaffery 0-1, Daniel Churchill, Eoghan McCurdy, Fergus Donnelly 0-1, Gregory McGreevey 0-2, Aodh Mullan, Dara Delaney 0-1, Oran McIlhatton 0-1, Antoin McCaffery 0-1, Sean McAreavey 0-3, Subs: Diarmaid Molloy, Kevin Clarke, Cian Cruikshank, Lorcan Ward, Paul Loughran.