County champions Loughgiel took a step nearer retaining their Minor Hurling Championship title when they had nine points to spare over Cushendall in Thursday evening’s semi-final in Armoy. The Shamrocks were always in control of the game and though Cushendall got it back to five points when Conlith McKinley got his team’s second goal midway through the second half, Loughgiel eased away with four unanswered points to win by nine points and book a final spot against Ballycastle.
Cushendall had started the game well with two pints from the excellent Conlith McKinley but Dillon Devlin settled Loughgiel down with a point in the fourth minute. Killian McNaughton put Cushendall two clear again on seven minutes but two points in the next minute from Rian McMullan and Conor McCormick restored parity once again. McKinley edged the Ruairi Og back in front with a point in the 10th minute but that was to be the last time they would lead as points from Eunan Laverty, Conor McCormick and Ronan McCollum gave Loughgiel a two point lead.
McKinley got it back to point again with his fourth score of the game but a scoring burst by the Shamrocks brought points from Damien Quinn,, Christy McGarry and Rian McMullan, plus the first goal of the game from corner forward Ronan McCollum. Cushendall kept in touch when Padraig McKillop pointed a free and Fiontan McQuillan got in for goal, to leave just three between the teams, but two late points from Conor McCormick and Rian McMullan put the Shamrocks five clear by half time. (1-11 to 1-6)
Dylan Devlin stretched the lead to six when he pointed early in the second half and though McQuillan responded with one at the other end for Cushendall, the gap was getting wider and a point from Conor O’Mullan and two from Rian McMullan stretched the lead out to eight. It stayed that way as Quinn and McKinley exchanged points but there was brief hope for the Dall boys when McKinley grabbed his team’s second goal to leave just five between the sides.
That was as close as it got however as the Shamrocks restored their dominance and four unanswered points from Christy McGarry, Enda Og McGarry (2) and Conor McCormick had them nine clear at the end.
Kevin McAuley, Finn Henry, Ruairi McCloskey, Ruairi McCormick, Conal McCloskey, Enda Og McGarry, Conor Dickson, Christy McGarry, Eunan Laverty, Conor McCormick, Dylan Devlin, Ronan McCollum, Rian McMullan, Conor O’Mulan
Colm McKeegan, Michael Quinn, Liam McLaughlin, Conor McCollum, James McAlister, Pierce McKeegan, Shane McKenna, Mark Emerson, Calum Kilgore, Fiontan McQuillan, Conlith McKinley, Padraig McKillop, Stephen McAuley, Ciaran Magill, Killian McNaughton.