by Colum Thompson
by Colum Thompson
Cushendall face Slaughtneil this Sunday in The Ulster Club Hurling Championship Semi Final with round two expected to be every bit as competitive as round one. Over the past fifteen years Ruairi Og have faced
Derryteams on a number of occasions in The Ulster Club Championship and it has never been easy. Indeed this is our third replay against
Derry opposition in that period. In 1999 an Oliver Collins and Henry Downey inspired Lavey team took us to the pin of our collar in Glen Maghera as the sides ended the game level. The teams couldn’t be separated in normal time in the replay in
either and it took a magnificent flicked Conor Mc Cambridge goal in the second period of extra time to finally settle the tie. It was a truly epic game, one of the best ever seen in
Park Ulster. That Lavey team may well go down as the best group of club hurlers not to win an Ulster Club. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s they had some epic battles with Dunloy as well.
In 2006 we faced Kevin Lynches from Dungiven, backboned by the Hinphey brothers Kevin, Kieran and Liam and with Geoffrey Mc Gonigle on the edge of the square they came within inches of dumping us out of the championship. We made amends in the replay winning by eight points but we had been given an almighty scare.
This time the Derry Champions are Robert Emmets Slaughtneil, a strong, physical team with great hurlers who are causing the road block. They were brilliant the first day rescuing the situation after going seven points behind with fifteen minutes to play. They could well have won the game were it not for the ice cool free taking of Neil Mc Manus and the stout defending of Ryan Mc Cambridge and Arron Graffin. Can Slughtneil reproduce the form of two weeks ago? Can Cushendall improve theirs? A fascinating game awaits as all roads lead to Loughgiel this Sunday.