Antrim Intermediate Hurling Championship Quarter Final (A)
Naomh Éanna 1-13
Lámh Dhearg 0-09
Sunday afternoon at Pairc Mhic Dhomhnaill / Úi Dhoctairtigh – Naomh Treasa
At the toss referee Darren Keown, tossed his coin and Brendan Cormican (Naomh Éanna team captain) won the initial contest and opted to play with the wind.
As the teams lined out it was clear that on the tight narrow pitch and both teams selecting to play with a sweeper, a tough, physical, match was on the cards and at the stroke of 3pm the sliotar was thrown in and the quarter final had begun.
The conditions under foot where heavy and had seen rain earlier in morning, the wind played a factor too, as a strong wind blew straight up the pitch for the whole match.
In the first minute Naomh Éanna where on the attack, with Lámh Dhearg, still settling into their modified setup and on the back foot, Naomh Éanna was pressuring and succeeded in winning the first free of the match, the two man inside line would cause havoc for the Lámh Dhearg defence, however on his first attempt, the influential attacker John McGoldrick put it wide, with the good start continuing half forward Eddie O’Connor opened his account and Naomh Éanna account for the day (NÉ 0-01, LD 0-00).
The Naomh Éanna half back line was on the front foot with each man dominating and in particular Ruairí Diamond, time after time he was creating the platform to allow Naomh Éanna to attack and with the third attack the referee awarded another free and from the strike John McGoldrick opened his account (NÉ 0-02, LD 0-00).
As sweeper Brendan Cormican fielded and delivered balls, that ensured the Lámh Dhearg defence would be under pressure all day long, Lámh Dhearg where playing with a two man inside forward line and the management team would need to make changes if any scores where to be made, however if it was not for a good save from goalkeeper Paul Magill and Lámh Dhearg not being able to pounce on the rebound and clearance, they would wait until the 21st minute to register their first score.
Both teams had deployed the two man inside forward line, the obvious difference was that the Glengormley men where mobile players capable of wining their own ball, John McGoldrick would be a thorn in the Red Hands side for 60minutes and his first attempt from play resulted in a marginal wide, with the Lámh Dhearg halfbacks starting to find their feet, displaying some great fielding, which allowed them to create a platform for attack, however it was that man again, playing the captains role Brendy Cormican break up the Lámh Dhearg attack and deliver a pinpoint pass to Philly Curran, but he registered the third Naomh Éanna wide with seven minutes played.
Ten minutes gone and Naomh Éanna had targeting pushing up and pressuring the puc out, on this occasion the turnover and awarded free allowed John McGoldrick to register his second score, leaving it NÉ 0-03, LD 0-00, from the puc out Lámh Dhearg worked the sliotar up the field, however the slow laborious build-up allowed Naomh Éanna to gain their composure and from open play at midfield Cormac Jennings turned over and scored a magnificent point (NÉ 0-04, LD 0-00).
The extra man in defence allowed the defending team to be on top and well able to collect the break ball but with more pressure on the Lámh Dhearg puc out, coupled with not being able to clear the ball, caused confusion for the defence and not for the first time the sliotar went over the side-line, the resulting side-line went wide and if Naomh Éanna are really going to dominate and put teams away, the wides tally from side lines, frees and open play will need to be improved. The pressure on the Red Hand defence came from all positions, but none more so than Killian Jennings, continued to work and pressure with the result of another score from John McGoldrick (NÉ 0-05, LD 0-00).
The communication and work rate from Centre half back No. 6 Cormac Ross and Full Back No. 3 Johnny McPoland combined to work the sliotar out of defence and drive it to the big target man John McGoldrick, Lámh Dhearg could only foul the full forward and the resulting free on 17minutes was converted with aplomb (NÉ 0-06, LD 0-00).
With 18 minutes gone, influential half forward Killian Jennings needed attention and Naomh Éanna need to make a temporary blood sub, with Michael McNicholl coming on, who eventually replaced Killian as a substitute, by the nineteenth minute John McGoldrick had hit another long range free, bringing his tally to four (NÉ 0-07, LD 0-00).
With 20 minutes gone and the score at eight points to no score, a converted 65m free from Lámh Dhearg centre half back gave the Hannahstown side their first score of the match (NÉ 0-07, LD 0-01).
On twenty-fourth minutes, with a clearance from the Naomh Éanna Cúl Baire down field and in collecting the sliotar John McGoldrick was on hand to get another great score, (NÉ 0-08, LD 0-01). On the stoke of the twenty-fifth minute Lámh Dhearg had the chance of a second when the Full Forward for Lámh Dhearg was awarded a free for chopping, however last season’s Juniors Ulster Champions, who had looked nervy since the start of the match missed the simple free.
As the time ticked away and half time drew closer, a wonderful piece of defending gave the Lámh Dhearg forward a chance to increase their tally, however a free was awarded the other way and from half way inside the Lámh Dhearg half, approx. 80metres, John McGoldrick stepped up with a monster score that delighted the crowd (NÉ 0-09, LD 0-01). The wides tally increased for NÉ, on twenty-eight minutes Michael McNicholl and a minute later twenty-nine minutes both had opportunities to increase the lead, however playing only his second Senior Intermediate Championship match Dúbaltach Magee Baker, showed why he had been picked as an Ulster College Allstar and also an Antrim Minor Panel member, his power and no panic attitude helped that ever dominant half back line and stepping forward for a great point, (NÉ 0-10, LD 0-00), he shadowed his man throughout whole match with the result that his man remained scoreless.
Lámh Dhearg tried to raise their game and credit must go to the Naomh Éanna defence, they stood strong and soaked up the pressure, with time of the first half almost up a beautiful side line brought the score at half time to NÉ 0-11, LD 0-01, the score coming from John McGoldrick.
For the second half Lámh Dhearg where first on the pitch, but Naomh Éanna looked sharper and focused at the restart, Philly Curran moved to a more midfield role with Michael McNicholl playing closer to the attacking goal, and only minutes after the restart the first yellow card of the match was awarded to Lámh Dhearg for a high challenge and intent of how they wanted the half to go.
Naomh Éanna started to lift their game and corner back Manus Mullan, showed brilliant skills to twice break Lámh Dhearg tackles, Five minutes into the second half a well worked move from Cormac Ross to Philiy Curran and the resulting hand pass to Paul Baker was millimetres wide, two minutes later Cormac Jennings got his second of the day with the first score of the second half (NÉ 0-12, LD 0.01), despite the pressure from Ruairí Diamond and Cormac Ross, Lámh Dhearg dropped players back were to score their fist in the second half with their centre half back (NÉ 0-12, LD 0-02) and starting to cause problems by using the wind to their advantage, Lámh Dhearg had hit their purple patch, (NÉ 0-12, LD 0-05), but their inability to tag on scores, due to the constant pressure and hooking and blocking of all the Naomh Éanna team, cut this purple patch very short.
The Naomh Éanna sweeper had been very effective in the first half and a change of tactic by Lámh Dhearg had recognised that the direct route was closed off. The wind, and the introduction of Paddy Cunningham in the second half had a growing effect on the game, 11 minutes played and Lámh Dhearg had their third score (NÉ 0-12, LD 0-05), however Naomh Éanna turned over ball after ball, but unfortunately the distance shots were catching in the wind and dropping short.
On the eighteenth minute, the decisive score of the game came, John McGoldrick had found space and a delightful ball was played in and McGoldrick had no doubt that goal was on, he turned his man and the resulting score saw the first and only goal of the game (NÉ 1-12, LD 0-05), seconds later McGoldrick could have been on the score sheet again only for the referee overruling both umpires and forcing a wide, that looked to everyone a point, the game stayed at (NÉ 1-12, LD 0-05).
Paddy Cunningham struck again for Lámh Dhearg bring the score to (NÉ 1-12, LD 0-06) and the revival was on as the Red Hands struck three more unanswered points, bring the score to (NÉ 1-12, LD 0-09), however that was Lámh Dhearg lot as Eoin Maguire, Johnny and Manus got to grips with the Lámh Dhearg attack, Naomh Éanna did add an additional point to bring the score at full time to (NÉ 1-13, LD 0-09).
The Semi-final fixture has yet to be decided, but Naomh Éanna will play the winners of Sarsfield’s and Naomh Gall.
The other semi-final will be: Tír na nÓg against Cathaoir an Rí.
Naomh Éanna Team
1. Paul Magill
2. Manus Mullan
3. Johnny McPoland
4. Eoin Maguire
5. Ruairí Diamond
6. Cormac Ross
7. Dúbaltach Magee Baker (0-01)
8. Cormac Jennings (0-02)
9. Ruairí Donaghy
10. Killian Jennings
11. Paul Baker
12. Eddie O’Connor (0-01)
13. Philip Curran
14. John McGoldrick (1-09)
15. Brendan Cormican