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Antrim Hurling Championship semi put on hold as Liam Watson's father is taken ill

By John Campbell

Published 14/09/2015

Closing in: Cushendall's Neill McManus and Tiernan Coyle of Loughgiel
Closing in: Cushendall's Neill McManus and Tiernan Coyle of Loughgiel

The Antrim Hurling Championship semi-final between reigning title holders Cushendall and Loughgiel at Dunloy had to be abandoned in the first minute of the second-half yesterday when the father of Loughgiel forward Liam Watson, who had been a spectator, was suddenly taken ill.

An ambulance was summoned and after treatment he was taken to hospital.

At that juncture Cushendall were leading by 0-8 to 0-3 when the decision to abandon the game was taken.

The match has been provisionally re-arranged for Dunloy next Sunday at 1.00pm.

Antrim county board PRO Sean Fleming explained: "Obviously Liam's father's illness is now uppermost in our minds and this was an occasion when the only sensible decision was to abandon the game.

"Everyone was most helpful in the circumstances.

"This was a situation in which humanity took over from sport."

It is believed that the Antrim county board plan to give the proceeds of the re-arranged game to charity.

"Obviously gate money was lifted but I think the intention is to have a much reduced admission for next Sunday's proposed game. We had arranged to have a charity collection of GAA attire today with the intention of forwarding this to charities linked to the current refugee crisis," pointed out Fleming.

In the other semi-final, McQuillans, Ballycastle booked their place in the final for the first time in 14 years by getting the better of a resilient Dunloy Cuchullains side by 2-18 to 2-14.

Ronan Donnelly, the McQuillans manager, lost no time in hailing his team's achievement while simultaneously turning his attention to the final.

"The commitment that these boys have shown to date has been absolutely unbelievable," declared Donnelly.

"If they can maintain this level of application and work-rate then we won't be too far away in my opinion."

Certainly the McQuillans side, bolstered by their twin defensive towers Matthew Donnelly and Neal McAuley, underlined their desire to emerge from the shadows by the manner in which they withstood strong pressure from Dunloy in the second-half.

Dunloy led by 2-9 to 1-8 at the break, their goals coming from Kevin Moloy and Ali Dooey, and indeed, even with the talented Paul Shiels more subdued than usual, looked as if they could consolidate their position in the second-half.

But inspired by Saul McCaughan, who scored 1-5, the Ballycastle side took the game to their opponents, landing 1-10 in a swashbuckling display of finishing.

Shane Jennings rifled in Ballycastle's other goal with Ciaran Clarke contributing half a dozen points.

Eire Og (Carrickmore) triumphed in a nail-biting finish to the Tyrone Senior Championship decider when Aidan Kelly whipped over an injury-time point to seal a 1-14 to 1-13 win over Eogan Ruadh (Dungannon) at Healy Park, Omagh.

The sides were level on six occasions with Damien Casey landing 11 of the Dungannon team's points while Sean Og Grugan's goal had helped sustain Eire Og's effort but Mattie Mulgrew's goal for Eoghan Ruadh four minutes from time triggered that grandstand finish with Eire Og holding out to lift the trophy.

Meanwhile, Burt claimed their fifth Donegal Senior Hurling Championship title on the trot when they beat MacCumhaills, Ballybofey by 2-7 to 0-12 in the final at O'Donnell Park, Letterkenny.

A brace of first-half goals, the second of which was a spectacular effort from Gavin McGrath, appeared to put Burt in the driving seat but MacCumhaills responded with a mini-blitz of points after the break before Burt managed to close out the game.

Burt captain Ciaran Dowds said: "Our defence played very well when they came under pressure late in the game and that helped us to get over the line."

Belfast Telegraph

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