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O'Mullan sees more success for Shamrocks

By John Martin

Loughgiel 3-14 Cushendall 2-6: Loughgiel Shamrocks clinched a fourth successive Antrim senior hurling championship title and manager PJ O'Mullan is predicting that there's more to come from his all conquering side that lifted the All-Ireland crown in 2012.

At a breezy Ballycastle, Loughgiel had too much in the tank for old rivals Cushendall who played second fiddle throughout much of the encounter as they went down 3-14 to 2-6.

"When you look at the bench we brought on and what we didn't get on, we are going to be about for a day or two yet," said O'Mullan.

"The average age of our team is only 26. We've one or two of the older generation who were superb.

"People questioned their hunger. We have massive spirit in the team and when people challenge that they rise to it. There wasn't a position on the field where we didn't come out on top.

"I would say we were at least 10 or 15 points better than Cushendall. They had their five minutes after half-time, we knew they would come with the kitchen sink.

"We got our score and settled and I think the second goal, it like watching Brazil or Barcelona. Cushendall are a good team, but today was our day."

Loughgiel's second goal was worthy of the praise heaped on it by O'Mullan, a deft overhead flick from Liam Watson set Benny McCarry on his way and he gave Ronan Kearney no chance.

It was the third Antrim final meeting between the sides in four years and while those meetings also ended in victory for Loughgiel, only a puck of the ball separated the great rivals. Yesterday however, Loughgiel bossed just about every area of the park.

First half goals from McCarry and Shay Casey set the Shamrocks on their way to a 2-6 to 0-5 lead at the break. A Paddy McGill major added to a Conor Carson point left just a goal between the sides on 35 minutes, but Loughgiel went on to add 1-7 without reply to secure another championship.

Casey had been the first to rattle the net for Shamrocks. Watson flicked the ball to Joey Scullion whose drive at the Cushendall defence allowed Casey the space to collect a pass and fire to the net.

Cushendall moved Neil McManus on to Scullion to try to curb his influence and it had the desired effect with the Ruairi Ogs scoring three of the next four to trail by 1-4 to 0-4 after 21 minutes.

Scullion wasn't kept down for long, however, and popped up with the second of his four points seconds later.

Cushendall hit the ground running after the restart. Within 38 seconds the sliotar was in the Loughgiel net, McGill picking out the bottom right hand corner.

Carson cut the gap to a goal and a game looked on. Two minutes later came McCarry's second goal. Watson picked out McCarry's run for the corner forward to drive home past Ronan Kearney.

When Shane McNaughton's free rattled the net on 59 minutes, it was consolation time for Cushendall, with Loughgiel comfortably securing their 19th Antrim title, and a first four-in-a-row.

Cushendall: R Kearney; M Burke, A Graffin, R McCambridge (0-1); P Burke, N McManus, D McNaughton; E Campbell, P McNaughton; P McGill (1-0), C Carson (0-3), K McKeegan (0-2f); S McNaughton (1-0f), E McKillop, E Laverty. Subs: A Delargy for E Laverty, S Delargy for R McCambridge.

Loughgiel: DD Quinn; P Gillen, N McGarry, R McCloskey; M Scullion, Johnny Campbell, O McFadden; M McFadden (0-1), T McCloskey (0-1); J Scullion (0-4), D Laverty, E McCloskey; B McCarry (2-1), S Casey (1-0), L Watson (0-6, 5f). Subs: B McAuley (0-1) for T McCloskey, D McCloskey for B McCarry, D McKinley for S Casey, James Campbell for M Scullion, T Coyle for R McCloskey.

Referee: T Reilly (Gort na Mona).

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