Once Loughgiel slipped into gear, in the second half, the writing was on the wall for Ballycran in yesterday’s rain-sodden Ulster Club Senior Hurling Championship final, at Casement Park.
The final tally of 2-18 to 0-8 for the Antrim champions tells the tale of a provincial decider that had only one outcome after the opening minutes of the second period. The winners led by 0-8 to 0-5 at the break but long before the third quarter was over the silverware was heading to the Glens.
The atrocious conditions left the game an endurance for all concerned with rain lashing down for most of the hour.
Hot favourites Loughgiel took the opening 30 minutes to get into their stride. Ballycran, playing with a wind in their backs, battled bravely and at half-time it was just a three point lead for the Shamrocks.
It was a different Shamrocks team that emerged for the second half. By the end of the third quarter the winners had stormed into a 1-13 to 0-6 advantage and they continued to dominate with Joey Scullion and James Campbell putting pressure on the challengers.
The barrage began with a bullet-like goal two minutes after the restart as Eddie McCloskey fired the ball from the right wing to the Down men’s net in the 32nd minute.
The now drum tight Loughgiel defence kept their opponents to just three scores over the closing 30 minutes with the third coming in the first minute of injury time.
The winners’ manager PJ O’Mullan ran his bench in the closing quarter but the scores still flowed with Brendan McCarry slamming the door shut with his side’s second goal on 57 minutes for a deserved 2-18 to 0-8 final tally.
Referee Eamon Hasson was quick with his yellow card as he booked five players, three from Ballycran, mostly for late pulls with the stick on an opponent, but he also allowed for the terrible conditions.
“Ballycran’s challenge wilted in the second half but we had a slight breeze behind us and our inside forwards did a lot of damage,” explained Scullion.
“We have a lot of belief now in our own ability.
“Having been in the All-Ireland semi-final last year will stand to us this time. We have the Antrim and Ulster league finals to play over the next few weeks and after that we will take a few weeks off before getting down to prepare for the Munster champions.
“Whoever comes out of there will be a tough challenge for us but we will be ready for it,” insisted Scullion.
LOUGHGIEL: D Quinn; P Gillen, N McGarry, R McCloskey, James Campbell (0-2), M Scullion, Johnny Campbell, B McAuley (0-3), M McFadden, S Casey, Declan Laverty (0-3), E McCloskey (1-2, 1f), B McCarry (1-1), J Scullion (0-2), D McCloskey (0-3, 3f). Subs: B McFadden for J Scullion (53), Damian Laverty (0-1) for D McCloskey (53), D McPeake for M McFadden (55), T McCloskey for Gillen (55), L Watson for McCarry (58).
BALLYCRAN: S Keith; M Hughes, S Ennis, P Brennan, A Bell, M Ennis, P Hughes, C Flynn, C Woods, C Dorrian, P Flynn, S Nicholson (0-3, 2f), J Coyle (0-2), S Wilson (0-2, 0-1 a ‘65’), A Clarke (0-1). Subs: P Keith for Dorrian (half-time), C McManus for A Clarke (40), J Power for P Flynn (44), E Gilmore for Coyle (49), N Torney for C Flynn (52).
Referee: E Hasson (Derry).