Antrim Senior Hurling Final: Loughgiel consign their years of pain to the history books
Cushendall 0-11 Loughgiel 1-09: Loughgiel’s hurlers ended their Antrim senior championship famine at Casement Park yesterday when they clinched their first Antrim senior hurling title since 1989 with a one-point victory over Cushendall.
The scenes of celebration at the final whistle showed what victory meant to the Shamrocks who had famously lost six county finals in a row from 2003 to 2008.
That statistic was put to bed after a tense final saw them beat Cushendall by the minimum.
Cushendall opened the scoring through Declan McKillop in the first minute but it was Loughgiel who then made the running after Eddie McCloskey blasted to the Ruairi Og net past keeper Ronan Kearney.
McCloskey, Benny McCarry and Liam Watson had Loughgiel five points ahead by the 11th minute but the Shamrocks would score just one more point in the remainder of the half.
Paddy McNaughton cut the deficit for Cushendall before Watson converted the game’s first free on 16 minutes. Referee Ray Matthews then flashed yellow five times in the remainder of the half, with three Cushendall players in the book and two from Loughgiel.
Cushendall then began to claw their way back and cut the gap to just two points through two Paddy McGill frees and a fine effort from play from Sean Delargy to leave the half-time score 1-4 to 0-5.
The 2008 champions Cushendall looked like adding another title to their roll of honour when Brian Delargy pointed to end a run of seven unanswered scores to make it 0-9 to 1-4 as the Ruairi Ogs got their noses in front, but Watson pulled a point back with their first flag for 28 minutes.
McGill again stretched the lead again for Cushendall but the sides were level again after a Watson free and an inspirational effort from Barney McAuley.
The sides swapped points again as the final whistle approached but Loughgiel went ahead at the crucial time when Watson converted another free after an off the ball incident saw Michael McCambridge sent off.
McGill had two late chances to force a replay but watched both efforts sail wide.
Cushendall: R Kearney; M McCambridge, O Scullion, M Burke; S Delargy (0-1), N McManus, A Graffin; D McKillop (0-1), P McNaughton (0-2); P McGill (0-4, 0-3f), D McNaughton, B Delargy (0-1); S McNaughton (0-1), C Carson, K McKeegan (0-1). Subs: A Delargy for C Carson
Loughgiel: DD Quinn; P Gillan, N McGarry, B McAuley (0-1); C McKinley, J Campbell, M Scullion; D Laverty, L McKillop; E McCloskey (1-1), James Campbell, O McFadden; B McCarry (0-1), J Scullion, L Watson (0-6, 0-5f).
Referee: R Matthews