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Conor Carson on the trail of his father's title haul after Cushendall hurling title win

By Declan Bogue

Conor Carson did more than most to ensure Ruairi Óg Cushendall retained the Antrim senior hurling title on Sunday, but he has a long way to go before he can match his father's haul.

Conor picked up his second medal, but his father, the legendary Jackie, has more county titles than anyone else with nine, spanning three decades.

This latest club triumph hinged on a four-point swing in injury-time, with Carson the man steadying Cushendall nerves after Ballycastle's Shane Jennings rattled Eoin Gillan's crossbar.

The move worked downfield before Carson floated a shot between the Ballycastle posts and they ran out 2-16 to 1-15 winners.

"To be fair I thought it was going over, I didn't think it was that close to the net," recalled the 25-year-old engineer, who played down the significance of his resulting point.

"I found myself out here on the '45' and had plenty of time and space, so I backed myself."

Carson also had an enormous hand in the move that brought Cushendall level for the first time in the game in the 47th minute.

He fielded a Ryan McGarry puck-out and steamed straight for goal, drawing a troupe of defenders before scooping a handpass to Eoghan Campbell, who carefully placed the shot to the net. It looked like something from the training ground.

"I heard him scream as soon as I won the puck-out," said Carson. "It's from playing with Eoghan all year. I have been playing wing-half forward and Eoghan has been behind me, he plays as a forward for Antrim so he can finish."

Carson maintains, however, that as much as they will enjoy this triumph, it is merely a step on the road to avenging the day they let themselves down against Portaferry in last year's Ulster final.

"We left Owenbeg completely gutted, knowing that we just didn't perform," he lamented.

A special word was reserved for manager John McKillop.

"John's had a massive apprenticeship," explained Carson.

"It must be a real relief for him. We suffered a real raft of injuries a while back and hardly had a full team before the first round of the Championship a few weeks ago.

"There's been a lot of questions asked of him and I am delighted he has been able to answer them."

Cushendall will now meet the winners of this Sunday's quarter-final between Lisbellaw and Middletown, on October 11.

Belfast Telegraph

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