Watson goal retains Cup for Shamrocks
A five-minute blitz retained the Antrim crown for Loughgiel at Casement Park yesterday, as the Shamrocks beat off a determined Cushendall on a 1-14 to 0-14 ticket.
The goal was rocketed home from the penalty spot by Liam Watson, after Benny McCarry was upended, to level the argument for the eighth time, at 1-11 to 0-14. McAuley, Eddie McCloskey and James Campbell then rifled over points to open a gap which Loughgiel couldn't close.
Apart from that late, late period there was never more than two points between the teams.
Shane McNaughton was in superb form and with 10 points, didn't deserve to finish on the losing side. However, Loughgiel kept digging deep with midfield man Barney McAuley on form while James Campbell, at half-back, drove forward and Watson cashed in on placed balls.
It was all square at one, three, four and five points over the opening 25 minutes. Shane McNaughton landed two great points from play, one from 80 metres, but McCarry and Watson levelled the argument again to send the teams in level, 0-7 apiece, at the interval.
Points were traded again before Cushendall seemed to have survived a Shamrocks' spell of attacks as the challengers hit over points from Shane McNaughton (3), Paddy McGill and sub Paddy McNaughton to lead by 0-14 to 0-10 on 49 minutes. Watson, from a free, narrowed the gap and then came the decisive penalty from the same player.
"I asked the manager what I should do with the shot and he asked me what I wanted to do. I said to go for the goal and he said 'right, stick it in the net', and that's what I did," enthused Watson.
LOUGHGIEL: DD Quinn; P Gillen, N McGarry, R McCloskey; James Campbell (0-1), M Scullion, Johnny Campbell; B McAuley (0-3), M McFadden; L Watson (1-5, 1-0 pen, one '65, 1f), Declan Laverty (0-1), E McCloskey (0-1); B McCarry (0-1), J Scullion (0-1), Damian Laverty. Subs: S Casey (0-1) for Damian Laverty (41), T McCloskey for McFadden (45).
CUSHENDALL: R Kearney; T McAlister, O Scullion, S Delargy; M Burke, D McNaughton, A Graffin; K McKeegan, A Delargy; B Delargy, C Carson (0-1), E McKillop; P McGill (0-1), D McKillop (0-1), S McNaughton (0-10, two '65s', 4f). Subs: P McNaughton (0-1) for E McKillop (25), J McManus for B Delargy (56).
Referee: O Elliot (All Saints Ballymena).