AIB Ulster Club Senior Hurling Championship Final:
Cushendall 1-14 Ballygalget 1-13
Cushendall Ruairi Og held off a determined challenge by Down champions Ballygalget to clinch the AIB Ulster Club Hurling Championship title by 1-14 to 1-13 in Sunday’s exciting final at Casement Park.
The Antrim champions appeared to be well control on a couple of occasions throughout the game but Ballygalget, with man of the match Martin Coulter in superb scoring form, always found a way back.
Twenty minutes into the opening half Cushendall looked strong when they opened up a seven point lead, but three cracking points from Coulter and one by Steven Clarke closed the gap to 1-8 to 0-8 at the interval, the Cushendall goal coming from Conor McCambridge on sixteen minutes.
Turning to face a stiff breeze in the second half Cushendall knew they had a battle on their hands, but an early Paddy McGill point settled them and they held that four point advantage throughout the third quarter.
Ballygalget had closed to within a goal of the Antrim men when they were denied a goal because of ‘square’ infringement, a decision that angered the Ards following, though it has to be said that referee Martin Mulholland had clearly blown before the ball entered the net.
Spured by this let-off Cushendall pulled five clear with points from Shane McNaughton, who was again his team’s best forward, and Sean Delargy and appeared to be safe with just minutes remaining.
However Ballygalget were far from finished and a Paddy Coulter goal left just two between the sides as the game entered injury time. The Down men closed the gap to the minimum with a point from Steven Clarke but time had beaten them and Cushendall survived to collect another Ulster title and gain revenge for defeat at the hands of the same opposition in the 2005 final.
CUSHENDALL – Francis McAuley, Aaron Graffin, Oran Scullion, Michael McCambridge, Karl McKeegan, Neil McManus, Kevin Elliott, Donal McNaughton, Declan McKillop, Aiden Delargy, Brian Delargy, Patrick McGill, Aiden Delargy, Shane McNaughton, Conor McCambridge, Sean Delargy. Subs – Conor Carson and Brian McNaughton.
BALLYGALGET – Graham Clarke, Liam Clarke, Aaron Dynes, Christopher Braniff, Seamus Roddy, Gabriel Clarke, Stephen Johnston, Patrick Monan, Darren Flynn, Eoin Clarke, Gary Flynn, Steven Clarke, Martin Og Coulter, Barry Coulter, Shane Bailie.
Referee – Martin Mulholland (Derry)