Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

Cushendall book place in Club Final

February 7th, 2016


AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Semi-Final:
Ruairí Óg Cushendall (Antrim) 3-12 Sarsfields (Galway) 1-6

County man Neil McManus led the way with 1-7 as Antrim champions Ruairí Óg Cushendall scored a shock but fully deserved AIB All-Ireland club SHC semi-final victory in Navan.

The Ulster holders had never won a semi-final but cast off that terrible record with a powerful performance in heavy conditions to secure a St Patrick’s Day final place.

They will meet Na Piarsaigh of Limerick in that decider and will travel with hope of emulating 2012 All-Ireland final winners Loughgiel Shamrocks.

McManus, Seán McAfee and defender Ryan McCambridge stood out but it was a terrific team performance. McAfee scored Cushendall’s second goal early in the second half while veteran Karl McKeegan grabbed their third at the death.

Cushendall came into the contest as considerable underdogs having played eight semi-finals previously and lost the lot.

They got the perfect start when McManus converted a fourth minute penalty following a foul on McAfee who was already proving difficult to handle.

Paddy McGill added a brace of points for Cushendall and McManus took his tally to 1-1 for the half with a converted penalty.

But McManus was also guilty of a number of wides and Cushendall should have been further ahead at half-time than just 1-4 to 0-5, hitting five wides in total in the first 15 minutes.

Sarsfields struggled in the wet and windy conditions and managed just one point from open play in the entire first-half, which didn’t come until the 29th minute.

Cushendall had the wind advantage in the second-half and restarted with gusto, putting 1-2 on the board before Sarsfields could respond.

McAfee’s 32nd minute goal was a peach as he shrugged off a posse of chasing defenders, and beat the advancing goalkeeper with a finish across goals to the right corner.

Sars pushed hard for goals in the closing 20 minutes. They got one through Joseph Cooney when he got his hurl to a 41st minute 65 from Niall Morrissey and redirected it to the net.

But that was as good as it got for them and with 10 minutes to go, Cushendall had embellished their advantage to lead by double scores, 2-10 to 1-5. McKeegan came off the bench with 16 minutes to go and poked in their third goal in injury-time.

Ruairi Og Cushendall scorers: Neil McManus 1-7 (1-0 pen, 0-5f), Sean McAfee 1-0, Karl McKeegan 1-0, Paddy McGill 0-3, Conor Carson 0-1, Alec Delargy 0-1.

Sarsfields scorers: Niall Morrissey 0-5 (0-5f), Joseph Cooney 1-0, Alan Ward 0-1.

Ruairi Og Cushendall: Eoin Gillan; Ryan McCambridge, Martin Burke, Aaron Graffin; David Kearney, Eoghan Campbell, Sean Delargy; Shane McNaughton, Alec Delargy; Conor Carson, Neil McManus, Sean McAfee; Paddy McGill, Donal McNaughton, Christy McNaughton. Subs: Karl McKeegan for C McNaughton (44), Cormac McAllister for D McNaughton (59).

Sarsfields: Ciaran Dolan; Eamonn Cleary, Darren Skehill, Cathal Murray; Niall Quinn, Kevin Hynes, Ronan Quinn; Joseph Cooney, Ian Fox; Alan Ward, Kerril Wade, Niall Morrissey; Ian Skehill, Noel Kelly, Kevin Cooney. Subs: Ivan Kenny for I Skehill (45), Joseph Burke for Wade (50), Sean Kelly for Morrissey (52), Eoghan Spellman for K Cooney (60).

Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow)

Report: Paul Keane /

Sign up now to get the latest from Ulster GAA