Sunday 22 September 2019

Cushendall turn their focus to All-Ireland series

Cushendall 1-15 Ballycran 0-10

Patrick Hughes of Ballycran in action against Eunan McKillop, left, and Paddy McGill of Cushendall Ruairi Óg. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Patrick Hughes of Ballycran in action against Eunan McKillop, left, and Paddy McGill of Cushendall Ruairi Óg. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Neil McManus produced a masterclass as Cushendall powered past Ballycran at the Athletic Grounds to claim another provincial title.

The Antrim champions looked comfortable for the most part but Ballycran's tenacity kept them in the picture before Cushendall produced a sustained finishing burst that sealed their success, despite the loss of key defender Aaron Graffin with what looked like a serious leg injury.

Paddy McGill of Cushendall Ruairi Óg in action against Sean Ennis of Ballycran. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Paddy McGill of Cushendall Ruairi Óg in action against Sean Ennis of Ballycran. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Skipper Paddy Burke immediately set his sights on bigger things, saying: "We have not always done ourselves justice on the All-Ireland stage and now we are getting the chance to show ourselves in the best possible light."

Cushendall led by 1-11 to 0-6 at half-time, by which stage Neil McManus had stamped his imprint on the game. Sean McAfee's goal in the 21st minute cemented their advantage and when McManus nailed three frees in the run-up to the interval, Cushendall seemed to be on easy street.

Up until then, Ballycran were restricted to spasmodic attacks, but it was a different story after the break. Slowly but surely they chipped away at Cushendall's lead with Colum McManus posing a big threat at full-forward.

However, after losing Graffin, Cushendall suddenly discovered renewed vigour, with the dangerous McManus landing three quick-fire points.

Patrick Hughes of Ballycran in action against Sean McAfee of Cushendall Ruairi Óg. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Patrick Hughes of Ballycran in action against Sean McAfee of Cushendall Ruairi Óg. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Cushendall turned the screw in the closing stages when their experience and craft came to the fore as Ballycran, who had Conor Woods dismissed, were forced into submission.

SCORERS - Cushendall: N McManus 0-9 (8fs), S McAfee 1-0, D McNaughton 0-2, S Delargy, F McCambridge, P Burke, E Campbell 0-1 each. Ballycran: C McManus (2fs), C Woods (2fs) 0-3 each, S Nicholson 0-2, N Breen, J Coyle 0-1 each.

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Cushendall - E Gillan; D Kearney, M Burke, P Burke; S Delargy, A Graffin, S Walsh; E Campbell, N McManus; S McAfee, F McCambridge, R McCambridge; A Delargy, D McNaughton, P McGill. Subs: E McKillop for F McCambridge (41), F McCurry for Graffin (51), C McClafferty for McGill (53), N McCormick for McNaughton (68).

Ballycran - S Keith; M Hughes, P Hughes, S Ennis; M Taylor, P Flynn, B Nicholson; S Nicholson, P Savage; C McAllister, C Woods, L Savage; N Breen, C McManus, J Coyle. Subs: A Bell for Ennis (26), C Egan for Breen (h/t), G Hughes for McAllister (h/t), P Miskimmons for Coyle (65).

Michael Taylor of Ballycran in action against David Kearney of Cushendall Ruairi Og. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Michael Taylor of Ballycran in action against David Kearney of Cushendall Ruairi Og. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ref - J Connors (Donegal)

Michael Taylor of Ballycran in action against David Kearney of Cushendall Ruairi Og. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Michael Taylor of Ballycran in action against David Kearney of Cushendall Ruairi Og. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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