Loughgiel Shamrocks ended 21 years of hurt as they clinched their first title since 1989 with a one-point victory over Ruairi Og Cushendall at Casement Park yesterday.
Cushendall opened the scoring through Declan McKillop in the first minute but it was Loughgiel who then made the running after Eddie McCloskey blasted to the Cushendall net. McCloskey, Benny McCarry and Liam Watson had Loughgiel five points ahead by the 11th minute.
Cushendall cut the gap through two Paddy McGill frees and a Sean Delargy point to leave it 1-4 to 0-5 at half-time and kept up the good work after the break when Brian Delargy completed a run of seven unanswered scores to make it 0-9 to 1-4, before Watson pulled a point back.
McGill again stretched the lead for Cushendall but the sides were level after a Watson free and a great effort from Barney McAuley. And Watson ended two barren decades with another free after Michael McCambridge was sent off for a second yellow card.
Scorers -- Loughgiel: L Watson 0-6 (0-5f), E McCloskey 1-1, B McCarry, B McAuley 0-1 each. Cushendall: P McGill 0-4 (0-3f), P McNaughton 0-2, D McKillop, S Delargy, K McKeegan, S McNaughton, B Delargy 0-1 each.
Loughgiel -- DD Quinn; P Gillan, N McGarry, B McAuley; C McKinley, J Campbell, M Scullion; D Laverty, L McKillop; E McCloskey, James Campbell, O McFadden; B McCarry, J Scullion, L Watson. Subs: R McCloskey for Laverty, D Laverty for McFadden, A McCloskey for Campbell.
Cushendall -- R Kearney; M McCambridge, O Scullion, M Burke; S Delargy, N McManus, A Graffin; D McKillop, P McNaughton; P McGill, D McNaughton, B Delargy; S McNaughton, C Carson, K McKeegan. Subs: A Delargy for C Carson.
Ref -- R Matthews