Antrim Junior B Hurling Championship

St Agnes’ 3-17

Loch Mór Dál gCais 0-7

ST Agnes’ ran out comprehensive 3-17 to 0-07 winners in Wednesday night’s preliminary round Junior B Championship clash with Loch Mór Dál gCais at Woodlands.

Last year’s beaten finalists were comfortable favourites to progress to a semi-final meeting with champions Davitt’s, though it was underdogs Loch Mór who hit the opening score.

Matt Carlin committed a foul inside the 45’ and Gerard Pickering Jnr sent the resulting free over the bar.

St Agnes’ captain Ronan Carroll levelled for the hosts, who then took charge of the encounter.

Hugh Grieve Jnr gave the Aggies the lead with a point before full-forward Colin Mallon blasted past Gerard Pickering to give his side a 1-02 to 0-01 lead.

Mallon, Carroll and Flannery added further scores as the Aggies dominated all sectors of the pitch.

Captain Carroll then converted a ‘65’ which was followed by a free from Grieve and Mallon’s third score of the evening.

Loch Mór ended St Agnes’ run of nine scores without reply on 23 minutes when Gerard Pickering Jnr’s quick free released Danaan O’Hara who accurately found range to make it 1-08 to 0-02, but Matt Carlin converted a ‘65’ and Kevin Grieve scored his first of the evening in reply.

Loch Mór Dál gCais ended the half strongest and a point from Ruairi Bannon was followed by a converted free from Pickering to ensure that Loch Mór Dál would just about stay in touch of St Agnes’ who led 1-10 to 0-04 at the break.

St Agnes’ started the second period on top and ended Loch Mór Dál’s momentum early on as Sean Quirke hit the opening score of the half and Conor McLean followed suit.

Quirke doubled his account for the half with another spectacular score as the hosts showed their ruthless streak and, midway through the half, wing half-forward Caoimhin McNeill added his name to the score sheet to increase the Aggies lead to 1-14 to 0-04.

Loch Mór Dál were in the process of attempting to keep the scoreboard ticking and Pickering continued to lead the charge, registering his third point from frees before Ruairi Bannon scored his second point of the evening.

Cormac Flannery replied for St Agnes’, who finally added to their solitary goal in the final 10 minutes of the game.

A combination of poor finishing and superb goalkeeping from Loch Mór shot-stopper Gerard Pickering Snr had kept the goal count down.

However, on 53 minutes, Pickering was helpless as Hugh Grieve Jnr sent a thunderous shot in the net to make it 2-15 to 0-06.

Further chances were squandered by the hosts before Grieve beat Pickering again to make it 3-15 to 0-06.

Pickering Jnr was the main threat for Loch Mór Dál gCais and he found their final score of the game in reply to Grieve’s second strike.

In injury-time, Grieve’s added to his two goals and point with a marvellously struck score from distance and Flannery took his tally to three before referee Seamus Burns brought the one-sided encounter to a conclusion.

St Agnes’: C Fay; D McConnell, M Robb, D Kelly; J Fleming, M Carlin (0-01), B Keatings; R Carroll (0-03), C Flannery (0-03); C McNeill (0-01), C McLean (0-01), S Quirke (0-02); C Mallon (1-02), K Grieve (0-01), H Grieve Jnr (2-03, 0-01f).

Subs: J Halleron for C McLean (56 mins), D McLarnon for C McNeill (57 mins).

Loch Mór Dál gCais: G Pickering Snr; J Moran, J Drayne, C Shrine; D Bell, L Burke, R Shine; D O’Hara (0-01), G Pickering Jnr (0-04, 0-03f); D McAreavey, G Hamilton, M Jones; G Dunlop, S Murray, R Bannon (0-02).

Referee: Seamus Burns (St Teresa’s)