Doherty Woodshavings Antrim Hurling League Division One
Ruairi Og, Cushendall 0-24 O'Donovan Rossa 0-16

A STRONG final quarter saw Cushendall quell a Rossa resurgence to secure Antrim hurling's Division One title at a sunny Ballycastle on Sunday afternoon.

The North Antrim men appeared to be well on their way to victory when leading by nine late in the first half, but Rossa would outscore the victors by nine to one in a blistering 10-minute spell either side of the break to get to within one.

However, Cushendall reorganised at the second half water break and with the Rossa poc-out malfunctioning, they were able to punish mistakes to finish well and claim an eight-point win.

Rossa had the breeze at their backs in the first half, but found themselves under pressure for the off with Cushendall searching fr the opening score, but the Belfast side repelled them with hooks and blocks.

Both free-takers wee off-target with their first chances but Cushendall finally found the opening score four minutes in with Scott Walsh launching over from the right wing.

Deaglan Murphy then checked in for the day with a free that tied the game and then from a 65 that briefly gave Rossa the lead for the one and only time of the day.

John McKillop and captain, Martin Burke receive the trophy on behalf of Cushendall

John McKillop and captain, Martin Burke receive the trophy on behalf of Cushendall

Christy McNaughton levelled with his first of a dozen points for the day from a free and then Andrew Delargy reestablished the lead for the Glensmen when pointing from a block down and Paddy Burke, who was named at 15 but played in a much deeper role, found his range.

Rossa were struggling to make much headway in attack with passes consistently mopped up by the Cushendall defence and a pair of Murphy frees either side of a McNaughton free and another Walsh effort from deep gave Cushendall a 0-6 to 0-4 lead at the water break.

The North Antrim men upped it a gear as play resumed with McNaughton jinking and firing over before a powerful break from the back by Ryan McCambridge saw him play Conor Carson in to score.

Points from McNaughton and Eoghan Campbell pushed the advantage out to six before Rossa finally got their first from play on 22 minutes as Dominic McEnhill clipped a pass into Tiernan Murphy who split the posts.

This was not the initial spark the city side needed as the points continued to flow at the other end with Scott Walsh again on target from the right, followed by Campbell, McNaughton (free) and Burke points to make it a nine-point game on 26 minutes.

It was a long way back for Rossa, but suddenly they managed to click into gear and enjoyed a strong finish to the half with four quick points.

Deaglan Murphy nailed a free and then fired over from range after good work by Stephen Shannon before Chris McGuinness floated over and Tiernan Murphy showed fine control and accuracy to clip over and leave Cushendall just 0-14 to 0-9 ahead at the break.

Rossa were right back in the game and they kept the foot on the accelerator early in the second period with early points from Daire Murphy, Thomas Morgan and substitute Dara Rocks to leave just two in it.

Paddy Burke stemmed the tide when pouncing on a loose ball to fire over from the left, but a converted Murphy are and one from play by Morgan left the minimum between the sides.

Rossa had chances, but just couldn't get level as Cushendall steadied and two fine points by Christy McNaughton and Ryan McCambridge appeared to settle them with a Murphy free at the other end leaving Cushendall 0-17 to 0-15 to the good heading into the final quarter.

Dominic McEnhill goes on the attack for Rossa on Sunday

Dominic McEnhill goes on the attack for Rossa on Sunday

It appeared we were set for a grandstand finish, but Cushendall made the switches with the introduction of Aidan Delargy and Fergus McCambridge seeing them reshuffle and the switches did the trick in the final quarter as Rossa completely lost their way in attack.

McNaughton hit three-in-a-row including one from play when pouncing on a stray poc-out, with Ryan McCambridge - now playing in a more advanced position - pointing under pressure and another trio of scores from McNaughton made the game safe for his team.

Rossa did push late, but Rocks saw a rasping shot well saved by Gillan and the Belfast men had to be content with a late point from Morgan that was their only score of the final quarter and mere consolation as Cushendall were crowned League champions.

CUSHENDALL: E Gillan; R McCambridge (0-2), M Burke, L Gillan; S Walsh (0-3), A Graffin, R McCollum; E Campbell (0-2), Alex Delargy; C Carson, C McNaughton (0-12, 7 frees, 1 65), Andrew Delargy (0-1); F McCurry, N McCormick, P Burke (0-3).

Subs: Aidan Delargy for L Gillan (36), F McCambridge for Andrew Delargy (45), J McCurry for C Carson (54).

ROSSA: P Crean; E O'Neill, C Orchin, N Crossan; A Kennelly, Stephen Shannon, C McGettigan; E Trainor, Seaghan Shannon; Daire Murphy (0-1), C McGuinness (0-1), D McEnhill; T Murphy (0-2), T Morgan (0-3), Deaglan Murphy (0-8, 6 frees, 1 65).

Subs: D Rocks (0-1) for C McGuinness (HT), C Shannon for E O'Neill (HT), O May for C Orchin (54), C McVeigh for C McGettigan (57).

REFEREE: Colm McDonald (St Gall's).