O'Neills Sportswear Antrim Hurling League, Division Two 
St Gall's 0-17 Tír na nÓg 0-13

THE first points of the new Antrim club hurling season went to St Gall's who were just a step ahead of Tír na nÓg at a windy De La Salle Park on Saturday afternoon.

It was a well contested game with the visitors never too far away and it was only late on when there was any real clarity of who would come out on top, but then the city side were never behind and when they retook the lead midway through the first half, they stayed there.

With this being the first game of a new campaign, naturally there was a bit of rust for both sets of players to shed and the conditions make it a little tricky also, but they both put everything into their efforts.

The initial exchanges saw both teams pass up early opportunities as they sought to find their range, but Ronan Crossan would sling over the first point for the hosts who had a substantial wind at their backs.

Mark Napier then opened his account for the day from a free, but Tír na nÓg were then off the mark 10 minutes in when Christy Sheerin sent great ball down to Ciaran Logan who gathered well, turned and pointed.

Aaron McNeilly levelled things up with the first of his six frees, but Jackson McGreevy restored the St Gall's advantage after 15 minutes and they would not be pegged back again.

With the advantage of the elements, the hosts were keen to build a lead but were reliant on McGreevy frees as he added three more - one from inside his own 65.

Marcus Donnelly would contribute late in the half with a fine effort from play, while Dara Martin responded with Tír na nÓg's first in 17 minutes on the stroke of half-time.

The 0-8 to 0-3 lead at the half was a little bit of breathing room for St Gall's, but the question was whether it was enough considering the Whitehill men had the wind for the second period.

Certainly, the visitors made a good start with McNeilly converting a free in the first minute after the resumption, but tellingly, St Gall's found a reply through Ronan Crossan whose initial shot dropped short, but he got onto the clearance to score.


This would prove a bit of a theme as Tír na nÓg just couldn't make any real inroads into the gap as Napier showed great control to score and cancel out another McNeilly free and Cormac Sheehan did likewise as the sides went score-for-score.

Niall Devlin would make an immediate impact off the bench for Tír na nÓg as he gathered and split the posts with the first ball he got onto and another McNeilly free had reduced the margin to three.

Just as there was a sense they were reeling the hosts in, St Gall's hit back again through McGreevy and one of their own subs, Sean McAreavey found his range.

Another exchange of points through Logan (free) and Jack Hopkins kept the gap at five before Joshua Higgins took a fine point on the run, followed by Logan's third of the day and there was just a goal in it with 55 gone.

But McGreevy steadied home nerves with his sixth of the afternoon and although McNeilly did exactly the same, Napier - the standout of the game - rose to fetch and score before tapping over a free to make it safe.

Tír na nÓg needed a goal and there was an opening for substitute Declan Mallon who fired high in stoppage time, but in the end the hosts were deserving of the points as they opened their season with a win.

ST GALL'S: K McGreevy; O McIlhatton, E Rush, D Churchill; E Walsh, J McGreevy (0-6f), G McGreevy; F Donnelly, J Hopkins (0-1); P Friel, C Sheehan (0-1), M Donnelly (0-1); R Crossan (0-2), L Morgan, M Napier (0-5, 2f).
Subs: S McAreavey (0-1) for L Morgan (35), A Mullan for G McGreevy (37), G Mac Adhaimh for O McIlhatton (42), N O'Neill for C Sheehan (45)

TÍR NA nÓG: K Sheerin; B McLarnon, C Sheerin, T Martin; C O'Neill, C Duffin, D Martin; J Higgins (0-1), J McCormick; C Logan (0-3, 1f), S McKinley, A McNeilly (0-6f); O McAtamney, P Sheerin, D Martin (0-1).
Subs: N Devlin (0-1) for O McAtamney (35), E Murray for P Sheerin (35), C McCamphill for T Martin (41), D Mallon (0-1) for S McKinley (55).

REFEREE: Fionntan McCotter (Sarsfield's)