Antrim minor hurling Championship final

St John’s             1-15

Ruairi Óg Cushendall              2-7

St John’s won their first minor hurling title since 2004 when they beat last year’s champions Cushendall in Friday evening’s final at Casement Park.

Dominant in the opening half the Johnnies had to withstand a gallant second-half fightback by Cushendall but they weathered the storm and went on to score a deserved victory.

In perfect conditions St John’s showed their dominance from the start and after an early exchange of points by Locky McCurdy (St John’s) and Ronan McGrady (Cushendall) the Johnnies gained a firm grip thanks mainly to a goal and three points from their excellent full-forward Micheal Bradley as they went on to open up a seven point lead by the fourteenth minute.

A Ronan McGrady point in the nineteenth minute signalled a bit of revival for the Ruairi Óg lads and they could well have got themselves back into the game had it not been for a couple of magnificent saves from St John’s goalkeeper Padraig Nugent.

As it was all Cushendall could muster was a Stephen McAfee point while St John’s added another from Micheal Bradley and two from Conor Johnston to lead by 1-9 to 0-3 at half-time.

On the evidence of the first-half Cushendall’s title was all but gone but to their credit they came out after half-time with all guns blazing and boosted by a fantastic goal from an overhead volley by full-forward Dominic Delargy, they cut their arrears to just five by the forty-sixth minute.

St John’s were suddenly all at sea but a Conor Johnton point settled the nerves and three more from the talented corner-forward and one from substitute Daireann Flynn pulled them ten clear by the 59th minute.

Cushendall never gave up the fight and points from Ronan McGrady and Ryan McCambridge plus a goal by Conor McClafferty left them just five in arrears at the end.

However St John’s were worthy winners as they deservedly collected the Tom Rice trophy for the first time in seven years.

Naomh Eoin: Padraig Nugent, Thomas Manning, Peter McMahon, Jody Watson, Jack Hannigan, Ciaran Johnston, Ronan McCafferty, Christopher McQuillan, Luke Peden, Micheal Dudley, Fearghal Morgan, Donall Quinn, Locky McCurdy, Micheal Bradley, Conor Johnston.

Substitutes: Daireann Flynn; Donall Carson, Domhnall Nugent

Ruairi Óg: Conor McAlister, Conor Grant, Fearghal McKillop, David Kearney, Patrick Burke, Paddy Blaney Ryan McCambridge, Eamon Kearns, Ronan McGrady, Sean McAfee, Eamon Heggarty, Eoghan Campbell, Cormac McClafferty, Dominic Delargy, Alex Delargy.

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)