Hurlers keep Foresters’ Cup 3-in-row alive

Danske Bank Foresters’ Cup semi-final
St Killian’s Garron Tower 4-11 St Mary’s Belfast 1-9
A three goal blast during the first half set up three-in-a-row chasing St Killian’s Garron Tower for a shock Danske Bank Foresters’ Cup semi-final win over St Mary’s Belfast on Monday in Ballymena.
Those three goals meant that the Tower boys led 3-6 to 0-7 at the break, and although they had to face the breeze during the second quarter they immediately added a goal and a point to put the game out of St Mary’s reach.
It was a powerful display from the holders with free-taker Dylan McLaughlin centre-stage, scoring 1-10 in total. His goal came from a 25th minute penalty award, while eight of the points came from frees, several of which were outside the 65m line.
Dylan opened his account inside a minute with a point from a free just outside the 45m line. CJ McKenna however replied with a point St Mary’s. Ronan Beattie and CJ again put St Mary’s ahead 0-3 to 0-1 after six minutes.
The game changed a minute later with St Killian’s sub Darius Halasa getting on the end of a Daniel Black run to flick the sliotar to the net with his first touch in the seventh minute.
Dylan McLaughlin quickly added two points from frees and CJ McKenna pulled one back for St Mary’s to leave the score 1-3 to 0-4 at the end of the first quarter.
Shortly after that however, wing half-back Cathal McDonnell delivered a long diagonal ball that midfielder Ben O’Boyle latched on to and drove to the net for St Killian’s second goal.
Over the next 10 minutes McLaughlin and McKenna traded 3 points each, 1 from play and the other 2 each from frees.
Then in the 26th minute, St Killian’s were awarded a penalty for a foul on Harry Kilgore. McLaughlin stepped up to the mark and coolly slotted the sliotar into the net to bring his first half total to 1-6.
McKenna then brought his tally to 0-6 with a 29th minute free that saw the teams turn over at 3-6 to 0-7.
Any hopes of a comeback from St Mary’s took a serious hit on the re-start with McLaughlin firing over a super rallying point from the sideline about 60 metres out.
McKenna was wide with a couple of frees before a long free from McLaughlin wasn’t properly cleared by the St Mary’s back-line and Daniel Haughey reacted quickest to bat the sliotar to the net after 33 minutes.
With a four goal cushion now and McKenna off-colour with his frees, St Killian’s were on the home straight.
John Darragh took over the free-taking duties for St Mary’s and had pulled two back before he faced up to a 20 metre free in the 47th minute. His powerful effort hit the net, reducing the margin to eight points.
However the St Killian’s defence tightened up immediately and Shane O’Connor relieved pressure with a 52nd minute point. Fittingly Player of the Match Dylan Mclaughlin slotted over the final two points, a close-in free in the 54th minute and a long-range one two minutes later.
The second semi-final between Cross & Passion Ballycastle and St Patrick’s Maghera will not take place until next Monday due to the former’s involvement in the Colleges’ Senior All-Ireland final this Saturday.
St Killian’s : Patrick Abram, Shane Magill, Liam Gillan, Scott Walsh, Shane O’Connor 0-1, Cathal McDonnell, Fergus McCambridge, Dylan McLaughlin 1-10, 1-0 penalty, 0-8 frees, Corey Beggs, Harry Kilgore, Sean McMullan, Ben O’Boyle 1-0, Conal McAteer, Daniel Haughey 1-0, Daniel Black.
Sub : Darius Halasa 1-0 for S Walsh (4).
St Mary’s : Caolan McRory, Odhran McKenna, Conor Stinton, Eoin Connolly, Conor Carson, Cameron Flynn, Nathan Gibson, Daniel Magee, Christopher Gallagher, Michael Hanna, Sean Maxwell, CJ McKenna 0-6, 0-5 frees, Odhran O’Callaghan, Ronan Beattie 0-1, John Darragh 1-2 frees.
Sub : Shea Shannon for O O’Callaghan (33).

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