Superb Under 12's return unbeaten

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Today in Ballycastle ,our under 12 team produced  a fast and exciting brand of hurling which was good enough to see off  some of the best hurling clubs in the county. From the start we new it was going to be tough, we were drawn against Dunloy, Loughguile, Ballycastle, Cushendall and Belfast hotshots Breda.
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After a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for the Late Michaela Mc Areavey, the hurling got going and it was fast and furious from the start. First up for us was Dunloy.We started well and quickly got into our stride. Our boys stayed with the Dunloy boys in a tense opening before Jack Mc Kay found the net and settled our nerves. David Kilgore followed up with our second just before the final whistle and we had our first win under our belts. The coaches told the boys at this stage that after beating Dunloy, they should fear no one and to keep playing as a team.
Next up was the shamrocks, one of the favourites for the competition. James Morgan was going to have to work hard to keep the defence well marshalled and keep his free scoring cousin Shane Mc Caughan at bay. Again there was a frantic start and Cushendun soon found the net with an excellent strike by David Kilgore who was playing well in the midfield with Conor Mc Hugh. After Conor scored our second from long range, our boys seemed to take the foot off the gas for a few minutes and soon found themselves level at 2-2.  Niall Mc Cormick was coping well in defence and managed to get a clearance to the unmarked David Kilgore who slotted the ball home to give us a bit of breathing space. Loughguile kept attacking but once more David Kilgore stepped in to kill the game with a fine opportunistic strike to leave us winners on a scoreline of 4-2.
Local rivals Cushendall provided the next opposition and they needed to win to keep alive their hopes of qualification. This was one of the best matches of the day. The play was free flowing and Cushendall certainly were a big threat. Jack Mc Kay struck first before Cushendall equalised and then went ahead. To their credit our boys didn’t give up when they went behind, and soon Jack had the net rippling again with an equaliser. The action was non stop and Cushendall were awarded a penalty following a loss in concentration By James Morgan in goals. This was to be the turning point  the match, James’ fantastic penalty save would prove crucial  and quickly after the penalty, Jack netted again to complete his hat trick.Cushendall pressed forward with great urgency with the result that David Kilgore found himself unmarked near the end to fire home our fourth and seal victory by 4 goals to 3.
100% so far and the relatively unknown Breda were next. This was a ‘must win’ game because we were now well in with a chance of causing an upset and qualifying for the final. Our boys looked a bit jaded and the introduction of the fresh Thomas Scally proved vital. James was playing a blinder in nets and kept us in this match before David Kilgore struck a fine effort to the net. A rare mistake gifted Breda an equaliser and the pressure was on.  Breda sniffed victory but a fine double reaction save from James kept us level. Eventually the boys settled and Conor Mc Hugh and Niall Mc Cormick were starting to dominate. Conor eventually squeezed one in to give us a narrow lead before young Scally rifled one to the back of the net to give us victory to set up a thrilling climax in our last match against Ballycastle.
Ballycastle, Loughguile and ourselves were the three teams in contention as the final match approached. A win would guarantee us a final spot without the need for a play off. Ballycastle had been hot favourites all day. A large crowd had gathered to watch this match. The game started as expected with a lot of tough tackling and good ground strokes. Niall mc Cormick was fantastic in defence .With 3 minutes on the clock the game was scoreless before Jack Mc Kay scored a crucial goal.  30 seconds later disaster struck when midfield ace Mc Hugh went down with a nasty leg injury. However after some straight talking from the first aider, (his father) he got up and was moved to the forward line while Jack dropped back to midfield. This change unsettled us a bit and Ballycastle soon capitalised with and unstoppable shot. However the best was yet to come when David Kilgore scored the goal of the day when he pulled overhead on a puck out from James near the half way line and sent the ball to the roof of the net. Conor Mc Hugh recovered after some more ‘encouragement’ from his father to score our final goal of the day.
We were undefeated and definitely into the Division 1 final. Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, lads. A great team performance all round. Next week we play Loughguiile in the final in Ballymena.
We hope to have couple of training sessions this week to get ready for the final. A word of thanks to BIG Paul who very generously and graciously insisted that we took the boys to Mc brides for a bowl of celebratory soup..Thanks.