Dunloy (@1.53) vs Loughgiel Shamrocks (@2.75)

Our Prediction:

Dunloy will win

Dunloy – Loughgiel Shamrocks Match Prediction | 15-09-2019 10:30

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The Bathshack senior hurling championship gets going this weekend again with Rossa welcoming Loughgiel to Rossa Park on Saturday afternoon. With the new format, the knockout element will be lacking but for these two sides its the beginning to what they have been training all year for. Nothing beats championship hurling and with the league format this year no matter what happens on Saturday, both Loughgiel and Rossa will have another day out before deciding their fate in the race for the Volunteer Cup.

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McCambridge was complimentary of the Ruairi Og management set-up this year when he added: Looking from the outside in this year, its great to see the lads have been given a bit more freedom. After the semi-final they went out and had a couple of pints and people were saying they shouldnt be doing that but I thought it was brilliant. Its still an amateur sport at the end of the day and these boys are out training three or four nights a week. They need that release and I thought it was refreshing.

Most people would have fancied the young Cuchullains to be back in the final again this year, but I have no doubt they will figure strongly in the years to come. In the mean time we will watch these two great rivals go toe to toe, and may the best team win. Dunloys return to the top table last year saw a new young team emerging.

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The nineties saw a new rivalry develop as Cushendall and Dunloy dominated the decade and it is now as intense as anything you see in any part of the country. Much has been written about the fierce rivalry between Loughgiel and Dunloy, neighbouring parishes who epitomise the parish rivalry which has been the backbone of the GAA down the years. There has been little love lost between St Johns and Rossa over the decades and when Ballycastle were dominating in the late seventies and early eighties Loughgiel and them had many a heated battle.

A veteran of the Cushendalls encounters with the Shamrocks, McKeegan told us this year has taken some getting used to: Its been tough, Ill not lie but I felt that I needed to take a clean break from the game to be honest. I had been involved in a player coach role for the last couple of years but with my working commitments, that was getting tougher.

However in the new millennium no rivalry has been any more intense than that between Sundays finalists, Cushendall Ruairi Og and Loughgiel Shamrocks. During Loughgiels run of six final defeats on the trot from 2003 to 2008 Cushendall beat them in the finals of 05, 06 and 08, and they were also victors in the semi-final of 09 which ended the Shamrocks run of final appearances. They did it again the following year at Casement also, and in 2013, when they completed their four-in-a-row, it was Cushendall they beat again in the final, this time at Pairc MacUilin Ballycastle. During that time the sides have met in countless semi-finals and finals and both have had their spells of dominance. There must have been many in Loughgiel who felt the run would never end but they kept on battling and when they made it back to the final in 2010 it was the Ruairi Og colours they lowered in a memorable day in Casement Park, the Shamrocks edging a low scoring decider by 1-9 to 0-11. They did of course meet 33 years ago in Glenravel when Cushendall, with six McNaughton brothers on the team, won their second title, but it is this recent run of meetings that has dominated hurling in the county.

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The Shamrocks have been improving as the season has progressed. Theyve had their own injury problems with losing Barney McAuley and Liam Watson to long term injuries earlier with Neil McGarry, Seamus Dobbin and Tony McCloskey also rated as doubtful. The injuries have given Loughgiel manager Johnny Campbell the chance to have a better look at a few other players. Theres no doubt James McNaughton has made the most of others misfortunes this year. Hes been in excellent form for the Loughgiel men and shone while wearing the Antrim shirt. Cathal McMullan looks to be showing the sort of form once again that lead to him receiving a couple of college All Stars before a freak injury cut short his season in 2017 and gives Campbell options with his versatility in defence.

The way Cargin controlled the closing stages was hugely effective. Possession was king in those last ten minutes and they bossed it. Cassidy told us the work theyve put in on the training ground prepared them for such scenarios: Its something weve worked very hard on this year. We sat at the start of the year and the players identified that was an area of their game they needed to develop. Composure and holding onto the ball. A compliment to St Galls in many ways. Thats a strength that they have in terms of game management and holding onto the ball.