Cushendall make first All-Ireland club hurling final

Sean McAfee and Darren Skehill in action as Cushendall see off Sarsfields in Navan
Sean McAfee and Darren Skehill in action as Cushendall see off Sarsfields in Navan

Cushendall reached the All-Ireland club hurling final for the first time with a convincing 3-12 to 1-6 victory over Sarsfields of Galway in Navan.

The Ruairi Ogs were dominant throughout and Neil McManus's early penalty helped them to a 1-4 to 0-5 half-time lead.

Sean McAfee's outstanding individual effort extended the lead and Joe Cooney's goal proved a consolation.

McManus continued to keep the scores ticking over and substitute Karl McKeegan added a third goal late on.

Cushendall will face Na Piarsaigh of Limerick in the final at Croke Park on St Patrick's Day.

The Antrim champions had reached the last four of the All-Ireland series by beating Slaughtneil in the Ulster decider in October and ran out deserved winners at Pairc Tailteann.

Sarsfields, twice All-Ireland winners in the 1990s, were taking part in their first semi-final since 1998, but proved no match for the 10-time Ulster champions.

Cushendall got off to the perfect start when McManus scored a fourth-minute penalty after McAfee had been pulled down.

Paddy McGill (2), McManus and Conor Carson knocked over points before the break, while Niall Morrissey contributed four of his side's five first-half points.

McAfee's goal gave his team some breathing space and second-half points from McManus (6), Alex Delargy and McGill emphasised John McKillop's side's superiority.

Cooney's goal and Morrissey's free were the only scores which the Galway men could muster in the second half and McKeegan completed the rout by bundling the ball over the line in injury-time.