Antrim All County Football League Division One
O’Donovan Rossa 0-9 Ahoghill 1-7
Ahoghill snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at Rossa Park Belfast on Sunday when corner-forward Noel Crossey fired a penalty to the Rossa net and earn his team a one point victory. Minutes earlier that outcome seemed highly unlikely as the home side lead by three with time almost up. However Crossey proved the St Mary’s savior when he first sent over a free and then completed a great comeback with his penalty goal.
As for Rossa they will be wondering just how this game got away from them. They had looked ‘home and hosed’ and after leading by one at the interval they pushed on and seemed to have secured the league points as the game as they went three up with time almost up. However Ahoghill are a dogged outfit who never give up the fight and Rossa will rue taking their foot off the pedal with the finish line in sight.
Played through a series of heavy downpours this game was never going to produce free flowing football as the ball, and the players, skidded around on a greasy surface. However the closeness of the scores and the absolute endeavor by both teams meant it was always interesting and entertaining.
Five minutes in Neill O’Connell opened the scoring for the visitors when he sent one over from long range and though Rossa came close to grabbing a goal soon afterwards when Caileann Walsh fisted a James Connolly cross off the Ahoghill upright it was all of sixteen minute before they opened their account with a brilliant points from wing back Niall Corssan.
The home side went ahead three minutes later with a point from Darren Grego and they went two clear on 22 minutes when Sean Finch fisted the ball over the Ahoghill crossbar from close range. When James Connolly widened the gap to three points a minute later Ahoghill appeared to be in a spot of bother but they rallied in the final minutes of the half and two points from dangerman Noel Crossey, one from a free and the other from play cut their deficit to the minimum by half time. (0-4 to 0-3)
Two minutes into the new half St Mary’s were back on terms when Patrick Graham swung over and excellent point from the right wing but the home team replied six minutes later through Sean Finch restored parity with a well taken point.
Ahoghill came close to hitting the front but Eoin Graham was denied by a brilliant save by Rossa netminder Liam Og McAuley but they did edge in front soon afterwards when Michael O’Connell was on target from close range.
The South West side went back in front when Neil O’Connell broke through from midfield and fired over but Rossa found an instant reply when Grego cut in from the right and fired over. The home side were now beginning to find a rhythm and after Aidan Orchin put them ahead with a point from a narrow angle they went three clear thanks to two pointed frees by Sean Pat Donnelly.
At this stage the points seemed destined to stay on Shaw’s Road but Crossey’s point gave the visitors hope and when the corner-forward was fouled the ‘sqaure’ he tucked the resultant penalty away himself to seal a win that minutes earlier had looked unlikely.
ROSSA: L Og McAuley; C Orchin, C McGowan, J Morris; N Crossan (0-1), E O’Neill, J Cooley; S Beatty, G Walsh; S Finch (0-2), D Grego (0-2), A Orchin (0-1); C Walsh, C Fleming, J Connolly (0-1). Subs: T McGrath for J Connolly (38), SP Donnelly (0-2 frees) for C Fleming (38), D Armstrong for C Orchin (51), C Boyle for D Grego (57).
AHOGHILL: F Neeson; C McGlone, J Magee, B Graham; E Brady, D Graham, F O’Neill; N O’Connell (0-2), M Graham; D O’Neill, P Graham (0-1), J O’Connell; N Crossey (1-3, 1-0 penalty, 0-2 frees), M O’Connell (0-1), E Graham. Subs: O Neeson for D Graham (47), J Hamill for M O’Connell (55).
REFEREE: Collie McKnight (St John’s)