by John McIlwaine
All County Football league Division 1
Aghagallon 0-11 St Gall’s 2-11
A goal and seven points from the mercurial CJ McGourty steered St Gall’s to victory over resilient and committed Aghagallon in Wednesday evening’s All County Football League Division 1 game at Pairc nan Gael. For long periods of the game the home side equalled the Belfast men and had they not squandered a couple of gilt edged goal chances that came their way they could well have taken all three points. However St Gall’s, and McGourty in particular, had the ability to raise the performance a notch and tag on a few vital scores when the going got tough. With just seven minutes of the first half remaining Aghagallon had battled back to within a point after being dealt a body blow in the form of a Kevin Niblock goal. However three points in a five minute spell from McGourty, and one from Michael Pollock put the Milltown men five clear at the break. When the home side cut the gap back to just two inside the first ten minutes of the second half it looked like they would threaten the St Gall’s lead once again but a goal and two points in a sizzling two minute spell by McGourty pulled the carpet out from under Aghagallon and all but sealed the win.
UP THE SLOPE
Playing up the Pairc nan Gael slope St Gall’s edged in front in just two minutes through Kevin Niblock but two well taken points from Shane Russell frees put Aghagallon a point in front. Niblock was proving a real handful for the Aghagallon defence and the former county star showed his poaching qualities on eight minutes when he finished neatly to the net. Aghagallon came back with a third Russell point in the tenth minute and four minutes later they looked set to hit the front when Niall McShane found room on the edge of the square, only to blast his shot inches over the bar, and a great goal chance was gone.
This left just a single point between the sides but Michael Pollock increased the visitor lead to two before CJ McGourty pulled his side clear again with three points inside five minutes to send the in at the break with a 1-6 to 04 lead.
McGourty had the gap out to six when he hit the opening score of the second half but suddenly the home team found a bit of resolve and two superbly struck frees, plus one from play by Gareth Magee cut the deficit to just three. Aghagallon tails were up as they could sense they were getting to grips with their opponents but McGourty again produced some magic as he weaved through for a brilliant goal which he drilled low across the keeper and into the net in the forty third minute. He added a point, and centre back Mark Kelly soloed forward to grab one as well and suddenly that manageable three point gap had now gone out to eight.
To their credit the home side kept on battling and some superb dead ball kicking by Gareth Magee and Ruairi Loughran brought them four points without reply to cut that eight point gap in half with eight minutes still to play. That was as close as they would get however as McGourty intervened again with two pointed frees from close range to seal the win and leave the St Mary’s men ruing those missed goal chances.
Robert Haire, Paul Mulholland, Christopher Loughran, Ryan O’Neill, Eunan Walsh, Pat Brannigan, Adam Shanks, Dan Donnelly, Oisin Lenehan, Shane Russell, Ciaran Brady, Dessie Marshall, Mark McKenna, Ruairi McCann, Nial McShane
Subs used– Caolan Farr , Gareth Magee and Aaron Doherty
Chris Kerr, Tomas O’Ciaran, Ryan Irvine, Shane O’Hagan, Ruairi Wilson, Mark Kelly, Cormac Bradley, Jackson McGreevy, Sean Burke, Brendan Bradley, Michael Pollock, Niall O’Neill, Kevin Niblock, Terry O’Neill, CJ McGourty.
Referee – R McDermott (Tir na nOg)