by Geordie McGuckin
All County League Division One
Erin’s Own Cargin 2-20 St Mary’s Ahoghill 2-15
Cargin will start the second phase of the league in pole position in section A barring major incident after they gained the verdict over their visitors, St Mary’s Ahoghill at a pristine Toome road venue on Saturday evening.
John Brennan’s men were fully expected to prove far too strong for the Clooney men but although the home led from flagfall and continued to set the pace for the duration they were forced to dig deep to get over the line with a 2-20 to 2-15 verdict.
Although Ahoghill stayed in contact with their hosts for most of the game they did look out of contention when a second Paul Mc Cann goal for the Erin’s Own side took them eight points clear at 2-15 to 0-13 but the visitors were not about to make any concession.
The St Mary’s men retained focus and were rewarded with a couple of late goals, both delivered by Donal Graham to ensure the home side were not allowed to coast over the line and a less than convincing home win.
Although they have struggled to make impact this term Ahoghill were first out of the start traps but despite pressing forward in numbers in the opening exchanges the Cloney men did not trouble the scoreboard attendant and in the event it was to be the home side who were to register the first score via Paul Mc Cann.
A good score initiated way back in the rearguard by Justin Crozier with the ball passing through the hands of Ciaran Bradley, and Michael Mc Cann in turn opening the way for the full forward to blast to the net.
The warm favourites were away in style but Ahoghill were not about to go with the pre-ordained script as they returned fire with Gerard Graham and Danny O’ Neill adding back to back points in reply.
Both O’ Neill and corner forward Graham were to continue as almost persistent thorns in the side of a Cargin rear guard which proved mostly off colour throughout with Marty Kane proving an exception standing tall for the duration.
Tomas Mc Cann and Donal Graham swapped points before the home side did up the ante for a time as a trio of unanswered scores despatched in turn by the Mc Cann brothers, Michael and Tomas as well as Enda Mc Grogan ensured Cargin had opened up a six point lead at 1-06 to 1-03 and it looked business as usual for the league leaders.
A well directed approach and a quickly organised counter attack led and finished by centre back Eoin Graham did pull a point back for the Clooney men, but such provoked response from the home side as Ciaran Bradley soloed up the right hand side to split the posts a minute later and when Justin Crozier sent Enda Mc Grogan in he raised another white.
Cargin had gone 1-08 to 0-04 ahead by the 20th minute and although still not impressing they seemed set fair for less than taxing course to another brace of points.
Ahoghill did retain interest in the latter stages of the opening period as Gerard Graham, James O’ Connell, and Aodhan Graham raised white flags in answer to similar scores from Ciaran Bradley (2), and Michael Mc Cann and at the short whistle Cargin were still seven ahead, 1-11 to 0-07.
The opening phase of the second portion proceeded much in the same mode as the opening half with score at one end provoking a similar response at the other and at the end of the third quarter Cargin still retained the luxury of a six point advantage.
Ahoghill did not seem to fit the role of extreme outsiders as they mostly moved forward in confidence and more often than not approach led to a score as Gerard Graham knocked over a couple of frees, Danny O’ Neill added another with Donal Graham raising white as well.
The home side had similar scores from Ciaran Bradley, as well as from the Mc Cann brothers, Michael and Paul but when the home side did allow Ahoghill corner back Bernard Graham passage from deep in his own territory to the solo forward and split the posts the score did underline the failings within.
The visitors were well in range into the last quarter as Gerard Graham added another couple of points but Cargin seemed to up the ante when danger threatened and as they proceeded to dominate the next few minutes as Tomas Mc Cann delivered a 50 metre free all the way over the bar and Paul Mc Cann added a second major.
A well established approach with late replacement Jamie Gribbin, Michael Mc Cann, Justin Crozier, and Tomas Mc Cann involved in the approach as the full forward concluded with the major score.
Ciaran Close and Tomas Mc Cann followed with points apiece and with the end in sight and the home side at 2-18 to 0-13 the issue did seem resolved.
Just five minutes of normal time remaining and with the visitors facing an eleven point deficit they looked down but the Clooney men were not about to remain on the canvas as they returned to the fight.
The home side did seem to ease the foot off the proverbial accelerator and were to pay for the loss of concentration as after Gerard Graham added a 56th minute point Donal Graham added a quickfire brace of goals.
The full forward was well placed in front of posts after a combination involving Thomas Hamill and Danny O’ Neill opened the way in the 57th minute and when his lofted delivery was to finish in the net a minute later a different complexion was on proceedings as the home side were knocked out of their ‘comfort zone’.
Justin Crozier replied with a 61st minute point and although the spirited Clooney men kept at it with a similar score from another Gerard Graham free the last say was to belong to the home side’s John Carron as the midfielder’s 64th minute effort saw them over the winning line at 2-20 to 2-15.
John Mc Nabb, Gerard Mc Corley, Marty Kane, Donnach Mc Keever, Brendan Laverty, Justin Crozier (0-01), David Johnston, Gerard Mc Cann, John Carron (0-01), Ciaran Bradley (0-05), Michael Mc Cann (0-04), Kevin Mc Shane, Enda Mc Grogan (0-02), Paul Mc Cann (2-01), Tomas Mc Cann (0-06).
Ciaran Close (0-01) for K Mc Stocker
Jamie Gribbin for D Johnston
Joe Maybin for G Mc Cann
Michael Clarke for E Mc Grogan
Tony Scullion for D Mc Keever
Frank Neeson, Chris Mc Glone, Stephen O’ Connell, Bernard Graham (0-01), Eamon Brady, Eoin Graham (0-01), Fionnbar O’ Neill, Patrick Graham, Thomas Hamill, Danny O’ Neill (0-02), James O’ Connell (0-01), Sean O’ Connell, Aodhan Graham (0-01), Donal Graham (2-02), Gerard Graham (0-07).
Referee Gerard Dougan (Kickham’s)