by Geordie McGuckin
South West Antrim Junior Football – Mc Cormick Cup
Casement’s Portglenone 3-11 All Saint’s Ballymena 0-14
‘Goals win games’ is the old adage and such was most certainly true in this instance as three majors collected by the eventual winners in the opening period of the Mc Cormick Cup final ensured Casement’s collected the silverware.
The Bannsider’s were always on the look out to deliver quick ball into their inside forwards, Peter Duffin and Michal Hagan and such was to prove a winning policy as the lively corner men delivered the goods.
Little separated the sides in the opening minutes and it was to be the All Saint’s men who enjoyed an early 0-02 to 0-01 advantage.
The lively Brendan Mc Donnell, who was to prove a thorn in the Portglenone men’s defence throughout, had grabbed both in reply to a one by Casement’s veteran Tony Convery.
Convery was first to a Peter Duffin cross to fist over the bar in the 8th minute and the resultant kick out was to see the latter grab the opening goal.
Mark Graham had risen to collect and when he sent Ryan Convery away the wing half back sent the pace laden Duffin in to plant the leather in the corner of the net.
The Duffin goal ensured a lead for the Casement’s men which they were not to surrender for the remainder of the game.
All Saint’s found it difficult to curb the threat posed by the quicksilver Duffin and although he missed a 17th minute penalty his delivery opened the way for his compatriot in the other corner, Michael Hagan to plant the ball in the net.
Casement’s had moved 2-03 to 0-03 ahead and further point from Duffin and Hagan which sandwiched a similar score provided by All Saint’s Brendan Mc Donnell increased the lead.
As the end of the opening period approached the Casement’s men continued on the tried and trusted method of seeking out their corner men at every opportunity and after Owen Kelly added another point Michael Hagan was to bag the third goal.
Mark Duffin and the ever available Peter Duffin combined in style to send the corner forward away for a second major delivered in stylish finish in the 29th minute.
All Saint’s had the last say on the board as a stylish Connell Lemon grabbed a 31st minute point but those opening period majors aided the Bannsider’s to lead 3-06 to 0-05 at the break.
Casement’s appeared to have one foot on the podium as the second period proceeded with a ten point lead which suggested safety.
Even though the Ballymena men were away first with a stylish Connell Lemon point the Casement’s men were quick to provide reply as both Peter Duffin and Michael Hagan raised white flags apiece.
The Ports had an eleven point cushion at this juncture which strongly suggested the calm waters of safety had been reached but the gallant All Saint’s had other ideas.
Time still remained for the Saints to stem the tide and indeed they seemed to be more than aware as they hit the next six points unanswered to reduce the deficit to a now manageable five points.
Brendan Mc Donnell’s 35th minute score boosted the revival and when Luke O’ Rawe added a couple, followed by scores from Damien Casey and Kavin Keenan the Ballymena side suddenly appeared to have a chance.
The previous dominance enjoyed by the Casements seemed eroded as the All Saint’s revival gained momentum, but the Bannsider’s turned the corner and back to back points from Peter Duffin and the hugely experienced Tony Convery steadied the ship.
The Portglenone men were back with seven points in hand and they were not to falter again.
Brendan Mc Donnell and the accurate Luke O’ Rawe added another to the All Saint’s total but in the event this was to be as close as they were to get.
With Mark Graham leading by example the Ports stood tall in the latter stages to thwart the intentions of the Ballymena men, and a late injury time Ronan Kelly point saw them conclude at 3-09 to 0-14 to clinch the Mc Cormick Cup.
Bryan Mc Cann, Declan Lennon, Adrian Anderson, Adrian Mc Keever, Ryan Convery, Declan Mc Erlean, Conor Mc Ghee, Stephen Kelly, John Lewis, Owen Kelly (0-01), Mark Graham, Fearghal O’ Kane (0-01), Peter Duffin (1-04), Tony Convery (0-02), Michael Hagan (2-02).
Ronan Kelly (0-01) for D Mc Erlean
Adrian Carey for C Mc Ghee
Patrick Graffin for D Lennon
Brian Mc Manus for M Hagan
Emmett Mc Allister, Padraig Magill, Ronan Ward, Rhys O’ Mullan, Niall Walsh, Damian Gillen, Darragh Mussen, Luke O’ Rawe (0-03), Conail Lemon (0-03), Brendan Mc Donnell (0-05), Ciaran Mc Larnon, Kavan Keenan (0-01), Niall Shannon, Damien Casey, James Gillan.
Bailey Mc Neill for D Gillan
Jack Magill for N Shannon
Eoin Walsh for D Mussen
Referee Brendan Mc Cartan (Aghagallon)