Strong finish sees St. Paul’s gain valuable win

All County Football League Division 1

Ahoghill 1-17 St. Paul’s 2-15

A strong finish by basement club, St. Paul’s saw them come from seven points down to beat St. Mary’s Ahoghill in a high scoring game in  Cloney on Sunday. Playing with the wind in the first half Ahoghill looked on their way to victory when they led by seven points at half time but after the break the visitors took advantage of the strengthening wind to claw back the St. Mary’s lead.

Ahoghill were first off the mark when Gerard Graham pointed them ahead in the opening minute and they went on  to lead 0-3 to 0-1 with eight minutes gone through a James O’Connell double with the St. Paul’s score coming from Liam McKenna.

A pointed free and one from play by Liam McKenna tied the contest before Gerarad Graham and Sean O’Connell edged the Cloney side ahead once more with 21 minutes gone. Stephen Rooney pulled one back for the visitors but it was Ahoghill who began to take control and they finished the half with a flurry.

Gerard Graham pointed another free and followed with one from play and further points from Owen Neeson, Thomas Hamill and a goal from Dan O’Neill in response to a late reply from Mickey Joe Cooper saw the home side turn around 1-9 to 0-5 ahead but they might have been further ahead at this stage.

After the break it was a different story and indeed that late point from Cooper was to prove a valuable score in the end as the Shaw’s Road side set about reeling in the Ahoghill lead. There was little to suggest that they were going to succeed in the early exchanges however as St. Mary’s matched them score for score early on.

Points from Michael Connolly, Liam McLarnon, Liam Carland and Conor Burns were matched by similar scores from  Bernard Graham, Dan O’Neill, James O’Connell and Fionnbar O’Neill for the Cloney men before Liam Carland struck with a St. Paul’s goal in the 11th minute to bring the hoops right back into contention.

Liam McKenna added a point to cut the deficit to three but Ahoghill appeared to have weathered the onslaught as they responded with points from James O’Connell and Dan O’Neill to edge five in front once more with ten minutes remaining.

The visitors had the bit firmly between their teeth however at this stage and a goal from that man Carland again paved the way for a storming finish. Liam McLarnon added a point to close the gap to the minimum but Ahoghill again found a response through points from Neil O’Connell and Fionnbar O’Neill to go three ahead once more with seven minutes remaining.

There was to be no denying the city men however as they finished with a flurry through Liam McLarnon, Aiden Kavanagh, and Conor Burns to draw level with three minutes remaining and just when it looked like ending all square the St. Paul’s pressure finally paid off with Burns stepping up to direct a free between the uprights.

This win hands St. Paul’s a lifeline as they battle to avoid relegation to division 2 following one year in division one and leaves them sitting on six points with Ahoghill remaining on seven and Aldergrove, who lost away to St. Teresa’s on eight and the fight looks like going right down to the last day of the season.

Ahoghill: Francis Neeson: Chris McGlone, Stephen O’Connell, Eamon Brady: Bernard Graham, Dominic Neeson, Fionnbar O’Neill: Neil O’Connell, Thomas Hamill: Owen Neeson, James O’Connell, Dan O’Neill: Gerard Graham, Sean O’Connell, James Magee. Subs: Patrick Graham for Owen Neeson, Thomas McGlone for James Magee, Eoin Graham for Chris McGlone.

St. Pauls: Kiefer Tolan: Don Burns, Patrick Crawford, Patrick Copeland: Damian Duffy, Billy Joe Burns, Aiden Kavanagh: Michael Connolly, Stephen Rooney: Joe Duffy, Liam McKenna: Liam McLarnon: Mickey Joe Cooper, Liam Carland, Conor McCartan.

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Defeat to St Paul’s leaves Ahoghill with the backs firmly to the wall as they battle to avoid relegation

 

 

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