All Saints 2-18 Kickham’s Ardoyne 4-10
Division 2 strugglers Kickham’s Ardoyne pushed All Saints Ballymena all the way to the wire in this high scoring encounter at Slemish Park on Sunday. The home side continued as they have done for most of the season, posting a big score but they continued to leak goals like a sieve and in the end nearly paid the price.
It started well enough for the Ballymena men as Ciaran McLarnon and Paddy McAleer pointed them two in front after five minutes before Cormac Mullan pulled one back for the visitors with eight minutes on the clock.
Sean McVeigh extended the home lead with a good point but All Saints were failing to push up on the Ardoyne kick-outs and the Kickham’s continued to build confidently from the back and were awarded a penalty in the 10th minute which Aidan McNeill confidently tucked away to put his side ahead.
It took a great save from Emmet McAllister to deny Mullan a second goal and in the follow up Aiden McNeill saw his shot ricochet off an upright as the visitors grew in confidence with the All Saints defence at sixes and sevens.
Youngster Benny McDonnell and Michael McCarry replied with points for the Slemish Park side to push them ahead once more but they continued to allow Ardoyne unchallenged kick-outs and again the visitors opened them up with a flowing move which saw Barney Logan yellow carded and the big mid-fielder might well have had a black.
From the resulting free Cormac Mullan levelled matters once more and at this stage Ardoyne certainly didn’t look like the side who are propping up the division 2 table but again All Saints were able to respond through Michael McCarry and Sean McVeigh to edge two in front after 21 minutes.
Mullan replied for the visitors once more before Sean McVeigh set up Brendan McDonnell for an All Saints goal in the 24th minute and Emmet Killough followed with a point to edge the Slemish Park men six in front.
Paddy McAleer and Michael McCarry (0-2) finished the half with points for the home side before Mullan from another free concluding the Ardoyne first half scoring and All Saints appeared to have recovered from their early jitters as they headed for the half time talk leading by nine points.
It was visitors Ardoyne who made the brighter start to the second half and it was clear they were enjoying the space afforded to them by the home side as Cormac Mullan sent over before Joe McNeill placed Ciaran McNeill for another point in the 8th minute.
Jim Og McAuley added another for the Belfast side as Ardoyne continued to dominate the early second half exchanges and 11 minutes had elapsed before Michael ‘Gooch’ McCarry opened All Saints second half account.
The Ardoyne second half offensive continued as All Saints lost Ronan Ward to a black card and Paul McCann, who had replaced Emmet McAllister in goals was forced to come off his line twice making fine catches to deny Jim Og McAuley.
Paddy McAleer with an excellent point relieved the pressure for a time as the game entered the final quarter and when Sean McVeigh added another in the 16th minute All Saints looked at last to be heading for a comfortable victory.
That notion looked even more probable when a great flowing move, started deep in defence by Emmet Killough resulted in a splendid goal from Paddy McAleer to put the home side ten clear and the same player might have had another soon after but was denied by a good save by Ardoyne custodian, Patrick McCullough.
Still it looked done and dusted at this stage but All Saints lost Barney Logan to a second yellow card with ten minutes remaining and when Ciaran Braniff struck with an excellent goal the visitors sprung to life once more.
The same player added a point and another from a Cormac Mullan free and a splendid fisted goal from Michael Magill had the Ballymena men hanging on for dear life. A Michael McCarry point with time almost up edged All Saints five ahead but when replacement Aidan O’Connell pulled down Cormac Mullan Aiden McNeill stepped up to tuck away the resulting penalty.
McNeill’s penalty goal cut the deficit to two and Ryan O’Reilly’s full-time whistle came as a relief to a home side who were all over the place at this stage and there’s sure to be a lot of soul searching at the next training session to iron out the collective defensive problems within in the side.
While this win keeps All Saints at the top of the second group it will be Ardoyne who will have taken the greater satisfaction from their performance despite defeat. They had great performers on the day in Aaron Stewart, Conor Finnegan, Joe McNeill, Michael Magill, Aidan McNeill, Joe Og McAuley, Cormac Mullan and Ciaran Braniff.
Paddy McAleer, Michael McCarry, Brendan McDonnell, Emmet Killough, Sean McVeigh, Damian Gillan, Emmet McAllister, Paul McCann and Joe Rocks were best for the winners.
All Saints: Emmet McAllister: Ronan ward, Andy Kelly, James Gillan: Emmet Killough, Peter McNicholl, Ciaran McLarnon: Barney Logan, Sean McVeigh: Damian Gillan, Michael McCarry, Connell Lemon: Joseph Rocks, Paddy McAleer, Brendan McDonnell. Subs: Damian Kelly for Ciaran McLarnon, Padraig Magill for Ronan Ward, Aidan O’Connell for James Gillan.
Ardoyne: Patrick McCullough: Niall Conwell, James McNally, Aaron Stewart: Conor Magee, Conor Finnegan, Pearse Marley: Joe McNeill, Gary McKernan: Michael Magill, Aiden McNeill, Ciaran McNeill: Ciaran Braniff, Joe Og McAuley, Gerard Mackey: Sub: Gerard Mailey.
Referee: Ryan O’Reilly (Glenravel)