All County Football League – Division 1
By Kevin Herron
Lámh Dhearg 1-15-3-06 St Gall’s
Lámh Dhearg ended their three game winless run in the league and opponents St Gall’s league chances in the process with a 1-15-3-06 win in a high scoring game at Hannahstown this evening. Lámh Dhearg were boosted by the return of midfielder Pearse Fiztsimons, Paddy Cunningham and former Fermanagh county star Ciaran Flaherty pre-match, while St Gall’s manager Sean Kelly was forced to rest many of his big hitting dual stars with the Miltown men taking on Sarsfields on Friday evening in the Intermediate hurling quarter-final. Despite this St Gall’s battled bravely with player-manager Kelly contributing two points to the Gall’s first-half tally.
Paddy Cunningham made the impact on his return from holidays landing a point from play and a converted free. Terry McCrudden was moved into the full-forward role and he was in the right place at the right time as St Gall’s stand in goalkeeper Jack McCrea parried the ball off the full-forwards head and it went over the bar. The Lámhs full-forward line of Cunningham, McCrudden and Ryan Murray were keeping the scoreboard ticking over, Murray chipped in with four first-half points but at the other end Kevin McGoran and Michael Pollock ensured the Milltown men stayed in touch. It was St Gall’s who claimed the only goal of the opening half as Darren Niblock rifled past Mark McIlvenny in the Lámhs goal, however Paddy Cunningham converted a late free to ensure the Hannahstown men would return to the dressing room with a slender one-point lead, 0-08-1-04.
Lámh Dhearg rang the changes at the break with John Finucane replacing McIlvenny as he continues his return from injury, dual star Brendan McComb was replaced by Flaherty on his return; while Ben Rice replaced Stephen Tully. The changes in personal failed to upset the Lámhs rhythm as Paddy Cunningham popped the ball over the bar from Aaron McAufield’s through ball and the corner-forward added a quick second to stretch his sides lead to three. Declan Lynch made it three scores on the spin for the Hannahstown men, before St Gall’s player- manager Kelly replied with a point at the other end . Lámh Dhearg substitutes Flaherty and Rice were next on the scoresheet, Flaherty converted after Michael Herron’s lay-off before Ben Rice landed a superb point from play to make it 0-13-1-05 with 40 minutes on the clock. St Gall’s refused to throw in the towel however and corner-forward Kevin McGoran blasted past John Finucane and a neat point almost instantly from midfielder Terry O’Neill wiped the Lámh’s lead to a point within two minutes of going five ahead. Midway through the second-half full-forward McCrudden was about to bear down on goal before being upended in the area and referee Collie McKnight signalled for a penalty. Paddy Cunningham took responsibility and rifled low underneath the despairing dive of McCrea and into the net to make it 1-13-2-06. Cunningham converted a free in the aftermath to stretch his sides lead to five and with the game seemingly more secure, dual players Paddy Mervyn and Chris Nolan departed for Ryan Diamond and Patrick Larkin; while McCrudden was replaced by Peter Gormley. Eoghan McKeown looked to have wrapped up a comfortable win for the Lámhs with a point three-minutes from time, but in the final minute St Gall’s substitute and regular goalkeeper Chris Kerr rifled home a goal after a sweeping pass from Kelly to make it 1-15-3-06. The Miltown men pushed for a late equaliser though Lámh Dhearg held on for a hard fought win to end a three game losing sequence and give them a boost as they prepare for a championship clash with St. Pauls two weeks on Saturday.
Lámh Dhearg: M McIlvenny, M McGarry, A McAufeild, C Nolan, P Mervyn, M Herron, B McComb, P Fitzsimons, S Tully, E McKeown, D Lynch, K Quinn, P Cunningham (1-06,1-03f), T McCrudden (0-01), R Murray (0-04). Subs: J Finucane for M McIlvenny (30 mins), C Flaherty (0-01) for B McComb (30 mins), B Rice (0-01) for S Tully, P Gormley for T McCrudden (52 mins), R Diamond for P Mervyn (52 mins), P Larkin for C Nolan (53 mins).
St Galls: J McCrea, C Quigg, A McClean, S O’Hagan, L McCann, C Brady, C Bradley, T O’Neill (0-01), M Pollock (0-01), S O’Hara, S Kelly (0-03), S Dodds, K McGoran (1-01), D Niblock (1-00), K Niblock. Subs: C Kerr (1-00)
Referee: Collie McKnight