St Malachy’s hold on as Eire Og come oh so close

Antrim Junior Football Championship preliminary round


Thy shall not pass! St Malachy’s players line the goal for Eire Og’s last gasp free kick during Friday night’s Junior Football Championship preliminary round at Musgrave Park Pic by John McIlwaine

St Malachy’s 2-9  Eire Og 1-11

by John McIlwaine

ST Malachy’s held off a gallant fightback by Eire Og at Musgrave Park on Friday night to book a place in the quarter final of the Junior Football Championship.

It all looked like plain sailing for St Malachy’s when they opened up an eight point lead with goals from substitute Karl McCavana and full-forward Stephen Carson nearing the end of the third quarter. However that was to be the last time they would trouble the scoreboard operator as Eire Og battled back, point by point, to almost snatch a draw.

They cut the gap back to just two as the game went into injury-time and when Conor McKenna was pulled down when breaking through on goal the Eire Og players thought they had been awarded the penalty that could win them the game. However match referee John Moran was clear that the original offence had happened outside the large ‘square’ and instead awarded a 13 metre free. Eire Og brought the troops back and lined twelve men along the goal line, but they were not called into action as McKenna’s shot flew over the crossbar, and the final whistle sounded on the kick-out.

Eire Og got away to a great start to when full-forward John Erskine took advantage of slackness in the St Malachy’s defence to fire the ball to the net and though McKenna pulled a couple back for the men from the Markets, points from Drain and Carson maintained their goal lead.

St Malachy’s were starting to get on top though and they came close to taking the lead when Carson’s fine effort appeared to be goal bound, but Eire Og keeper McAuley was equal to it and touched it over the bar to keep his goal intact. St Malachy’s were now the dominant force however and despite squandering a host of chances McGivern, Turley and Carson did manage to find the target to send their team to the changing rooms at half time with a one point lead.


St Malachy’s dominated the third quarter as a well taken goal early in the second half by Karl McCavana gave them a four point cushion and when Carson grabbed his side’s second it looked like plain sailing. But Eire Og had no intention of giving up the fight and with Conor McKenna leading the line they slowly but surely clawed their way back into the game. With the gap down to two and clock ticking toward injury time McKenna broke through the middle and bore down on goal. The Eire Og fans were on their feet at the chance of a winning goal, but a St Malachy’s defender ‘took one for the team; and dragged McKenna down, just on the edge of the large square. There were protests from the Eire Og players that is should have been a penalty but as photographs show the official was correct, and though McKenna hit the free well it rose over the crossbar and the chance of the winning goal was gone.


S Turley; C Corr, C Connolly, P Carlisle; C Martin, M Connolly, A Dobbin 0-1; P Smyth 0-1 (0-1f), C Vernon; A McLaughlin, S Coleman 0-1, A Connors; P Turley 0-2 (0-2fs), S Carson 1-3, C Drain 0-1.

Subs: K McCavana 1-0 for McLaughlin (25mins), T Rice for Smyth (31mins).


C McAuley; K Ryan, J George, C Ellis; S Erskine, D Kennedy, C McAreavey; C Daykin, F Grimley; R McIlroy, C McKenna 0-9 (0-3fs), C Rice; J Devlin, J Erskine 1-0, D Reid.

Subs: J Hughes 0-1 for Devlin (40mins), C Cochrane for McAreavey (40mins) M Donnelly for Grimley (53mins).

REFEREE: John Moran (Aldergrove)


Conor McKenna is pulled down just outside the large ‘square’


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