Aggies Through to Semi-Final

8A

St Agnes 0-7 – 0-5 McQuillan’s Ballycastle

 

St Agnes’ booked their place in the Junior Championship Semi-Finals with a battling win over Ballycastle in Randalstown.

A superb opening 30 minutes and solid defensive display in the second half secured a narrow victory for the city-men, with John McCaffery at the forefront, helping himself to two points and causing numerous problems in an impressive display.

The young McQuillan’s side will feel hard done by however, as a string of goal chances and missed opportunities in the second half put paid to their challenge for this year, Thomas McIlroy coming the closest as he drew a fantastic point blank save from Aggies keeper Colm Carroll with the teams level at five apiece.

St Agnes will reflect on their scintillating start to the game being the basis for the result, as they came flying out of the blocks in the early exchanges, moving the ball with fluidity through the middle of the field.

It would only take four minutes for this pressure to tell, as McCaffery stepped up after a sweeping move to get them off the mark.

Struggling to cope with the movement and slick passing of their opponents, Ballycastle found themselves further behind as Cormac Flannery added a second before Conal Turley strode forward from midfield to put St Agnes three ahead after 10 minutes, fisting the ball over the bar from close range.

With McQuillan’s chasing the game and men across the heavy pitch, Conleth McCaughan was the first to show any real threat as he picked up the ball in the left channel but could not find his range in a rare attack for the black and amber men.

The same could not be said for St Agnes’ however, as their decision-making with the ball in hand and building play from the back again paid dividends, Declan Crummey finishing off another flowing attacking move with a right footed finish between the posts.

Following a few tasty challenges however, Ballycastle soon snapped into life, as Rowan Campbell collected the ball in space and drove left footed over the bar to get Dessie Mallon’s men off the mark.

The physical game seemed to suit the glensmen more as they continued to press, as the imposing Thomas McIlroy and Conor Kelly both went close at the midpoint.

McCaffery settled the nerves somewhat for St Agnes’ as he collected a quick free down the left and stuck his second of the game to restore the Belfast men’s four point advantage late in the opening half.

This would be their last attempt though, as Ballycastle fought hard to get back into the game, Caolan McCaughan coming close in the last few minutes as he collected a pass from Stephen McGill and fired a ferocious shot just wide of goal.

Conor Kelly dragged Ballycastle back into the game as he cut in from the left hand side and pointed with ease, before centre back Stephen McIlroy reduced the deficit to two with a marauding run forward moments before the whistle.

5A

McQuillan’s continued this momentum into the second half as Rowan Campbell reacted quickest as Ballycastle surged forward, collecting a pass in space from Caolan McCaughan and pointing his second of the game dead centre of the posts.

And the town’ soon found themselves level as Campbell was hauled down just outside the 20m line, Stephen McGill finding his range with the resultant free.

The game descended into a somewhat scrappy affair as conditions underfoot worsened, both teams struggling to find any real rhythm.

It was Ballycastle who were applying the pressure however, as Stephen McGill tested Aggies goalkeeper Carroll, meeting a Conleth McCaughan free with a diving fist which the goalkeeper did well to keep out.

It was not to stop there, as relentless surging runs from Conor Boyd kept McQuillan’s on the front foot, the young wing-back picked out Campbell in the corner, and under the challenge of two men managed to find Thomas McIlroy free on the edge of the square, however his thunderous effort at goal was superbly kept out by Colm Carroll to keep the game all square.

Having defended their line for almost the entirety of the second half, St Agnes’ finally broke, Brian Crossan converting his third attempt to put the Belfast men back in front.

It was their devastating counter attack that would finally kill the game as Ronan Carroll sent a long direct ball to the lively Crossan once more who in turn found substitute Dan Turley in space, and seconds after taking the field, sealed the victory for St Agnes’.

Ballycastle tried in vain to push for the winning goal, Stephen McGill, Conor Kelly and Rowan Campbell all coming close in the final minutes, however were unable to find a score.

St Agnes’ move on through in anticipation of who they will face in the Semi-Finals following this tough test, while Ballycastle’s youthful and aspiring team, who have surprised many this year, are left to regroup and push on for next year’s challenge.

 

St Agnes

Colm Carroll, Briondan McLarnon, Neill Gillespie, James Grieve, Conor Pelan (Paul McClennaghan), Ronan Carroll, Conor Caldwell, Conal Turley, Conor Gilligan, John McCaffery (James Halleron), Cormac Flannery, Brian Crossan, Kealan McCallan (Dan Turley), Declan Crummey, Declan McLarnon.

 

McQuillan’s

Paddy McAuley, Oisin Donnelly, Conor McAuley, Ryan McAfee, Conor Donnelly, Stephen McIlroy, Conor Boyd, Aaron McCaughan, Caolan McCaughan, Conleth McCaughan, Stephen McGill, Rowan Campbell, Conor Kelly, Thomas McIlroy, Brian Gaynor (Ciaran Butler)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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