Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship
Lamh Dhearg 1-14 St Paul’s 0-7
Report & pics by John McIlwaine
Lamh Dhearg cruised past the challenge of St Paul’s in Saturday evening’s opening round of the Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship at Corrigan Park. In a game spoiled by a strong swirling wind which made scoring and accurate passing difficult the Hannahstown men were not unduly troubled by a St Paul’s side who did not register their first score of the game until the 29th minute, despite having the advantage of the wind.
Lamh Dhearg were in control from the throw-in and were a point ahead inside the opening minute. They dominated play and created a host of chances but shooting into the strong wind was difficult and a host of chances were squandered before Paddy Cunningham claimed their second point in the sixth minute from a 13 metre free. It was a further eight minutes until Cunningham added his side’s third from a free which came following a high tackle on right half forward Eoin McKeown, and a further eleven minutes before they registered their fourth, a sweet strike with his left foot from Ryan Murray on the turn from out on the left touchline. During that period St Paul’s had started to look a little threatening and they came close on twenty minutes when Mickey Joe Cooper hit a post and Damian Duffy shot across the face of goal.
Murray’s great score appeared to lift the Hannahstown men and soon afterwards a good move ended with championship debutant Ciaran O’Flaharty firing inches over the St Paul’s crossbar from close range. The Fermanagh man could, and maybe should, have had a goal but he was from his pass a minute later that the breakthrough finally come when his pass inside to Ryan Murray was expertly slotted low across St Paul’s keeper Kiefer Toolan and into the net.
With only two minutes of first half play left you began to worry if St Paul’s would even register a score, but they broke their duck just before the end of normal time when Damian Martin converted a 13 metre free and two minutes into injury time the midfielder grabbed his team’s second, a fantastic score from fifty metres out on the right touchline which even surpassed Ryan Murray’s earlier point for Lamh Dhearg.
Six behind and now facing the wind St Paul’s were going to have to produce something special if they were to get back into this game and it soon became clear that it was not going to happen as Lamh Dhearg hit the first four points of the second half through Eoin McKeown, Brendan McComb, Ben Rice and Ciaran O’Flaherty to pull ten clear. Substitute Liam McKenna got St Paul’s going with a pointed free on forty minutes, and he was to add two more before the end with his neat chipping style of kick, making you wonder why he had not been introduced earlier. Corner back Padraic Lowe also foraged forward to add an excellent point from play but Lamh Dhearg were finding the target with ease at the other end as they cruised through to the next round with ease.
LÁMH DHEARG: J Finucane; P Larkin (0-1), A McAufield, C Nolan, M McGarry, D Lynch, B McComb (0-1); P Fitzsimons, K Quinn (0-3, 2 frees); E McKeown, C Flaherty (0-3), B Rice; P Cunningham (0-4, 3 frees), M Herron, R Murray (1-2). Subs: T McCrudden for P Larkin (HT), P Gormley for B Rice (45), S Tully for B McComb (51), P larkin for E McKeown (58).
ST PAUL’S: K Toolan; P Copeland, D Burns, P Lowe (0-1); D Duffy, S Bradley, A Kavanagh; D Martin, M Connolly (0-1); J Duffy, L McLarnon, C McCartan (0-2, 1 free); MJ Cooper, L Carland, P Doyle. Subs: G Doyle for MJ Cooper (HT), L McKenna (0-3 frees) for L McLarnon (43), D magee for C McCartan (51), A Finnegan for D Martin (51), E Hughes for J Duffy (55).