Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship
Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship (quarter-final)
St John’s 2-15 Glenavy 0-9
St. John’s advanced to the semi-final of the Antrim Senior Football Championship where they will meet holders, Erin’s Own Cargin following this 12 point victory over Division 2 Champions, Glenavy at Hannastown on Saturday evening.
Any casual observer who was not in attendance at the last of the quarter final senior championship games will be forgiven if they felt that this was a walk in the park for the Corrigan men but in the event such was not the case at all.
In actual fact the first division side had the utmost difficulty in seeing off the Chapel Hill men from the scene and their addition of 2-03 in the latter stages was window dressing for a task which was far from easy.
Although both sides were reduced to 14 players , St Josephs also had Chris Scullion black carded, but this was not a bad tempered affair and played in a good spirit from start to conclusion.
The Corrigan men entered the fray as the hot favourites and in fact the outcome never seemed in any real doubt as the Johnnies were never headed and while Glenavy closed down space and forced St John’s into taking pot shots from distance, they didn’t have enough going forward to seriously threaten the Whiterock men.
Dominic Gallagher did cause problems for the St John’s defence when in possession but when he looked for the arrival of support more often than not none were coming forward to lend a hand and chances were limited.
Glenavy seemed to employ a damage limitation strategy throughout defending in numbers and always seeking to gather and strike on the break.
With numbers stationed on the half way line this ensured that most times St John’s were faced with a wall of orange jerseys when they looked to get into the scoring zone and this, along with the stiff cross-field wind, contributed to them having a total of 13 wides over the hour.
It took the Corrigan Park side until the fifth minute before they registered with Paddy McBride converting a free.
Glenavy hit back soon after when Dominic Gallagher won a free that Alex Gallagher tapped over, but the West Belfast side nudged back ahead straight away when Jack Hannigan’s shot from out on the left went over via the top of the crossbar.
The game then settled into a pattern of St John’s dominating possession and territory, but their efforts were not yielding scores although a McBride free did double their advantage.
On 19 minutes, a McBride shot from out on the right was way off target, but Matthew Fitzpatrick did well to keep it in and his thunderous drive at goal was superbly saved up and over by Glenavy goalkeeper, Gerard Hamilton.
Dominic Gallagher then hit back after a weaving run and the gap was down to one on 26 minutes when full-back, Jonathan Phillips finished off a fine move with a score.
Glenavy would certainly have been the happier of the teams at this stage as the game entered first half stoppage time, but St John’s enjoyed a mini purple patch before the break with Conor Johnston and Michael Bradley (two) kicking excellent scores to leave them a much healthier 0-7 to 0-3 ahead at the half way stage.
They extended their lead two minutes after the restart thanks to a McBride free, but Glenavy responded with Michael McCourt converting a placed ball at the other end.
Conor Johnston – the liveliest of the Johnnies’ forwards – weaved infield from the left and scored while a McBride free made it a six-point game on 38 minutes.
Glenavy were then reduced to 14 players when Conor Hamill received a second yellow, but they dug in and hit back with scores from Patrick Gallagher and substitute, James Gallagher to leave St John’s 0-10 to 0-6 ahead going into the final quarter.
Johnston then exhibited his skills once again as this time, with his left boot, he curled over.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Glenavy were enjoying their best spell of the game and a fine move saw Phillips kick his second of the game and then Michael McCourt pointed a free to leave just three in it despite their loss of Chris Scullion – a first half replacement for the injured Ciaran Loney – to a black card.
Just when it seemed Glenavy might mount a serious challenge, St John’s replied with Johnston pointing yet again and while James Gallagher got his second of the day on 54 minutes to leave just three in it again, this would be as good as it would get for St Joseph’s and Gallagher who was then sent off along with St Johns’ Ciaran Garland for an off-the-ball clash.
The Johnnies just found another gear with Ryan McNulty kicking a free and they sealed their win in the first of an incredible eight added minutes when Bradley slid in at the back post to turn McNulty’s ball across the face of goal into the net.
A second goal arrived straight after when Fitzpatrick worked his way in from the right to blast home and late scores from McNulty and substitute, Conal McGlade put a further gloss on the score as the Johnnies finished 12 point winners which was a little unkind on Glenavy.
ST JOHN’S: P Nugent; C Garland, A Douglas, M Dudley; P Donnelly, S Tierney, R McNulty (0-2, 1 free); R McCafferty, S McDonagh; P McBride (0-5, 4 frees), M Bradley (1-2), M Fitzpatrick (1-1); L Peden, Conor Johnston (0-4), J Hannigan (0-1). Subs: A Oliver for P Donnelly (36), C McGlade (0-1) for S McDonagh (53).
GLENAVY: G Hamilton; M Nelson, J Phillips (0-2), N McLaughlin; M Hamill, C Hamill, R Phillips; M Johnston, C Loney; P Gallagher, O Gallagher (0-1), M McCourt (0-2 frees); F Cunningham, D Gallagher (0-1), A Gallagher (0-1 free). Subs: C Scullion for C Loney (9), J Gallagher (0-2) for F Cunningham (43), N McConnell for A Gallagher (46), M Doherty for M McCourt (59). Black card: C Scullion (48, replaced by S McGirr).