James Smith fires past Conor McGilligan for St. Brigid’s third goal
O’Neill’s ACFL Division 2
Dunloy 0-6 St Brigid’s 7-11
Sunday May 13
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pearse Park, Dunloy
St Brigid’s returned to winning ways on Sunday afternoon with a thumping victory over a hugely understrength Dunloy. The goals rained in on the Cuchullains on a sun kissed Pearse Park as the south Belfast side proved to be utterly dominant from the first whistle.
A brace of from Ben Leonard along with majors from James Smith, John Blaney, Ruairi O’Neill, Ronan McGrady and Peter Henvey reflected a relentless performance from St Brigids as they dismantled the Cuchullains until the final whistle.
The home side put in a better performance in the second half with Keelan Molloy, Jamie McFerran and Callum Scullion impressing but they had no answer to the St Brigid’s onslaught.
Playing with the wind, the direct and powerful running of the visitors was prominent from the throw in. John Blaney adding the first score of the match with barely 20 seconds gone and while they didn’t record another score until the eighth minute, it was all one way traffic with the Cuchullains struggling to get out of their own half.
Three goals in as many minutes gave St Brigid’s just reward for their early supremacy. After James Smith initial shot was superbly saved by Conor McGilligan in the Dunloy goals in the ninth minute, they worked the rebound to Blaney but his pointed effort was blocked with the ball looping behind the Dunloy ‘keeper over the line. A fortuitous strike but there was nothing lucky with St Bridgid’s next. Jack Dowling driving at the heart of the Dunloy defence before laying off to Ruairi O’Neill who did the rest. O’Neill turned provider with the next attack, laying a perfect flicked pass into the path of James Smith who finished to the back of the Dunloy net. A devastating spell that put the visitors firmly in charge.
Dunloy did manage to carve open a goal opportunity midway through the half, a flowing move leaving Karl Fitzpatrick one on one with the Dunloy man showing enough composure to dummy James Allen only for two St Brigid’s defenders to recover and deflect his shot onto the post.
St, Brigid’s Ben Sinnott lays the ball off as Kevin McAllister moves in to challenge
The home side opened their account in the 16th minute when Conal Dooey split the posts but that was to be their only score of the half as St Brigid’s continued to dominate. Points from Oran Doyle and Cathal Conway opened a 12 point lead before they scored their fourth goal of the match. Ben Leonard rising highest to punch to the back of the net in the 28th minute.
Trailing by 16 points at the short whistle, it was damage limitation for the home side in the second half and they were much more organised and posed more of a threat in attack but another quickfire brace put the St Brigid’s men into cruise control. The first came when Ben Leonard found the back of the Dunloy net, showing neat footwork to evade the Cuchullains challenges and substitute Ronan McGrady scoring a 52nd minute penalty to open a 23 point lead.
St Brigid’s were in seventh heaven in the last minute of normal time when Peter Henvey scored the last goal of the game after a flowing move left a queue of St Brigid’s players looking to add their name to the scoresheet.
John Blaney completed the scoring with the last kick of the game to take his tally to 1-2 for the hour and give St Brigid’s a comprehensive 26 point win. The Cuchullains will be hoping for better fortunes when they make the short journey to Rasharkin in two weeks time while St Brigid’s will be looking to build on their impressive outing when they travel to Tír na nÓg on the same day.
Dunloy: Conor McGilligan; Kieran Hughes, Callum Scullion, Stephen McToal; Sean Og McErlean, Jamie McFerran, Chrissy McMahon; Kevin McQuillan, Karl Fitzpatrick; Kevin McAllister, Conal Cunning, Liam McCann; Anthony Doran, Keelan Molloy, Conal Dooey
St Brigid’s: James Allen; Finn McKernan, John Toner, Tomás Corey; Michael Cummings, Ben Sinnott, Paul Finnegan; Cathal Conway, Jack Dowling; James Smith, Oran Doyle, John Blaney; Ethan Carleton, Ben Leonard, Ruairi O’Neill
Scorers for Dunloy: Keelan Molloy 0-2; Kevin McAllister 0-1; Conal Cunning 0-1; Conal Dooey 0-1; Declan McGarry 0-1
Scorers for St Brigid’s: Ben Leonard 2-1; James Smith 1-3 (3fs); John Blaney 1-2; Ruairi O’Neill 1-1; Ronan McGrady 1-00 (1-00 pen); Peter Henvey 1-00; Cathal Conway 0-1; Oran Doyle 0-1; Ethan Carleton 0-1; Patrick Finnegan 0-1
Referee: Tomás Eastwood (Naomh Éanna)