Ciaran Neeson who scored 1-6 for All Saints in their win over St. Agners at Slemish Park today.
O’Neill’s ACHL Division 4
All Saints 3-14 St. Agnes 0-7
All Saints, Ballymena recorded their fifth win of a season where they have returned to All County action after a number of year’s absence and to date they have performed admirably as they attempt to build a team for the future.
A lack of players brought about their withdrawal but an influx of young players has heralded their return and on recent performances the future looks bright for the Ballymena side. After losing to a strong Glenravel team last week but performing well they had St. Agnes as visitors to Slemish Park on Sunday.
The ‘Aggies’ hung in for a time thanks mainly to the excellent free taking of Ronan Carroll but when Ciaran Neeson fired home a 31st minute penalty Paddy Neeson’s side took control. It was the visitors who took the lead when Carroll pointed a long range free but two pointed frees from Damian Gillan and another from Ciaran Neeson had the home side two in front.
St. Agnes were battling hard to stay in contention and an excellent point from Conor Mclean from out on the left closed the gap to the minimum with ten minutes gone. Ciaran Neeson replied immediately with three excellent All Saints points to move his side three in front after 16 minutes.
Another well struck free by Ronan Carroll closed the gap to two but again Neeson relied from a free to edge them three in front again after 20 minutes. Vinny Esler added a good point and Liam Cassley took a pass from Joe Crawford to extend the Ballymena lead to five.
Cormac Flannery struck an excellent point for the visitors to stop the rut but a goal by Ciaran Neeson from the penalty spot in the 31st minute put All Saints in pole position as the half time whistle sounded.
All Saints Luke O’Rawe wins possession at mid-field.
It wasn’t to get any better for the South Antrim side when play resumed after the break as Ciaran Cassley extended the home lead with a fine long range point and Luke O’Rawe and Ciaran McGarry both fired wide before the excellent Carroll struck his side’s fifth point from another free with six minutes gone.
All Saints were now on top in most areas of the field and their fitness and movement continued to stretch the opposition as Ciaran McGarry got in for their second goal to move them nine ahead before Ronan Carroll again replied with a point for the ‘Aggies’ who were now struggling to keep in touch.
Damian Gillan responded with another All Saints point in the 20th minute to extend his side’s advantage to 13 and when Sean O’Rawe got in for a third goal in the 27th minute it was over. St. Agnes keeper Kevin Grieve made a great initial save to deny Ciaran McGarry but substitute O’Rawe collected the rebound to fire to the net from an acute angle.
St. Agnes responded with a consolation point from Grieve who had switched his keeper jersey to move outfield with Cassley from a long range free and Ciaran Neeson from play concluding the scoring.
A good win for All Saints and encouraging signs that they can continue to improve in their first season back in division 4. They have unearthed a fine crop of young players in Daire Hasson, Vinny Esler, Brendan McDonnell, Ciaran Neeson, Luke O’Rawe and Sean O’Rawe all enjoying their first season in league action supplemented by the experience of Darren McGinty Chris McAffee, Liam Cassley, Damian Gillan and Ciaran McGarry.
Spare a thought for St. Agnes though. They arrived with only 15 players and lost a player to injury. They had excellent performers in Kevin Grive, Ronan Carroll, Cormac Flannery and Sean McIlhatton and never threw in the towel.
All Saints: Daire Hasson, Darren McGinty, Christopher McAffee, Francis Casey, Anthony Mitchell Colum Neeson, Brendan McDonnell, Liam Cassley, Luke O’Rawe, Eoin McGuigan, Damian Gillan, Vincent Essler, Joe Crawford, Ciaran McGarry, Ciaran Neeson. Subs: Niall McGarry, Gary Miskella and Sean O’Rawe for Eoin McGuigan, Joe Crawford and Anthony Mitchell
St. Agnes: Kevin Grieve, Neill Gillespie, Martin Robb, Diarmaid Kelly, Matt Carlin, Ronan Carroll, Fintan McBride, Briondan McLarnon, Cormac Flannery, Joe Robinson, Conor McLean, Declan McLarnon, Sean McIlhatton, Donal Rooney, Conor Pelan
Referee: Ryan O’Reilly (Glenravel)