Goals send St Brigid’s to semis

Antrim Minor A Football Championship quarter final

St Brigid’s 5-10 St James, Aldergrove 1-9

Report and pics by John McIlwaine

All through their league campaign this season St Brigid’s have been scoring goals in big numbers and it was their ability to find the net in Tuesday evening’s Minor Football Championship quarter final that gave them the edge against Aldergrove at Mussgrave Park. The south Belfast boys hit four in the first half to open up a nine point lead at the break and though the scoring dried up after the break they did manage one more, a fantastic finish from left half forward Thomas McCarney in the 47th minute that sealed his team’s passage to the semi-final.

Aldergove opened the scoring inside twenty seconds with an excellent point from corner forward Conor Morris but St Brigid’s were level inside a minute when a high ball by Peter Henvey came back off the post and fell to corner forward Paul Bradley. Bradley looked odds on to goal but though he hit his shot well the Aldergrove goalkeeper Oisin McGarry reacted well to turn it over the bar. However the relief was short lived as McGarry’s kick out was won by St Brigid’s and when Rory Brolly was put through on goal the corner forward finished expertly to the net to give his team early control.

Aldergrove had a chance to draw level nine minute later when Eoin Eochaidh found room in behind the St Brigid’s defence but his low shot was brilliantly blocked by defender Eoin Brown and the feet of goalkeeper James McKenna as they turned the ball around the post for a 45. Points in the 11th and 13th minutes from Peter Henvey and Rory Brolly stretched the St Brigid’s lead to five points and though corner forward Michael Blaney kept his team well in touch with a point from a free the Aldergrove boys were undone in a five minute scoring blitz by the home team.

Paul Bradley started the run with a point from close range in the 16th minute before left half forward Thomas McCarney cut in along the endline and drilled a low ball to the Aldergrove net two minutes later. The score was a real body blow to the visitors but things were to get worse when St Brigid’s Peter Henvey won the ball from the kick-out and sent a high ball in around the Aldergrove ‘square’, and as goalkeeper McGarry came out to challenge, left half forward Conor Slevin rose high and flicked the ball to the net to put his team twelve clear.

21Ryan McCarthy (11) scores Aldergrove’s goal late in the first half

The Aldergove boys could easily have downed tools and gone home at this stage, but they didn’t give up the fight, and an inspirational point from corner back Declan Gough lifted his team. They got a further boost two minutes later when their centre forward Ryan McCarthy reacted well in a goalmouth scramble and fired the ball high into the St Brigid’s net, and when the excellent Conor Morris added a point thirty seconds later they began to believe once again. As the game entered first half injury time they had a chance to reduce the gap even further but Gary Duffy’s shot from distance just tailed wide but their period of dominance was ended in first half injury time when Rory Brolly ended a ten minute scoreless spell for St Brigid’s with an expertly taken goal.

16Thomas McCarney celebrates after scoring St Brigid’s second goal.

When St Brigid’s started the second half with two quick points from Bradley and Brolly it was clear there was going to be no way back for Aldergrove, but they battled away and Michael Blaney pulled a couple of points back, one from a free and the other from play. Midway through the second half the intensity was beginning to drop as both teams gave their subs a run out but a superb finish on the volley by St Brigid’s Thomas McCarney brought a goal to grace any game, the left half forward providing the finish to a move involving Eoin Brown and Rory Brolly. Oisin Graham and Matthew Donnelly hit good points for Aldergrove in the third quarter before St Brigid’s substitute Ben Doherty ended a low scoring second half with a point.

ST BRIGID’S

James McKenna, John Morgan, Daniel Foster, Henry McGuigan, Eoin Brown, Callum Webb, Shay Campbell, Tom O’Doherty, Peter King, Conor Slevin, Peter Henvey, Thomas McCarney, Paul Bradley, Ronan Boyle, Rory Brolly.

Subs used – Ben Doherty, Peter Heaney, Tom Dunford

ALDERGROVE

Oisin McGarry, Declan Gough, David Aiken, Sean Bradley, Corey Foggarty, Oran Creaney, Gary Duffy, Oisin Graham, Emmet Irivine, Adrian Mulholland, Ryan McCarthy, Eoin MacEochaidh, Michael Blaney, Conail Quinn, Connor Morris.

Subs – Fionn McDonagh, Aaron O’Connor, Kian Jones.

Referee – Darren McKeown.

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