Ciaran Doherty & Co Accountants South West U16A Football League semi-final
All Saints 2-20 Tir na nOg 6-3
All Saints advanced to the South West U16 football league final with an exhibition of fine attacking football, scoring 2-20 on the night and at a first glance this would appear to have been a comfortable victory for the home side but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Despite dominating possession for long periods and opening up the visitors defence time and again with their strong attacking play they were never able to shake off a dogged Tir na nOg side who kept themselves in touch with their ability to score goals.
Indeed it took a goal from Adrian Scullion from the penalty spot in the 59th minute to put a bit of daylight between the sides at a time where the Whitehill side were threatening to turn the game on its head.
It was all so different early in the game as All Saints raced into a 1-3 to 0-0 lead after eight minutes with Jake White, Jack Agnew, and Aidan Scullion getting g the points before Ronan McKillop got in for an excellent goal.
Connor McCamphill got the visitors on their way with a goal in the 9th minute but the home side appeared to have weathered the storm as they replied with points from Jake White, Ronan McKillop, Aidan Scullion, Ryan McCartney and Oisin Connolly as the blistering pace of the Ballymena half-forward line opened up the visitors defence time and again.
As the Quinn Park side pushed forward in numbers they were often guilty of leaving the back door open and they were punished when Colla McDonald got in for Tir na nOg’s second goal and McDonald followed quickly with a point to serve notice that his side hadn’t come to make up the numbers.
Points from Patrick Ferris and the excellent McKillop stretched the home side lead once more but they continued to look less than comfortable in defence as Casper Logan forced the ball home from close range in the 23d minute after Jason Givens in the All Saints goals pulled off a good save to deny Colla McDonald.
All Saints finished the half with points from Ronan McKillop and Aidan Scullion to lead 1-11 to 3-1 at the break and despite enjoying a lot of possession they were only four in front and it looked like they still had much work to do in the second half.
MUCH OF THE SAME
Normal service seemed to have been restored as the Ballymena side came out strongly at the start of the second half with points from Aidan Scullion, Patrick Ferris, Ronan McKillop and Scullion again and it took the visitors 14 minutes to open their second half account with a point from Ethan Higgins.
It heralded another turn around in the Randalstown side’s fortunes however and as they began to run the ball at the opposition they got in for goals from Paddy Dougan and Casper Logan and suddenly there was only four between the sides again with the All Saints management looking on nervously.
Aidan Scullion from a well struck 40 meter free and Ronan McKillop with an excellent point after a blistering solo run settled them down again and then Scullion picked himself up of the ground after being pulled down in full flight to fire home the resulting penalty in the 59th minute to secure victory.
Tir na nOg fought right to the final whistle and a point from Connor McCamphill and a Casper Logan goal in the 63d minute cut the deficit to five points but it proved too little too late as All Saints advance to their second U16 final of the season.
A month back All Saints turned in a great performance to defeat St. James’ Aldergrove in the Breslin Cup final but their form has dipped since then and last week they conceded 8 goals against St. James in Crumlin and after leaking another six tonight this will be a worrying development for managers Gerard O’Callaghan, Eamon McKillop and their team of selectors.
All Saints: Jason Givens, Jude Casey, Jack Agnew, Michael Read, Conall Killough, Shaun O’Callaghan, Patrick Ferris, Luke Mulholland, Jake White, Ronan McKillop, Oisin Connolly, Aidan Scullion, Ciaran Campbell, Ryan McCartney, Charlie Metrustry. Subs: Jimmy Montgomery for Charlie Metrustry, Paddy O’Brien for Jude Casey, Sean Hasson for Ryan McCartney
Tir na nOg: Adam Reid, Jude Carey, Brandon McLarnon, Connor Hastings, Shane Hinfey, Ethan Higgins, Dominic Martin, Patrick Higgins, Joshua Higgins, Ryan Crilly, Colla McDonald, Daniel O’Neill, Connor McCamphill, Casper Logan, Paddy Dougan. Sub: Jack Murray.
Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)
After tonight’s game U16 captain, Oisin Connolly presented a cheque for £500-00 on behalf of the club to Paddy McIlwaine who received it on behalf of the Saffron Gael. The Saffron Gael thank All Saints for their continued support.