LOCC Solicitors Intermediate Football Championship
Gort Na Mona 2-16-1-09 Aldergrove
By Kevin Herron from the Bear Pit
At the midway point in this Intermediate prelim clash between Gort Na Mona and Aldergrove on Saturday afternoon there was just the minimum separating the sides and a ding dong second-half was in prospect – however Gort Na Mona steam rolled their way to the quarter-final outscoring their promotion rivals 2-08-0-03 in a dominant and confident thirty minutes of football.
The Turf Lodge men began the opening half in the ascendancy but Aldergrove rallied and led at the break thanks to Matthew Jardine’s goal with less than ten minutes to the break.
Gort seized the initiative after the break and were three to the good before Dermot McVeigh crashed home their opening goal of the afternoon – substitute Shane Scullion found his sides second minutes after his introduction to cap a glorious second-half for the Division Two promotion chasers.
There was very little to separate the sides going into the encounter with Gort arguably starting as slight favourites after their one-point win in the league in the reverse fixture at Enright Park ten days previous.
And indeed the Turf Lodge men settled quickest with Darren Boyd registering the first two points of the afternoon from play and a converted free – full-forward Padraig McHugh added a third point after a neat through ball from Brendan Corr but a goal may have been on the cards had McHugh taken time to survey his surroundings.
Aldergrove responded through a converted Fearghal Burke free and Burke doubled his tally within sixty seconds as his shot squeezed inside the upright after combing with Gerard Mallon.
Darren Boyd edged his side two –points ahead with a second converted free on the 13th minute – though Aldergrove were soon back on level terms.
Midfielder Ryan Owens determination yielded back to back scores, the first after Seany Fay picked out Tomas O’Callaghan who popped the ball over his shoulder to the advancing Owens and on 17 minutes Matthew Jardine unselfishly slipped in his midfield partner who curled the ball over the bar to level at 0-04-0-04.
The sides traded further points through Aidan McDonagh and Stephen Gorman before the opening goal arrived with little under ten minutes of the first-half remaining.
Gerard Mallon picked out the run of Ronan Hanna who threaded Jardine in one-on-one with Gort keeper Thomas McCaffrey and Jardine burst towards and net and coolly slotted past McCaffrey to give his side the lead for the first time, 1-05-0-05.
Gort Na Mona responded positively and were level by the stroke of half-time Darren Boyd was the architect with all three scores – two of which were close range converted frees and the third was a glorious hanging point after Dermot McVeigh recycled possession in the corner.
Although Gort had the late momentum it was Aldergrove who edged ahead at the break – Tomas O’Callaghan linked up with Fearghal Hanna whose high shot sailed between the posts to give his side a 1-06-0-08 lead at the interval.
Gort Na Mona almost regained the lead four minutes after the restart when Dermot McVeigh’s attempted point dipped and crashed off the crossbar – referee Sean Laverty awarded a free in the aftermath for an illegal lift off the deck and Boyd converted the resulting free to tie the game for the fourth time.
Patrick McCaffrey then gave his side the lead for the first time since the 18th minute and it was a lead his side would fail to relinquish – ten minutes into the second-half Christopher Carson slipped in McVeigh who rounded Shane O’Neill in the Aldergrove goal and watched on in amazement as his shot from a narrow angle clipped the outside of the post and somehow stayed out.
Gort increased their lead to three however a further two points – Padraig McHugh picked out substitute Dessie McClean from a quick free and McClean shot over the bar, whilst McHugh doubled his afternoon tally two minutes later.
On 43 minutes the goal that Gort had threatened finally came to fruition as Dessie McClean robbed Gerard Mallon in possession – Brendan Corr picked up the charge and fed McVeigh who confidently rifled to the net to give his side a 1-12-1-06 lead.
It took Aldergrove until the midway point in the second period to finally register the opening score of the half – a Seany Fay shot that deflected over the bar but Gort Na Mona were in no mood to go easy on their opponents. Goalkeeper Thomas McCaffrey made his way forward to convert a 45’ and McHugh then combined with goal scorer McVeigh for his first point of the afternoon.
Darren Boyd almost curled home a second goal of the afternoon for his side – however five minutes from time substitute Shane Scullion would make an immediate impact.
Brendan Corr was shown a black-card by referee Laverty and Scullion replaced the Gort’s number ten – Patrick McCaffrey’s ball across the face of goal was poorly dealt with by Aldergrove keeper O’Neill who dropped the ball at the feet of Scullion and the substitute couldn’t believe the gift on offer and took advantage, rounding O’Neill and rifling home to give his side a 2-14-1-07 cushion.
Eamon McCourt responded for Aldergrove with a point which was a mere consolation at that stage – sharpshooter Darren Boyd ended his afternoon’s scoring in response and youngster Niall Melaney made his presence felt upon his arrival with a lovely turn and shot over the bar.
Gerard Mallon would land the final score of the game for Aldergrove and the whistle sounded in the immediate aftermath as Gort Na Mona celebrated a comfortable second-half exhibition.
The Turf Lodge side will take on Dunloy in the Quarter-final and on this showing will feel they have every chance of victory over Cuchullians.
Gort Na Mona: T McCaffrey (0-01 45’), C Connely, T McGoran, C Devlin, G Doyle, D McErlean, B Burns, C Carson, P Conlon, B Corr, D Boyd (0-08, 0-05f), A McDonagh (0-01), D McVeigh (1-01), P McHugh (0-02), P McCaffrey (0-01). Subs: D McClean (0-01) for A McDonagh (38 mins), S Scullion (-00) for B Corr (53 mins – Black card substitute), D Hughes for D McClean (60 mins), N Melaney (0-01) for D Boyd (62 mins).
Aldergrove: S O’Neill, P Cushley, F Carson, T O’Callaghan, S Gorman (0-01), C McVeigh, F Hanna (0-01), M Jardine (1-00), R Owens (0-02), G Mallon (0-01), F Burke (0-02, 0-01f), C O’Kane, S Fay (0-01), R Hanna, M Smart. Subs: E McCourt (0-01) for F Carson (31 mins), J Trowlen for P Cushley (41 mins), P Morris for M Jardine (46 mins), C Totten for R Hanna (49 mins), E Masterson for M Smart (53 mins).
Referee: Sean Laverty (Moneyglass)