Cardinal’s men edge thrilling quarter final

Antrim Junior Football Championship

O’Donnell’s 2-11 St Comgall’s 2-9

Report and pics by John McIlwaine

A hotly disputed goal in the opening minute of the second half helped O’Donnell’s to victory over St Comgall’s in Friday evening’s opening round of the Antrim Junior Football Championship at Woodlands. Just after the break with St Comgall’s leading by a point O’Donnell’s substitute Jamie Walker fired in a great shot from the right corner of goal only to be denied by Saints goalkeeper Ben Johnston who turned the ball away. However O’D’s centre half back Ben Johnston, who was coming in at the far post fired in the rebound, though the Antrim players and management were adamant the ball entered through the side netting. There was much confusion about the score but after consultation with his fellow officials the referee awarded thegoal and O’Donnell’s were back in front. Later in the half the men from Antrim town retook the lead with a goal of their own but O’Donnell’s hit back brilliantly in the final quarter to outscore their opponents by 5 points to 1 and secure a semi-final place.

St Comgall’s started the game with points from the excellent Miles Devine and one from fellow corner forward Conor McAuley to lead by two after six minutes but once they got going O’Donnell’s hit back with three on the trot through Caolan Loughran, Mark McKenna and Steven Seawright to edge ahead in the 11th minute. Patrick O’Connor brought St Comgall’s level on 12 minutes and though O’Donnell’s full forward Padraig McKissog edged O’Ds back ahead a Conor McAuley point was sandwiched between two well taken scores from Devine to put St comgall’s 0-6 to 0-4 in front after 22 minutes. That set up a terrific finish to the half which saw O’Donnell’s retake the lead with a goal from full forward Fergal McNerney, following good work on the left wing by Caolan Loughran, only to be rocked back on their heels again when Antrim’s Miles Devine was adjudged to have been upended in the ‘box’ and Conor McAuley slotted the penalty past Conor Walsh in the O’D’s goal. That score put St Comgall’s two ahead entering first half injury time but left half forward Ciaran Ferran pulled one back for the Cardinal’s men in first half injury time to leave them trailing by just a point at the break. (1-5 to 1-6)

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Conor O’Donnell’s disputed goal early in the second half saw this terrific game turn back in O’Donnell’s favour but Miles Devine cut the gap back to single point again with an excellent point four minutes later. Padraig McKissock put two between the sides again but a point from a Peter McAuley free was followed by a brilliant individual goal for Devine who weaved his way in along to the endline to finish from a narrow angle. However the next three scores came from O’D’s as Conor McLarnon, Padraig McKissock and Joseph Laverty fired between the posts to put their team a point ahead entering the home straight. Devine came to his team’s rescue again with a point two minutes from the end of normal time, but O’Donnell’s were not to be denied and two excellently struck injury time points from frees by Padraig McKissock saw them book a semi-final spot at the end of a highly entertaining game.

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O’DONNELL’S

Conor Walsh, Patrick J Meenan, Marc Mallon, Ciaran McKissock, Jim Donnelly, Conor O’Donnell, Kevin Kennedy, Conor Walsh, Steven Seawright, Caolan Loughran, Padraig McKissock, Ciaran Ferran, Mark McKearney, Fergal McNerney, John Lavery.

ST COMGALL’S

Ben Johnston, Paul Flanagan, Calum McCabe, James McLornan, Ryan McAuley, Paddy Quinn, Shane Og Gribbon, Darryl McNeill, Kieran Quinn, Dylan Murdock, Peter McAuley, Patrick O’Conor, Miles Devine, Patrick Cooke, Conor McAuley

Referee – Tomas Eastwood (St Enda’s)

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