McLarnon’s men come up trumps to reach the semi-final

Antrim Junior Football Championship quarter-final

St Agnes’ 0-10

St Malachy’s 0-6

In my preview during the week I made the comment, ‘on league form St. Malachy’s should win this one but Roy McLarnon’s side have a habit of raising their game when it comes to the championship’.

Well raise their game they did as they outscored St. Malachy’s by four points in an entertaining contest at St. Teresa’s on the Glen Road and they now go through to the semi-final where they are likely to be cast in the role of underdogs again.

Aggies did most of the damage during a good spell in the opening half and good first time ball into Ronan Carroll and Cormac McBride was to cause the ‘Mal’s’ defence a lot of early problems.

During the second half play deteriorated with both sides hitting just two points apiece but it was during that dominant spell in the opening half that St. Agnes did the damage.

The boys in Black hit eight points between the 17th and 23rd minutes to put themselves in pole position and it was a scoring blitz that St. Malachy’s were unable to recover from.

Both were to finish with 14 men after St Malachy’s substitute, Anthony Dobbin struck out at Conor Turley in the 51st minute that led to a brief flare-up with Dobbin and  St Agnes’ Brendan McLarnon shown red, but this was to have no bearing on the outcome.

The losers enjoyed plenty of possession and territory in the second period, but wayward shooting and staunch defensive play by the opposition defence in which Diarmuid Kelly at full-back excelled denied them on several occasions.

The game began with the Markets men on the front foot and they took the lead after two minutes when a long ball in was palmed down to Karl McCavana by Nathan Rice and ‘Hyper’ applied the finish.

St Agnes’ were slow to  settle, but they were soon up and running as they put together a good  move and midfielder, Conor McLean sent over the equaliser.

Two Ronan Carroll frees within a minute set them on their way although St Malachy’s replied on 11 minutes when Rice kicked a great point from near the right sideline on the 20 meter line.

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The Aggies were back on the attack from the restart and their direct approach again paid-off with McLean putting Cormac McBride in for his first of the afternoon.

St Malachy’s responded with McCavana turning provider for Stephen Dobbin whose shot from the right just curled inside the post.

The ‘Aggies’ were beginning to take control however and after Carroll bounced off a challenge to score, McBride came into his own, landing three from play in as many minutes between the 21st and 23rd minutes to help his side into a five point lead.

Mclarnon’s side were playing some great football, but they faded coming up to the  break and St Malachy’s grabbed a crucial score on half-time as Ciaran Vernon kicked a free to leave just four in it at the break, 0-8 to 0-4.

As the light rain came down for a time things were to deteriorate on the restart with St St. Agnes missing a couple of early opportunities and St Malachy’s began to enjoy more possession but they couldn’t capitalise.

Aggies finally raised a flag through Carroll who bounced off a challenge to score and he added another on 49 minutes that just dropped over the bar to make it a six-point game.

Then came that incident with Anthony Dobbin striking out on Turley that was spotted by the officials and after a bit of jostling in the aftermath, both he and McLarnon saw Red.

To their credit St Malachy’s kept battling to the final whistle and Patrick Turley saw his drop-shot tipped over for a point on 59 minutes.

In a seven minutes period of extra time St Malachy’s pressed hard but could manage only one late score by Patrick Smyth that flew over, but this was too-little, too-late as St Agnes’ move on to the semis.

ST AGNES’: C Carroll; J Grieve, D Kelly, B McLarnon; F McBride, M McKillop, C Flannery; C Turley, C McLean (0-1); N Gillespie, M Caldwell, C Pelan; B Crossan, R Carroll (0-5, 2 frees), C McBride (0-4). Subs: E O’Hagan for C McLean (51), P Caldwell for C Pelan (59).

ST MALACHY’S: S Turley; C Corr, C Connolly, G Rice; C Martin, M Connolly,  A Connolly; P Smyth (0-1 free), C Devlin; N Rice (0-1), C Murray, C Vernon (0-1 free); K McCavana (0-1), P Turley (0-1), S Dobbin (0-1). Subs: A Dobbin for C Corr (38), S Coleman for A Connolly (43), S Carson for K McCavana (57), D Quinn for S Dobbin (59).

REFEREE: Kevin Parke (St Enda’s)

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