O’Neill’s ACFL Division 2B
All Saints 4-15 Davitt’s 1-6
A few weeks ago the spectre of relegation hung over All Saints Ballymena but a recent good run of results has seen them climb into second place in division 2B and above tonight’s opponents, Davitt’s on score difference.
With their respective league status secured in division 2 for another year both sides would probably have seen this game as preparation for their respective forthcoming championship games and while an understrength Davitt’s hung in there for a while they were eventually over ran by a rampant Ballymena side.
The visitors cause wasn’t helped by a sending off, midway through the second half but even at that stage the game had moved out of reach but the Ballymena side went on to drive home their numerical superiority with a blistering finish.
The game marked the return to All Saints colours for Peter ‘Pizza’ McReynolds following a two year sabbatical in Australia and the red haired mid-fielder put in an excellent shift but it was another returning Ballymena man, Rory McVeigh who stole the show with a sparkling display on the edge of the square.
Rory was out of action for over a year with a career threatening injury but has worked extremely hard to fight his way back to fitness and his return of 3-3 on the night would suggest that he is well on his way to achieving just that.
Michael McCarry 0-2 and Joe Rafferty fired All Saints into an early three point lead before the excellent Christopher Rafferty opened Davitt’s account with a point in the 10th minute. McCarry replied with a point for the Quinn Park side before Rory McVeigh opened his personal account with points in the 13th and 15th minute to put the home side 0-6 to 0-1 ahead at the end of the opening quarter.
Rafferty responded with the visitor’s second score but All Saints were dictating matters in most areas of the field and playing with good intensity as Michael McCarry and Eoin Campbell replied with points at the other end to move the men in white seven clear with nine minutes remaining to half time.
Davitt’s were playing some attractive football but were finding it difficult to penetrate a solid home defence where Peter McNicholl, Ciaran McGarry and Emmet Killough were giving little away but Sean Lindberg got in for their third point in the 23d minute.
Two minutes later they were right back in contention when Lindberg followed with a goal from the penalty spot and suddenly a six point lead had been reduced to two and questions were being asked of the Ballymena side for the first time.
Those questions were soon answered however as All Saints returned to the offensive with Michael McCarry sending over two excellent points and Rory McVeigh getting in for a goal in the 32nd minute to put a bit of daylight between the sides.
It was Davitt’s who opened the second half scoring when keeper Aaron Slane converted a second minute free but All Saints responded through that man McVeigh with a point in the 5th minute and Ciaran McGarry burst through for a fine individual goal with eight minutes on the clock. Michael McCarry added a point to stretch the All Saints lead 2-12 to 1-4 after 12 minutes.
Davitt’s cause wasn’t helped when they had a player dismissed in the 18th minute and two minutes later Rory McVeigh hammered home his second goal to put the contest out of reach of a Davitt’s side who were starting to wilt under the relentless pressure.
Michael McCarry pointed a couple of frees and Brendan McDonald added another from play before Padraig McParland replied with Davitt’s third point of the half with only three minutes of normal time remaining.
Davitt’s keeper, Aaron Slane moved up field once more to convert another free in the 28th minute before Rory McVeigh completed his hat-trick to conclude the scoring with another good goal and put the icing on a good night’s performance for the home side.
Davitt’s started well, moving the ball around and building promisingly but they lacked the overall fire power to trouble a solid All Saints defence. They now face St. Enda’s in the Intermediate Football Championship and even with all their players back on board they will be hard pushed to beat a side who have been doing well in division 1 this year.
The All Saints management will be pleased by their side’s performance on the night and indeed in recent weeks but will know that they too face a much stiffer challenge when they take on a Rasharkin team they have never beaten in championship football in a few weeks’ time.
All Saints: Emmet McAllister, James Gillan, Peter McNicholl, Kavan Keenan, Ciaran McGarry, Emmet Killough, Connell Lemon, Sean McVeigh, Peter McReynolds, Joe Rafferty, Michael McCarry, Eoin Campbell, Brendan McDonald, Rory McVeigh, Ciaran McLarnon, Subs: Joe Rocks for James Gillan, Luke O’Rawe for Ciaran McLarnon, Niall Shannon for Emmet McAllister
Davitt’s: Aaron Slane, Nathan Maginn, Jason Close, Michael Og Rowntree, Niall McParland, Caomhan Slane, Declan Smyth, Anthony Rowntree, Paul McKinney, James Lindsay, Danny Largey, Sean Lindberg, Christopher Rafferty, Niall Hughes, Padraig McParland
Referee: Eamon McAuley (Erin’s own)