Glenavy come strong in game of two halves to reach semi-final

South West U16B Football League Qualifier

Glenavy 3-13

Clan na Gael 1-8

Glenavy emerged as the winners of this SW Antrim U16 Shield Section play-off after an entertaining game against Clan na Gael at Chapel Hill to progress through to the league semi-final against Moneyglass next week.

In what can best be described as a game of two halves – Clan na Gael began the game the brightest and got off the mark first with 3 unanswered points from the outset. Glenavy continued to press hard and had their fair share of possession however they just couldn’t seem to find their range in the final third and wasted a number of chances in front of goal. After another period of Glenavy possession, Clan na Gael intercepted the ball on their own 45 yard line and with a sweeping counter attack blasted the ball to the Glenavy net to leave the score 1-4 to 0-0 after 15 minutes in favour of the visitors. Glenavy finally got off the mark in the 18th minute with a fine score from Darragh Armstrong who was winning plenty of ball in the full forward line. Glenavy seemed to be gaining a foothold in the match however some excellent goalkeeping from the Clan na Gael keeper saw him pull of three point blank saves to deny Paddy O’Leary and Finn Malley from finding the net. A period of end to end football followed with Glenavy tagging on three more scores before half time to Clan na Gael’s one leaving the score-line at the interval 1-5 to 0-4 in favour of the visitors.

The second half saw a determined Glenavy team return to the field and in the opening 10 minutes after the restart, the men in orange dominated and turned the game on its head with five unanswered  points to take the lead by a point. The Glenavy men kept the ball in their opponents half and some fine football from the Callum Crighton, James Mulholland and Lorcan Murphy in the forward line rewarded the home side with some fine scores. The major breakthrough for Glenavy came just at the end of their purple patch after half time – some fine fielding from the impressive Rory Nelson won the ball from a Clan na Gael kick-out – he offloaded the ball to the onrushing Finn Malley who weaved his way through the defence to blast the ball to the net to give Glenavy the goal which had been coming. In truth, Glenavy never looked back from this moment and could sense the game was turning in their favour.

Clan na Gael to their credit stayed in the game and continued to attack however some great defending by Jack McCann, Michael Fox and Cian Shannon kept them at bay and limited them to only a few attempts on goal. Timmy Honeyford produced another fine display at full back for Glenavy also as well as Matthew Lawlor limiting the Clan na Gael forwards and frustrating their efforts.

Glenavy continued to build on their lead and being driven on by the outstanding Darragh Doherty at centre half back they continued to tag on scores and increase their lead as the light began to fade at Chapel Hill. The introduction of Shay O’Neill and Fiontán O’Boyle into the Glenavy full forward line gave them the boost required to see out the match – firstly with O’Neill offloading to the prolific Paddy O’Leary to see the ball home into the net for his fourth goal in two games and then with O’Boyle laying the ball through to Callum Crighton to finish with an excellent goal it was clear the home side were going to emerge on top. Clann na Gael continued to press whenever they had possession and had several chances for scores in the second half however they found it difficult to convert these just as Glenavy had in the first half.

By the end of the game, visibility was virtually non-existent as the light faded for the last ten minutes – Glenavy saw out the game and progress through to the league semi-final against Moneyglass next week with St Enda’s taking on Creggan in the other semi -final.

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