St Johns 2-24-3-13 Rossa
By Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park
St Johns advanced to tomorrow evenings Bathshack Antrim Senior Hurling Championship semi-final draw after two late goals from Donall Carson helped his side to a 2-24-3-13 win over Rossa in this afternoons clash at the Whiterock Road. Up to that point it appeared there might be a real shock on the cards as Rossa had battled back from six points down to briefly take the lead, but the Johnnies hit back and though they had taken a two point lead with time almost up their lead was far from secure unitl Carson sealed the deal with two later strikes.
Despite Rossa starting brighter St Johns were three ahead before Oisin McVicker rifled home following Simon Doherty denying Michael Armstrong from the spot.
The Johnnies hit seven unanswered points in the space of eleven minutes between each half but Thomas Morgan hit the net to keep Rossa in touch and then give them the lead eleven minutes from time.
Again St Johns edged in front and late in the game, corner-forward Donall Carson got the telling touch twice within sixty seconds to seal the win for St Johns after an exiting afternoon on home soil.
Both sides went into the winners take all clash with nothing to show from encounters against Loughgiel Shamrocks – however St Johns put up the greater fight going down by three points and were undoubtedly favourites to clinch the last remaining semi-final place.
However, Rossa settled quicker and two converted frees from Matt Devlin had them 0-02-0-00 to the good – Conor Johnston got the Johnnies off the mark from a set-piece of his own, though Devlin made it three from three to restores his sides two-point lead by the 10th minute, 0-03-0-01.
Rossa’s Oisin McVicker breas his hurl across the arm of St John’s Barry McFall during Sunday’s Antrim SHC round robin decider at Corrigan Park. Pic by John McIlwaine
Ciaran Johnston was momentarily forced off through a blood injury sustained and in his brief cameo appearance Simon McCrory shot high over the bar – Johnston would return to proceedings and level from a converted free and the Corrigan Park men led for the first time through excellent strike on the turn from Colm McFall.
Rossa levelled through a Thomas Morgan point on the 13th minute but St Johns hit four unanswered points to give themselves a platform to build upon.
Michael Dudley shot high between the posts and Conor Johnston then converted his second free of the afternoon – Johnston then turned provider with a pop off to Jimmy People’s who shot over the bar and Ciaran Johnston then charged upfield and drove over the bar to make it 0-08-0-04 with little over ten minutes until the break.
Rossa hit back through Stephen Beatty after Matt Devlin’s pop over the shoulder, Devlin converted a free though Michael Bradley responded with a tremendous point to edge his side 0-09-0-06 ahead.
Six minutes before the break Rossa were given a glorious chance to level after referee Colum Cunning adjudged Conal Morgan to have nudged Michael Close in the square and signalled for a penalty.
Michael Armstrong undertook responsibility but saw his shot parried by Simon Doherty in the St Johns goal – Michael Close raced in on the loose ball but a scramble ensued and Oisin McVicker saw his low shot deflected to the net to level the game 1-06-0-09.
Bradley restored St Johns lead almost immediately and further scores from Dudley and Conor Johnston (free) gave the hosts a 0-12-1-06 lead the interval.
The Johnnies picked up they left off before the break – Donal Carson drove towards goal inside the first sixty seconds but flicked over the bar and after his introduction for Jimmy People’s at the break Simon McCrory composed himself and shot over for his second of the game.
Conor Johnston converted his fourth free of the contest and Peter McCallin struck an excellent angled point to make it seven without reply since McVicker’s 25th minute goal.
Matt Devlin eventually ended a 12-minute scoreless drought with a converted free and struck two further efforts to close the gap to four ten minutes into the second period, 0-16-1-09.
Rossa were on the march and on 41 minutes the Shaws Road men found their second goal of the game – Matt Devlin switched possession to Dominic McEnhill who burst forward and slipped in Thomas Morgan who rifled to the net to make it 0-16-2-09.
St John’s stretched their advantage to three with points from McCrory and Michael Bradley – but Rossa responded with two points of their own through Matt Devlin (free) and substitute Odhran O’Callaghan.
The quick free caught Rossa cold on a number of occasions and Johnston was yet again successful in picking out Michael Bradley to stretch the hosts lead to two.
Eleven minutes from time Rossa regained the lead for the first time since the 12th minute – Stephen Beatty popped the ball back to Niall Crossan whose high ball was batted down by Michael Armstrong and Thomas Morgan rifled to the net for his second goal of the game to give his side a 3-11-0-19 lead.
Thomas Morgan fires the ball to the St John’s net to put his team ahead later in the game.
St Johns quickly levelled though Michael Dudley and took the lead through a converted Michael Bradley free – Bradley produced a terrific score sixty seconds later to increase the lead to two once more, though Matt Devlin halved the deficit with a converted free.
Barry McFall’s shot sailed between the posts to make it a two-point game approaching the 60th minute when the Johnnies would secure their semi-final berth.
Ciaran Johnston floated a free into the danger area and Donall Carson flicked the ball to the net past Conall Breathnach to make it 1-23-3-12 in the hosts favour.
Less than sixty seconds later substitute Shea Shannon saw his high effort drop and batted clear by Breathnach – a scramble ensued for the loose ball and Carson was on hand to poke to the net for a quick fire second.
Conor Johnston shot over the bar to make it a nine-point game a minute into added time – Rossa responded with a point in the dying embers from Thomas Morgan but it proved in consolation in the end as St Johns ran out 2-24-3-13 winners to advance to the last four of the Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship where they will find out their fate in tomorrow evenings draw.
St Johns: S Doherty, S Wilson, C Morgan, A McMahon, S Tierney, B McFall (0-01), R McNulty, C Johnston (0-02, 0-01f), J Peoples (0-01), C Johnston (0-05, 0-04f), M Bradley (0-06, 0-01f), P McCallin (0-01), D Carson (2-01), C McFall (0-01), M Dudley (0-02). Subs: S McCrory for C Johnston (Blood sub 8 mins), S McCrory (0-03) for J Peoples (31 mins), S Shannon for C McFall (50 mins), G Cunningham for C Morgan (55 mins).
Rossa: C Breathnach, N Crossan, K McDonnell, J Cooley, C Orchin, C McGuinness, A O’Brien, A Orchin, S Beatty (0-01), M Devlin (0-09f), O McVicker (1-00), D McEnhill, M Close, M Armstrong, T Morgan (2-02). Subs: O O’Callaghan (0-01) for O McVicker (44 mins), J Reynolds for M Armstrong (56 mins).
Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy).
Pics by John McIlwaine