ACFL Division One (section B)
St Mary’s Ahoghill 3-19 St Joseph’s Glenavy 0-10
St Mary’s Ahoghill continued their late season dash on the positive as they secured their division 1 status for another year when they proved too strong for Glenavy under the floodlights at Clooney on Thursday evening.
The St Mary’s side, having looked in trouble at the start of the second phase of the league have underlined character within, not for the first time and this latest win ensures division 1 fare again in 2019.
In contrast the result means that after their return to the top table was well earned last year the St Joseph’s men will return to the second tier again in 2019.
Glenavy arrived at Ahoghill certain in the knowledge that if they were to have any chance of remaining in division 1 next year then it was vital that they win this one and a good start was needed.
In the event the St Joseph’s side was slow to get it together as the Clooney men powered out of the start blocks, and had raised five white flags in the opening ten minutes.
Patrick Graham opened account with a 3rd minute point and after the O’Connell brothers raised back to back white flags a brace from the ever accurate Donal Graham made it 0-05 to 0-00.
The Chapel Hill residents needed an opening score to gain composure but it was more than obvious that a well drilled Ahoghill rear guard in which Stephen O’ Connell, James Magee and Bernard Graham stood tall throughout had started as they meant to continue.
The Glenavy men had been thwarted in their early efforts to open account before Conor Hamill did plant the ball between the posts with a good 16th minute strike.
The home side was quick to return fire however and when a slick approach and a precision based PJ O’Connell delivery opened the way to the posts the advancing wing half back Eamon Brady finished to the net and Ahoghill had nipped into a 1-07 to 0-01 lead and were well in control.
Glenavy looked low in confidence as they struggled to get it together but the home side were not about to ease off the throttle as they continued to pile on the pressure.
Ahoghill continued to provide stern resistance to any Glenavy advances in search of much needed scores and a Stephen O’ Connell interception and clearance to his roving sibling PJ sent Danny O’ Neill in for another goal.
Ciaran Looney did add a second point to the Glenavy total when he split the posts in the 25th minute but the resultant kick out from net minder Francis Neeson set the wheels in motion for another well laid offensive.
James Connell and Donal Graham combined to send PJ O’Connell through to plant the leather in the back of the net and even at this early juncture it looked as good as over.
The St Mary’s men had dominated the opening period and were in complete control when the man in charge signalled the break, holding a 3-11 to 0-03 lead and the road to recovery seemed an impossible route for the visitors.
Glenavy showed some improvement in the second half with Conor Hamill and Patrick Gallagher working hard to set the St Joseph’s wheels in motion. The home side were now coming under pressure for the first time and net minder Frank Neeson was called on to make a smashing save to deny Patrick Gallagher.
Ryan Philips and Michael McCourt had combined in slick approach to send the mid fielder in on the target only to be denied by the keeper who went full length to his right to make an excellent save.
As the home side visibly eased off the accelerator but continued to hold sway Glenavy were finding the way to the posts a trifle easier but any time they did make a mark the home side were quick to reply in kind.
There was never going to be a way back for the St Joseph’s men despite honest endeavour and with the home side management taking opportunity to give game time to a full complement of replacements they had plenty in hand to cross the line with the precious points on board at 3-19 to 0-10.
Ahoghill: Francis Neeson, James Magee, Stephen O’ Connell, Bernard Graham, Eamon Brady (1-00), Patrick Graham, Martin Graham, Neil O’ Connell (0-04), Sean Mc Mahon, PJ O’ Connell (1-05), Danny O’ Neill (1-01), James O’ Connell (0-06), Donal Graham (0-03), Eoin Neeson
Aodhan Graham (0-01) for Donal Graham
Diarmuid Graham for E Brady
Ronan Graham for E Neeson
Joey Hamill for S Mc Mahon
Noel Crossey for PJ O’ Connell
Glenavy: Fergal Graham, Martin Nelson, Sean Mc Girr, Ruairi Forrester, Matthew Hamill, Conor Hamill (0-02), Ryan Philips, Patrick Gallagher (0-01), Neil Scullion, Michael Mc Court (0-02), Peter Trainor (0-01), Alex Gallagher (0-01), Dominic Gallagher, Niall Mc Cann (0-01)
Fergas Mc Cann (0-02) for N Scullion
Ben McCambridge for P Trainor
Referee C Mc Dermott (Tir na Nog)