LOCC Intermediate Football Championship
Gort na Mona 2-9 All Saints 0-13
Saturday October 6
Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr McGuigan Park, Ahoghill
Gort na Mona’s dream of Intermediate glory continues after a two point win in Ahoghill on Saturday afternoon. The Turf Lodge side proved yet again that goals win games and the two they bagged can best be described as ‘a worldy and Poggy.’ The first strike came from Dermot McVeigh’s first timed effort from in excess of 30 yards from goal and cannoned in off the post – a simply outrageous strike, the second from full forward Padraig McHugh – better known around the footballing circles as ‘Poggy’. The Gort full forward bagging a first half penalty and ensuring the Gorts could control the contest after the restart.
The All Saints put in a strong performance but the Gorts goals always had them chasing the game. Michael McCarry top scored for the Ballymena men with 0-6 all from frees while Emmet Killough, Sean McVeigh and Eoin Campbell all caught the eye during the hour but they came up against a Gort na Mona side who have gathered momentum from the league this year and have carried it into the championship. The Slemish Park men finished this semi-final with 13 men, Ciaran McGarry seeing red for two yellows in the last minute of normal time while Connel Lemon’s kick out in the fourth minute of injury time sealed the All Saints fate.
Both teams showed one change from their respective semi-finals – Gort na Mona bringing Aidan McDonagh into the starting 15 for Gary Doyle while the All Saints were forced into a change and a reshuffle, Rhys O’Mullan coming into the team for the injured Peter McReynolds.
The Gorts started the semi-final on the front foot and a strong run from Brendan Corr through the heart of the All Saints defence yielded the first score of the game with barely 30 seconds on the clock. A point from Darren ‘Diesel’ Boyd doubled their lead in the fourth minute and while All Saints were having the lions share of possession in the early exchanges, the Turf Lodge men were showing their counter attacking threat.
The Ballymena men fired over their first score of the match with McCarry’s first of six frees for the match in the fifth minute to get the All Saints challenge off and running and they were back on terms two minutes later after Sean McVeigh broke down the left before fisting the ball over the bar.
Timing is everything in football though and the Gorts have the knack of scoring goals at crucial times. The first goal of the semi-final came in the 10th minute and it was well worth the wait. McVeigh swinging his left foot at the lose ball and his dipping effort cannoning off the post from at least 30 yards. As soon as the ball left his foot, McVeigh’s effort has Niall Shannon scrambling between the posts. The All Saints ‘keeper was beat with the dip and speed of McVeigh’s effort as the ball nestled into the bottom corner after coming off the post. A simply outrageous score.
All Saints responded well with Joe Rafferty’s 13th minute point the pick of the Ballymena mens scores in the first half while McCarry split the posts from another free to reduce the deficit to the minimum midway through the first half.
Dermot McVeigh and Rafferty swapped points in the 18th minute as All Saints looked to regroup from the shock of the Gort major but they were dealt a blow with nine minutes of the first half remaining. A long ball into Dermot McVeigh on the edge of the square had All Saints scrambling and referee Karol Doherty spotted an infringement on the Gort man to award the Turf Lodge side a penalty. Full forward Poggy McHugh made no mistake from the spot kick, sending Shannon the wrong direction and giving his side a four point lead with a composed finish.
Rory McVeigh’s effort from an acute angle wide on the right was answered by a McHugh point in the 27th minute. All Saints were dominating possession once again but the Gort defence were extremely organised and tackling with ferocious tenacity. Emmet Killough managed to split the posts in the 28th minute to reduce the Gort lead to three points but they could have been back on terms just before the half time whistle. Half forward Kavan Keenan foraging down the left and his effort from an acute angle evaded the ‘keeper and a sprawling Shea O’Brien at the back post.
Three points separated the sides at the short whistle and with the Turf Lodge men now playing with the wind in the second half, they were in prime position. A point from a ’45 by ‘keeper Thomas McCaffrey opened the scoring and when Patrick McCaffrey split the posts from an acute angle wide on the right, the Turf Lodge side took a five point lead by the 41st minute.
All Saints continued to press and pressurise the Gort na Mona defence to try and force their way back into the contest with McCarry (free) and Killough splitting the posts to bring the Ballymena men back to within one score once again.
Dermot McVeigh took his tally to 1-3 for the match only for Brendan McDonnell to respond with the next attack midway through the second half for the All Saints. Darren Boyd’s 47th minute point took the Gorts advantage to four points once again but it was the last time the Turf Lodge men would trouble the scoreboard operative at the Ahoghill venue as All Saints turned the screw at the other end.
The Ballymena men landed a brace of frees either side of another goal opportunity coming and going for the men from Slemish Park. Shea O’Brien showing his silky skills and neat footwork only for Tommy McGoran to deny him with a last gasp block.
Gort looked to counter as the All Saints threw caution to the wind. They found no joy or space from a tight Gort defence though and the Turf Lodge men continued to frustrate. The Ballymena side’s challenge wasn’t helped with Ciaran McGarry seeing red for a second booking in the last minute of normal time and while All Saints continued to dominate possession, Gort were putting a solid defensive performance to keep the Ballymena men at bay.
The match was ended as a contest in the fourth minute of injury time when Connel Lemon was given a straight red card in the fourth minute of time added on. The Gort’s saw out the little time that remained to remain on course for promotion and championship double.
As the teams made their way back to the changing rooms with the All Saints beginning the analysis and dissecting their performances, the echoes of ‘Disco Land’ could be heard from the Turf Lodge men. They may not win the X-Factor with those dulcet tones but I wouldn’t like to bet against them taking the Intermediate honours?
Gort na Mona: Thomas McCaffrey; Connor Connolly, Tommy McGoran, Christopher Devlin; David McErlean, Brendan Corr, Aidan McDonagh; Christopher Carson, Paul Conlon; Brendan Burns, Darren Boyd, Desi McClean; Dermot McVeigh, Padraig McHugh, Patrick McCaffrey.
Scorers: Dermot McVeigh 1-3; Padraig McHugh 1-1 (1-00 pen); Darren Boyd 0-2; Thomas McCaffrey 0-1 (1 ’45); Brendan Corr 0-1; Patrick McCaffrey 0-1
All Saints: Niall Shannon; James Gillan, Peter McNicholl, Rhys O’Mullan; Ciaran McGarry, Emmet Killough, Joe Rafferty; Sean McVeigh, Connell Lemon; Eoin Campbell, Michael McCarry, Kavan Keenan; Brendan McDonnell, Rory McVeigh, Shea O’Brien.
Scorers: Michael McCarry 0-6 (6 f’s); Emmet Killough 0-2; Joe Rafferty 0-2; Sean McVeigh 0-1; Brendan McDonnell 0-1; Rory McVeigh 0-1
Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)