Report: Geordie McGuckin
Photographs: Bert Trowlen
ACFL Division 2
Tir na Nog Randalstown 3-06 St James Aldergrove 1-05
Promotion is still in sight at Whitehill as Tir na nOg claimed the points in this top of the table clash in a hard fought win over the visiting Aldergrove on today.
The Crumlin men arrived with their own chances of promotion very much alive but in the event defeat ensured they are now out of the race and events elsewhere, in which Gort na Mona’s gained the verdict over St Brigid’s leaves a three way tie at the top.
Tir na Nog lead the way at present with a superior score difference +90, with the previous leaders, St Brigid’s now in second position on score difference of +61, with Gort na Mona on +60 in third.
The race for promotion is set to continue right to the wire with St Brigid’s to host the Whitehill men on the 27th Oct whilst Gort na Mona travel down to Moneyglass.
Tir na nOg made the better start to this penultimate affair and with the possibility of a place in the top grade at stake this was to prove a closely contested affair in which little quarter was asked or indeed given.
Aldergrove did hint at early positivity but in a trend which was to continue for the most part the home side’s defensive unit stood tall and strong in defiance.
The visitors were denied scores in the opening minutes as firstly Eamon McCourt and then Seamus McGarry were blocked in their respective intentions to find the posts by a quick hand coming in to thwart.
After holding firm in the defensive for the opening minutes Tir na Nog were on the board first when Aaron McNeilly steered a 7th minute free between the posts and Darragh Feagan added another from a placed effort when the former was impeded unfairly en route to the posts.
Aldergrove were having the better of things in the central zone in which their high fielding pairing of Brian McQuillan and Ryan Owens were on top but they were finding the home defence, in which Daniel Martin and the Duffin brothers, Caomhinn, and Sean were always prominent unyielding in defiance.
The Crumlin men were off the mark and on the board in the 11th minute as Fergal Burke fired a 40 metre free between the posts but in the event the door to the home side’s posts was to be firmly shut until the end of the opening period.
Tir na nOg extended their lead in the 21st minute as the industrious Darragh Feagan raised white after being denied by the intervention of the post a few moments earlier and after Daniel Martin and Sean Redmond combined to send Malachy Duffin away on the offensive a foul on the incoming Ciaran Mc Keown allowed Aaron Mc Neilly to send the resultant award between the posts.
The home side had earned an 0-04 to 0-01 advantage as the clock ticked just past the 30 minute mark but having been oft times denied in their attempts to give employment to the scoreboard attendant for over twenty minutes the visitors struck.
Seamus Mc Garry, who had been well curtailed previously eluded the attentions of his marker to deliver high into the danger area and when mid-fielder Ryan Owens rose highest to punch to the net the Crumlin men had drawn abreast and took respite at 1-01 to 0-04.
It was all to play for in a second half which was to progress in a similar intensity as the opening thirty minutes. After the match official, who was a busy man throughout keeping order in a tense situation which often threatened to spill over, booked Aldergrove’s Brian Mc Quillan and the home side’s Malachy Duffin the Whitehill men struck with a goal.
Ronan O’ Neill had made interception on the ‘40’ and combined with Aaron Mc Neilly and Christy Sheerin to place the hard grafting Darragh Feagan who delivered to the net.
Christy Sheerin had been denied by the Aldergrove keeper James Trolan twice in quick succession the incoming Darragh Feagan made no mistake when the opportunity fell his way.
Aldergrove tried to respond but time and again they were thwarted on the offensive with the home side stubborn in defiance and when Darragh Feagan added a point to compliment a strong Malachy Duffin intervention the home side were looking good.
Aldergrove needed to find response and with the ever industrious Eamon Mc Court and the high fielding, strong running Ryan Owens leading the charge they did take charge for a time.
Their efforts began to pay and back to back points from the Fergal Burke, and Seamus Mc Garry hinted at a strong finish from Paddy Nugent’s men.
The home side tried to respond but the Crumlin men were coming strong and a 54th minute point from late replacement Conleth Henderson saw Aldergrove just a point in arrears and seemed to have taken command.
Questions were being asked of the Whitehill men and in the event Damien Hagen’s charges were to provide the answers.
Aaron Mc Neilly added a further point, but when Fergal Burke made reply in kind just as the game clock ticked past the 60 minute mark but frequent stoppages ensured that a good period of time remained.
And those remaining minutes were to prove dramatic as Aaron McNeilly went down in possession on the 20 metre line and play was halted for the injury.
The restart saw the home side still in possession with a ‘no score’ free awarded but McNeilly found replacement Darren Mc Cormick in the clear and the latter finished to the net to see the men from the Hill 2-06 to 1-05 ahead and further time to follow.
Frantic activity followed and after a time of ‘handbags’ was halted the home side broke away for late replacement Pearse Sheerin to find the net following another Sean Redmond excursion forward.
There was to be no way back for St. James this time as the long blast sounded to the delight of a good home crowd as Tir na nOg concluded 3-06 to 1-05 ahead and a place in the top grade 2019 still very much within reach
Tir na nOg: Sean Paul McAtamney, Benny Magee, Daniel Martin, Sean Redmond, Barry Mc Cormick, Caomhinn Duffin, Sean Duffin, Malachy Duffin, Christy Sheerin, Ryan O’ Neill, Ciaran Mc Keown, Aaron Mc Neilly (0-03), Ciaran Logan, Kevin Sheerin, Darragh Feagan (1-03)
Darren Mc Cormick (1-00) for Malachy Duffin
Colm Duffin for R O’ Neill
Pearse Sheerin (1-00) for K Sheerin
Aldergrove: James Trolan, Paul Cushley, Ferdia Carson, Chris Mc Veigh, Eamon Mc Court, Chris O’ Kane, Tomas O’ Callaghan, Brian Mc Quillan, Ryan Owens (1-00), Conor Totten, Fergal Burke (0-03), Stephen Gorman, Seamus Mc Garry (0-01), Sean Fay, Gerard Mallon
Eoin Masterson for G Mallon (black card)
Conleth Anderson (0-01) for C Totten
Shane O’ Neill for S Fay
Referee Jarlath O’ Donnell (Con Magees)