Antrim U-21 Football Championship
St Galls 1-16-0-13 Lamh Dhearg
By Kevin Herron at Woodlands
St Galls made it two wins from two and will undoubtedly take a place in the ‘A’ section of the U-21 championship come the conclusion of the group stage – after beating Lamh Dhearg 1-16-0-13 at Woodlands this afternoon.
The Milltown side were in control from the off and routed Lamh Dhearg 1-12-0-03 at the break – with the goal arriving courtesy of Daniel Murray before the interval.
Lamh Dhearg fought back after the restart and points from Pearse Fegan, Daire Larkin, Owen McKeown and Mark Finnegan brought the Hannahstown men back to within four points late on – though St Galls held out and late points from John McCaffrey and Conor Stinton saw them home.
Lamh Dhearg’s Daire Larkin in action against St Gall’s D Murray.
St Galls showed their attacking intent from the off and hit the front through a converted Kevin Bradley free – Eoghan McCabe’s cross field pass then found Conor Stinton who popped the ball over the bar.
A second converted Bradley free and a point from the narrowest of angles from Michael Hopkins had St Galls 0-04-0-00 ahead before Owen McKeown converted a free and got his side off the mark.
St Galls were relentless though and with little over ten minutes of the first half remaining led 0-09-0-01.
Kevin Bradley’s first point from play restored his sides four point lead – further scores followed from Niall McCann, Bradley, Michael Hopkins and Caolan Chada.
Lamh Dhearg lacked conviction for much of the opening half – Daire Larkin conjured up his sides second score – the midfielder turned over Niall McCurdy’s kick-out and his shot sailed confidently between the posts.
Niall McCann hit back for St Galls with a well crafted score and Eoghan McCabe broke the resulting kick-out from Gerard Smyth and fed Hopkins for the corner-forwards third point of the half.
With five minutes to the break the opening goal arrived at Woodlands – Dan Murray charged through the heart of the Lamh Dhearg defence and despite the best efforts of Gerard Smyth was able to rifle to the net and give St Galls a 1-11-0-02 lead.
Hopkins converted a further free before the half was out and at the other end Owen McKeown surged forward and shot over from his second point of the half.
The Hannahstown men almost gave themselves a half-time lifeline as substitute Mark Finnegan’s cross field pass fell for Cameron Flynn, Flynn made space but his shot crashed off the woodwork and out as St Galls led 1-12-0-03 at the interval.
Lamh Dhearg needed to start the second half on the front foot if they had any aspirations of making a fist off the game.
Pearse Fegan shot over the bar from a tight angle within the first sixty seconds – Mark Finnegan followed that up with a converted free and Daire Larkin used his strength to hold off a challenge and direct his shot over the bar to reduce the deficit to nine (1-12-0-06).
John McCaffrey responded at the other end as his shot hit the large post and dropped over the bar – Mark Finnegan quickly hit back at the other end from a second converted free of the half.
Cameron Flynn assisted the next score as the full-forward was able to keep the ball in play from Owen McKeown’s shot that appeared to drifting behind – Flynn chased the lost cause and Eoin Matasa curled the ball delightfully over the bar and Lamh Dhearg were creeping back into contention.
Eoghan McCabe’s smart pass at the other end found Kevin Bradley and his point moved the Milltown men 1-14-0-08 ahead midway through the second-half.
Both sides had goals chances within sixty seconds of each other – Jack Trainor popped the ball into the St Galls penalty area, though Mark Finnegan failed to apply the finish and at the other end Gerard Smyth did terrifically well to deny substitute Niall Burns.
St Galls appeared to be safe and on course for victory – leading by nine with ten minutes remaining, but Lamh Dhearg set-up a grandstand finish with five unanswered points.
Mark Finnegan converted his third free of the half and Jack Summersgill shot the ball between the posts. Pearse Fegan landed his second score from a fine turn and shot and successive points from Owen McKeown made it 1-14-0-13 with three minutes remaining.
St Galls steadied themselves though as Eoghan McCabe’s quick-free picked out McCaffrey for his second point of the half and Conor Stinton claimed his second point two minutes into injury-time as St Galls ran out 1-16-0-13 winners at the conclusion.
St Galls: N McCurdy, R Mallon, C Murray, O Delaney, J McCaffrey (0-02), E McCabe, J Mervyn, T Bunting, P Friel, D Murray (1-00), C Stinton (0-02), C Chada (0-01), K Bradley (0-05, 0-02f), N McCann (0-02), M Hopkins (0-04,0-02f). Subs: C Derby for C Chada (34 mins), C Ferguson for J Mervyn (36 mins), N Burns for M Hopkins (47 mins), O McIllhatton for D Murray (49 mins).
Lamh Dhearg: G Smyth, R Murray, R Fegan, E Matasa (0-01), N McParland, J Trainor, J Summersgill (0-01), D Larkin (0-02), D Smyth, J Boyd, O McKeown (0-04, 0-01f), A Cunningham, R Diamond, C Flynn, P Fegan (0-02). Subs: M Finnegan (0-03f) for A Cunningham (22 mins), M Pettigrew for C Flynn (62 mins).
Referee: Charlie Hemsworth (St Pauls).