Photographs: Bert Trowlen
Antrim U21 Football Championship Group 5
Gort na Móna 0-7
St Brigid’s 8-19
St. Brigid’s have made a strong start to this year’s U21 football championship and have been installed with Dunloy as early favourites in the competition but there could be many twists and turns before this year’s competition is decided.
They opened with a convincing win over St. John’s last week and were even more impressive in today’s win over Gort na Mona, a game that was first re-fixed to Musgrave Park when it was discovered that the original venue had been double booked.
This game was due to be played as part of a double header at Sally Gardens, but when the teams arrived, it transpired that the venue had been double booked (meaning the scheduled St John’s v St Paul’s game couldn’t go ahead), leading to a coin toss for the venue that St Brigid’s won, but as they couldn’t access their Musgrave Park base, it ended up a dash to Turf Lodge where the Gorts hosted the game at the last minute.
Any notion that home venue would help the Turf Lodge side were soon dispelled however with St. Brigid’s slow to settle but they came with a strong finish to brush aside the opposition and win convincingly.
The visitors wasted no time in getting into gear as from the throw-in, a long ball was sent down to Ethan Carleton who cracked home the first of a hat-trick of goals for the corner forward.
It took his team another seven minutes to add to their tally when James Smith added a good score and at the other end, Gort na Móna got themselves off the mark with Tiarnan Keenan kicking over a good score.
Gort na Mona might have had a goal in their next attack but Tom Dunford was equal to Liam Dixon’s effort and St Brigid’s went straight up-field and Smith kicked a good point out on the left.
Dixon and Peter Webb traded points before two frees from Conor Healy brought the gap down to two on 18 minutes, but St Brigid’s took over at this stage , finishing the half with a flurry to put themselves in complete control.
Smith began the scoring burst after he pointed when Webb’s shot at goal came off the post.
Webb then kicked a free before John Toner swapped passes with John Blaney as he raced through to score, while Smith kicked another soon after.
Centre back, Peter King then hit two on the spin as his side moved eight clear before they hit their second goal on 25 minutes. This time, Blaney played in Peter Webb who again hit the post, but the rebound came to James Smith who found the net.
Those two goals soon became three as the Musgrave park side continued to turn the screw as Michael Cummings floated a long ball forward that evaded everyone and ended up in the net.
Within a minute, the fourth goal arrived as Smith grabbed his second after being set-up by Carleton, but he was denied another by the feet of Conor McVeigh in the Gort na Móna goal as the flood gates opened.
The home side did have the final say of the half when Tim Scannell squeezed the ball inside the post, but as the short whistle sounded it was St. Brigid’s who led 4-9 to 0-5.
Gort na Móna made a better start to the second half as Michael Carlin rode a tackle to score in the opening minute a but St Brigid’s were quick to respond.
Ethan Carleton led the way as he kicked the next four points from play and on 43 minutes, he added a goal as he finished at the second attempt after McVeigh saved.
Peter Webb pointed and James Smith added two more – one from a free – to increase the St Brigid’s lead to 25 with just over 10 minutes left to play.
The scores kept on coming as substitute, Paul Bradley found the net on 50 minutes and added another four minutes later after Smith had pointed a free.
With four minutes of normal time remaining the visitors got in for their eighth goal as Carleton completed his hat-trick after Bradley turned provider and John Blaney then kicked a brilliant point as the clock ticked down..
The Gorts had lost goalkeeper, Conor McVeigh to injury, but they kept battling away and were rewarded with a Tiarnan Keenan free late on for their efforts.
St Brigid’s refused to ease off the throttle however and had the final score of a one sided contest as Blaney sent over in the dying seconds to wrap up an impressive win and virtually secure their place in the A competition in the knockout stages.
GORT NA MÓNA: C McVeigh; D Caldwell, P Cournane, J Reilly; M Carlin (0-1), C Black, T Keenan (0-2, 1 free); T Scannell (0-1), T Morton; N Melaney, C Healy (0-2 frees), C Donnelly; B Corr, L Dixon (0-1), R Dixon.
ST BRIGID’S: T Dunford; H McGuigan, J Toner (0-1), D Foster; B McCarthy, P King (0-2), O Boyle; M Cummings (1-0), S Moran; C Webb, J Blaney (0-2), P Lavery; P Webb (0-3, 1 free), J Smith (2-7, 0-2 frees), E Carleton (3-4). Subs: E Brown for P Lavery (35), P Bradley (2-0) for S Moran.
REFEREE: Thomas Eastwood (St Enda’s)