Late McLarnon strike sinks Glenavy as St Pauls advance

Larkin Cassidy Solicitors Antrim Intermediate Football Championship Quarter-final

St Pauls 1-14-1-11 Glenavy

From Kevin Herron at Hannahstown 

Liam McLarnon’s injury-time goal ensured that St Pauls advanced to the semi-final of the Intermediate Football Championship after a tense 1-14-1-11 win over Glenavy at Hannahstown this afternoon.

St Pauls were the better side during the first thirty minutes and led 0-08-0-06 at the break with Liam McKenna’s proving hard to deal with.

But Glenavy hit the opening goal through Ciaran Loney and made St Pauls battle back. The Shaws Road men eventually restoring parity through Niall Peoples before McLarnon rifled home in injury-time.

The last of the weekends quarter-finals was probably the most difficult to call as Division Three winners St Pauls took on a Glenavy side that were down in numbers and struggled upon their return to Division Two.

It was St Pauls who hit the front within the first sixty seconds as Niall Peoples took a hit and Micky Joe Cooper converted the resulting free.

Owen Gallagher’s fielding in the middle of the field was causing St Pauls plenty of early problems and Gallagher played a role in his side’s equaliser through Niall McCann.

McCann popped over a second point after a nice interchange from Fergus Cunningham, but a minute previous Glenavy had a let-off at the other end.

Liam McLarnon broke a high ball and his low shot was bravely blocked by Conor Hamill, but the full-forward would secure his side’s equaliser as the teams were level by the 10th minute.

Owen Gallagher edged his side ahead for the second time with McLarnon quickly levelling, it took almost ten minutes for the next score to arrive as Fergal Henry weaved his way into a shooting position and squeezed a high shot inside the large post to give his side a 0-04-0-03 lead.

St Pauls restored parity for the third time in the half through Daniel Lavery and Liam McKenna came out to receive a diagonal pass and angled a marvellous point to edge his side in front for just the second time.

Conor Burns doubled St. Paul’s lead though Ciaran Loney landed a fine score to ensure the minimum separated the sides.

Both teams traded further points through Liam McKenna and Peter Treanor but a converted free from Liam McKenna ensured that St Pauls held a 0-08-0-06 lead at the break.

Glenavy cut the deficit upon the resumption as substitute Anthony Gallagher popped the ball into the path of Fergal Henry who conjured a fine score.

Liam McKenna’s second converted free restored his side’s two-point cushion but Niall McCann responded from a neat Ciaran Loney interchange.

The opening goal of the game arrived on the 40th minute and fell to Glenavy. Substitute Anthony Gallagher flicked the ball into the path of Ciaran Loney who shot past Kiefer Toolan to give his side a 1-08-0-09 lead.

Joe Duffy replied for St Pauls but with little under a quarter of an hour remaining Fergal Henry’s third point of the game put the gap back at two.

Liam McKenna converted a free and an instant impact from Aaron Brady dragged St Pauls back on level terms with little over ten minutes remaining (0-12-1-09).

Glenavy got their noses back in front once again through Fergal Henry and a magnificent steal from substitute Fergal Green yielded his side’s final score of the afternoon.

The two-point gap remained but on 58 minutes St Pauls almost stole ahead as Liam McLarnon had a half chance of a goal, but Edward Forester magnificently snuffed out the opportunity.

McLarnon would pop over a point for his third of the afternoon and on the 60th minute the sides were drawn level for the sixth time as Niall Peoples landed a super point to make it 0-14-1-11 and ensure a grandstand finish was on the cards.

Glenavy pressed for the winner, however a slip from Fergal Henry saw his side turned over and St Pauls went on the attack.

Joe Duffy attempted point saw the ball drop in the area and Liam McLarnon was there to gather the ball, turn and rifle past Jake Nelson to give his side a 1-14-1-11 lead and spark huge celebrations on the St Pauls bench.

Liam McKenna missed the chance to grab the insurance point as his late free drifted to the right and wide – it wouldn’t prove costly though as St Pauls held on for victory and a place in the semi-finals against Aldergrove in two-week’s time.

St Pauls: K Toolan, P Copeland, S Bradley, A Kavanagh, J Duffy (0-01), D Burns, D Magee, C O’Hanlon, J Farrell, D Lavery (0-01), N Peoples (0-01), MJ Cooper (0-01f), C Burns (0-01), L McLarnon (1-03), L McKenna (0-05, 0-03f). Subs: C Finnegan for MJ Cooper (HT); A Brady (0-01) for D McWilliams (47); S Rooney for D Magee (49); P Lowe for P Copeland (60).  

Glenavy: J Nelson, C Hamill, O Hamill, M Hamill, R Phillips, C Gallagher, P O’Neill, O Gallagher (0-01), P Gallagher, M McCourt, N McCann (0-03), P Treanor (0-01), F Cunningham, C Loney (1-01), F Henry (0-04). Subs: A Gallagher for F Cunningham (HT); F Green (0-01) for M McCourt (49); E Forester for O Hamill (52).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St. Gall’s)

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