Intermediate Football Championship
Con Magees, Glenravel 1-12 Patrick Sarsfields 1-11
Sunday September 8
Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr McGuigan Park, Ahoghill
The opening match of the double header in Ahoghill on Sunday afternoon served up a proper championship contest between two evenly matches sides. Con Magees and Sarsfields went toe to toe for the hour and it took two points in injury time to find a winner with the Glenravel side coming out on top.
In an incredible game where neither side deserved to lose, two injury time frees from the Con Magees proved decisive. Eoin Hynds with his second of the half to equalise and Aiden O’Donnell to fire the winner with his fourth of the match. It was a breath-taking end to what was an exhilarating hour of football that ebbed and flowed with both sides enjoying different times of dominance but the Con Magees edged the closing stages to celebrate a one point win.
Sarsfields started this quarter-final tie superbly and could have had the opening goal after just two minutes. Garry Lennon bringing the best out of Jonathan Fyfe between the sticks for Glenravel but the Paddies didn’t have long to wait before they found the net. Playing a one-two with Jack Daniels, Niall McAlea fired the opening score and goal of the tie in the third minute.
The Con Magees responded well with Aiden O’Donnell and Sean McKay finding the required accuracy in front of the target but when Lennon and Tomas Skillen replied, Sarsfields held a deserved three point lead after the opening 11 minutes of action.
Both sides played with two on the inside forward line but made great use of the ball when countering. Sarsfields showed more directness however and although Eamon Fyfe scored Glenravel’s third point of the match in the 12th minute, three unanswered points from Kevin McKernan, Darragh McGuinness and a Niall McKenna free opened a five point lead midway through the half.
McKenna’s free was the first score from placed ball during a hugely entertaining opening 16 minutes of the match. Both sides were playing attractive football and attacking with speed and precision but Sarsfields had been that bit more economical up to that point. McKenna’s free was the Paddies last score of the half however as Con Magees found another gear.
Eamon Fyfe scored his second point of the match before the Paddies ‘keeper Michael Brady pulled off a quite brilliant double save to deny the Glenravel men a certain goal in the 22nd minute, the first from Eoin Hynds before picking himself off the ground and denying McKay with an outstanding piece of goalkeeping.
The Con Magees midfield were turning the screw with David Higgins in particular dominating with Eamon Fyfe, Josh McKeown and McKay always posing a threat. Unanswered points from Eamon Fyfe and two from Josh McKeown cut the Paddies lead to just the minimum at the short whistle.
Sarsfields were in bad need of the half time whistle when it came. They had seen their five point lead all but disappear and needed to reorganise. Half time gave them that opportunity and when Lennon split the uprights for his second point of the match, they looked to have regained control after the restart. The Con Magees had other ideas. A brace of frees from Aidan O’Donnell were answered with another Niall McKenna free before the Glenravel men scored their goal in the 38th minute. Eamon Fyfe making the break and with the close attentions of two Sarsfields defenders, he still managed to get his shot away. It was blocked however and Seanan Black was on hand to make the most of the rebound, slotting the ball to the back of the Paddies net with a first time strike and giving his side a two point lead.
Another McKenna free was Sarsfields response and they could have scored another goal but for an outstanding block from Michael Laverty to deny Kevin McKernan with the goal at his mercy. The Paddies retook the lead with a pair of frees from McKenna by the 54th minute and looked to have saw off the Con Magees resurgence. They had chances to extend that lead but the Glenravel men kept plugging away. Hynds restoring parity before flying half back Jack Daniels looked to have secured the Paddies progression when he pointed in the last minute of normal time to give his side the lead.
The Con Magees went again however and put Sarsfields defence under huge pressure in injury time. Hynds pointed from a free to restore parity before O’Donnell had the last say. Wide on the left and 30 yards from goal, the angle may have suited the Con Magees man but it was a pressure kick. Any nerves in the crowd were eased before the ball reached the target however as the Glenravel bench roared and O’Donnell seconds after the free was struck. Over the black spot with a huge score that took last year’s junior football champions into the last four of the Intermediate and a meeting with Moneyglass in two weeks’ time.
Glenravel: Jonathan Fyfe; Connor Carey, Paul McCurry, Michael Laverty; Conleth O’Loan, Niall Swann, Kieron McKeown; Connor Carey, David Higgins; Seanan Black, Eoin Hynds, Aiden O’Donnell; Sean McKay, Eamon Fyfe, Josh McKeown.
Subs: Martin McCarry fro S Black (58); Aiden McCafferty for M Laverty (59).
Scorers: Aiden O’Donnell 0-4 (3 f’s); Seanan Black 1-00; Eamon Fyfe 0-2; Eoin Hynds 0-2 (2 f’s); Josh McKeown 0-2; Sean McKay 0-1; David Higgins 0-1
Sarsfields: Michael Brady; Gary McPolin, Martin McPolin, Ethan Mervyn; Jack Daniels, Niall McAlea, Connor Laverty; Cormac Murray, Niall McKenna; Declan Laverty, Kevin McKernan, Darragh McGuinness; Tomas Skillen, Sam Walsh, Garry Lennon.
Subs: Kevin Flood for D McGuinness (30); Kieran McCullagh for D Laverty (52); Ryan Carson for S Walsh (53).
Scorers: Niall McKenna 0-5 (5 f’s); Niall McAlea 1-00; Garry Lennon 0-2; Kevin McKernan 0-1; Darragh McGuinness 0-1; Tomas Skillen 0-1; Jack Daniels 0-1.
Referee: Eamon McAuley (Cargin)