Champions Cargin in cruise control

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Semi-final

St Galls 1-08-2-10 Cargin

From Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park

Championship holders Cargin reached their their sixth decider in the space of seven years after brushing aside the challenge of St Galls with relative ease in this evenings semi-final at Corrigan Park.

The men from Toome led 0-05-0-04 at the break in a half that lacked the quality and intensity that many of the spectators came in expection of.

Cargin began to pull away with a goal at the beginning of the second period through David Johnson and had five-six points to spare for the majority of the second period, until substitute Ciaran Close found his sides second.

Cargins Kieran Close celebrates after scoring a goal shortly after being introduced as a second half sub

Aodhan Gallagher’s injury-time goal was a case off too little too late as St Galls miserable evening was compounded with Kieran McGourty’s injury-time dismissal for a second yellow-card offence as Cargin head off to the decider hoping to retain the Padraig McNamee Cup.

Corrigan Park was bustling come 5.30 with a healthy crowd coming in expectation of another classic between the top-two in Antrim football.

St Galls were hoping to avenge last years heartbreaking finish to the semi-final which saw Tomas McCann net deep into injury-time to give Cargin a place in the final, but faced a stiff test from the holders from Toome.

Cargin’s hero from last years semi-final would get his side off the mark early-on, popping the ball over from a tight angle – with Brendan Bradley responding courtesy of a converted free after Kevin Niblock was felled.

McCann nudged his side in front on the 13th minute after he was tripped and Ciaran Bradley rode the challenge of Kevin Niblock and fisted over the bar at the near post to extend Cargin’s lead at the midway point in the half (0-03-0-01).

A splendid Justin Crozier point was the Toome side’s third on the trot and eventually St Galls hit back through a second Brendan Bradley free.

The first goal opportunity of note arrived ten minutes before the break as Michael Magill fisted the ball across to Tomas McCann, though McCann could only fire straight down the throat of Ronan Gallagher.

Magill would restore his sides three-point advantage with five minutes of the half remaining and they held that lead until first-half injury-time.

A minute into three added on, Brendan Bradley kicked a fantastic free from around 45-yards out and CJ McGourty added a further free from close range to ensure only a point separated the sides at the end of a largely forgettable first-half.

Cargin drew first blood from the games resumption, winning the break ball at midfield Michael McCann fed Ciaran Bradley who popped the ball into the path of David Johnston – Ronan Gallagher advanced and Johnston’s shot crashed off the underside of the bar and over the line to give his side a 1-05-0-04 lead.

Ciaran Bradley pointed in the aftermath to extend the lead, though the Toome men survived their first serious scare at the other end.

On 37 minutes a dipping shot from CJ McGourty was fisted against the bar by Kevin Niblock; who appeared to be hauled back in the area- though referee Karol Doherty was unmoved despite vocal appeals from Niblock and his team-mates.

A fisted John Carron point extended Cargin’s lead to six and a second goal was almost in the offing through half-time substitute Pat Shivers.

The youngster’s high shot was dropped by Ronan Gallagher who was confident in moping up the danger, despite the ball rolling across the face of his goal.

Shane O’Hagan replied for St Galls; in his last act before departing in place of Tomas O’Ciarnan and the sides traded further points through Bradley and Kevin Niblock.

Michael McCann weaved inside and popped the ball over to give Cargin a 1-09-0-06 lead with a quarter of an hour remaining.

CJ McGourty converted his second close-range free in response and in the aftermath dropped a high hanging ball on top of John McNabb, but the Cargin shot-stopper comfortably gathered.

Substitute Ciaran Close converted a free with his first meaningful act in proceedings and sealed victory sixty seconds later.

St Galls were cut open defensively and Ciaran Bradley’s square pass fell neatly for Close to tap-in past Gallagher and make it 2-10-0-07.

St Galls needed an instant response in order to give themselves any chance of a late comeback – but their struggles in attack continued.

With a minute of regulation time remaining, CJ McGourty floated a high ball on top of a crowded area and Tomas O’Ciarnan fisted the ball over the bar when it needed to go under.

A close range McGourty free was parried to safety by John McNabb and a minute into added time Aodhan Gallagher rifled the ball high into the roof of the net to make it 2-10-1-08.

It was a case of too little too late however and four minutes into added time St Galls torrid evening was compounded as Kieran McGourty was shown a second yellow-card by referee Doherty.

Cargins Pat Shivers in action against St Galls Mark Kelly

It would have little bearings of the final outcome though as Cargin were already home and hosed and the holders ran out 2-10-1-08 winners at the final whistle to seal a place in the decider in two-weeks time.

The Toome men must wait to see who will progress from this weeks semi-final replay between Lamh Dhearg and Portgleone before details of the decider will be finalised.

St Galls: R Gallagher, S O’Hagan (0-01), C Brady, B Bradley (0-03f), M Kelly, J McGreevy, J McCaffrey, A Gallagher (1-00), M Pollock, N O’Neill, E McCabe, C Stinton, CJ McGourty (0-02f), T O’Neill, K Niblock (0-01). Subs: S Burke for C Stinton (35); R Irvine for J McCaffrey (36); T O’Ciarnan (0-01) for S O’Hagan (41); K McGourty for S Burke (51 – black card substition).

Cargin: J McNabb, D McKeever, M Kane, K Close, T Scullion, J Crozier (0-01), J Laverty, D Johnston (1-00), J Carron (0-01), P McCann, M McCann (0-01), C Bradley (0-02), T McCann (0-02f), M Magill (0-01f), J Gribben. Subs: P Shivers for M Magill (HT); C Close (1-01) for D Johnston (51); G McCorley for K O’Boyle (57); K McShane for J Carron (62).

Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin).

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