Reserve Football Shield final
St. Mary’s Aghagallon 1-8 All Saints Ballymena 1-3
St Mary’s Aghagallon produced a strong second half comeback to clinch the Reserve Shield in a close encounter with All Saints Ballymena at St. Enda’s today.
This season finale took a while to come to life but by the final whistle credit must be given to both sides who played out an entertaining game in difficult conditions at a rain soaked Hightown.
Overnight rain resulted in both teams starting cautiously and despite the underfoot conditions ten minutes were on the clock before referee Vincent Boyle had to call the first halt for foul play. Shortly after this All Saints were first to register on the scoreboard. Following up on a return ball Mark Murchin drove towards the goal line and from a tight angle hit a powerful shot across goal, the ball nestling in the far corner of the net. Both teams had chances but shots from play fell short or wide and neither team added to this until Callum Fitzpartick converted a free for St Mary’s on twenty minutes. All Saints had another goal opportunity, from a similar position to their opening score Diarmuid McNally hit a goal bound shot but this time Luke Mulholland was equal to it and turned the ball wide for a ‘45’.
Aghagallon responded and Kieran Hamill won the ball and found David Mc Alernon in a central position and he calmly slotted over, but before the short whistle All Saints extended their lead, Diarmuid McNally converting a free from the 13 meter line.
Half time St Mary’s 0:2 All Saints 1:1
Obviously the opportunity to regroup worked for both teams and despite more rain the second half turned into an entertaining encounter.
From the first attack of the half David McAlernon again brought the difference to a single point but Ballymena extended their lead when number McNally struck a beautiful free from the side line and Damian Casey followed with another from play. Aghagallon hit back with two scores of their own, Callum Fitzpatrick converted another free and again it was David Mc Alernon who for the third time brought it to a one point game.
The equalising point followed. David Mc Alernon collected an All Saints kick out and took his mark, using the ball to good effect to find brother Daryl who passed to Niall McShane who got his first of the day. Then half way through the half Callum Fitzpatrick converted another free to put St Mary’s in front for the first time.
Both sides were using their benches and the introduction of new players broke up the pattern of the game as they got used to the conditions. Niall McShane got his second, this one from distance meant that as the clock ticked down All Saints needed a goal. Some last gasp defending kept them at bay, none more so when Luke Mulholland bravely closed down number 16 saving when he got behind the Aghagallon rear guard and the ball flashed across the front of goal for a 45.
With five minutes stoppage time coming to an end All Saints knew only a goal would do and they dropped the 45 in to a crowded area but it was the defence that came out on top and the ball was cleared. From the clearance Seanan Donnelly had a shot that fell short but the ball fell favourably to Adam Shanks who turned his marker and slid the ball under the All Saints keeper, Emmet McAllister to put the game beyond doubt.
The final whistle followed much to the relief of St Marys and their Manager Sean Branagan who deserved the reward having used a good mix of experience and youth over the season. Credit to both teams who played in a sporting manner in difficult conditions and to Vincent Boyle who refereed with common sense before presenting the shield to Aghagallon captain Roland Mulholland.
St Marys: Luke Mulholland, Joseph Mc Alinden, Roland Mulholland, Matthew Kelly, Kieran Hamill, Callum Fitzpatrick (0:03 – all frees), Steven Branagan, David Mc Alernon (0:3), Niall Rodgers, Kieran Magee, Conor Mc Kavanagh, Niall Mc Shane (0:02), Daryl Mc Alernon, Daniel Hannon, Adam Shanks (1:0)
Subs: Joseph Lavelle, Seanan Donnelly, Sean Branagan, Johnny Harbinson, Ronan Lavery, Michael Magee, Aaron Doherty
All Saints: Emmet McAllister, Aidan O’Connell, Cormac Magill, Phelim Killough, Vinny Esler, Padhraig Magill, Eoin Walsh, Niall Shannon, Richard O’Rawe, Darren Mussen, Lee Kirk Mark Murchan, Damian Casey, Ciaran Shannon, Diarmuid McNally Subs: Damian Gillan for Phelim Killough, Ronan Ward for Darren Mussen, Kevin Brady for Damian Casey, Conall O’Neill for Aidan O’Connell
Referee: Vincent O’Boyle (Dunloy)