Intermediate Football Championship Final
St James, Aldergrove 1-13 St Ergnat’s, Moneyglass 2-9
Saturday October 5
Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Uí Cheallaigh, Portglenone
Aldergrove ended a 42 year wait on Saturday evening as they came back from seven points down to take the intermediate championship. Trailing by seven points after 20 minutes, the Crumlin side produced a breath taking second half display where Seamus McGarry and Fergal Burke were immense for their sides.
McGarry with an exhibition of quite brilliant point scoring in the second 30 minutes while Burke landed the winning score in injury time and top scored for the St Jame’s men with 1-4 over the hour.
Coming into the match, many saw Moneyglass as favourites for the crown and when Dermot McErlain scored the opening goal after just 15 seconds, it looked like it could be a long evening for the Aldergrove men. ‘Bugsy’ would add his second major midway through the first half and Moneyglass were in control of their own destiny at that point.
There were two moments in the first half that changed the course of the game, however. Aldergrove made a tactical change, replacing Conor Totten for Corey Fogarty and he kept an eye on the influential Gavin Murray and Burke’s major with minutes to go at the end of the first half. It gave the Crumlin side a glimmer of hope coming into the second half with a three point deficit and as they’ve shown throughout the championship, that’s all they need.
Aldergrove kept Moneyglass scoreless for 17 minutes in the second half while McGarry and Burke went to town while Brian McQuillan was also superb in midfield. They took a three point lead with ten minutes remaining but it was Moneyglass who fought back with Colum Duffin tying the sides. There was still time for a winner and a hero. Burke stepped up to the plate and split the posts with a simply brilliant score from wide on the left and the acutest of angles.
Moneyglass made the dream start to the final and scored the opening goal after just 15 seconds. Colum Duffin collecting the ball from the throw in and delayed his pass for McErlain to run onto. The Aldergrove defence opened like the Red Sea with ‘Bugsy’ taking full advantage and burying his shot, leaving Shane O’Neill no chance between the posts.
Aldergrove responded well and dominated the opening 10 minutes but they couldn’t make their possession count on the scoreboard. Four wides were recorded by the St James’ men and while Burke opened their account in the fifth minute, Moneyglass were more clinical. Bugsy McErlain and Conor Boyd (free) splitting the uprights either side of Brian McQuillan’s white flag to leave the early goal separating the sides.
Conor Boyd (free) and McGarry’s first of the match midway through the half preceded McErlain’s second major of the half. The St Ergnat’s men holding possession before McErlain broke the line and again, buried his shot to the back of the net. Kevin Marron followed that major with a superb point with the outside of his boot to give Moneyglass a seven point led with five minutes of the first half remaining.
Aldergrove’s end to the first half quite possibly kept their championship hopes alive. McGarry with Aldergrove’s first point from a free in the 28th minute before Burke scored their goal two minutes later. Kian Jones’ effort was partially blocked and the Moneyglass defence stuttered, Burke lashed first day and his riffled effort bulged the net with Mark Carey no chance of stopping his drive to leave Moneyglass ahead 2-4 to 1-4 at the short whistle.
The three point deficit was probably harsh on the Crumlin side who had looked dangerous but their wastefulness in possession was playing into the hands of a Moneyglass side who were highly efficient in the first half.
Conor Boyd’s third free of the match opened a four point lead for Moneyglass once again but that was their last score for 17 minutes as Aldergrove turned the screw. Burke (free) and Oisin Graham halved the Moneyglass lead inside four minutes of the restart as the Aldergrove midfield dominated.
Moneyglass could have had a goal with their second attack of the second half, McErlain’s long range effort dropped short and with Ferdia Carson and ‘keeper O’Neill waiting on the dropping ball, ‘Kindo’ Marron jumped highest but his effort cannoned back off the post into the waiting arms of Paul Cushley who cleared the danger.
Aldergrove were having the purple patch of their lives however with McGarry in particular in scintillating form. He scored four point (one free), two quite brilliant and instinctive with Burke also adding to his tally to give the St James’ side a three point lead midway through the second half.
Bugsy McErlain took his tally to 2-2 for the final with a superb score from distance to stop the rot and while Brian McQuillan scored his second point of the match with ten minutes remaining, the ‘Grove had changed their tactics. With the St Ergnat’s men reduced to 14 after Eamon Kelly was black carded having already been on a yellow, instead of continuing to keep the pressure on the Moneyglass defence, Aldergrove looked to keep possession and run down the clock. It played into Moneyglass’ hands however as they accepted the invitation and rolled the dice one last time. Hunting in packs, tackling in numbers and pressurising errors that weren’t happening before in the Aldergrove midfield, Colum Duffin scoring his first point of the match in the 51st minute and Moneyglass were like a side transformed.
They had a massive shout for a penalty turned down after Kindo was felled inside the square by Carson but referee Cathal McDermot waved away the calls. Moneyglass continued to pile on the pressure and a brace of frees from Smiley restored parity and they looked to have the momentum.
Aldergrove mounted another attack and were awarded a free wide on the left and just over 20 yards from the end line. Burke stood over the free and had the hopes of his club resting on his shoulders. Three steps, one swing of his right peg and the ball was on it’s way. Hung high in the air with the crowd waiting, Burke new before anyone else. His arm aloft and the white flag was raised. The score that ended 42 years of dreams as reality struck, Aldergrove – Intermediate Champions, 2019.
Aldergrove: Shane O’Neill; Paul Cushley, Ferdia Carson, Chris O’Kane; Oisin Graham, Chris McVeigh, Conor Totten; Ryan Owens, Brian McQuillan; Kian Jones, Fergal Burke, Ronan Hanna; Conor Morris, Gerard Mallon, Seamus McGarry.
Subs: Corey Fogarty for C Totten (27); James Trowlen for K Jones (52)
Scorers: Fergal Burke 1-4 (2 f’s); Seamus McGarry 0-6 (2 f’s); Brian McQuillan 0-2; Oisin Graham 0-1
Moneyglass: Mark Carey; Sean Kelly, Tiarnan Duffin, Peter McCormick; Jack McCoy, Conor Boyd, Eamon Kelly; Colum Duffin, Dermot McErlain; James McMeel, Paul Tohill, Paddy McCormick; Liam Brady, Kevin Marron, Gavin Murray.
Subs: Conaill Prenter for L Brady (41); Jervis Weir for J McCoy (41); Niall Boyd for P Tohill (47); Seanchann Duffin for J McMeel (53).
Scorers: Dermot McErlain 2-2; Conor Boyd 0-3 (3 f’s); Colum Duffin 0-3 (2 f’s); Kevin Marron 0-1
Referee: Cathal McDermot (Tír na nÓg)