Aldergrove undone by killer goals

AIB Ulster Intermediate Football Championship Quarter-final

St James, Aldergrove 1-10-2-10 Naomh Naille

From Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park

Aldergrove were undone by goals either side of the break as Donegal intermediate champions Naomh Naille progressed to the semi-final of the AIB Ulster Intermediate Championship with a 2-10-1-10 victory over the Crumlin side at Corrigan Park this afternoon.

It wasn’t until the dying embers of the opening period that the first hammer blow arrived through Peadar Morgan’s goal and within a few minutes of the restart Daniel Brennan conjured up a second goal that gave Aldergrove a mountain to climb.

Things were going well for the Antrim champions as Seamus McGarry’s deflected goal gave his side a narrow edge until the dismissal of Kian Jones through a second yellow card a few minutes before the break.

Brennan’s dismissal in the aftermath would level the player count though St James’ couldn’t turn the screw despite a flurry of late McGarry free’s and in the end it was a bridge too far for the Crumlin side as Naomh Naille advanced to the last four. It was a dissapointing end for the Antrim champions and they will look back on this game with frustration as it is a game they know they could have won.

Naomh Naille opened the scoring on the third minute after Gerard Mallon felled Barry Griffin with Stephen Griffin converting the resulting free.

Mallon atoned for his role in the concession of the opener and levelled with a fine point sixty seconds later.

The high point of the game as Seamus McGarry celebrates after his deflected goal game Aldergrove the lead.

Futher scores should have arrived for the Antrim champions as Ronan Hanna was taken down in a scoreable position but McGarry skewed the resulting free wide and on 11 minutes had a glorious opportunity to claim the opening goal as Chris O’Kane found himself in plenty of space, however it appeared as though the corner-back was caught in two minds and O’Kane shot wide of the posts.

But within two minutes the opening goal did arrive and fell to the Crumlin outfit – Seamus McGarry found himself in a promising position and his low shot was blocked by Naomh Naille full-back Brendan McCole, goalkeeper Gavin Mulreaney was convinced the ball was heading behind though it ended up in the net much to the delight of the James’ faithful as their side led 1-01-0-01.

Naomh Naille responded with back to back points either side of the midway point from Peadar Morgan and Stephen Griffin – though Seamus McGarry swung the ball over after smart work from Gerard Mallon.

Six minutes before the interval Aldergrove suffered a setback as Kian Jones felled Barry Griffin, already on a booking; referee Kevin Faloon gave Jones his marching orders and the resulting free was converted by Peadar Morgan to close the gap to the bare minimum (1-02-0-04).

Morgan proceeded to level the game with a shot from the outside of the boot that sailed over the bar – though Seamus McGarry popped the ball to Ronan Hanna who nudged the 14-men ahead once more.

Stuart Johnson strode forward and pulled Naomh Naille level in response and the Donegal side led for just the second time through a fine point from John Rose a minute into injury-time.

Alergrove’s Chris O’Kane come out of defence with the ball during the first half of Sunday’s Ulster Intermediate Championship tie at Corrigan Park.

Disaster would follow for Aldergrove at the worst possible time, the resulting kick-out from Shane O’Neill was straight to Peadar Morgan who drove forward and picked his spot low in the bottom corner with almost the last kick of the half to give his side a 1-07-1-03 advantage at the interval and leave Paddy Nugent’s men with a huge Job on their hands in the second period.

Aldergrove hit the second-half’s opening score through Fearghal Burke (free) though Naomh Naille struck a deadly blow in reply.

A quick free caught the Antrim champions napping and Stuart Johnson guided the ball into the path of Daniel Brennan who tucked the ball in at the near post past O’Neill to make it 2-07-1-04.

Aldergrove’s Fearghal Hanna in action during Sunday’s game at Corrigan Park

An outstanding point from Conor Morris closed the gap and although Aldergrove had work to do – their chances were slightly boosted as parity was restored on the player count with the dismissal of goal scorer Daniel Brennan. Already on a black-card, Brennan was shown a yellow and subsequent red by referee Faloon.

The sides traded scores on two occasions over the course of the next 13 minutes, Barry Griffin and namesake Stephen (free) twice opened up a six-point lead- but Seamus McGarry converted successive frees in response to keep his side in contention (1-07-2-09).

McGarry steered over his third point in succession and a fine point from substitute Corey Fogarty left a goal between the sides with three minutes plus minutes injury-time to play.

A goal was required in order for the comeback kings to have any chance of pulling off another major Championship scalp.

Though Stephen Griffin converted a free to keep Aldergrove at arms length- Seamus McGarry replied from the same scenario though that was to be as close as his side would come as Naomh Naille ran out 2-10-1-10 winners at the conclusion to advance to the semi-final.

It ended dissapointingly for Aldergrove today at Corrigan Park, but when the dust settles they will look back on this season with pride and the knowledge that the red flag is still flying high

Aldergrove: S O’Neill, P Cushley, F Carson, C O’Kane, D Gough, C McVeigh, O Graham, R Owens, B McQuillan, K Jones, F Burke (0-01f), R Hanna (0-01), C Morris (0-01), G Mallon (0-01), S McGarry (1-05, 0-03f).

Subs: C Fogarty (0-01) for F Carson (35); C Quinn for R Hanna (51); J Trowlen for F Burke (54).

Naomh Náille: G Mulreany, C Gaffney, B McCole, J Rose (0-01), M Breslin, C McBrearty, M Coughlan, L McBrearty, D Brennan (1-00), I Campbell, S Johnson (0-01), P Morgan (1-03), S Griffin (0-04, 0-03f), B Griffin (0-01), S Conneely.

Subs: Daniel  Gallagher for C Gaffney (39); C Lowther for M Breslin (54); D McDyre for L McBrearty (60).

Black card sub: I Campbell (36) replaced by Diarmuid Gallagher.

Referee: Kevin Faloon (Ard Mhacha)

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