Ulster Senior Football League
St Brigids 2-12-4-06 Ballinascreen
From Kevin Herron at Musgrave Park
St Brigids and Ballinascreen served up a cracking Ulster League encounter at Musgrave Park this afternoon – despite the intervention of Storm Dennis.
It looked as though Liam Bradley’s Screen were on course for victory thanks to a double from Anton Kelly and further majors from Conor McKenna and Conor McGovern but St Brigids kept the scoreboard ticking over and remained in touch thanks to three points from Rory Brolly before a late Peter King goal rescued a share of the spoils for the south Belfast men.
Conditions were less than ideal at Musgrave Park with a sharp blustery breeze and rain making playing conditions tough.
It was Ballinascreen who adapted to the conditions better early-on as they led through Conor McKenna’s early point.
Rory Brolly replied with a point moments later- though Ballinascreen keeper Ryan McGuigan blocked his low goal attempt in the build-up and John Toner saw another promising shot blocked before a point was the end result.
McKenna nudged his side back in front from a converted free and on 10 minutes the Derry side hit the opening goal.
Conor McGovern slipped the ball to Ryan Doyle who dragged his shot across the face of goal and Anton Kelly was standing free at the back post to guide the ball to the net and give his side a 1-02-0-01 lead.
Ryan Tweedie (free) responded and then turned provider for Joseph Finnegan who fired over the bar.
St Brigids hit the front for the first time on 18 minutes- referee Jake Magill awarded Brigids a free- which was quickly taken by Jack Dowling- Ryan McGuigan could only parry and Paul Bradley was on hand to rifle to the net and make it 1-03-1-02.
Ballinascreen were quickly back on terms through Ronan Devlin’s point and the next four scores were equally shared.
The Derry side twice edged ahead through converted frees by Conor McKenna and Anton Kelly, though John Morgan and John Toner responded on each occasion as the sides were level at 1-05 apiece before the break.
St Brigids were hit with a late sucker punch at the end of the half though as Conor McKenna’s free dropped to the net amid some confusion- referee Magill was happy there was no reason to disallow McKenna’s fortuitous effort and Ballinascreen were 2-05-1-05 to the good at the midway stage.
Patrick Finnegan cut the deficit upon the games resumption with a fine point, though Coliete Mag Giolla Fhiondain angled over at the other end.
Ryan Tweedie converted his second free as St Brigids attempted to close in on Ballinascreen yet again- but on 37 minutes the hosts fell further behind as Conor McGovern swooped to fist Anton Scullion’s floated pass to the net to make it 3-06-1-07.
Rory Brolly replied with back to back scores to make it a three-point game again- though Ballinascreen hit their fourth goal of the game on the 41st minute as Anton Kelly doubled his account with a powerful finish past Ryan Murtagh.
St Brigids refused to bow-down however as points Patrick Finnegan, Ryan Tweedie and Brolly brought the deficit back to three (4-06-1-12) with little under ten minutes remaining.
They pushed for an equalising score though it looked to have evaded them until the first minute of injury-time at the end of the game when Tweedie floated a high free into the area and the ball dropped to Peter King who shot low into the net past McGuigan to draw the tie level.
The hosts had two opportunities to turn one-point into two- but their shooting was wayward and at the end both sides settled for a hard fought point apiece.
St Brigids: R Murtagh, S McKernan, F McKernan, S Campbell, J Morgan (0-01), P King (1-00), O Boyle, P Finnegan (0-02), J Finnegan (0-01f), J Toner (0-01), P Henvey, R Tweedie (0-03, 0-02f), P Bradley (1-00), J Dowling, R Brolly (0-04). Subs: B McCarthy for F McKernan (36); S Boyle for P Bradley (43); T McKernie for R Tweedie (48); C Conway for J Morgan (50); D Magee for R Brolly (53).
Ballinascreen: R McGuigan, A McBride, M Bradley, R Devlin (0-01), D McBride, P Burns, R Doyle, P Bradley, C McKenna (1-03, 1-02f), C Mag Giolla Fhiondain (0-01), C Donnelly, C McGovern (1-00), JP Devlin, A Kelly (2-01, 0-01f), A Scullion. Subs: C Doyle for C McKenna (41); S Mulgrew for C Donnelly (41); N Rafferty for JP Devlin (48); P Lagan for A McBride (52); C Logan for N Rafferty (58).
Referee: Jake Magill (Armagh)