ACFL Division 2 (round one)
St Paul’s 0-04 All Saint’s Ballymena 3-07
All Saints got their ACFL Division 2 campaign off to a flying start when they proved too good for newly promoted St. Paul’s at Shaw’s Road today.
The Ballymena men started with the breeze behind them in the opening period and raised a couple of green flags in the opening minutes to earn a useful twelve point advantage, 2-07 to 0-01 at the break and despite facing the elements in the second thirty minutes they always looked in control.
St Paul’s impressed in their 2019 promotion campaign after just one season in the lower grade but found a visitors side firing on all cylinders too hot to handle on this occasion.
All Saint’s with the stiff breeze behind them in the first half started on the positive and they were rewarded with an early goal as James McDonnell found the net by the end of the third minute.
The wing half forward was well stationed to receive from corner man Shea O’ Brien who delivered from the right wing after mid fielder Conor Stewart gathered on the ‘40’ before making a bee line for the posts.
The big mid-fielder and his partner Emmett Killough dominated in the central zone with the roving Michael Mc Carry also very much to the fore from start to conclusion.
The South West side who had a poor start in 2019 looked up for it from the outset and they were rewarded again in the 8th minute when Shea O’ Brien found the net.
Wing half back Connell Lemon had initiated a counter attack and a well-placed cross from the right hand side opened the way for the corner forward to fire home.
The home side were struggling to make impact and although their roving full forward Liam Mc Larnon looked more than capable of causing the All Saint’s rear guard problems the stiff breeze was making life difficult.
The home side were further in arrears when Shea O’ Brien and Emmett Killough raised whites apiece at the other end to ensure a 2-03 to 0-00 advantage for the visitors at the end of the opening quarter.
As their visitors lost their way for a time, the home side looked to take advantage and both sides were reduced in number for a term as St Paul’s wing half back Joe Duffy and Ballymena central defender Ciaran Mc Garry were shown black cards and a ten minute period of enforced respite.
St Paul’s finally opened their account in the 21st minute as a foul on the hard grafting Liam Mc Larnon saw Mickey Joe Cooper steer the placed effort between the posts.
The home side fought hard to add to their tally but the All Saint’s rear guard were giving nothing away with net minder Stephen Mc Avoy making a timely intervention.
Eoin Campbell delivered between the posts from out on the right hand side and with Rory McVeigh adding a couple before combining with Michael McCarry for the latter to raise a late one and the Ballymena men had earned a 2-07 to 0-01 interval advantage.
St. Paul’s began the second half with the elements in their favour and Liam Mc Larnon raised a white flag in the 34th minute to raise their hopes of a comeback.
In the event All Saint’s had other ideas as they were to dominate for most of the remainder of the second half.
The Ballymena men were patient and methodical in possession and resilient in defence with every man playing their part, despite honest endeavour from the home side. St. Paul’s were not to raise another flag until time added, and after their visitors had secured a third major.
Rory Mc Veigh fired to the net in the 55th minute after an excellent cross field Cabhan Keenan pass opened the door for the impressive full forward to complete and that was certainly that.
St Paul’s did have the last say on the board as Conor Burns and Liam Mc Larnon added back to back injury time points but these were very much consolation scores with All Saint’s crossing the line full value for their 3-07 to 0-04 winning advantage.
St Paul’s: Keifer Toland, Mark Munce, Sean Bradley, Aiden Kavanagh, Joe Duffy, Don Burns, Damien Mc Gee, James Farrell, Michael Connolly, Colm Mc Larnon, Cormac O’ Hanlon, Dominic Lavery, Conor Burns (0-01), Liam Mc Larnon (0-02), M J Cooper (0-01)
Barry Doyle for D Lavery
Conal Logue for MJ Cooper
Liam Magee for M Connolly
All Saint’s: Stephen Mc Avoy, Matthew Downey, James Gillen, Joe Rocks, Cabhan Keenan, Ciaran Mc Garry, Connell Lemon, Emmett Killough (0-01), Conor Stewart, Luke O’ Rawe, Michael Mc Carry (0-01), James Mc Donnell (1-00), Shea O’ Brien (1-01), Rory Mc Veigh (1-03), Eoin Campbell (0-01)
Oisin Connolly for J Rocks
Adrian Scullion for E Campbell
Dermot Mc Nally for C Stewart
Referee V Boyle (Cuchullian’s)