When St. Gall’s completed an 8-in-a row of Senior Football Championships in 2014 and their 12th in 13 years it would have been hard to envisage it was to be their last to date. A team that had been built on the success of a strong minor and U21 side had dominated Antrim football for more than a decade and many of that successful minor and U21 side had remained on board throughout this record breaking journey.
St. Gall’s went on to win an Ulster title in 2005 and again in 2009 to add to a previous success in 1982 and the 2009 side wrote their names into the history books when they went on to take the All Ireland title under the guidance of present Antrim manager, ,Lenny Harbison.
Erin’s Own Cargin were beaten finalists in 2013 and 2014 and had interrupted the St. Gall’s run in 2006 when they beat Lamh Dhearg in the final and the Toome side will feel that they should have had more championship successes to their credit over the years before finally coming good again in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 and were hoping to make it 3-in-a-row in 2020.
Those who witnessed the St. Gall’s success over nearly two decades will find it hard to believe that it is six years since the Milltown side last won a championship but they are now a side in transition with many of their top players coming to the end of very successful careers. Whether the 2020 championship goes ahead or not is down to Covid 19 but today we look back at the last of the St. Gall’s successes in 2013 and 2014.
St Gall’s 0-12
Erin’s Own, Cargin 0-11
St Gall’s won a record equalling seventh consecutive Antrim SFC title at Ahoghill on Saturday when surviving a close shave against a brave Erin’s Own, Cargin outfit.
The 2010 All-Ireland club champions hung on by the skin of their teeth after defender Conor Burke’s arm came to their rescue by denying Tomas McCann a goal right at the death.
Cargin were also left to rue a missed penalty by goalkeeper Jimmy McNabb in the 35th minute.
His spot-kick was saved by his opposite number Chris Kerr and points from Conor McGourty (two) and Sean Kelly rubbed salt into Cargin’s wounds.
Cargin fought back to restore parity with two minutes left on the clock but points from Terry O’Neill and Michael Pollock secured the silverware for the holders.
“I suppose, in the end, the team with the best footballers closed the game out,” St Gall’s manager Carl McCabe remarked to the Irish Independent after the final whistle.
“But we have a few very close shaves – I don’t even know how that one was blocked at the end.”
St Gall’s – C Kerr; C Burke, A McClean, C Brady; J McGreevy, S Kelly (0-1), R Wilson; A Healy, A Gallagher; T O’Neill (0-1), K Niblock (0-3, 1f), N O’Neill (0-1); C McGourty (0-5, 3f), M Pollock (0-1), K Stewart. Subs: B Bradley for N O’Neill, S O’Hara for C McGourty, K McGourty for R Wilson, S McAreavey for K Stewart.
Erin’s Own, Cargin – J McNabb; D McKeever, J Crozier, M Kane; J Laverty, K O’Boyle, R Devlin; P McCann, M McCann (0-1); K Close (0-5, 4f), T McCann (0-1f), E McGrogan; T Scullion, G O’Boyle (0-3, 1f), M Magill (0-1). Subs: G McCann for P McCann, J Carron for E McGrogan.
St. Gall’s 1-11
Erin’s Own, Cargin 0-10
St. Gall’s secured a record eighth successive Antrim SFC title and a 13th in 14 years at the expense of Cargin at Ahoghill.
A stunning CJ McGourty goal in the 18th minute proved all-important as the Milltown men sealed their place in the record books. Cargin opening brightly with points from Ciaran Close and Gerald O’Boyle, but two Michael Pollock efforts had the holders level before Mick McCann edged Erin’s Own back in front.
However, that was the last time the challengers led as Anto Healy equalised before McGourty’s rocket into the top corner of John McNabb’s net gave Ciaran McCabe’s charges a 1-4 to 0-4 interval lead.
Close narrowed the gap from a free early in the second half, but the champions always looked comfortable as scores from McGourty, Pollock and sub Kevin McGourty kept them in the driving seat.
Gerald O’Boyle drilled over a 20-metre free in injury-time, but it was a case of too little, too late for the losers.
St Gall’s – C Kerr; R Wilson, C Burke, C Brady; J McGreevy, S Kelly, T O’Neill; N O’Neill, A Gallagher; A Healy (0-1), CJ McGourty (1-4, 0-2f), K McGourty (0-1); M Pollock (0-5, 3f), K Niblock, K Stewart. Subs: B Bradley for K Stewart, K McGourty for A Healy.
Erin’s Own, Cargin – J McNabb; K O’Boyle, J Crozier, M Kane; R Devlin, T Scullion, J Carron; M McCann (0-1), G McCann; K Close (0-2f), J Laverty, O McAuley; T McCann (0-1’45), G O’Boyle (0-6, 5f), M Magill. Subs: P McCann for R Devlin, M Kelly for O McAuley.
Referee – S Laverty.