O’Connell’s late point seals it for Ahoghill

Homefit Antrim Senior Football

Division One, Section Two

O’Donovan Rossa 1-12

St Mary’s, Ahoghill 0-16

Neil O’Connell became the St. Mary’s hero when his point in time added on gave St. Mary’s Ahoghill victory over newly promoted Rossa at Rossa Park today. The visitors were the better side for most of the hour but the hosts looked to have earned a share of the spoils when the big mid-fielder struck.

Both sides looked a bit off the pace following 18 weeks of virtual inactivity and it took a time for both sides to get up to the pace of the game. It was the visitors who settled better however as the action got under way as PJ O’Connell curled over an excellent score two minutes in.

Points from Patrick Graham and Thomas McGlone followed before Rossa got themselves on the board when Donal Armstrong turned and curled over.

Thomas Morgan used as hebroke clear to add another for the hosts and on 15 minutes, he was again in on goal but was trailed back for a penalty that was converted low into the bottom right corner of the net by Colm Fleming to make it 1-2 to 0-3.

A setback for the visitors but they failed to panic and went on to dominate the remainder of the half as PJ O’Connell split the posts and Donal Graham kicked (0-2 f) and Pearse Donnelly a 45, before McGlone burst through to score, James O’Connell kicked an excellent score and Eoin Graham fisted over to make it 0-10 to 1-2 approaching the half.

Rossa had been under the cosh but finished the half strongly with Thomas Morgan twice bursting through and might have had a goal but his first effort sailed narrowly over the bar.

Three ahead at the break it was Ahoghill who raised the first white flag of the second half with Neil O’Connell the man on target.

Colm Fleming replied from a free and he was to strike again following a good score from Dominic McEnhill to close the gap to two and it looked anyone’s game at this stage.

Ahoghill responded again with James O’Connell firing over at the other end, but the hosts were growing into the game as Fleming curled over from play and then Stephen Beatty scored an excellent point to level the game entering the final quarter.

Following the water break, Ahoghill again took a grip as Patrick Graham fired over his second point of the afternoon and a Donal Graham free doubled their advantage heading into the final five minutes of the 60.

Rossa responded well as Fleming converted another free and Beatty again got space to curl over to level as the game moved into stoppage time. James O’Connell nudged Ahoghill one up before Fleming again converted from a free as the game remained finally balanced.

There was time for a winner and Rossa looked like getting it but a misplaced hand pass was cut out and Ahoghill took advantage working the ball to Neil O’Connell and despite a difficult angle, he kept his cool to split the posts to seal victory and the points and get this year’s belated start to the season off on a good note.

Both sides took a time to shake off the lockdown rust but that was always to be expected given the circumstances. Both teams will be glad of the competitive game as they now set their sights on next week’s championship opener.

ROSSA: M Byrne; G McGrath, C Orchin, N Crossan; G Walsh, R Gowdy C McGettigan; S Beatty (0-2), O McVicker; SP Donnelly, C Fleming (1-5, 0-4 frees, 1-0 penalty), D McEnhill (0-1); D Armstrong (0-1), E Fleming, T Morgan (0-3). Subs: M McGreevy for G Walsh (17), E McMenamin for O McVicker (HT), J Connolly for D Armstrong (42), C McDonald for D McEnhill (50), A Orchin for SP Donnelly (55).

AHOGHILL: F Neeson; S O’Connell, D Graham, E Brady; F O’Neill, P Graham (0-2), B Graham; T McGlone (0-3), N O’Connell (0-2); J O’Connell (0-3), D O’Neill, PJ O’Connell (0-2); E Graham (0-1), D Graham (0-3, all frees), P Downey (0-1, 1 45). Subs: J Magee for S O’Connell (HT), C Crossey for B Graham (52).

REFEREE: Conall Roberts (St John’s)

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