Paddies hold on for opening win

Homefit All County Football League – Division 2

Sarsfields 2-14 Ardoyne – 0-9

Goals in each half by Gary Lennon and Ehtan Mervyn were the scores that gained Sarfields victory over Ardoyne at the Bear Pit on Sunday. The visitors trailed by a point at half time but when they hit four points on the trot midway through the second half it appeared that the North Belfast side, who are managed by Down legend Ross Carr, were on course for a famous win. However with twelve minutes of normal time to go they lost one of their defenders to a black card and that swung the game back in favour of the home side, and with county hurling star Niall McKenna pulling the strings they pushed on to earn a one point win.

Sarsfields captain Niall McKenna who steered his team to victory

In a low scoring first half Ardoyne were first to strike when Conor McLaughlin pointed and though Sarsfied’s levelled in the fifth minute the Kickhams’s men got the upper hand. They were awarded a penalty on seven minutes but Aidan McNeill’s well struck shot was turned around the post by Sars goalkeeper Michael Brady. McNeill did put them in front four minutes later with a well taken point from play and when midfielder Joe McNeill tacked on another they were 0-3 to 0-1 clear, though Sarsfield cut it back to a single point by the ‘water break’.

Joe McNeill increased the lead to two just after the restart and Ardoyne looked to be in a strong position but when a shot from Sarsfields full forward Kevin McKernan rebounded off a defender and spun high in the air centre forward Gar Lennon reacted well to palm the ball to the net to give the Paddies a 1-2 to 0-4 interval lead.

Ardoyne midfielder Joe McNeill in action

Sarsfield piled on the pressure in the opening minutes of the second half but a combination of bad shooting and some resolute Ardoyne defending kept them scoreless and when the visitors broke the siege for Joe McNeill to score, the sides were level. Ardoyne appeared to be taking control when Kieran McLauglin added a point and Aidan McNeill two to go three clear by the 48th minute.

That when things began to turn back in the home side’s favour and when Ardoyne lost Pearse Marley to a black card it upset their rhythm. With Niall McKenna controlling matters from midfield they cut the deficit back to a point with points from McKenna and Kevo McKernan before Ehan Mervyn weaved his way in from the left wing to fire home his team’s second goal.

Ardoyne settled the ship and got back to within a point when Cormac Mullan pointed, but though they had a couple of chances of saving the game in the final minutes they were off target and the home side held on for the win.

Sarsfields centre-forward Gary Lennon flicks the ball to the Ardoyne net

Sarsfields

1 – Michael Brady, Niall McDonnell, Martin McPolin, Gary McPolin, Ethan Mervy, Nial McAlea, Conor Laverty, John Savage, Niall McKenna, Declan Laverty, Gary Lennon, Kieran McCullagh, Nicholas Omulane, Kevin McKernan, Samuel Walsh.

Ardoyne

Paul Fisher, Pearse Marley, Niall Bradley, Sean Joe Rooney, Kevin McLaughlin, Keelan McCallan, Cormac Mullan, Joe McNeill, Declan McCormick, Conor Carter, Aidan McNeill, Nicholas Mills, Conor McLaughlin, Gary McKernan, Conor McDowell.

Ardoyne manager Ross Carr gives his team a half time talk.

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