Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Group 4
Naomh Eanna 0-13 Gort na Mona 2-04
Paul McIntyre reports from Hightown
This group 4 opener was a repeat of the 2018 Intermediate decider, and just like on that day, it was North Belfast outfit Naomh Eanna who prevailed. It was a deserved victory for the Glengormley men who seemed to get their scores a lot easier with Odhran Eastwood, Ruairi Scott and Stephen O’Connor proving to be quite a handful for the Turf Lodge side. Further out the field Peter Healy, Michael Morgan and Niall McKeown won more than their share of possession with James McAuley sitting deep to marshal the defence.
After showing early signs of promise, the Gorts will be very disappointed on how their challenge dwindled as the game went on, but thanks to two well taken goals from Padraig McHugh, they managed to stay in contention up until the final whistle, and they almost created one more chance in the final minutes but when the ball entered the square from Dessie McClean’s free, referee James McAuley penalised the Gort forwards for a ‘square ball’ infringement.
It was a slow opening period and as the game approached it’s first water break Patrick McCaffrey registered two frees for Gort na Mona for a one-point lead, but right on the whistle James McAuley popped up from half back to tie the scoreboard at 0-02.
Both sides emerged from the water break with more intensity and Odhran Eastwood saw his goal bound shot blocked on the line. That effort was sandwiched between two goal chances for the visitors. Paddy Flood saved smartly from Caoimin Magee before some great approach play from Patrick McCaffrey and David McErlean created an opportunity for Desmond McClean. But the Gorts playmaker could only watch in anguish as his delicate lob beat Flood, but come back off the top of the crossbar and safely into the arms of Naomh Eanna’s corner back McAuley.
Following this let off the homeside upped the ante and rattled off five unanswered points to take control of the scoreboard. Kristian Healy, Odhran Eastwood and Michael Morgan kept the scoreboard operator busy before Stephen O’Connor kicked the first two of his six points. The first after taking a superb mark 30 metres from goal.
That strong end to the half saw Naomh Eanna lead by five at the break, 0-08 to 0-03.
O’Connor kicked the opening point of the half on 34 minutes after taking a pass from Eastwood before the game’s first major score. Padraig McHugh rose magnetically to field a long ball from Dermot McVeigh, and his first time shot gave Flood no chance in the Naomh Eanna goal. That cut the deficit to three but with O’Connor lording it from full forward, they quickly stretched that lead to five. The Man of the Match kicked a further two points, the first a gem from an acute angle with his left foot. Ruairi Scott kicked his second from a placed ball and with 15 minutes left on the clock and Enda’s leading 0-12 to 1-03, the game seemed to be petering out.
On 46 minutes Gort na Mona were thrown a lifeline when McVeigh was fouled in the large square. Referee McAuley had no hesitation in awarding a penalty and McHugh stepped up to send Flood the wrong way to cut the gap back to just three points. O’Connor quickly pushed the gap back to four points and that looked to have sealed the win. As the game ticked into injury time Darren Boyd brought the Gorts to just one score of their opponents but that one more opportunity wouldn’t fall their way and Naomh Eanna closed the game out to record a deserved three-point victory.
Teams and Scorers:
Paddy Flood, Conor McAuley, Conan Lyttle, Killian Jennings, Ciaran Thompson, James McAuley (0-1), Ryan Kennedy, Michael Morgan, Niall McKeown (0-1), Peter Healy (0-1), Eoin Nagle, Kristian Healy (0-1), Ruairi Scott (0-2, 2f), Stephen O’Connor (0-6, 1 Mark), Odhran Eastwood (0-1).
Subs: Padraig Hamilton for Conan Lyttle 41 minutes & Ethan Gibson for Ryan Kennedy 45 minutes.
Gort na Mona:
Thomas McCaffrey, Christopher Devlin, Thomas McGoran, Christopher Browning, Brendan Burns, Aidan McDonagh, David McErlean, Caoimin Magee, Conor Browning, Desmond McClean, Darren Boyd (0-1), Ciaran Donnelly, Patrick McCaffrey (0-2, 1f), Padraig McHugh (2-0, 1Pen), Dermot McVeigh (0-1).
Subs: Michael Savage for Christopher Devlin 36 minutes, Mark Rea for Brendan Burns 53 minutes, Gary Doyle for David McErlean 58 minutes & Padraic Mulvenna for Conor Browning 59 minutes.
Referee: Mr James McAuley (Cargin)