Northern Switchgear SFC – Group One
Creggan 1-10 Ahoghill 0-8
Sunday August 2
Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Uí Cíceam
Creggan made it two wins from two on Sunday afternoon with a five point victory over Ahoghill and a score line that doesn’t reflect just how close a contest this one actually was. The Kickhams men failed to register a score in the opening 28 minutes of this Group One meeting with their south-west counterparts starting superbly and having raced into a five point lead.
The decisive score of the game came in the 46th minute. Conor Small’s second goal in as many games giving the Kickhams men the lead for the first time in the match and they were able to control the contest from that point onwards.
It was a harsh score line for the visitors who kept Creggan quite for long periods. Defensively they were superb and their attacking movement was causing Creggan all sorts of problems. The pin point kickouts from Francis Neeson was backed up with the Reds movement in the middle section to nullify the threat of the Kickhams midfield but the home side made tactical changes and with the introduction of Conor Small and Odhran McLarnon, they turned the tide.
It was an incredible start by the Ahoghill men who played with intensity, vigour and precision. James O’Connell opened the scoring before Daniel O’Neill doubled their tally with the next attack in the second minute. The St Mary’s side started like a house on fire while Creggan seemed lethargic by comparison. The home side weren’t helped with a number of wides, six in the opening 15 minutes but that was due to the organisation in the Ahoghill defence.
James O’Connell’s second point of the contest gave his side a three point lead before the first water break that came at an opportune time for the home side. The resumption of play was more of the same however. PJ O’Connell splitting the uprights before Eoin Graham hit the score of the game in the 26th minute. Wide on the right and some 35 yards from goal, the Ahoghill full forward split the posts with the outside of his boot. The crowd behind him knew it was over before the umpire had the chance to raise the white flag.
Creggan made changes and looked to their bench to try and get a foothold in the game. They finally opened their account in the 29th minute thanks to a Paddy Cooey point and it signalled an awakening in the home side. In the seven minutes of injury time, they landed a further three points thanks to Cooey (free), Conor Small and Ruairi McCann to leave just one point between the sides.
Indeed it could have been better for the home side during their purple patch but for the brilliance of Francis Neeson between the posts for the visitors. McLarnon providing a defence splitting pass for Conor Small but the Ahohgill ‘keeper got his angles perfect and made a point blank save.
Half time Ahoghill 0-5 Creggan 0-4
In a cagey opening to the second half where both defences were on top, we had to wait until the 12th minute after the restart for the opening point. Daniel O’Neill with his second of the afternoon only for Ruairi McCann to answer for the home side.
The complexion of the game changed two minutes later, however. The only goal of the game and a Creggan lead for the first time. Odhran McLarnon collecting turnover ball from Liam Quinn before spotting the rampaging run of Jamie McCann down the left. The Creggan half back found Conor Small in space and he made no mistake when one on one with Ahoghill ‘keeper Neeson.
A Marty Johnston point after the second half water break opened a three point lead for the home side who looked to have a stranglehold of the contest but Ahoghill were relentless in their pursuit of gaining the scores they needed to get back into the game. Two from PJ O’Connell (one free) by the 57th minute reduced the Creggan lead to the minimum but that was to be their final score of the contest.
Creggan looked more assured with their lead and were able to dictate the play. Cooey took his tally to 0-5 for the hour with three further frees with a Liam Quinn point sandwiched in between to add gloss to the score line for the home side by the final whistle.
Ahoghill will be hoping to return to winning ways when they make the short journey down the Largy Road to Portglenone on 12th August in what could be a pivotal match in the group. Creggan return to championship action a week later when they welcome the Casements to the Staffordstown Road knowing one point from their remaining two games could be enough to seal a place in the knockout stages.
Creggan: Oisin Kerr; Aidan Maguire, Ricky Johnston, Eunan McAteer; Sam Maguire, Thomas McCann, Jamie McCann; Conor McCann, Kevin Small; Ruairi McCann, Liam Quinn, Fintan Burke; Tiarnan McAteer, Paddy Cooey, David McGuckin
Subs: Marty Johnston for E McAteer (12); Conor Small for T McAteer (28); Odhran McLarnon for T McCann (28); Conor McCann for F Burke (55); Matthew Rodgers for S Maguire (58)
Scorers: Paddy Cooey 0-5 (4f’s); Conor Small 1-1; Ruairi McCann 0-2; Liam Quinn 0-1; Marty Johnston 0-1
Ahoghill: Francis Neeson; Eamonn Brady, James Magee, Stephen O’Connell; Fionnbar O’Neill, Thomas McGlone, Bernard Graham; Martin Graham, Neil O’Connell; PJ O’Connell, Eoin Graham, James O’Connell; Diarmuid Graham, Donal Graham, Daniel O’Neill
Subs: Dominic McAteer for M Graham (51); Patrick Dougan for Donal Graham (inj)
Scorers: PJ O’Connell 0-3 (2f’s); James O’Connell 0-2; Daniel O’Neill 0-2; Eoin Graham 0-1
Referee: Karol Doherty (Rasharkin)