Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Group 4
St Galls 1-8 Naomh Eánna 1-10
Paul McIntyre reports from the Bog Meadows
Glengormley’s Naomh Eánna caused the first major shock of this year’s Northern Switchgear sponsored Antrim Senior Football Championship. Trailing by six points at the second half water break, St Galls looked to be a good bet to make it two wins from two and top group 4 at the midway point. However, a red card to St Galls Jackson McGreevy turned the game on its head and Naomh Eanna dug deep to record a richly deserved two-point win.
Speaking after the game Naomh Eanna manager Frank Fitzsimmons praised his side’s character and work ethic. ‘There was big questions asked there in the second half and to come from six points down at Miltown, and to come back and win by two, but it was the character they showed’ that pleased Fitzsimmons. The former Antrim manager also refused to get carried away, and not rule out St Galls from still making an impact in this year’s championship. ‘St Galls are still in transition but I watched them last week against Gort na Mona and they are still a tasty outfit and they could put you to the sword very easy, but it’s another win in the group for us which is big for us to beat St Galls in any day, but in a championship group stage it’s massive.’
Both sides started with two inside forwards as Mark Kelly dropped back to the middle third for St Galls while Eoin Nagle dropped a little deeper for Naomh Eánna as the set up to limit supply to CJ McGourty. It was a slow start to the game as both sides found it rather difficult to find their range, with St Galls going closest by twice hitting the frame of Declan Breen’s post.
Odhran Eastwood kicked Naomh Eánna into the lead on 6 minutes from a free only for CJ McGourty to reply in kind for St Galls. Both place kickers exchanged frees again before Kevin Niblock scored from a ‘Mark’ to edge St Galls into the lead after 11 minutes. Eastwood landed another free before Ruirai Scott converted a ‘45’ to give Naomh Eanna a slender one-point lead, 0-4 to 0-3 at the first half water break. On the resumption Stephen O’Connor finished a flowing team move which also involved Nagle and Peter Healy, for a two-point lead, but it was St Galls who saw out the half the stronger.
CJ McGourty kicked a ‘45’ after seeing his quickly taken free being pushed away by Breen in the Naomh Eánna goal before Eoghan McCabe’s score saw the sides turn around at 0-05 each.
St Galls called for reinforcements at the break and introduced Terry O’Neill and Aodhan Gallagher to the action. And the changes did initially breathe new life into their attacking game and on 34 minutes Niall Burns palmed the ball to the net after being set up Conor Stinton. McGourty added his sixth score of the day for a six-point lead on 38 minutes, but remarkably this was to be their final score. Four minutes later came McGreevy’s dismissal, both cards for dissent, which was quickly followed by the second half water break.
At this point Naomh Eánna introduced Ethan Gibson and his first cut of the action was to punch the ball into the St Galls net. Kristian Healy ran along the end line before picking out the replacement unmarked at the back post.
All the momentum was with the Enda’s now and Eastwood kicked two further frees to level it as the clock turned red. Scott then showed class to kick the score of the day with the outside of his right foot before the Healy brothers combined for Kristian to seal a famous win for the men from Hightown.
St Galls: Louis McCormick, Conor Burke, Ryan Irvine, Marcus Donnelly, Shane O’Hagan, Jackson McGreevy, John McCaffrey, Sean Burke, Thomas Bunting, Eoghan McCabe (0-1), Kevin Niblock (0-1 1Mark), Conor Stinton, CJ McGourty (0-6, 5f, 1 ‘45’), Niall Burns (1-0), Mark Kelly.
Subs: Aodhan Gallagher for Thomas Bunting & Terry O’Neill for John McCaffrey both HT, Michael Pollock for Conor Stinton & Niall O’Neill for Sean Burke both 50 minutes, Conaill Murray for Marcus Donnelly 55 minutes.
Naomh Eánna: Declan Breen, Conor McAuley, Conan Lyttle, Killian Jennings, Ryan Kennedy, James McAuley, Ciaran Thompson, Michael Morgan, Niall McKeown, Peter Healy, Eoin Nagle, Kristian Healy (0-2 1’45’), Ruirai Scott, Stephen O’Connor (0-1), Odhran Eastwood (0-6 5f, 1 Mark, ).
Subs: Padraig Hamilton for Killian Jennings HT, Ethan Gibson (1-0) for Ryan Kennedy 50 minutes, Adam Lamb for Michael Morgan 60 minutes.
Referee: Mr Brendan Toland.