Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Group 2
St Johns 0-09-3-09 Lámh Dhearg
From Kevin Herron at Corrigan Park
Lámh Dhearg secured top spot in Group 2 of the Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship with a 3-09-0-09 win over St Johns at Corrigan Park on Wednesday evening.
A Brendan Herron goal gave the Lámhs a slender advantage at the interval and a second from Terry McCrudden opened up a five-point lead just minutes after the restart.
It was game over on 42 minutes when Conor Murray picked the spot for his sides third and the Johnnies were unable to reply.
Weeks ago a goal from Brendan Herron separated the sides in the Championship opener at Hannahstown and another tight affair was on the cards in a game that was a must win for St Johns if they had any aspirations of clawing back the leaders.
The hosts hit the front early on through an excellent Ryan McNulty point but Marc McGarry popped the ball over at the near post to level- in what was a slow and subdued start to proceedings.
Paddy Cunningham then converted a free on his first Championship start this campaign and added the second from the same scenario after Eoin McKeown was felled in a dangerous position.
On 18 minutes the opening goal arrived at Corrigan Park and involved the same duo whose goal was the difference between the sides at Hannahstown.
Ben Rice broke the ball at midfield and Ryan Murray took up and reins and played a delightful diagonal pass which Brendan Herron got to ahead of Ciaran McCloy to make it 1-03-0-01.
St Johns replied through a Simon McDonagh point after a strong burst from Domhnall Nugent in the centre of the field.
In the aftermath Conor Murray was brought down and Cunningham notched up his third free from the resulting placed ball.
Patrick McBride kept St Johns in contention through his free-taking in the previous encounter but opened his account from play after Matt Fitzpatrick clipped a quick free into his path and McBride got his angles right.
Ryan McNulty popped over his second point of the half and just before the half-time whistle Fitzpatrick and McBride successfully combined with the later splitting the posts to ensure just two points separated the teams at the midway point (1-04-0-05).
Lámh Dhearg increased their lead upon the resumption as Declan Lynch popped the ball to Michael Herron whose run was halted, Terry McCrudden was also held up and Conor Murray was on-hand to guide the ball between the posts.
A foul on Matt Fitzpatrick allowed Patrick McBride to open his account from the placed ball for the evening in response.
But on 34 minutes St Johns suffered a further set-back, Ryan Straney’s offload in midfield allowed Declan Lynch to burst forward and lay the ball to Ryan Murray who in turn picked out McCrudden on the outside and the corner-forward steered his shot low into the corner to give his side a 2-05-0-06 lead.
Worse would follow for the hosts on 42 minutes as the Lámhs hit their third of the evening. Paddy Cunningham picked out Conor Murray from a side-line ball and Murray burst towards goal, feigned a pass before blasting to the net to make it 3-05-0-06.
Murray hit a sensational point a few minutes later after combining with Cunningham and McBride replied from a free.
A fourth goal may have been in the offering ten minutes from time as Kevin Quinn’s high ball dropped for McCrudden but the corner-forward opted to pop the ball over instead.
The game petered out in the final ten minutes with the last four scores equally shared between respective free-takers McBride and Cunningham as the three goals proved the difference in the end on the Whiterock Road.
St Johns will hope to bounce back when they visit the Shaws Road to take on Rossa next midweek with victory needed to join the Lámhs in the last eight.
St Johns: C McCloy, C Gartland, A Oliver, J Bohill, P McBride (0-06, 0-04f), P Nugent, R McCafferty, S McDonagh (0-01), D Nugent, S Wilson, P McCallin, M Fitzpatrick, P Gribbin, L Laverty, R McNulty (0-02). Subs: C Bohill for S Wilson (40), M Bradley for R McCafferty (40), C McEvoy for P McCallin (48).
Lámh Dhearg: J Finucane, P Larkin, D Lynch, M McGarry (0-01), K Quinn, M Herron, B Rice, P Fitzsimons, B Herron (1-00), E McKeown, R Murray, R Straney, P Cunningham (0-05f), C Murray (1-02), T McCrudden (1-01). Subs: P Mervyn for P Larkin (40), C Maxwell for R Straney (48), D Dunne for B Herron (53), F Dugan for R Murray (58), A McAufield for D Lynch (60).
Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)