Cargin keep 3-in a row hopes alive

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Semi-final

Lámh Dhearg 1-13-3-09 Cargin

Kevin Herron reports from Hightown

Second-half goals from Ronan Gribbin and Pat Shivers ensured that Cargin put behind them an indifferent opening-half as the county champions survived a frenzied finish to book a place in the decider for the third successive season after a 3-09-1-13 win over Lámh Dhearg at Hightown this afternoon.

Lámh Dhearg were the dominant team in the opening half and bounced back from the concession of an early penalty- converted by Tomas McCann to lead 0-06-1-02 at the break.

But Cargin moved back in front through Gribbin and a third goal from Pat Shivers gave them breathing space.

A sweet strike from Paddy Cunningham ensured it was game-on again but tempers frayed as the clock ticked down with Cargin duo Michael McCann and Martin Kane being dismissed along with Lámh Dhearg captain Michael Herron.

The Toome men used their experience to see out time and will face near neighbours Creggan in a repeat of the 2018 final.

Lámh Dhearg were hit with a double blow pre-match as they lost influential duo Marc Jordan [illness] and Eoin McKeown- who recently signed for Ballymena United and was forced to end his involvement.

The Hannahstown men got off the mark early through a Paddy Cunningham free but on 4 minutes conceded a penalty.

Paul McCann curled a shot which came off the large post with Tomas McCann taking a tumble under pressure from Declan Lynch and referee Colm McDonald signalled for a penalty.

McCann himself seized responsibility and sent John Finucane the wrong way to give his side the early advantage.

Paddy Cunningham responded with a free and played a role in levelling the game up, floating a high ball in on top and Terry McCrudden smashed it over from close range.

Lámh Dhearg edged ahead for the third time with Cunningham converting his third free and Ben Rice steered over a further point after good attacking play from Kevin Quinn to make it 0-05-1-00.

Tomas McCann closed the deficit after claiming an advanced mark and converting- though Cunningham added his fourth free of the half after Ryan Murray was obstructed on rout to goal.

Jamie Gribbin got on the end of a Tomas McCann through ball to narrow the gap to the bare minimum once again.

Just before the interval the Lámhs were reduced to 14-men for a ten-minute spell after Paddy Cunningham was shown a black-card for a trip on Tomas McCann.

Cargin were unable to take advantage in the remaining minutes of the first-half though and trailed 0-06-1-02 at the interval.

With an extra-man advantage for the first two and a half minutes Cargin finally made their numerical advantage work.

Three minutes after the restart Martin Kane slipped the ball inside to Ronan Gribbin and despite John Finucane attempting to panic the defender; Gribbin kept his composure and stabbed the ball home to give his side a 2-02-0-06 lead.

Terry McCrudden responded after converting an advanced mark with Kevin McShane landing a point in return.

Paddy Cunningham kicked his fifth free of the contest after returning to proceedings and a third point from Terry McCrudden levelled proceedings for the second time after a super pass from substitute Deaglan Smyth.

Cargin got their noses back in front through a fine Tomas McCann score and further scores followed through John Carron and a double from Pat Shivers- one from a free and the other from play.

Just after the second-half water break Cargin sliced through the Lámh Dhearg defence with great success.

Paul McCann played a one-two with brother Tomas and then picked out Jamie Gribbin in space, Gribbin took the return pass and offloaded to Pat Shivers who rocketed a shot into the roof of the net to ensure Cargin had one foot in the final with a 3-07-0-09 lead.

Lámh Dhearg were in need of an instant response but picked off three quick scores in succession two through ace marksman Cunningham- one coming from a free and the other an angled point from play after an intelligent Ryan Straney pass with Conor Murray firing over a quick free in-between times.  

Pat Shivers replied with a free but on 54 minutes it was game on again at Hightown. Michael Herron floated a long ball in which was helped on by Conor Murray, Brendan Herron was able to get a hand to it and direct into the path of Paddy Cunningham who feined a shot and then picked his spot in the corner of the net to narrow the gap to just two-points (1-12-3-08).

Any momentum the Hannahstown side may have gained was interrupted as trouble brewed between both sets of players and consultation was needed between the officials.

After taking advice from umpires and linesman the end result was red-cards for both team captains Michael Herron and Michael McCann. Martin Kane was then dismissed as the game would conclude with 13 against 14.

Paddy Cunningham kicked his eighth free of the afternoon to put just a point between the sides and set-up a grandstand finish.

However his side were unable to snatch a dramatic leveller from John Finucane off target on a venture up-field.

Instead Pat Shivers would land Cargin’s insurance point with a late, late free to ensure that the county Champions would prevail after a dramatic afternoon in Hightown.

The final in two-week’s time will be a repeat of the 2018 decider between Cargin and Creggan with high hopes that a more high scoring encounter lies in store.

Lámh Dhearg: J Finucane, M McGarry, D Lynch, P Mervyn, K Quinn, M Herron, B Rice (0-01), P Fitzsimons, R Straney, D Dunne, C Murray (0-01), R Murray, P Cunningham (1-08, 0-07f), B Herron, T McCrudden (0-03, 0-02f). Subs: D Smyth for B Rice (HT), A McAufield for M McGarry (49), F Dugan for T McCrudden (60+3).

Cargin: J McNabb, K O’Boyle, J Crozier, M Kane, D Johnston, J Laverty, R Gribbin (1-00), K McShane (0-01), M McCann, C Bradley, P Shivers (1-04, 0-03f), J Carron (0-01), J Gribbin (0-01), T McCann (1-02, 1-01f), P McCann. Subs: S O’Neill for D Johnston (40), G McCann for K McShane (48).

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)

Stephen Thornton of Thornton Roofing presents a cheque to Paddy McIlwaine from the Saffron Gael prior to yersterday’s SFC semi-final between Cargin and Lamh Dhearg at Hightown. The Saffron Gael thank Stephen and Thornton Roofing for their continued sponsorship of the site.

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