Naomh Comhghall advance to meet Ardoyne in the final

Antrim Junior Football Championship, semi-final

St Comgall’s 1-12 Pearse’s 0-8

St. Comgall’s Antrim advanced to the final of the Antrim Junior Football championship when they defeated Pearses in the semi-final in Ballymena today. Both sides had been halted in their progress following a protest by O’Donnell’s but today matters were settled on the playing field with the Antrim town side running out seven point winners.

St. Comhghall’s hit 1-2 late in the opening half after Na Piarsaigh had Tom McFarlane Black carded and those scores were to prove decisive despite their opponents fight to the final whistle.

The New Lodge Road side gave it everything but just couldn’t find the goal that might have given them a lifeline as the Antrim Town side ran out winners to set up a meeting with Ardoyne next week.

Pearses will reflect on a number of missed opportunities that would have brought them closer and whilst St Comgall’s were just that bit more clinical in front of the posts, they too spurned a number of chances that could have made victory more decisive.

St. Comgall’s took an early lead when Miles Devine converted his first of the day from a free, with Pearses growing into the game thanks to excellent work around the middle third from McFarlane, but they just couldn’t make possession count as they missed several opportunities.

Devine doubled the St.Comgall’s lead on 10 minutes from another free and they got their first from play straight after as Tom Patchett fired over after Devine broke down Ryan McAuley’s long delivery into his path.

Pearse’s couldn’t find the target in the opening quarter despite Daniel Magee looking dangerous, but they were finally off the mark when Sean Moreland kicked a free on 16 minutes.

St Comgall’s hit back with a quick exchange of passes setting Patrick O’Connor in on the left to score, but Pearse’s were beginning to gain a foothold and Magee kicked a good score, but should have found the net on 25 minutes when through, but rolled his shot wide.

Moreland did convert a free to reduce the gap to one approaching the half way stage when Pearse’s were dealt a major blow as McFarlane was issued with a black card and 10 minutes in the sin-bin for trailing down James McCabe.

St Comgall’s took control with O’Connor immediately kicking a point and three minutes into stoppage time, substitute Peter McAuley took advantage of a slip as he got on the end of a long deliverer to finish low into the net.

There was still time for Ruairi Griffin to add another score and suddenly the ‘Town’ had moved six ahead, a lead that somewhat flattered the eventual winners.

Pearse’s needed a strong start to the second half and they opened strongly on the offensive and were rewarded with a free that Moreland converted and he followed with another straight after to leave four between the teams, but this was as close as the North Belfast men would get.

St Comgall’s hit back with Joe Webb splitting the posts off his left and this was followed by a brace from Miles Devine, (one a free) as they led 1-9 to 0-5 at the water break.

Goals were needed to get Pearse’s back into contention but they had to be settle for a couple of pointed frees from Liam Deegan and Aaron Callaghan to get to within five, but St Comgall’s were always able to find an answer to maintain a healthy gap as Dylan Murdock kicked a free in response.

Pearses pushed hard and were nearly in for a goal late on but play was brought back for a free that Callaghan tapped over and St Comgall’s had the final say with Webb and another Murdock free sending them through to a meeting with Ardoyne in next week’s final.

ST COMGALL’S: B Johnston; C McAuley, C McKeown, K Walker; P Cooke, R McAuley, D Murdock (0-2, both frees); A McGaw, L Higgins; P O’Connor (0-2), J Webb (0-2), R Griffin (0-1); J McCabe (0-1), M Devine (0-4, 3 frees), T Patchett (0-1). Subs: P McAuley (1-0) for A McGaw (15), P Quinn for C McKeown (HT), O Crilly for R McAuley (49), D O’Hara for K Walker (60+5).

PEARSE’S: E McKenna; T O’Neill, A Bannon, A McCavana; P Murray, P Nolan, D O’Neill; T McFarlane, C O’Neill; L Deegan (0-1 free), P Donaghy, F Grew; S Moreland (0-4, all frees), D Magee (0-1), L Giannetto. Subs: N Largey for F Grew (HT), A Callaghan (0-2, both frees) for S Moreland (49), C Magee for D O’Neill (49).

REFEREE: Kevin Parke (Naomh Éanna)

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