Ardoyne firm favourites but St. Commgall’s won’t be far away

GYMCO Junior Football Championship final

(4-00) St. Enda’s

Kickham’s Ardoyne v St. Comgall’s Antrim

Kickham’s Ardoyne will start tomorrow’s Junior Football Championship final against St. Comgall’s as hot favourites but they would do well not to underestimate the Antrim Town side. The North Belfast side have been going well this year under the leadership of former Down star, Ross Carr and topped a complicated Group 2 on score difference after they, O’Donnell’s and St. Comgall’s all finished with six points from four games.

Ardoyne earned themselves the favourites tag after an early 2-16 to 2-5 win over St. Comgall’s at Fennell Park after the Antrim Town side had defeated O’Donnell’s at Dunsilly in round 2, winning that one 4-6 to 1-5.

St. Comgall’s recovered from that defeat to Ardoyne to hammer Eire Og, 3-19 to1-5 in round 4 but Ardoyne suffered a surprise defeat to O’Donnell’s in the same round, losing by 0-10 to 1-6 to the MacCrory Park side.

That left O’Donnell’s and St. Comgall’s on four points each going into the final round with O’Donnell’s beating Eire Og 4-11 to 1-7 and St. Comgall’s hammering Mitchell’s. That victory appeared to have sent St. Comgall’s through but O’Donnell’s launched a protest which was eventually turned down with St. Comgall’s awarded the second qualifying spot in the group.

Ardoyne qualified for the final of the Antrim Junior Football Championship when they beat McQuillan’s Ballycastle in the semi-final at Dunsilly. A closely contested game in the first half saw the side’s level on three points apiece at the first half water break, scores for Ardoyne from Cormac Mullan from two placed balls and danger man Conor McLaughlin from play. 

The North Belfast side went on to pull away in the second half and goals from Conor McLaughlin and Aidan McNeill saw them push on to win 2-12 to 0-7 and earn them a place in Saturday’s final.

In the other semi-final St. Comgall’s were drawn against Group 1 winners, Pearses in Ballymena. Pearses had topped Group 1 and represented a serious challenge for the Antrim men but Aidan Dougan’s side came out tops with seven points to spare.

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. Peter McAuley got the St. Comgall’s goal as they pushed on to win 1-12 to 0-8.

Miles Devine weighed in with 0-4 (0-3 frees) with Patrick O’Connor, Joe Webb, Ruairi Griffin, Dylan Murdock, James McCabe and Tom Patchett all on target and they will need that spread of scores if they are to overcome the challenge of the Ardoyne men.

The McNeill’s, Joe and Aidan, Gerard Og McFarlane, Patrick Lynch, Kevin McLaughlin, Gary McKernan, Cormac Mullan and Conor McLaughlin will spearhead the challenge of last year’s beaten finalists and they will fancy their chances of going all the way this time but if St. Comgall’s can produce their best form then they won’t be too far away.

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