DOWN MEMORY LANE – INTERMEDIATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP REPLAY 2012
It took two meetings to seperate Aghagallon and Sarsfields in the final of the 2012 Intermediate Football Championship and in the end just a single point seperated the two. Because of a colour clash Aghgallon wore their reserve strip while the Paddies wore the Down reserve jerseys. This was how the Andytown News saw it all back then
Aghagallon 1-11 Sarsfields 1-10
Aghagallon were crowned Antrim Intermediate football champions when the St Mary’s men survived a late scare to see off Sarsfield’s by one point in the 2012 replay against Sarsfields at Casement Park.
The Belfast side had a last gasp shot from Caolan Mervyn that seemed destined for the roof of the net deflected up and over for a point and it was this act which was the winning and losing of the game.
After a keenly contested drawn game, the expectation was that it would come down to the small margins once again and so it proved as Aghagallon’s better economy in front of goal saw them home.
The game opened brightly and it was Sarsfield’s who were first to register a score when Gary Lennon received an excellent pass to curl over from the right after just 50 seconds.
This seemed to settle the Belfast men but poor shooting meant they were not able to add to the tally as they kicked four wides before their next score five minutes later.
In this time Aghagallon had clicked into gear and they moved into a one point lead thanks to free’s from Ronan Magee and Gareth Magee. However, they were dealt a blow on five minutes when midfielder Peter Tallon was forced to hobble off with a leg injury to be replaced by Oisín Lenaghan.
The sides were level seconds later as Daniel McKernan intercepted a slack handpass to turn and curl over brilliantly with his right boot. However, the South West club really took over from this point and just seemed to be more potent in attack and they hit the next four in a row through Dessie Marshall, Gareth Magee (two) and Ronan Magee.
However, they were not to score again in the first half as Sarsfield’s dragged themselves back into contention and reduced the gap to one at the change of ends.
A fine ball into corner forward Gary Lennon saw the Sarsfield’s man convert with his left boot before Daniel McKernan put Conor Laverty clear to score. Kevin McKernan then tapped over a late 13 meter free to leave the score 0-6 to 0-5 in Aghagallon’s favour going in at the break.
The second period was a similar story with both sides having their periods of dominance and it was Aghagallon who were first to score just seconds in when Niall Lavery picked out Francis Bustard who curled over superbly on the left.
Sarsfield’s took over for the next few minutes as Daniel McKernan cut the gap back to the minimum after he was setup by Quinn.
Two Kevin McKernan frees then nudged Sarsfield’s ahead before Gary Lennon had a shot saved by Aghagallon goalkeeper Gavin O’Neill but back came St Mary’s and a Ronan Magee free tied the game at 0-8.
Scores from Francis Bustard and Damien O’Hagan restored the Aghagallon lead but then came a crazy 60 seconds as both sides netted with the game moving into the final quarter.
Sarsfield’s were the first to raise a green flag as Niall McAlea pumped in a long ball that broke free and this led to a footrace between Daniel McKernan and Aghagallon’s Liam McRory. McKernan won that particular dual before dribbling soccer style and curling the ball past Gavin O’Neill and into the net to put his side into the lead once more.
However, St Mary’s hit back immediately to wipe this score out as in the next attack, some fine build-up play finished with Ciaran Lavery passing to the on-rushing Dessie Marshall on the right of goal who blasted to the roof of the net from close range.
Niall Lavery then curled over superbly with 48 minutes on the clock to stretch their lead to three but a Kevin McKernan free cut the gap back to two once more.
Sarsfield’s were getting plenty of primary possession but they just couldn’t turn it into scores or create any real chances as Aghagallon defended tigerishly. They intercepted passes, turned possession over and just seemed to have the measure of their opponents.
Still, there was time for late drama as four minutes into injury-time; Sarsfield’s were given one last chance to pull the game out of the fire. Trailing by two, only a goal would do and from a free-kick, the ball was pumped towards goal and Mervyn rose superbly, turned and shot for goal. It seemed the ball would find the roof of the net but in a swarm of players, an Aghagallon defender managed to get his hand to the ball and divert it over, not under, the bar to ensure they would hang on and take the honours by the narrowest of margins.