All Saints 1-5 Ardoyne 3-19
Kickham’s Ardoyne made an impressive start to this year’s division 4 league campaign when they visited Quinn Park, Ballymena and came away with a resounding victory. The North Belfast side are under the management of Ollie Bellew this term and it was clear from the start that the former St. Gall’s and Eoghan Ruadh mentor has his side in good shape.
Right from the first whistle they took the game to All Saints with Oisin McVicker firing over a splendid point from out near the left hand touchline. Daniel Moore added a second and Enda Slattery followed with a third as the visitors started at breakneck speed.
Oisin McVicker struck a ‘65’ directly between the posts and a couple more from Daniel Moore had the North Belfast men six in front with only 10 minutes gone.
It was all Ardoyne as the home side struggled to put a meaningful attack together with players struggling with their lifting and striking and being afforded no time by a hungry Kickham’s unit.
The home side might have fallen further behind when keeper, Ciaran Cassley was closed down as he attempted to clear his lines with the loose ball breaking to McVicker but his first time ground shot sailed agonisingly wide of the upright. All Saints sent Ciaran Neeson into the fray after 18 minutes in an attempt to get something going in attack but it was the visitors who registered the next score through Hugh Grieves in the 20th minute.
Neeson finally raided the first white flag for the Quinn Park side when he pointed a 24th minute free and his side began to enjoy more possession in the closing stages of the half with Vinny Esler and Ciaran Magill adding further points in reply to a third of the half from the impressive McVicker for the visitors.
Six in arrears and perhaps fortune not to be trailing by more, All Saints needed a good start to the second half but in the event it was Ardoyne who continued to call the tune with Oisin McVicker putting them in a strong position when he fired to the net with only three minutes of the new half gone.
Ryan Thompson (0-2) added points by the 7th minute before Ciaran Neeson replied from a free to momentarily lift the siege but their relief was short lived as Jim McAuley fired home goal number two for the visitors after robbing full-back Christopher McAffee who at times looked to be playing he Ardoyne attack on his own.
To their credit the home side kept battling away but they were cumbersome and hesitant in possession but Luke O’Rawe did lift their spirits as he soloed through for a good point just before the second water break.
After the break it was Ardoyne who continued to impress however and their movement, speed and skill must have been pleasing to new manager Bellew as McVicker, McAuley and McVicker again tagged on points before Ryan Thompson got in for their third goal with five minutes remaining.
They refused to take their foot of the pedal however with McVicker capping a man of the match performance as he fired over a couple more with full-back, Paul Baker getting in on the act as he split the uprights from 50 yards
Jimbo McAuley completed the visitors scoring with Ciaran Neeson getting a consolation goal for the Quinn Park side when his shot deceived Ardoyne keeper JP Agnew before dipping to the net.
A great start for Ardoyne under the guidance of Ollie Bellew and on today’s performance they will be serious contenders in Division 4. They were strong all over the field and have power and pace in abundance with Oisin McVicker, Ryan McVicker, Jim McAuley, Paul Baker, Pascal Clarke, Daniel Moore and Enda Slattery their best on view.
Spare a thought for All Saints. They have lost a number of key players from last year and on today’s performance they look to be short on fitness and confidence and a lot of work needs to be done on the training field if they are to compete against this level of opposition.
Ciaran Cassley did little wrong in goals and Christopher McAffee was a colossus at full-back with Vinny Esler, Luke O’Rawe, Colum Neeson and substitute Ciaran Neeson others who tried hard but in the end could do nothing to turn the Kickham’s tide.
Referee: Rab Lappin (Lamh Dhearg)