Rossa finish strongly to maintain top spot

Homefit Antrim Football League Division One 

O’Donovan Rossa 1-15 Ahoghill 1-11

The meeting of Division 1’s top and bottom club looked a foregone conclusion with Rossa accounting for everyone they’ve come up against this year while Ahoghill have struggled in nearly all of their outings to date.

In the end it was the league leaders who ran out winners by four points but not before being pushed all the way by a rejuvenated Cloney side.

Indeed it was the visitors to Rossa Park who made the early running and after Dominic McEnhill gave Rossa an early lead but with the wind at their backs St. Mary’s came back strongly.

Tom McGlone levelled the contest as the Cloney side began to dictate matters and James O’Connell edged them ahead from a pointed free in the 4th minute.

It could have been even better for the visitors when they were awarded a penalty following a foul on the lively McGlone but James O’Connell’s spot kick sailed over when a goal would have put them in a strong position.

Conor Crossey added another point from a free and then Eoin Graham pounced on a wayward pass to race clear and send over score to leave it 0-5 to 0-1 after 12 minutes.

Rossa looked in a bit of trouble but slowly they began to put their game together and Cormac McGettigan steadied them with a fine score.

Ahoghill replied as Graham kicked a beauty from distance but a Colm Fleming free saw Rossa close the gap to three at the first water break and they would push on in the second quarter with a McEnhill free setting them on their way.

Thomas Morgan added another after combining with Ruairi Murray with Daniel O’Neill responding with a good point for the visitors. Rossa were slowly gaining control however and they hit the front for the first time in the 25th minute when Richard Gowdy fired to the Ahoghill net after Colm Fleming’s initial effort was turned away by Ahoghill keeper, Francis Neeson.

James O’Connell levelled matters once more but Rossa enjoyed a period of ascendancy and Morgan pointed from play following frees by Fleming and McEnhill, while a Martin Graham point in stoppage time left Rossa leading 1-8 to 0-9 – at the halfway stage.

Ahoghill made the better start to the second period with James O’Connell sending over after ten seconds and the same player gave his side the lead again in the 326th minute when his free kick dipped to the Rossa net for a somewhat fortuitous goal.

Two in front at this stage, an upset certainly looked on the cards but the league leaders regrouped and Sean Pat Donnelly got their first score of the half from range on 41 minutes before McEnhill fired over the equaliser and then restored his side’s lead from a free.

Gavin McGrath added another to put the home side two ahead at the second water break after being introduced as a substitute and Rossa put further daylight between the teams late on as Fleming nailed a free and McEnhill kicked a good score after a breakaway.

A pointed free from Donal Graham in stoppage time – Ahoghill’s first score in 26 minutes – gave the visitors hope, but Cormac McGettigan sealed the points for Rossa when fisting over on the run to ensure Hugh McGettigan’s side still lead the way in Division One.

ROSSA: C McDonald; C Orchin, C McGuinness, B McAuley; R Gowdy (1-0), S Shannon, J Cooley; C McGettigan (0-2), R Murray; T Morgan (0-2), SP Donnelly (0-1), C Fleming (0-3, all frees); D Armstrong, D McEnhill (0-6, 3 frees), M Mallon. Subs: A Devlin for D Armstrong (36), P Moyes for J Cooley (36), G McGrath (0-1) for R Gowdy (44), R Currie for R Murray (46), C Cooley for B McAuley (56).

AHOGHILL: F Neeson; S O’Connell, J Magee, P Dougan; E Graham (0-2), F O’Neill, R Graham; T McGlone (0-1), N O’Connell; M O’Connell, B Graham, J O’Connell (1-4, 1-2 frees, 0-1 penalty); C Crossey (0-1 free), D O’Neill (0-1), M Graham (0-1). Subs: D Graham (0-1 free) for S O’Connell (23), O Neeson for E Graham (55).

REFEREE: Patrick Tumelty (Lámh Dhearg)

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