ACHL Division 4
All Saint’s Ballymena 1-12 – 1-14 Lámh Dhearg
Kevin Herron reports from Quinn Park
Lámh Dhearg finished the first series of the league unbeaten- but only just- after working hard to overcome All Saint’s Ballymena 1-14-1-12 at Quinn Park on Sunday afternoon.
Leading through an early Fionn Mervyn point the Saint’s pulled level through marksman for the day Ciaran Neeson from a close range free.
Daniel Murray split the posts, but Neeson replied from a second free and then gave his side the lead with a flick to the net past Francis Dugan from Damian Gillan’s floated cross to make it 1-02-0-02 after five minutes.
Murray converted his second free of the afternoon and he was involved in his sides next score, linking up with Declan Straney who sent his shot straight between the posts to reduce the deficit to the bare minimum.
All Saint’s moved two ahead again after Neeson withstood the pressure of Paddy Mervyn and was able to steer the ball directly between the posts.
The visitors edged ahead with the last attack before the first half water break.
Paddy Mervyn spotted a gap and attempted to thread a pass through to younger cousin Niall McGarry, Luke O’Rawe failed to clear the danger and McGarry went through for a goal chance which was originally parried to safety by keeper Ciaran Cassley- but Gerard Smyth was waiting to tuck away the rebound and give his side a 1-04-1-03 lead.
McGarry would find a point upon the resumption, but All Saint’s pulled level – Daire Hasson was chopped in midfield and Neeson converted his third free of the afternoon, a fourth would follow after Tiarnan McKenna felled Neeson and the full-forward tapped over in front of the posts to restore parity.
Lámh Dhearg were ahead again as Murray converted a 65’ – however it was all square at the break with Damian Gillan pointing from range to make it 1-06 apiece at the interval.
The hosts settled quickly after the break with a brace of Neeson free’s moving them two to the good.
Daniel Murray halved the deficit after charging down the channel and accurately firing it over and he would convert his fourth placed ball of the afternoon to level.
Neeson (free) and Murray would trade further points before Lámh Dhearg hit the front for the first time in the half after Padraig Magill chopped down on the stick of Murray who would convert the resulting free.
All Saint’s levelled through a Neeson free as the game was finely balanced approaching the final quarter.
Daniel Murray conjured up his eighth of afternoon and fifth from play with a terrific angled effort, though Neeson converted his ninth free of the proceedings and it was 1-11 apiece.
Ryan Diamond instantly restored his sides lead and a fine Fionn Mervyn point would open up a 1-13-1-11 lead.
Ciaran Neeson converted his final free of the afternoon in response, but Daniel Murray did likewise at the other end.
All Saint’s almost nicked it at the end with Cory Little’s shot bouncing invitingly in front of Francis Dugan who cleared at the second attempt as Lámh Dhearg held on for a 1-14-1-12 victory which will see them take on St Brigid’s in the league quarter-final on July 11th.
All Saint’s: C Cassley, D McKee, C McAfee, K Brady, Colum Neeson, L O’Rawe, T Diamond, P Magill, D Hasson, C Magill, D Gillan (0-01), S O’Rawe, C Little, Ciaran Neeson (1-11, 0-10f), J Magill. Subs: D Hasson for C Magill (40).
Lámh Dhearg: F Dugan, C Nolan, T McKenna, C Boyd, P Fitzsimons, P Mervyn, SP Gibson, R Diamond (0-01), M Hamill, F Mervyn (0-02), D Straney (0-01), D Murray (0-09, 0-05f), R Fegan, G Smyth (1-00), N McGarry (0-01). Subs: E Murray for D Straney (40), A Ferris for N McGarry (42), N McGuigan for P Fitzsimons (58).
Referee: Lorenzo McMullan (Bredagh)