St. James Aldergrove 1-12 All Saints 3-12
All Saints recovered from an early James Trowlen goal to take the points in a good game of football in excellent conditions in Crumlin last night. Both sides needed the points if they were to have any chance of catching league leaders, Tir na nOg but in the end it was the more experienced All Saints men who prevailed.
They certainly didn’t get it all their own way as a youthful Aldergrove raced through for a goal in the opening minute with James Trowlen getting on the end of a good passage of play to fire past Conor Brennan in the Ballymena goals.
Their lead didn’t last long however and Michael McCarry pointed a free before a long searching ball was collected by Benny McDonnell who side stepped his marker and then rounded the keeper before firing to an empty net.
This score clearly rattled the home side as the visitors began to move the ball about confidently and they opened up the Aldergrove defence again in the 6th minute with Kavan Keenan getting on the end of a flowing attack to hammer home from close range.
Michael McCarry, who with Sean McVeigh directed matters all evening, pointed his second free of the game just before the second water break to leave his side leading 2-2 to 1-0 and they were in control of matters at this juncture of play.
On resumption Caoimhin O’Connell pointed a close range free for Aldergrove’s second score of the game but Kavan Keenan replied with a point from play before McConnell again punished an indiscretion by the visitors defence to point again and keep his side in touch.
The visitors were still controlling matters with Sean McVeigh giving them a decided advantage at mid-field and Michael McCarry from a 25th minute free and Brendan McDonnell from play extended their lead.
The youthful home side were giving it everything to get themselves back into the game and Caoimhin O’Connell pointed his third free of the game with Ronan McKillop returning fire for the visitors with the final point of the half to leave his side 2-6 to 1-3 in front.
St. James needed a good start if they were to get themselves back into the game but in the event it was Michael McCarry who added to the visitors total with a point from play after 30 seconds to move his side seven in front.
Back came the Aldergrove men and the All Saints goal survived a scare when the ball was scrambled wide for a ‘45’ which the impressive James Trowlen stroked over and Caoimhin O’Connell added another from a free as Aldergrove began to enjoy a bit of success.
Michael McCarry eased the pressure with a point at the other end in the 10th minute but exchanges were fairly even at this stage and substitute Ronan Hanna replied with a point at the other end.
Ronan McKillop for All Saints and James Trowlen for the home side exchanged further points as play swung from end to end with Caoimhin O’Connell sending over the final point for the visitors just before the water break to leave just four between the sides.
On the restart the impressive Eoin Gough raced forward from defence to send over an excellent point and close the gap to three and the visitors lead was looking a bit precarious for the first time and when Conor Browning followed with another the momentum was very much with the Crumlin side.
The visitors regrouped however and Michael McCarry pointed a couple of frees before setting up Joe Rafferty with a tantalising lob across goal which the substitute rose to palm to the Aldergrove net and that was that.
St. James kept going until the end and Ronan Hanna and Caoimhin O’Connell replied with points but the final score of the game fell to Joe Rafferty who will have put himself in the frame for a starting spot on Friday night after an impressive contribution as a second half substitute.
St. James Aldergrove: Shane O’Neill, Eoin Gough, Emmett Irvine, Tomas O’Callaghan, Christopher Browning, Chris McVeigh, Conor Browning, Ryan Owens, James Trowlen, Conor Morris, Caoimhin McConnell, Ryan McCarthy, Odhran Creaney. Subs: Ronan Hanna, Daniel Bell, Declan Gough
All Saints: Conor Brennan, Matt Downey, Peter McNicholl, James Gillan, Kavan Keenan, Ciaran McGarry, Conal Lemon, Sean McVeigh, Peter McReynolds, Shea O Brien, Emmet Killough, Michael McCarry, Ronan McKillop, Rory McVeigh, Brendan McDonnell
E Daly for R McVeigh
O Connolly for B McDonnell
J Rafferty for P. Mc Reynolds
Reece O’Mullan for K Keenan
Referee: Darren McKeown (St. Gall’s)