Homefit ACFL Division One
St Gall’s 2-14
Aghagallon produced their best performance for some time to overcome the challenge of St. Gall’s at Pairc N a Gael last night.
The visitors looked on their way to victory when they led by seven points, 10 minutes into the second half before matters took a remarkable turn.
St. Gall’s lost their discipline in the final quarter with two players picking up black cards while another player was shown straight Red late in the half.
At this stage Aghagallon grabbed the opportunity with both hands with the strong running of Eunan Walsh opening up gaps in the visitors defence.
Aghagallon themselves lost a man for ten minutes after being shown Black early in the second half as things got a little heated on what was a busy night for referee Ray Matthews.
The game was played with real championship intensity despite both sides having nothing at stake where the league was concerned.
The visitors got off to a great start as they hit two goals inside the first two minutes of the game. With just 24 seconds gone, Kevin Niblock cleverly chipped Damien O’Hagan after the Aghagallon goalkeeper had made a fine save from Terry O’Neill as St Gall’s broke straight from the throw-in.
A minute later the Aghagallon keeper had to pick the ball out of his net again after he misjudged the flight of the ball from a Caolan Chada shot which dropped in under the crossbar.
Brendan Bradley then pointed a free on seven minutes and St Gall’s had taken early control to lead 2-1 to no score and the home side looked in need of inspiration.
A free from Gareth Magee finally got St Mary’s off the mark on 11 minutes and points from Adam Loughran and Walsh settled the home side after their shaky start.
After the first water break, Aghagallon looked in for a goal of their own when Walsh powered through the St Gall’s defence and crashed a shot off the top of the crossbar and his well struck effort sailed over.
The home side were now playing with a lot of confidence however and Magee and Hugh Hannon combined to set up Eunan Walsh and the county man made no mistake as he blasted to the net in the 24th minute.
St Gall’s returned to the offensive and points from John McCaffrey, Barra McCaffrey and Caolan Chada saw them lead 2-7 to 1-6 at the interval.
Aghagallon had a great chance to close the gap to a single point in the opening stages of the second half when midfielders Loughran and Jack Lenehan combined to play the former in on goal, but Niall McCurdy made a super save to push the ball out for a ’45, which Walsh converted.
St Gall’s hit back with points from Bradley (free) and Terry O’Neill before a St Mary’s defender was sent to the line for 10 minutes.
Damian O’Hagan then came to the rescue of the home side when he tipped over a rasping shot from the lively Barra McCaffrey and St Gall’s moved seven ahead when midfielder Niall O’Neill converted a mark on 40 minutes.
The visitors looked to have matters sewn up at this stage but their scoring dried up at this point and they were to add only three more points as events conspired in favour of the Aghagallon side.
Points from Gareth Magee and substitute Pauric Maginnis kick-started their revival, but McCurdy denied Magee with another smart save on 49 minutes as Chada clipped over another point for the visitors at the other end.
St Gall’s were then reduced to 14 shortly as Aghagallon regained their full quota but Paddy Murray’s men held a six-point lead on 50 minutes when Bradley knocked over another free.
Aghagallon staged a grandstand finish when they got through for their second goal of the night after Jamie Lamont delivery was fielded by Magee, who passed to Hannon to fire past McCurdy to leave just three between the sides – 2-13 to 2-10 with seven minutes remaining.
A superb point from Maginnis cut the gap to two and St Mary’s took the lead for the first time in the game with four minutes of normal time remaining.
Another high ball in created panic in the St Gall’s defence and Conleth McAlinden’s shot was saved by McCurdy but Maginnis was on hand to send the ball to the net, much to the delight of the home side.
Bradley looked to have secured a share of the spoils for the visitors when he converted a 35-yard free in the final minutes of normal time, but the game still had a few more twists and turns to come.
McAlinden, held his nerve as the clock ticked down to fire over a cracking point following another assist from Lamont as St Mary’s struck the front once more.
St Gall’s picked up a second Black card when Pat Branagan was dragged to the ground and Magee converted the resulting free to put Aghagallon 3-13 to 2-14 ahead in stoppage time.
St Gall’s would finish the game with 13 men after a player was shown a straight Red for alleged striking as matters went from bad to worse for the visitors and the home side stood strong in the closing stages to pick up a useful win with the championship just around the corner.
AGHAGALLON: D O’Hagan; C McGrath, S Donnelly, S Devlin; M McStravick, R O’Neill, J Lamont; J Lenehan, A Loughran (0-1); E Walsh (1-3, 0-1 ’45), G Magee (0-6, 0-6fs), L Russell; C McAlinden (0-1), H Hannon (1-0), P Branagan.
Subs: J Hannon for McStravick (35), P Maginnis (1-2) for Russell (37), R Loughran for McGrath (37),R Lavery for Donnelly (47).
ST GALL’S: N McCurdy; J McCaffrey (0-1), S O’Hagan, J Hopkins; C Chada (1-2), M Donnelly, C Stinton; N O’Neill (0-1, 0-1M), A Gallagher; C Doherty, T O’Neill (0-2), B Bradley (0-5, 0-5fs); B McCaffrey (0-3), K Niblock (1-0), S Kelly.
Subs: T Ó Ciaráin for Stinton (25), M Pollock for Doherty (HT), E McCabe for Gallagher (42).
REFEREE: R Matthews (Rossa)