Northern Switchgear Senior Football Championship
Naomh Eanna 1-12 Aghagallon 3-10
Friday August 20
Brendan McTaggart reports from Pairc Eanna
Aghagallon followed up last Sunday’s win over Aldergrove to make it back to back wins on Friday evening as they saw off the challenge of Naomh Eanna. Four points separated the sides at the end of the hour but this was a match that was right in the balance going into injury time.
It took a piece of brilliance from Adam Loughran to settle the tie, his second goal of the game coming in the sixth minute of added time, just when Naomh Eanna looked like they might get a share of the spoils. Aghagallon had different ideas as Loughran showed skill, desire and strength to round the Naomh Eanna defender while cutting across the by-line and rifling home with a fiercesome left footed drive.
Playing with the wind in the first half, Aghagallon made a slow start as the home side were defensively sound from the first whistle although the visitors to Pairc Eanna weren’t helped with some poor shooting in the first 10 minutes.
Naomh Eanna opened a two point lead by the sixth minute with Odhran Eastwood finding the target, his second white flag coming when he had a major chance for goal but elected to take a point instead.
Aghagallon finally opened their account in the 13th minure, Gareth Magee drilling with the outside of his boot before they scored their opening goal with the very next attack. Pressuring Paddy Flood’s kick out, they turned over the ball before finding Loughran and he did the rest. Loughgran followed his major with two delightful points to give his side a four point lead by the first half water break.
Naomh Eanna responded well and outscored Aghagallon three points to one with Kristian Healy (two) and Eastwood (free) raising white flags with Euan Walsh the only reply for St Mary’s but Aghagallon scored their second major in the 27th minute. Again, pressurising the Naomh Eanna restart and turning the ball over before releasing Magee where he rode the Naomh Eanna challenges before finding the back of the net.
Ruairi Scott responded for the home side but Aghagallon held a 2-4 to 0-6 lead at the short whistle.
With the wind at their back, Naomh Eanna would have been confident of overturning the deficit and they made a bright start to the second half. A beautiful score from Peter Healy was added to by Eastwood (free) before Jamie Lamont replied for Aghagallon with a point straight from the training ground. Overlapping runs through the centre of the pitch at speed, one from the coaches manual.
Naomh Eanna had the bit between their teeth however and restored parity to the score line with Peter Healy’s superbly taken goal. Eoin Nagle intercepting an Aghagallon pass before finding Healy on the charge and despite Luke Mulholland getting a hand to his shot, the ball still managed to cross the line.
Another Eastwood free and point from Niall Heatley gave Naomh Eanna a two point lead and all the momentum. There was a proper championship feel about this contest and tempers began to fray with some off the ball incidents and unsavoury scenes which referee Darren McKeown did well to disperse. A common sense approach with players being cautioned allowed the game to remain as a spectacle and both teams were satisfied with the decision.
A free from Magee stopped the rot for Aghagallon but the home side led by the minimum at the second water break.
With the intensity increasing and the field now a pressure pot, Aghagallon found a second wind. They were brilliant in defence, not giving Naomh Eanna a sniff while in attack they had Magee in superb form from placed ball. A run of three further frees put them two points ahead before Walsh’s second point of the game. Ruairi Scott hit his second of the contest with a sublime effort using the outside of his boot and Kritian Healy’s third point of the match bringing them to within touching distance in the fourth minute of injury time.
An equaliser felt inevitable but up stepped Loughran to seal the win for Aghagallon with a piece of individual genius and brilliance to ensure his side took the championship points back to Aghagallon.
Naomh Eanna travel to Aldergrove on Wednesday evening for their refixed tie while Aghagllon must wait until 1st September for their next game as they welcome Lamh Dhearg for the return fixture.
Naomh Eanna: Paddy Flood; Fiontan Eastwood, Michael McNamee, Conan Lyttle; Conor McAuley, Peter Healy, Niall Heatley; Michael Morgan, Kristian Healy; Ciaran Thompson, Eoin Nagle, Gerard Crossey; Cormac Scott, Ruairi Scott, Odhran Eastwood.
Scorers: O Eastwood 0-5 (3f); P Healy 1-1; K Healy 0-3; R Scott 0-2; N Heatley 0-1
Aghagallon: Luke Mulholland; Pat Branagan, Daniel Donnelly, Aidan Mulholland; Darryl McAlernon, Ryan O’Neill, Jamie Lamont; David McAlernon, Jack Lenehan; Eunan Walsh, Adam Loughran, Marc McAfee; Gareth Magee, Ruairi McCann, Conleth McAlinden
Scorers: A Loughran 2-2; G Magee 1-5 (4f); E Walsh 0-2; J Lamont 0-1
Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)