Five-star first half see’s Lámhs return to winning ways

Northern Switchgear Antrim Senior Football Championship Group 3 

St James, Aldergrove 1-07 – 5-13 Lámh Dhearg 

Kevin Herron reports from Crumlin 

First half braces from Conor Murray and Terry McCrudden helped Lámh Dhearg get back to winning ways as they powered to a 5-13-1-07 win over Aldergrove at Crumlin on Friday evening. 

Murray and McCrudden struck twice in the space of 60-seconds inside the opening five minutes and Pearse Fitzsimons added a third before the deadly duo claimed their respective seconds before the interval. 

Conleth O’Toole grabbed a consolation goal of the hosts in a second period that was much tighter, but in the end the game was a forgone conclusion at the midway point. 

Lámh Dhearg headed to Crumlin with work to do having faltered at Hightown against an Aldergrove side who suffered an eight-point defeat in their opening encounter to Aghagallon. 

Aldergrove were first off the mark, after the throw-in was won and flicked to Conor Browning who released Seamus McGarry and he in turn found Declan Gough- who burst towards the net and fisted over the bar. 

Paddy Mervyn levelled proceedings and on four minutes his side hit the opening goal. Ryan Murray and Marc Jordan forced a turnover which Pearse Fitzsimons stumbled across as he released Conor Murray to dart through the middle and rifle low to the net. 

Less than 60-seconds later the Hannahstown side had their second, Declan Lynch won the resulting kick-out from Shane O’Neill and a played a succession of passes through the hands with Marc Jordan before Jordan palmed it across to Terry McCrudden for the simplest of finishes to make it 2-01-0-01 in the blink of an eye. 

A half chance presented itself for an immediate response at the other end- though Seamus McGarry snatched at the loose ball and fizzed it wide of the post. 

Ronan Hanna pulled a score back from a close-range free after the referee spotted holding inside with Ryan Murray initiating an instant reply. 

Older sibling Conor then scored from an advanced mark and a third goal should have arrived before the water-break – though Ryan dragged a low effort wide and past the post. 

On 16 minutes the Lámhs did score the third, Ryan Murray played a free short to Pearse Fitzsimons and the duo interlinked with passes through the hands until Fitzsimons was in the position to blast past Shane O’Neill and make it 3-03-0-02. 

The scoreboard continued to tick with Ryan Murray converting back-to-back frees and on 23 minutes his side found their fourth goal of the half. 

Marc Jordan picked out Ryan Diamond on the overlap and with the Aldergrove defence carved open, his intelligent pass was touched home by Conor Murray for his second goal of the half. 

Paddy Mervyn swung over his second point in the aftermath with Pearse Fitzsimons fisting over another shortly after to make it 2-06 without reply. 

Aldergrove finally ended the momentum through a converted Seamus McGarry free, but Terry McCrudden inflicted further misery upon the hosts. 

First swinging over a point, the full-forward proceeded to net his sides fifth goal after a nice pass from Pearse Fitzsimons and he was on hand again to point with the last move of the half and give his side a 5-09-0-03 lead at the interval. 

The second period was a much more even affair in comparison to the first, the opening score arriving through Ryan Murray’s converted free. 

Conor Murray then added another after taking an offload from Marc Jordan and slotting it high between the posts. 

Seamus McGarry replied with his second free of proceedings and was almost in on goal a few minutes later- but for a brave block from Ross Murray at the expense of a 45’ that would come to nothing. 

In the aftermath of the second water-break Ronan Hanna converted a further free with Terry McCrudden conjuring up an instant response.

Ten minutes from time the hosts found the net, a long ball forward bounced through to Ronan Hanna who fisted the ball across to substitute Conleth O’Toole for a nice finish high to the net to make it 5-12-1-05. 

Declan Gough landed his second point of the evening soon after and Conor Browning played a one-two with Andrew Flood and pointed to end their sides scoring for the evening. 

There was still time for Ryan Murray to kick his fourth free of the evening as Lámh Dhearg returned to winning ways ahead of a massive clash with Aghagallon in the beginning of the second round of fixtures on September 1st.

St James, Aldergrove: S O’Neill, E Gough, E Irvine, T O’Callaghan, C Browning, C McVeigh, G Mallon, C Browning (0-01), R Owens, O Graham, S McGarry (0-02f), D Gough (0-02), J Trowlen, R Hanna (0-02f), A Flood. Subs: O Creaney for J Trowlen (7), C O’Toole (1-00) for O Graham (26), C Fogarty for G Mallon (HT), C Morris for R Hanna (54). 

Lámh Dhearg: M McIlvenny, R Murray, A McAufield, P Larkin, E Matassa, D Lynch, P Mervyn (0-02), M Jordan, P Fitzsimons (1-01), D Larkin, R Murray (0-05, 0-04f), R Diamond, C Murray (2-02, 0-01 advanced mark), T McCrudden (2-03), D Smyth. Subs: B Rice for P Mervyn (HT), F Mervyn for D Larkin (42), M McGarry for R Murray (45), C Hannon for P Fitzsimons (46), A Byrne for R Diamond (52). 

Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)

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