O’ Connell’s late strike secures Ahoghill win

Northern Switchgear SFC (Group Two)

St Mary’s Ahoghill 0-09 Casement’s Portglenone 1-05

An injury time point by PJ O’ Connell secured the win and the bragging rights as he held his nerve to defy an acute angle and give St. Mary’s Ahoghill their first win in this year’s SFC over Casement’s Portglenone in Cloney on Friday night.

This was a frantic and at times tempestuous affair with the match referee issuing a flurry of yellow cards throughout but after nipping smartly out of the traps in the second half with four unanswered points the Bannsider’s looked set for victory. However Ahoghill never give up the fight and they somehow fought their way back to upset the odds yet again.

The visitors opened their account with a long range Paddy Kelly point before the home side replied with points from Eamonn Brady and Michael O’ Connell to take the lead.

A Michael Hagen penalty strike after he himself was fouled put the Portglenone men ahead for the second time but despite facing the elements Ahoghill took the game to their opponents with Martin Graham and ‘Boris’ O’ Connell dominating at mid-field.

The home side pushed forward and only a splendid save from Portglenone keeper Ryan O’ Neill denied PJ O’ Connell from close range in the 18th minute.

A superb James O’ Connell score following a cute Danny O’ Neill flick saw the home side raise another white and the Cloney men were calling the early shots.

Patrick Graham and Michael O’ Connell combined and it took a fine save by Ryan O’ Neill to deny PJ O’ Connell what looked a certain goal.

James O’ Connell had the last say of the opening half when he fired a 35 metre free between the posts following a foul on Danny O’ Neill and that was to be the last score of the opening half with the score 1-4 to 1-1 in favour of the Cloney side.

Casement’s faced the breeze in the second half but the Bannsider’s made a strong start and the lively Michael Hagen clipped a close range free between the posts in the second minute.

The visitors pressed again and it took a goal line clearance by James ’Bobby’ Magee to deny Paddy Kelly a goal after he was placed by Dermot Mc Aleese.

It was certainly a case of backs to the wall for the Cloney side as Dermot Mc Aleese was rewarded for his industry with back to back points in the 38th and 40th minutes as Ahoghill struggled to settle to the task at hand.

It was all Portglenone at this stage and Michael Donnelly rose to field before sending Paddy Kelly on his way to split the posts.

James O’Connell who scored three points of the Ahoghill total

St. Mary’s were struggling to get back into contention and after James O’ Connell fired just wide of the target Martin Graham chased what had looked a lost cause to set up PJ O’ Connell but he was denied by Casement’s keeper Ryan O’ Neill who pulled off another good save.

Casement’s started the final quarter with a four point advantage and looked on their way to another win but the Cloney men were far from finished and back to back points from Neil O’ Connell and his sibling James closed the gap to two points.

The St Mary’s men had seized control and when centre back Patrick Graham raced forward to find the target with a splendid 54th minute point only the minimum separated the sides and the momentum was with the home team.

It was backs to the wall for the Casement’s as the clock ticked down and the excellent James Magee combined with Danny O’ Neill to open the way for Patrick Graham to add another point his 64th minute to tie the contest.

As the game went into injury time both sides went in search of a winner but it fell to the men from Cloney. Late replacement Conor Crossey was fouled away out on the left hand side with PJ O’ Connell stepping up to send his effort between the posts and ensure a win for St. Mary’s, much to the delight of the home support.  

In a group containing only three side, Ahoghill, Portglenone and St. Brigid’s now sit with two points each from two starts with all to play for when the action gets under way again in September.

Ahoghill: Francis Neeson, Eamon Brady (0-01), James Magee, Stephen O’ Connell, Fionnbar O’ Neill, Patrick Graham (0-02), Ronan Graham, Martin Graham, Neil O’ Connell (0-01), James O’ Connell (0-03), Michael O’ Connell (0-01), Danny O’ Neill, Donal Graham, PJ O’ Connell (0-01), Bernard Graham

Conor Crossey for D Graham

Casement’s: Ryan O’ Neill, Johnny Convery, Shane Delargy, Ronan Delargy, Ryan Convery, Ruairi Hagen, Caolan Tierney, Michael Donnelly, Fergal O’ Kane, Niall Delargy, Ronan Kelly, Oisin Doherty, Michael Hagen (1-01), Dermot Mc Aleese (0-02), Paddy Kelly (0-01)

Referee C Mc Dermott (Tir na nOg)

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