Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC Group 3 Round 4
Aghagallon 1-09- 0-16 Lámh Dhearg
Kevin Herron reports from Pairc na nGael
Lámh Dhearg boosted their chances of progression into the last eight of the Northern Switchgear Antrim SFC with a 0-16-1-09 win over Aghagallon at Pairc na nGael on Wednesday evening.
In a tight encounter that ebbed and flowed the Hannahstown men had that little bit extra and kept their cool in a game that got fiery at times.
Patrick Branagan received a second yellow-card late-on before Adam Loughran departed to a straight red as Aghagallon saw the game out with 13-players.
There was much anticipation ahead of proceedings with the two quarter-final spots in Group 3 very much up in the air.
Both sides were tied level on 4 points along with Naomh Éanna and victory for either would be a huge boost to their aspirations of claiming a spot in the last eight.
Lámh Dhearg nipped ahead in the early stages through a Paddy Cunningham free after Conor Murray was tangled up as he attempted to forge his way towards the target.
The hosts forced the first goal opportunity when Gareth Magee slipped the ball forward and it was released into the path of Ryan O’Neill who dragged a low effort past the post.
Ryan Murray swung over a fantastic point to double his sides lead, but Aghagallon hit back through an angled Ruairi McCann free and then levelled through a nice score from David McAlernon.
The Lámhs restored their lead after Conor Murray picked out Terry McCrudden who swept one over the bar with Gareth Magee on-hand to stroke over the equaliser from a converted free.
A sensational Paddy Cunningham effort from range had his side ahead once more, though at the first half water-break parity was restored again as Magee converted his second free of the opening quarter.
On 21 minutes the visitors had a golden opportunity for goal when Ryan Murray interchanged with Eoin Matassa and steered the ball into the path of Pearse Fitzsimons whose low shot was deflected wide of the post.
The resulting 45’ was converted by Declan Murray and Lámh Dhearg had the led for the fourth time in proceedings.
Paddy Cunningham forced a turnover from the resulting kick-out and popped the ball off to Terry McCrudden- who claimed the advanced mark and successfully converted.
Despite holding the lead, the Hannahstown side were reduced to 14-men for 10 minutes when Ryan Murray caught Adam Loughran too high for the liking of referee Mark O’Neill- who issued Murray with a black-card.
The deficit was halved in the aftermath as Gareth Magee kicked his third free of the half, though Paddy Cunningham responded from the same scenario to ensure his side led 0-07-0-05 at the interval.
Aghagallon hit the opening point of the second period with Magee notching up his first from play with an excellent effort that dropped over the posts.
Conor Murray fisted over at the other to restore his sides two-point advantage, however that would be wiped out on 34 minutes.
Eunan Walsh was slipped in on the left-hand channel from Marc McAfee and he offloaded to Gareth Magee whose quick switch played in Adam Loughran who powered to the net to have the hosts ahead for the first time 1-06-0-08.
Ryan Murray returned to proceedings and his side were quickly back on terms through a third converted Cunningham free.
A second goal almost presented itself for the hosts after Eunan Walsh pounced on a kick-out from Mark McIlvenny and threaded the ball to Ruairi McCann whose shot was blocked, McIlvenny spilled the ball in his attempt to gather under pressure and Adam Loughran tried his luck with Aaron McAufield deflecting it behind at the expense of a 45’ which Luke Mulholland dragged wide.
Lámh Dhearg got their noses back in front through a neat Eoin Matassa point, another followed through Ryan Diamond before his departure in place of Ben Rice – who would waste no time in getting in on the act to give his side a 0-12-1-06 lead.
Rice found a pocket of space and angled over his second point since his introduction after the second-half water break, though Gareth Magee kicked his third free of the evening.
For the second time in the half the visitors found themselves four in-front, Ryan Murray sent a quick ball into the path of Terry McCrudden who dropped a high ball over the bar.
Magee kept his side within a score after kicking another free- but any hopes of a comeback were dealt a huge blow when an off the ball incident sparked a brief coming together between both sets of players.
Referee Mark O’Neill consulted with his two linesmen before showing Patrick Branagan a second yellow-card, Kevin Quinn also picked up a booking but worse to come for the hosts when Adam Loughran was shown a straight red – with Kevin Murray’s charges down to 13 for the remaining minutes.
Terry McCrudden saw a high effort clip the post and go over to restore their four-point lead with Declan Lynch conjuring up the insurance score in injury-time.
Daniel Donnelly almost pulled a goal back in the dying embers, with both sides arguing over a free in front of the Lámh Dhearg posts, Darryl McAlernon quickly threw the ball to Donnelly who unleashed a shot towards the target that rose over the bar rather than under it.
In the end it mattered little as Lámh Dhearg saw out proceedings to make it back-to-back wins against the south-west side and draw level with Naomh Éanna at the top of the table ahead of the clash between the sides in two weeks’ time.
Aghagallon: L Mulholland, P Branagan, D Donnelly (0-01f), A Mulholland, D McAlernon, R O’Neill, J Lamont, D McAlernon (0-01), J Lenehan, E Walsh, O Lenehan, M McAfee, G Magee (0-06, 0-05f), R McCann (0-01), A Loughran (1-00). Subs: P Maginnis for O Lenehan (20), S Devlin for A Mulholland (45).
Lámh Dhearg: M McIlvenny, R Murray, A McAufield, P Larkin, E Matassa (0-01), D Lynch (0-01), P Mervyn, P Fitzsimons, C Murray (0-01), D Smyth, R Murray (0-01), R Diamond (0-01), P Cunningham (0-04, 0-03f), T McCrudden (0-04, 0-01 advanced mark), D Murray (0-01 45’). Subs: M McGarry for P Larkin (34), B Rice (0-02) for R Diamond (42), K Quinn for D Murray (47), O O’Neill for D Smyth (55), D Larkin for T McCrudden (60+1).
Referee: Mark O’Neill (Armoy)