Ports claim second spot and a place in the quarter-final

Northern Switchgear SFC Group 2

Casement’s 1-7 Ahoghill 0-7

Casement’s Portglenone claimed second spot in Group 2 of the Switchgear SFC and a place in the quarter-final following this three point win over near neighbours, St. Mary’s Ahoghill in an ill tempered game at Kelly Park on Sunday.

A draw would have been enough to see the Ahoghill side advance and they will surely reflect on the amount of wides they kicked late in the game when they analyse their performance. A scrambled goal from Ronan Kelly, seven minutes into the second half proved the difference between the sides in the end and it Casement’s who go through to meet Lamh Dhearg in the quarter-final.

It was Casement’s who made all the early running with Ahoghill pulling men behind the ball and trying to hit on the counter attack but the visitors found themselves pinned in their own half for most of the opening quarter.

Conal Delargy got Portglenone off the mark from a pointed free in the 2nd minute and Ronan Kelly followed with another from play in the 9th minute as the home side dominated the opening exchanges.

Oisin Doherty made it three nil with a point in the 13th minute as Niall McKeever drove the Casement’s forward from mid-field and a pointed free from Aidan McAleese saw the Portglenone side 0-4 to 0-0 ahead at the first water break and looking comfortable for their lead.

On the restart Conal Delargy pointed another free to move Casement’s further ahead before Ronan Graham finally got the visitors off the mark with a point in the 28th minute but in the minutes leading up to half time events took a dramatic turn.

Referee Colm McDonnell dismissed Niall McKeever following a coming together with Bernard Graham and after consulting a linesman showed Yellow to the Ahoghill player with Casement’s now facing the second half with 14 men.

When Martin Graham opened the second half scoring with a point for the visitors in the opening minute the momentum seemed to have swung in the direction of the Cloney side as they moved the ball around confidently, masking use of the extra man.

They got caught cold however as they played the ball out from defence in the 7th minute and an interception and quick transfer placed Ronan Kelly in the clear and in the scramble that followed his shot crossed the line and Portglenone were six in front.

St. Mary’s picked themselves up of the canvas and corner-back Stephen O’Connell got forward for a point in the 8th minute and James O’Connell followed with another from a free as they started to reel in the Portglenone lead.

Thomas McGlone pointed in the 14th minute as with the traffic now going very much in the direction of the Casement’s goal and at the second water break it looked finely balanced with Portglenone leading 1-5 to 0-5.

Ronan Kelly relieved the pressure with a point for the home side in the 17th minute but it would be they would not score again for 16 minutes as the visitors pressed relentlessly. James O’Connell pulled one back from a free in the 20th minute and substitute Conor Crossey followed with another to close the gap to two with nine minutes of normal time remaining.

It was as close as they got however as a combination of good defending on the part of the home defence and poor shooting saw the scoring dry up and the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for Oisin Kelly who sent over a good point for the ‘Ports’ in injury time to conclude the scoring.

Portglenone will now meet Lamh Dhearg in the quarter-final and the loss of Niall McKeever to a straight Red could prove a massive blow though they may appeal the decision and the return of Dermot McAleese from injury could prove a boost for their clash with the Hannastown men.

Portglenone: Ryan O’Neill, Johnny Convery, Corey McLaughlin, Ronan Delargy, Ryan Convery, Rory Hagan, Caolan Tierney, Niall McKeever, Stephen Kelly, Ronan Kelly, Niall Delargy, Conal Delargy, Michael Hagan, Oisin Doherty, Aidan McAleese. Subs: Michael Donnelly, Michael Kelly Paddy Kelly, Conor McGee.

Ahoghill: Francis Neeson, Eamon Brady, James Magee, Stephen Neeson, Ronan Graham, Patrick Graham, Fionnbar O’Neill, Martin Gragam, Neil O’Connell, James O’Connell, Thomas McGlone, Daniel O’Neill, Michael O’Connell, Donal Graham, Bernard Graham. Subs: PJ O’Connell, Conor Crossey, Diarmuid Graham, Paddy Dougan

Referee: Colm McDonald (St. Gall’s)

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